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Affogatos: The Underrated (and Easy) Dessert You Need to Make Now

Coffee over ice cream is a classic, delicious and, perhaps most importantly, easy dessert. Learn how to make this sweet Italian drink (and how to upgrade it) with these tips—no espresso machine required.

5 min read

Forget peanut butter and jelly. Ditto for peas and carrots. And meat and potatoes. The affogato is the best combo of all time. If you’re not familiar, affogato means “drowned” in Italian—and the drink is literally just vanilla gelato that’s, well, drowned with hot espresso. (Sometimes hazelnut or another liqueur is added—it’s optional, of course, but it does turn a dynamic duo into a terrific trio, also known as an affogato corretto.) While the exact origins of this dessert/drink hybrid are unknown, you can find it served in cafes and gelato shops all over Italy. It’s also a super-easy dessert to make at home that requires minimal prep work and can quickly be made for one or for a crowd.

Cold brew coffee machine and POP containers

Don’t have an espresso machine? No problem. We meant it when we said this is a super-easy dessert. You can make an affogato with a drip coffee maker instead. You don’t need to hunt down gelato, either; Good quality vanilla bean ice cream works just as well. Here’s how to make affogato at home—plus a few fancy upgrades to make this delicious dessert even better.

Coffee with ice cream


  • vanilla ice cream
  • extra-strong coffee


  1. Scoop your ice cream: Use an ice cream scoop to dole out ice cream into your bowl or vessel of choice. A classic affogato is made with two scoops of gelato to one shot of espresso, but you can play with the recipe based on your taste. Start with two scoops and see how you like it. You seriously can not mess this up.
  2. Brew some extra-strong coffee: Choose a darker roast coffee bean, as it will give you a deeper flavor. You can brew a full pot, if you’re serving a crowd. If it’s just you, use our 8-Cup Coffee Maker to brew a single serving (just slide the switch over from full carafe to single serving). Try 2.5 scoops of grounds and 2 cups of water, slide your ice cream-filled bowl or mug where the carafe would normally go, and let the machine do the rest.
  3. Taste and tinker: Once the coffee stops dripping, your dessert is ready. It’s time to enjoy! Want more ice cream? Go ahead and add more—make this treat what you want it to be.
ice cream

The affogato recipe is really that simple. And if you want to upgrade your affogato—whether by transforming it into a cocktail or by adding a few extra flavors—that’s easy, too. Here are some twists you can try:  

  • Change up your ice cream: Instead of vanilla—which is great, but maybe a little predictable—try chocolate ice cream. Want to get really meta? Go with coffee ice cream.
  • Spike your affogato: Lots of affogato recipes call for hazelnut liqueur, and we’d also like to nominate amaretto, bourbon, Frangelico or Baileys Irish Cream. Just a splash (of one or another) will do the trick.
  • Infuse the coffee: Add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cardamom to the grounds basket before you brew the coffee.
  • Scoop the ice cream in advance: Serving a crowd? You can pre-scoop the ice cream in advance and freeze the portions on a baking sheet until it’s time to add the coffee.
  • Add some toppings: Toppings always make ice cream better. Go for chocolate shavings, crumbled biscotti, crushed coffee beans or chopped hazelnuts. If you’re scooping your ice cream in advance, you can even roll each serving in your topping of choice before you refreeze them. Consider topping the whole thing with whipped cream for a look and taste that’s *chef’s kiss* good.
  • Play around with serving vessels: Affogatos are typically served in short, clear glasses—but you can use bowls, brandy snifters or even just a coffee mug. Get creative with whatever you have at home, and make it your own. Tip: Chill your vessel ahead of time!

You now know how to make affogato, but are you hungry for more? Next time you want a fun dessert with a jolt, try these coffee-flavored dessert recipes or these coffee cocktail recipes.


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