Affogato literally means “drowning” in Italian, which is exactly what this scoop of gelato is doing in a shot of espresso. It’s the best sort of tragedy to happen at the dinner table. Here’s how to make it.

Espresso being poured over gelato in a cup to make affogato.

Affogato means “drowned” in Italian and throughout Italy it’s commonly used to refer to a single scoop of gelato “drowned” in a single shot of espresso. Contrary to most things Italian, one must make haste when luxuriating in this dessert so as to capture those moments before the opposing tastes and temperatures and textures meld into homogeny. As such, the most practical way to share this with guests is to keep the gelato and coffee separate and let people do the drowning themselves. Here’s how to make it.–Renee Schettler Rossi


  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • 4 scoops vanilla gelato or fior di latte gelato (or substitute vanilla ice cream)
  • 4 shots freshly brewed espresso (or substitute strongly brewed coffee)


  • 1. Plop 1 scoop of gelato in each of 4 squat glasses or coffee cups.
  • 2. Give each dinner guest a glass containing a scoop of gelato, a small cup of espresso on the side, and a spoon. Then let everyone pour the espresso over the gelato and plunge their spoons in quickly so as to appreciate the contrast between hot and cold and still-distinct flavors before the cream melts into the dark liquid. Then sigh deeply out of contentment. Originally published March 3, 2016.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I respect affogato. It's something that conjures such happiness from so few ingredients and so little effort. I first experienced affogato when I was a 20-something living through a sweltering summer in Washington, DC, without air conditioning. Affogato is what soothed me morning and night. And since you really can't mess this up, it's a tremendously practical dinner party trick.

Don't overlook the author's admonition to serve the espresso steaming hot and the gelato cold from the freezer. And let your guests pour it themselves because the gelato melting and melding with the espresso is truly something you must not miss, not even one moment of it.

So easy to do. And absolutely foolproof. And utterly delicious. So how much better can it get? I’m totally in love with affogato and make it often at home—at least once a week. My guests are always impressed with the simplicity and taste.

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