What Is Affogato Coffee? Explained

Wondering what is affogato coffee? It’s a dessert-style coffee drink made with ice cream and espresso. Read on to find out more. 

What is Affogato coffee?
Affogato coffee is made of espresso and vanilla ice cream

Affogato coffee consists of a shot of espresso and a scoop of vanilla-flavored ice cream. It’s commonly served with dessert due to its sweet taste. Affogato coffee is a modern beverage that has made waves in coffee shops and restaurants due to its distinct taste and heavy texture.  

The History Of Affogato Coffee 

We have our Italian friends to thank for the affogato al caffe, a simple yet delicious drink that combines espresso and ice cream or, in Italy, gelato. There is some debate whether or not affogato is a beverage or a dessert, but most fans across the globe consider it a delightful combination of both. 

In Italian, the word “affogato” means drowned. This is in reference to the shot of hot espresso that is poured over the scoop of ice cream or gelato. 

There is no clear-cut time frame or person responsible for creating the affogato. It was introduced to English dictionaries in 1992, after the invention of the espresso machine, and coffee shops in Europe and the United States around this time saw an increase in demand for it. 

Today it is found on the menus of major coffee chains like Starbucks and in little cafes and restaurants. 

Read our history of Italian coffee.

How To Make Affogato Coffee?

How to make affogato coffee?
Making affogato coffee consists of simple steps

An affogato couldn’t be simpler to create. There isn’t a set recipe to follow but rather a set of easy-to-follow steps that require almost zero prep. 

Traditional affogato is prepared by adding a single scoop of vanilla ice cream into a chilled bowl or narrow glass. In Italy, they use gelato al fior di latte, which is similar to vanilla ice cream. However, it is made without egg yolk and features only dairy, starch, and sugar.

A shot of hot, high-quality espresso is poured directly on the tightly-packed scoop and served immediately with a spoon—sort of like a hot, coffee-based root beer float. For a stronger coffee taste, use a double shot of espresso. 

There should be a little space at the bottom of the bowl or glass for the espresso to pool. The goal is to have the espresso mingle with the cream at the bottom and create a cool, melted puddle of coffee and cream. The majority of the affogato should be eaten before it melts entirely.

Variations Of Affogato Coffee 

Variations of affogato coffee

A classic affogato is a delicious treat on its own. However, creative cooks and coffee enthusiasts have tweaked and perfected the affogato over the past thirty years, creating unique variations to the traditional beverage. 

Affogato is often served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or a dressing of nuts, cacao nibs, or fresh berries. Some coffee shops serve biscotti or another dense, nutty cookie alongside their affogato as well. 

If this sounds to you like something that would taste great with a little booze in it, you’re exactly right. The alcoholic version of affogato, known as affogato corretto, can be prepared with various alcohols. 

Some variations of this dessert-style beverage have Bailey’s or coffee liqueurs like Kahlua to give the dish a little kick. For a more adventurous twist, you could try adding dessert wine like Marsala or an Italian brandy.

Other variations of affogato can include chai tea or different flavored ice creams like pistachio or dulce de leche. Furthermore, chocoholics can swap out the scoop of vanilla for a scoop of chocolate and drizzle with caramel. 

Ultimately, the affogato’s brilliance lies in its simplicity. If you plan to doctor your affogato, stick with one or two additional ingredients to avoid complicating the dish and missing out on what makes it so delicious. 

The Final Word On What Is Affogato Coffee

Affogato is a truly delicious combination of coffee and ice cream. It is the perfect dish to enjoy while sitting on a patio during a hot summer day or as an after-dinner treat at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop.

If you brew an affogato, don’t be afraid to mix and match different toppings and flavors for a unique version. 

Read our guide to common types of coffee


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.