Espresso + Gelato: The first in a series on developing a coffee program

  1. Affogato

    Jim Berman
    Exploring the Marche region of Italy a few years’ back, Affogato shimmered to life for me. On a caffé menu, this unusual presence piqued my attention. The suave barista explained that a scoop of gelato was dowsed with a shot of espresso - an Italian version of a hot fudge sundae? And it was amore at first taste! And, well, I was sampling this amazingness whilst lounging on a gravel terrace overlooking the Piceno valley at sunset, so, naturally, it had to be good. Of course, it was good. Upon returning to the States, I had sought out the affogato and found it was not as much an anomaly as I had expected. But would it be as good? Literally, drowned, “affogato al café” has gone through Starbucks-ization and survived to be a respectable figure in smaller coffee houses here and there.
    * * *​
    Our classroom is the fortunate beneficiary of a La Cimbali M21 Espresso Machine from the generous support of ChefTalk. With the espresso maker, a Compak grinder came along, as well. It has been an authentic learning adventure to glean the basics of operating those machines. And, goodness, getting frothed milk for the top of a cappuccino is article-worthy in itself. So much to learn about the right grind, the humidity’s effect on said grind, weighing the grind, tamping the grind… and we haven’t even added the water. But we will.
    Espresso is no easy gig; the equipment is pricy, finicky, and, well, not necessarily a staple of every kitchen. There is more than just a little endeavor in getting the sublime espresso. Hell, there is more than just a little work getting a passable espresso draw. Getting the right crema on an espresso is a course in itself. If you have a decent method to work caffeinated magic, an affogato is within your grasp.  Let’s go with this: make an espresso and we’ll cover the construct of said elixir at a later date. But, once we could pull a shot, we needed to dig into the counterpoint of the hot coffee and get the icy component right.
    Let’s not get crazy about the gelato. Sure, the frozen scoop of ethereal magic was perfectly crafted. But that was is in Italy. And there are some great gelaterias around that offer their craftily produced frozen magic. Classic, traditional ice cream will work very well. But make your own. We use:

    Schoolmade Vanilla Ice Cream:

    2 cups, Milk, whole

    1 quart, Heavy cream

    ¾ cup, sugar, granulated

    1 teaspoon, vanilla paste

    Pinch, fine salt

    Combine all the ingredients and freeze according your machine’s directions.

    You see, we had this notion to bring a coffee program to life using the new M21 espresso machine that ChefTalk brought to us in our little student-run café. In search of our invention, bringing the goodness of our own espresso to the altar with our schoolmade ice cream, we lit upon creating a blended affogato as our signature drink. We rifled through websites of coffee shops, chain peddlers and local venues. And the research was rather rewarding, if not a bit jolting to our caffeine-fueled nervous systems. We tried various incarnations of frozen/blended/frapped/mixed/shaken coffee drinks. Some good, some… well, not so much. Some using double-strength iced coffee, some using coffee syrup (gasp!) some using coffee powder (gasp and gag!) and some using honest-to-goodness espresso. At Lomo in Wilmington, the frappe went through a slushy process in a mighty Vitamix blender. Not bad! The coffee concoction known as a Mochaccino at the big double Ds, is not so good. It is sugar-fueled and overloaded with too much ‘stuff’ to discern the goodness of any single ingredient. ‘Convoluted’ comes to mind. While researching coffee formulations, we stumbled upon the Aussie Coffee at Pie Face in New York City. T.S. Elliot kinda said that good writers borrow from other writers and that great writers steal from other writers. Can the same be said for hopeful coffee shop operators? We plucked the Aussie Coffee from Pie Face through a series of visits and conversations with their counter staff. This is what we wanted. Espresso. Ice cream. Milk. Vanilla. Amore!

    Our version: (Per serving)

    2 #10 scoop (3 3/4oz by volume), schoolmade vanilla ice cream

    1 double-shot of espresso (~ 2.5oz)

    2 oz, whole milk

    ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

    Blend at a high rate (using a Vitamix or similar) until smooth, approximately 10 seconds. Serve immediately.

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  1. tequismx
    Never heard of it Jim. Maybe create one?
  2. jim berman
    Is that anything like a cafe corretto?
  3. tequismx
    Not sure if any in the forum heard of carajillos which basically is an Spanish drink made of an espresso shot with some liquor - brandy or rum -. At my place we started selling those and have been received quite well. With the Winter approaching what a perfect drink to try!
  4. jim berman
    Hi, IceMan. Thank you for your feedback... I think... haha. I am a purist, yes, but with a slightly twisted approach. So, I am right there with ya'. Thanks, again, for sharing your thoughts.
  5. Iceman
    I love you purist-type guys. You're the coffee drinkers that keep things real. Myself on the other hand, am willing to accept and drink many different takes on many different coffee creations that are how we say, "Good enough for government work.". I have no problemmo saying "Nice, may I please have another?" or just as easily and politely "Hey ... this sucks.". I'm funny like that I guess. Thanks for the story.
  6. jim berman
    Glad I could assist with your beverage selection. Those espresso Points are cute machines. Great for an office, etc. Thanks for sharing! -Jim
  7. tequismx
    As an espresso and ice cream lover, this sounds like the perfect drinkable dessert for the Summer AND Winter.
    A good option is the amazing easy to use Lavazza Espresso Point for those not that serious about coffee.