What is an Affogato Coffee? (A Complete Guide with Recipe)

Last Updated on February 4, 2022 by John Moretti

Many people wonder whether affogato should even be considered coffee or better described as a dessert. The word Affogato itself is Italian. It translates to “drowned” in English. But why is a coffee literally called drowned, and what is affogato coffee?

Affogato coffee is a delicious fusion between dessert and the classic espresso. Some even go so far as to call it a dessert instead of a drink. Whatever you want to call it, all you need is gelato, an espresso, and a shot of liqueur to make great affogato coffee.

In this article, I’ll figure out what is an affogato coffee and how to make it, plus what ingredients you will need to make a restaurant-grade Affogato at home. 

What Is An Affogato Coffee?

What is An Affogato Coffee?

With more and more coffee lovers flocking to cafes worldwide, new types of coffees are created each year. And if you head over to the mainstream chains of coffee stores, the options you’ll find are endless.

One of the more luxurious coffee creations, caffeine drinkers around the world marvel at the decadence of the Affogato. Some even go so far as to call it a dessert instead of a drink.

Affogato coffee is a delicious fusion between dessert and the classic espresso. Even though Affogato is among the most delicious coffee-based desserts around, most people aren’t as familiar with it.

Is It Dessert or Coffee?

Dessert or Coffee?

As far as the million-dollar question is concerned, Affogato is a dessert at its core, but it is coffee-based. This means the fan-famous Affogato you find at coffee shops and gelato shops isn’t a coffee after all. Of course, you do get to enjoy the goodness of caffeine and a fantastic coffee flavor.

I’ll teach you the best way to pick each of these ingredients, the best preparation method, and other tips and tricks that will make your Affogato coffee restaurant quality. 

What Ingredients Do You need For Affogato Coffee?

Making Affogato Coffee

If you want to make a high-quality Affogato, you need to start with the right ingredients. But you’re in luck as finding good quality ingredients isn’t as tough as it sounds. And here’s everything you need to get started.

1. The Best Espresso for Affogato

A great Affogato starts with a good espresso shot. The key is to start with a strong coffee base. The best beans for an Affogato are Arabica. Take your time looking for the perfect sweet roast. Of course, purchasing the best coffee beans will only help if you brew correctly.

Make sure you use strong brewed coffee, around 2 to 4 tablespoons per shot. The best way to make an espresso shot for Affogato is to use a coffee machine or an Italian Moka pot.

2. The Best Gelato for Affogato


The core of an Affogato is good gelato. Without good gelato, you won’t be able to get the perfect texture or a well-balanced sweetness.

In all fairness, you can switch up your gelato and try using vanilla-based ice cream instead. You can even get creative with different ice cream flavors. Go for a classic taste with mint chocolate chip or praline. Even coffee-flavored ice cream works great if you’re looking for that extra flavor kick.

But one thing you can’t be as flexible about is the espresso to gelato ratio. If you mess this up, you’ll set the whole thing off balance.

3. Choosing Good Liqueur for Your Affogato


To set the record straight, using liqueur is an optional step. If you’re not into it, you can totally skip it. However, the true Affogato is made with a splash of liqueur.

We advise you use Nocino, Frangelico, or Cointreau. Frangelico is a nut-based liqueur that will add another dimension to the flavor profile of your dessert. You can even go for a coffee-based liqueur to make things interesting.

4. The Ideal Toppings for Your Affogato

Affogato is a classic dessert best served with toppings. Although this step is optional, your Affogato will taste best if you add your favorite toppings. These can include crushed hazelnuts, some peanut butter, or even chocolate shavings. 

All these toppings will add depth to the traditional Affogato.

How To Make An Affogato Coffee?

Making Affogato Coffee

If you’ve been looking for the best method to make an Affogato, this is the right place for you. Affogato is a pretty straightforward dessert to make. But as easy as it is, it’s just as easy to mess it up. Here’s a step-by-step guide so you can learn how to nail the perfect Italian-inspired Affogato every time.

