What Is In Affogato? Answered

Wondering what is in Affogato and what it tastes like exactly? This guide is what you need to know about serving this delicious coffee dessert. 

What Is In Affogato
Affogato is a classic Italian dessert

Affogato is a good old classic Italian dessert. A cup of Affogato is as simple as it gets. The main ingredients behind an excellent serving of Affogato only include a scoop of rich, sweet, and milky vanilla gelato bathed in a shot of strong, hot espresso

Simple as it seems, the combination turns out to be one of the most talked-about traditional desserts. Now you know what’s inside a cup of Affogato, but what if I told you that you could make it at home, using easy-to-find ingredients from the supermarket? 

What Does Affogato Taste Like?

Literally translated into “drown” in Italian, Affogato is a mouthful, thirst-quenching dessert. The thick, creamy texture and rich flavor of authentic Italian gelato serve as a perfect base for Affogato. When it starts to melt and blend into the strong, slightly bitter espresso, you’ll have a wonderful dessert with a leading sweet note and the lingering hint of coffee aroma.

Affogato has become a beloved summer treat given such an impressive tasting profile. Even though some may refer to it as a reminiscence of coffee-flavored ice cream, the bitterness and richness in espresso is the key factor that sets it apart from other equivalents.

Some recipes give the traditional Affogato a modern twist by adding amaretto liquor or coconut liquor to the base. You can also make it more fun to enjoy by topping the cup with a crunchy cookie or biscotti.

You might also find our Super coffee guide helpful.

How To Make Affogato 

Don’t pour the espresso until you are ready to serve

Making a great Affogato is a no-brainer. You can go ahead with some simple recipes to try at home. All you need is your favorite ice cream or gelato and espresso ready on the countertop.

But first, let me show you my favorite, easy way to make Affogato at home.

  • Get two small scoops of cold vanilla ice cream or gelato. You can substitute it with coffee-flavored or chocolate ice cream.
  • Brew one shot of hot espresso and keep it at room temperature.
  • Add shaved dark chocolate, Hershey chocolate sauce, nuts, or coconut flakes for toppings.
  • Place the ice cream into a small liquor glass.
  • Pour the espresso shot all over the ice cream and wait for it to melt.
  • Garnish with your favorite toppings and serve immediately.

My tips for a successful home-made Affogato:

  • Chill the glass in the mug with ice cream in the fridge before the espresso goes in to make sure the gelato is very cold.
  • Don’t pour the espresso until you’re ready to serve. This step is to keep the ice cream from melting too fast.

How Do You Mix Affogato?

affogato ice cream being prepared
Keep the glass cold, so the ice cream inside stays solid

When the gelato is about to melt, slowly dig your spoon in, scoop out a small bite blended with espresso, and introduce it to your mouth. 

My favorite way to enjoy Affogato is when the gelato or ice cream is not fully melted yet. This is why you should keep the glass cold, so the ice cream inside stays solid.

Does Affogato Contain Alcohol?

Traditional Italian Affogato doesn’t have any alcohol, but you can add some. However, if you’re looking at Irish Affogato, things may go differently. Irish coffee has a boozy base which enhances the sweetness and creaminess of gelato even more.

The most common liquor to pair with Affogato is Amaretto and Italian almond-flavored liquor. You can add it directly to the espresso before pouring the mixture into the gelato. If it’s not available, opt for Godiva’s Belgian Dark Chocolate Liqueur or Kahula.

Alternatives To Affogato Ingredients

Replace vanilla gelato with high-quality ice cream. You want to keep the richness and creaminess with a stellar flavor. Otherwise, the taste will be outshined by the strong espresso.

If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, find the best double-strength coffee. I prefer Vietnamese Robusta coffee.

So, can you use instant coffee for Affogato? Technically speaking, I would switch instant coffee with good-quality instant espresso powder.

Not every instant coffee tastes the same. The biggest problem with instant coffee is the absence of strength and pure coffee aroma, which cannot bring out the tasting profile.

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03/08/2024 06:10 am GMT

What Is The Difference Between Affogato And Espresso?

There should not be any confusion when comparing the two. Espresso is simply a shot of hot brewed coffee made by pouring through finely-ground coffee under pressure. Meanwhile, Affogato is a dessert using espresso mixed with authentic Italian gelato.

To enhance its visual effect and taste, some people would drizzle chocolate sauce on top or garnish their favorite toppings like hazelnuts.

If you like Affogato, you may also like our guide on coffee jelly dessert.

What Is the Best Time To Serve Affogato?

Traditionally, Affogato is usually served as a post-lunch or after-dinner dessert. Since Affogato has caffeine in it, you may prefer to have it after lunch rather than dinner, so it does not disrupt your sleep schedule.


  • Oanh Nguyen

    Born and raised by a traditional mama-barista, Oanh is a typical Viet coffee aficionado who would spend her entire precious Sunday showing you how to categorize coffee beans just by the looks and smells. She enjoys writing about everything drinks-related while sipping her favorite rosebud tea. Find Oanh on LinkedIn.