What Is An Affogato And What Does It Taste Like?

For coffee lovers, there's so much to try beyond just plain old drip brew, from the trendy whipped Dalgona coffee to tempting java chip Oreos. It's more convenient than ever to get a fix — grab a cup to go from a chain store like Starbucks or just pop a pre-packed pod into your Keurig machine — and you're good. But there's also something so enjoyable about taking the time to brew a hearty French press or making your own espresso drink right at home.

When it comes to the tradition of espresso drinks, it can get a little confusing with all the different ways you can utilize the bold shots — like knowing the differences between lattes and cappuccinos to what separates lattes from flat whites. There's another kind you may have not heard of called an affogato. This isn't necessarily a coffee drink, but more of a dessert as affogatos are a shot of espresso poured over gelato, and it could be a great way to put an end cap on your day. 

If you can't decide between coffee or dessert after dinner, affogatos give you the chance to have both in one cup. They're so easy to make and customize, and affogatos are a great way to please a crowd at a dinner party.

What is an affogato?

In Italian, the word affogato translates loosely to "drowned," according to Taste Atlas, and it makes sense since, to make it, you need to pour the espresso shot over cold gelato. When you do so, it all comes together to make a creamy, caffeinated drink. Taste Atlas says that traditional affogatos usually go with gelato flavors of vanilla or fior di latte to really bring out the flavor, but you can switch it up and even use ice cream if you don't have gelato on hand. 

While there's some slight differences between ice cream and gelato, affogatos will still be just as sweet and delicious with either option. Eataly's recipe for affogato gives you the option of vanilla or hazelnut gelato flavors, all of which sound wonderful paired with espresso.

If you love coffee-flavored ice cream, then this dessert and drink combination is for you. Think of it as a coffee float or coffee sundae. Bonus: you'll also get more caffeine out of an affogato than regular ice cream because of the hearty concentration in the espresso shot.

What does an affogato taste like?

You might guess that an affogato tastes pretty similar to coffee ice cream or a Frappuccino, which is true, but there's a bit more to this creamy drink than what you might pick up in a carton from the grocery store or at your local Starbucks. The food blog Mildly Meandering adds, "I have found that it has a bit stronger of an espresso flavor than coffee ice cream but it is still very similar." Talk about the perfect summer treat!

You can also add extra toppings to your affogato to customize the flavor to your liking. Spoon University recommends toppings like candied nuts, caramel drizzles, whipped cream, and more. If you like your desserts sweet and salty, then top off your affogato with a little bit of salted caramel. Since affogatos have just two main base ingredients, you can spice it up with plenty of add-ins to change the flavor and make this dessert your own.

How do you make an affogato?

Affogatos are so incredibly easy to make, but even so, this dish always feels luxurious. Really, all you really need to do is pour espresso over ice cream, but there are a couple of important tips that will lead to success and make you an expert at making this Italian delicacy. 

According to The Kitchn, there is a specific ratio to abide by. As they note, "a classic affogato is made with two cups of gelato to one shot of espresso." While The Kitchn recommends gelato rather ice cream, either works. If you don't have an espresso maker handy, Food Network says you can use three tablespoons of coffee in a regular machine — just make sure to brew your coffee on the strongest setting.

It's also important to note that you'll want to use a glass dish or mug of some kind since you're mixing cold and hot temperatures — and you always want to serve it immediately before it has the chance to settle too much and you get a sad melted bowl of coffee ice cream soup.

The Kitchn's recipe for affogato includes amaretto, but alcohol is entirely optional while you're making this dessert. Guide 2 Coffee offers a couple more options if you want to add alcohol, like cognac and frangelico.