Affogato - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save


One of the most enduring post-meal pick-me-ups.

The best affogato is the simplest affogato, according to Sandro Paolini, owner of Portland, Oregon’s Pinolo Gelato. There’s no need to fuss up the classic Italian treat, whose magical keystone is the tension that exists between its two ingredients: hot espresso and cold gelato. “You have a really nice contrast between the milky, silky, clean flavor of the gelato, mixed with the bitterness from the coffee,” says Paolini.

While many of Italy’s most famous culinary exports bear highly specific provenance, the exact birthplace of affogato remains a mystery. “It’s so controversial,” says Paolini, who hails from Pisa himself. However, the country is unified on using flor di latte (“flower of milk”) gelato in affogati to capture the bare flavor of dairy, unaltered by flavoring or the addition of eggs. Contrary to the popular serving style in the States of dousing the gelato scoop with hot espresso, in Italy, Paolini says, the reverse is true: The espresso is poured first, then topped by the gelato scoop. “The main goal is to have, in the same bite, solid gelato with [hot] coffee.”

Affogato was once relegated to a summertime offering in accordance with the spring-to-fall schedule of Italy’s gelato shops in the ’80s, but as the gelateries increasingly kept their doors open year-round, the affogato followed suit, becoming a seasonless post-meal pick-me-up. Opt for extra oomph with a shot of sambuca in your next affogato, or stick to the standard in appreciation of a dessert whose brilliance is derived from its ease.


  • 1-2 shots of fresh espresso
  • 1 scoop of gelato, preferably flor di latte
  • Sambuca, grappa, rum, or Cognac, if desired


In a small bowl or cup, add one to two shots of fresh espresso. If opting for a boozy version, add a shot of your preferred alcohol. Add one scoop of gelato to the bowl.

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