1. Serving Size

Recipe makes 6 servings of Affogato. It’s perfect for when you’re having a few friends over or having an intimate family dinner. But if you’re a dessert enthusiast, you can gobble the whole thing up yourself.

2. Total Preparation Time

Have we mentioned that you can make an Affogato in no time? All it takes is 5-10 mins, and your work is done!

Of course, you need to leave the dessert in the freezer for a while so it can be set in place. However, that doesn’t require you to stand watch. Just leave it in the freezer and forget about it until it’s time to eat.

3. The Easiest Affogato Coffee Recipe

Affogato recipe

Ingredients for 6 Servings:

  1. 6 shots of hot espresso
  2. 12 scoops of good quality gelato or your favorite ice cream
  3. Crushed hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts (for garnish)
  4. Crushed caramel (for garnish)
  5. Chocolate sauce (for topping)

Method for Preparation:

  1. Take a freezer-proof tray and layer on all your gelato or ice cream on top.
  2. Pat it down nicely to make a neat layer with little to no gaps, and place the tray in the freezer.
  3. Leave the tray in for 4-6 hours. For best results, prepare the ice cream tray overnight.
  4. Take 6 small bowls and scoop up the gelato or the ice cream in each of them.
  5. Pour a shot of hot espresso on each scoop, slightly melting it.
  6. Stir each bowl a little to make sure some of the frozen gelato or ice cream can melt.
  7. Top with your favorite toppings and serve.

Tips and Tricks

Affogato Tips and Tricks
  1. Always use strongly brewed espresso to start you off.
  2. Make sure your espresso shots are hot. Otherwise, they won’t melt the gelato (or ice cream) properly.
  3. Try to prepare the gelato (or ice cream) tray 1 day prior to serving. If the gelato is frozen overnight, you’ll get the best results.
  4. Keep your toppings ready beforehand. You don’t want to be running around the kitchen trying to crush your hazelnuts.
  5. You can also serve this dessert by preparing it on the spot. Your guests might enjoy the opportunity of topping their serving the way they enjoy it.

How Can I Make An Affogato Without A Coffee Machine?

You don’t need a coffee machine to be able to make an Affogato. There are many alternative methods you can use. Two of the best alternatives are stovetop espresso makers and standard espresso makers.

If you use a standard espresso maker, the best approach is for you to make extra strong coffee. But whatever the strength you make, you better make sure there’s enough for everyone.

How Should I Serve An Affogato?


An Affogato is best served in glasses or glass bowls. The real charm of the dessert is getting to watch the hot espresso melt the gelato and ooze out, flowing in the bowl. If you can’t see the magic, you’ve taken away at least half the fun.

Secondly, you always want to make sure you have the gelato (or ice cream) pre-served. You want it ready to go. So when it’s time to get your hot espresso in the bowls, your gelato is ready. This way, your coffee won’t get cold, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress.

Lastly, toppings are an optional but essential part of an Affogato. Ideally, a crumbly and crunchy texture compliments the already creamy, rich texture of the dessert. Crushed nuts, biscotti, or chocolate or caramel sauce are some of the preferred toppings you could use.

What is the Best Way to Enjoy An Affogato?

Affogato  with a spoon

The best way for you to have an Affogato is with a spoon. Some people also use straws, but I don’t recommend them.

First, eat the ice cream with the spoon, then enjoy the remaining coffee with melted ice cream.

What Flavor Ice Cream Can I Use As Alternative In Affogato?

Vanilla Ice Cream

Traditionally, the Italian way of making Affogato is by using gelato. But if you want to substitute it with ice cream, there is no harm. 

The other favorite is vanilla ice cream. You can also use chocolate, chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, caramel, or even coffee ice cream. Just make sure it compliments the flavor of the espresso.

Final Thoughts

Affogato  with a spoon

The Affogato is a lesser-known delicious coffee. But more accurately, it’s a dessert rather than traditional coffee. However, coffee is an integral part of the dessert.

So it isn’t wrong to say that with Affogato, you get the best of both worlds. You get an outstanding dessert and a different kind of coffee.