How to Make an Affogato

This simple, swirly combination of cold gelato and hot espresso is impossible to resist.

There are plenty of fun coffee shop-inspired drinks out there—but none are as indulgent as an affogato. This simple Italian dessert will transport you to Italy in about a minute!

It will win your heart with its combination of cold vanilla gelato and hot espresso or strong coffee. It’s like a dressed-up, after-dinner espresso, perfect for serving after a dinner of hearty Italian pasta.

What Is an Affogato?

This Italian treat is a combination of espresso and gelato. Occasionally you’ll see this dessert drink listed as affogato al caffe, which means “drowned coffee” in Italian.

To make an affogato, gelato (or ice cream) is drowned in delicious espresso. And pouring the coffee over the gelato is half the fun—when the espresso hits the gelato, it starts to melt and forms a thick, swirly foam of ice cream and coffee.

Traditionally, an affogato is made with just espresso and gelato, but add rum or a nut liqueur for a boozy affogato. You can also personalize this coffee dessert by topping it with chocolate shavings or making an affogato sundae.

Ready to order? Learn how to pronounce affogato. Say it like aw-fo-gah-toe.

How to Make an Affogato

For this dessert, you’ll need vanilla gelato and espresso, but you can substitute vanilla ice cream and strongly brewed hot coffee in a pinch.


  • 1-2 scoops gelato
  • 1 shot espresso


Scoop 1-2 scoops of gelato into a clear glass. Pull shots of espresso or make a batch of strong coffee, then pour it over the cold gelato. When the espresso hits the gelato, it should start to melt and form a thick, swirly foam of cream and coffee. Repeat for additional servings. Enjoy immediately!

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Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.