If there’s one treat I love to splurge on in the summer, it’s affogatos. They’re creamy, sweet, cold and just the right hit of espresso. It’s the perfect summer drink with a mix of coffee and ice cream. For those that haven’t been exposed to an affogato before, they’re typically made with one scoop of ice cream and a shot of espresso, either pulled over top of the ice cream or added after. The word affogato literally translates to “drowned” in Italian, where the recipe originates.
While you can get an affogato from a café, I believe the best way to enjoy one is to make it at home with the exact espresso ratios and recipe – both in terms of your espresso and your ice cream – to suit your taste. I love to use my manual Flair espresso maker for pulling shots and playing with recipes. It’s great for travelling or home use. I have the Flair PRO 2 and love how the compact design can pack up in a travel case when I’m not using it.
Because the Flair is a completely manual, lever espresso machine, it’s easy to pressure profile with the use of the included pressure gauge. This gives the brewer complete control over their shot of espresso. Manual espresso can be a great methodical way to pull a shot, the whole process is very tactile and the barista really gets a feel for how the shot is extracting as they go. I love to slow down and enjoy the process by handcrafting my espresso shots.
While the recipe might sound simple with only two ingredients, the coffee and ice cream choices are super important and of course will have big impacts on your affogato. Let’s look at the ice cream first.
Selecting Your Ice Cream
Start with a good ice cream – I recommend staying away from supermarket owned brands – and try to find something more local or fresh. For this recipe I’m using a vanilla ice cream from a local place named “Four All” ice cream. I would stay away from coffee flavored ice creams because they are usually a disappointment in flavor and likeness to coffee. I would also avoid any flavors like mint or bubblegum as they won’t mix well with the espresso. The taste of a good vanilla bean ice cream and a great shot of espresso will be better than any flavored ice cream. If you really want to mix it up, chocolate ice cream is another great one to try, although I generally go with vanilla because it’s the classic flavor and mixes well with any type of espresso!
Selecting Your Coffee
The coffee I choose for an affogato can depend on my mood. I generally stick to single origin, light roasts from my favorite roasters and I always make sure the beans were roasted within a few weeks of using them. If you’re unsure what coffee to use, try anything from your local specialty coffee shop, and always make sure it’s fresh whole bean coffee that you can grind immediately before extracting.
When I want something that really evokes summer flavors, I’ll choose a light roasted natural Colombian or Ethiopian. Coffee like this will give you lots of fruity notes and be great cold, mixing well with the ice cream. But, if you want a more traditional espresso taste choose a medium roast coffee; something with lots of chocolate, caramel, nut or dark berry tasting notes. You can’t go wrong with vanilla and chocolate! I always stay away from dark roasted coffees. Dark roasts are generally over roasted, more oily and feature a more bitter and burnt flavor that doesn’t pair as well in an affogato.
Making Your Affogato
In terms of brewing your espresso for your affogato, you can either do a cold press or a regular hot press. Personally, I love to press my espresso hot because of how it melts the ice cream when the two are combined. There’s not much better than the melty soupy-ness from warm espresso and cold ice cream. But, if you prefer that your ice cream melts slower, or for days that are extremely hot outside, a cold-pressed espresso can do the trick. To learn more about how to cold press your espresso with a Flair Espresso Maker check out some of their tutorials online.
To make an affogato start by preparing your espresso machine: If you use a Flair manual espresso maker like me, get it pre-heated and setup. Have your coffee dosed and ready. I use 16g of coffee for my shots. Using smaller doses like 16 grams is much easier when starting out. If you mess up your extraction and need to dial-in further and re-pull you also waste less coffee using a smaller dose.
For your ice cream, scoop roughly 90g into a small glass and set aside, if you want it extra cold keep it in the freezer until right before you add the espresso. Once your Flair is heated and ready to go, distribute and then tamp 16g into the basket. Pull your shot into a glass or over the ice cream. I pull my shots with a two to three second pre-infusion, then ramp up to nine bars of pressure aiming to finish the shot around 35-45 seconds with double the volume: That’s 32g out or 1:2 ratio. Once you have your beautiful shot of espresso just dump it over top of the ice cream and enjoy!
Depending on how you like making your affogato you can adjust the ratio of ice cream to espresso. In my recipe, the ratio of espresso to ice cream was a 1:3 but you can do a 1:4 or 1:2 if you want it more or less creamy. I prefer not to dilute with too much ice cream because I love that punch you get from the espresso, but definitely experiment to find what you like.
That’s it, my go to affogato recipe. It’s only two ingredients but it’s absolutely delicious and creamy. It requires a little more work with handcrafted espresso from the Flair, but once you get that shot dialed-in and poured over the ice cream you won’t be disappointed! Good things take time and I think it’s important to enjoy the process as much as the final results.
To recap, here are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Ingredients matter, both in the coffee and the ice cream.
- Press hot or cold.
- Enjoy right away and with a friend. Like all coffee related beverages, affogatos are best shared with someone!
- And never forget, if you’d like to make your affogato an adult beverage, you can always combine your espresso and ice cream with your favorite liquor. More on that later.