Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Two summers ago, we were invited to our friend's house for a lobster bake. We all brought a side to share with the other party goers and I wanted to bring something related to coffee. It was a warm day in late July, easy breeze from the Thames River, and mostly sunny. I wanted to craft a refreshing dessert enhancing all the different coffee flavors. But, something that was versatile, easy assembly, and could be made with available ingredients. Enter, the Affogato.
What is it?
The Affogato is an espresso gelato based dessert drink that can be spiked with a brandy type sweet liquor. It can be topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or chocolate syrup. You can make it in a traditional small glass or in a coffee mug. At the lobster bake, I brought disposable paper cups, a cooler for the ice cream, and a thermos of our coffee. We do not currently have an espresso machine. The V-60 filter below were just stacked for fun, we do not make coffee this way...but I might try at some point. The past 13 years from starting this coffee journey, we have had a Pasquini Livia 90, Solis fully automatic, French press, Mr. Coffee auto-drip, you get the point. This setup works great everyday, ease of changing up the morning coffee, and more open to experimentation with freshly roasted organic coffee.
What equipment and preparation
So, no espresso machine, no problem. Just use the right ratio of coffee to water for the strength you prefer. A few suggestions for making that great cup of coffee. A 16:1 ratio (water to ground coffee in grams) yields a great pour over coffee for all origins, including the delicate but powerful Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Read the directions for your coffee instrument to know their recommendation for coffee to water. Additionally, good water has a huge impact on the flavors extracted from the coffee. Chlorine for me kills the flavorful coffee as does the filter tastes. How to solve this, we installed a super easy reverse osmosis filtration system in the production area. Here is the filtration system we purchased that is very to install and requires no electrical installation. This is a game changer for reducing water solubles.
Next, get rid of the filter taste. If the filter is bleached white, then try to buy the brown disposable filters. Even the brown disposable filters, to me, have a taste in the coffee. Take hot water and run it through the filter and throw out that water, but keep the filter. Lastly, if all of this is up to par, but do you remember the last time you cleaned the carafe or the filter assembly for making your coffee? Clean the machine. This is the number one problem we observe when we are troubleshooting bad tasting coffee. You deserve the best quality coffee made on the cleanest machine possible.
Why does the type of ice cream matter?
I have tried making the Affogato with all different types of ice cream, Stop and Shop brand, to gelato based ice cream, to national recognized brands. I have found the more ingredients in the ice cream, the more "slick" of stuff that builds on the surface of the coffee. We enjoy the Warwick brand ice cream because it has simple ingredients and is a full fat ice cream. The experience is similar to drinking a full fat milk latte. The milk cuts through the espresso but provides the body for a tantalizing drink. You can use all the different coconut non-dairy ice cream products as well to get the same experience.
How to make this dessert drink
You assembled your coffee or espresso making equipment, chose your ice cream, the kind of glass or mug, and maybe a liquor of choice. Make your coffee however you chose. We are using our Fitch Falcon coffee, which is an organic fair trade Nicaraguan Al De Jinotega roasted to a darker finish. Pro tip here, if you are going to use a non-dairy ice cream, take it out of the freezer earlier than milk based ice cream. It will be really difficult to scoop, as I found out and shot coconut ice cream across the kitchen, if not taken out ahead of time.
Here comes the best part, putting it all together. Put a scoop of your ice cream in the bottom of your cup. Next, if you are adding a liquor pour this over the ice cream. Lastly, pour the hot coffee or espresso over the ice cream. Take this time to watch the cream swirl around the coffee and everything blend together in the cup. Top this with some whipped cream, chocolate, whatever you like. I like to keep it to coffee and ice cream, it's just the simple for me. I like to be able to taste the different flavors from the coffee and how the sugar, salt mixture changes how the coffee tastes.
Why does this drink work so well?
The combination of the acid on the front of the coffee mixes with the creaminess of the ice cream. I am not usually a sugar and cream coffee drinker but I do find this combination very refreshing. Salt from the ice cream adds a depth to the coffee and enhances its subtle tones that sometimes get missed. Brewed coffee stratifies rather quickly in any vessel that contains it. The melting ice cream contains those stratifying layers holding them together a bit tighter creating a layered coffee ice cream experience.
It is just the right amount of both ice cream and coffee to leave you satisfied. Even if you make this drink in a 12 ounce cup, you can only fit so much ice cream and coffee. It is a bit like making a mixed drink, because you add the ice cream first, the coffee has to fill in the gaps in the cup. This is similar to ice cubes in a mixed drink as you add the liquor first and then the mixer. Now, let's plan those coffee dates and listen to some live music to really tap into the mental benefits. How do you like to make this version of the Affogato? Start the conversation below my coffee friends.