The affogato is a beautiful concoction that blends the sweet creaminess of ice cream with the robust intensity of espresso. The simplest type of affogato consists of one scoop vanilla ice cream or gelato with hot espresso poured over it, although I’ve also tried some more decadent versions too (see photo below). While add-ons like chopped nuts, chocolate sauce, liqueur, fruit, or whipped cream can be delightful, I’m a purist who prefers just the two main ingredients.

The “Espresso a la Mode” at Milk in Los Angeles, CA.

Even if you do like additional toppings, both the espresso and ice cream should still be fresh and tasty on their own. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find an ice cream parlor that makes quality espresso or a coffeeshop that serves quality scoops. So if you haven’t found a local spot that can do the affogato right, I recommend crafting your own at home.

First, pick out your ice cream and espresso base. I’m too lazy to make my own ice cream so I have to depend on store bought vegan vanilla ice cream. I prefer the ones made with cashew or coconut, which are both creamier and tastier options than soy. For coffee, go and buy an espresso blend from one of your favorite coffee roasters. I recommend going with something bold and strong, for a nice contrast to the sweetness of the ice cream. My personal easy to find, go-to affogato mix is Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island and Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Classic Espresso. My ideal ingredients to test out are a scoop of Van Leeuwan’s Salted Caramel plus a shot of Stumptown’s French Roast, but I don’t live in New York anymore so I must deal with the lack of access to my dreams.

ANYWAY, there are plenty of local, artisanal ice cream/gelato parlors—like Sweet Action and Sweet Cow—and coffee roasters—like Corvus and Boxcar—in the Denver-Boulder area, so go explore to find your ideal affogato mix.

Once you’ve picked out your ingredients, you’ll need to assess your brewing tools. If you don’t own a stovetop espresso maker, just use whatever pour over device or automatic drip machine you’ve got to make a very strong, condensed, and small cup of coffee. I would suggest using two ounces of espresso/coffee per one scoop of ice cream, but just like the contents in the cup the size is also totally up to you.

Go forth and make some affogato magic!