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What is an Affogato Shot? (A Classic Coffee Dessert)

Can’t decide between a coffee or dessert, why not have both? Let’s go a step further, save on the washing up and serve them in the same dish!

If you’ve ever studied the menu in an Italian restaurant or coffee shop you may have seen the term Affogato listed. Alongside the vast array of coffee-themed vocabulary out there, Affogato often leaves people confused. I’m here to clear up any misconceptions and tell you, all you need to know about affogato.

What is an Affogato Shot

What Is An Affogato?

Think of a creamy, smooth, scoop of ice cream, and then consider a rich and warming shot of espresso. Combine the two and there you have an Affogato!

It’s an Italian dessert where hot espresso is poured over vanilla ice cream to give a rich and creamy, sweet, and melty dessert.

Affogato Origins

The Affogato recipe is originally from Italy but the exact origins are still pretty much unknown The word Affogato, literally means ‘drowned’ in Italian which relates to the way the ice cream is submerged in the espresso. In French, it’s known as ‘gelato al fior de latte’ which translates to ‘flower of milk’. It’s classically served in a glass with a teaspoon to scoop it out and sometimes a shot of liqueur is added for an after-dinner treat.

In Italy, gelato is typically used which is a thicker, denser form of ice cream. Vanilla gelato is the classic Italian option but other flavors of gelato or ice cream can also be enjoyed. Coconut, fruit, and sweet options like honeycomb all combine really well with the shot of hot espresso.


As with every classic coffee, Starbucks has developed their own twist on the classic affogato coffee. It’s basically an affogato-style frappuccino. Any of the frappuccinos they list on the menu can now be ordered affogato-style, so the barista will pour a shot of coffee over the drink. This produces a beautiful marbling effect as the coffee combines with the frappe iced coffee, syrup, milk, and whipped cream.

Vanilla bean, caramel, and mocha all are ideal choices and combine very well with a shot of espresso.

How To Make Affogato

Making an affogato

Classic Affogato

To make this Italian classic, a true espresso is only possible with an espresso machine. These machines can reach the high pressure necessary to extract the full coffee flavors and produce a rich crema. The prep time for Affogato is less than 10 minutes and really depends on how long it takes to brew your coffee.

Brew your espresso shot as per your machine’s guidelines and scoop some vanilla ice cream into a glass. Pour the hot coffee over the ice cream and try to eat it quickly, before the ice cream melts.

No Espresso Machine?

You can make espresso-like coffee using a Moka pot. Also known as a stovetop espresso maker these little devices are very cheap to buy and make a rich, dark coffee.

Simply add water to the bottom chamber, place the basket on top, add medium-finely ground coffee and level it out using a teaspoon or just your finger. Next, screw the top portion in place and position the pot on a heat source.

When the water heats up, the steam creates pressure in the lower chamber which forces the hot water up through the coffee grounds. This hot brewed coffee collects in the upper chamber.

It’s important to remove the pot from the stove when the brewing stage is complete to avoid burning it.

This kind of coffee works extremely well as an espresso substitute when making affogato. If you don’t have a Moka pot then you can just brew very strong coffee and use this instead.

Added Extras

pouring coffee over vanilla ice cream


A shot of alcohol can add a late-night, boozy twist to this dessert. Baileys Irish cream is a perfect choice or if you prefer a darker option Kahlua or Tia Maria works extremely well. Frangelico is a hazelnut-based liqueur that also pairs well and Amaretto is another good choice.

Flavor Variations

Different flavored ice cream can be used to personalize this dish. Where vanilla is the standard option, any flavor of ice cream can be substituted. Chocolate flavored can be used to give a mocha-type effect and even coffee ice cream can be used to maximize the intensity of the coffee flavor.


You can add a wide range of toppings to your ice cream to create a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. Dark chocolate chips or shavings, crumbled biscotti, chopped nuts, cookie crumb, or any flavored syrup drizzled on top goes down a treat. You can even add whipped cream if you’re looking for something extra decadent.


Affogato can vary a lot in nutritional content due to the type and amount of ice cream used, and any toppings added.

For a recipe using a single espresso shot and half a cup of vanilla ice cream here is the nutritional breakdown.

  • Calories – 145 (7% of your RDA)
  • Fat – 7.9g (saturated fat – 4.8g)
  • Carbohydrates – 16.9g
  • Protein – 2.52g

This equates to 48% fat, 46% carbs, 6% protein

There’s 32mg of cholesterol which equates to 11% of your RDA and it’s also quite high in vitamin A with 85mg (9%).

A Late Night Snack?

If you love the sound of an Affogato shot as an after-dinner treat or a late-night snack then it’s worth considering the caffeine content. With 60-70mg per shot of espresso, this can be enough to keep you awake well into the night. It can be a good idea to substitute the coffee for a decaf option to avoid insomnia.


Affogato is a rich and delicious combination of espresso coffee and ice cream or gelato. It’s so simple to make and can be adjusted or extras added to suit your taste preferences. The only skills needed with an Affogato are the ability to brew coffee alongside how quickly you can eat the ice cream. Left too long and it all melts into a gooey puddle so grab your spoon and be quick, it won’t wait around for you for very long!

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