What's An Affogato, Anyway?

by Georgina Lawton

There aren't really very many ways ice cream or espresso can go wrong, are there? In fact, if your taste buds are particularly seasoned, or you're just super-cultured, you'll know that mixing the two results in a wondrous concotion with its roots in Italy, but which is now popular across the world: An affogato. But what is an affogato, exactly? And why does it serve as the inspiration for the latest Starbucks creation, the Affogato-style Frappuccino? Let's take a dive into this delicious treat, because it's definitely worth knowing about.

The Starbucks Affogato-style Frappuccino debuted in stores in the United States and Canada today; inspired by the continental dessert, this brand new drink consists of a shot of espresso poured atop a Frappuccino, creating a creamy, dreamy hybrid of hot coffee and cool, blended sweetness. The combination of contrasting temperatures and textures is probably going to send my tongue into enjoyment-overdrive, and I already know the drink is looks amazing: Like a cup of swirly, marbled-magic.

But what about the drink's namesake? Here's what you need to know in order to be an afogato afficionado: Affogatos originated in Italy; indeed, the name "affogato" comes from the Italian word "affogare," or "to drown." The name is apt: The dessert is made of gelato literally drowned in espresso. In Italy, affogatos are usually served following lunch or dinner, and should be made with high-quality coffee with a bean that suits the milky taste of the ice cream. (Never, ever use instant coffee.) With this in mind, it makes sense that the Starbucks version would have the winning Frap combo of blended ice, milk, and coffee similarly submerged in a shot of sharp coffee; the bitterness of the espresso will offset the sweet flavors of the Frappuccino nicely.

The Affogato-style Frappuccino will be available in three tantalising varieties: Vanilla Bean, Caramel and Mocha. Additionally, you can actually or any Frappuccino with a shot of espresso for a custom-made affogato-style drink — and thanks to the menu's ever-expanding selection of Frapp flavors, this means that the possibilities for beverage brilliance really are endless.

As always, these new Starbucks additions come with a generous kick of caffeine; a shot of solo espresso contains 75 mg of caffeine, so when you combine that with a regular Frappuccino, the caffeine count can stack up: An Affogato-Style Mocha Frappuccino contains 130 mg of caffeine, for example. But if you're caffeine conscious, you can reduce your intake and make your affogato with a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, which is not caffeinated and still delicious.

The drink is available at Starbucks stores in the United States and Canada throughout the summer beginning July 7; a 12-ounce Tall will cost between $4.25 and $4.75 depending on where you live. And of course, we're praying this will be a permanent addition to the menu.

Images: Starbucks (2)