In Los Angeles, there are countless versions of affogato: the enchanting fusion of espresso and ice cream. Sprudge wanted me to find some of the best in the city but I knew I needed help. So I reached out to my friend and food blogger Nastassia Johnson.
Nastassia Johnson is the founder of Let Me Eat Cake, and has made a name for herself adventuring around Southern California (and the world!) tasting sweet treats. One week she may post a Coachella dessert guide including the Salt & Straw Coffee Bourbon ice cream, while the next she wows her Instagram (@letmeeatcake) followers with photos of waffles, donuts and of course… affogatos.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but when the General Public wrote the song “Hot You're Cool” I think they were writing about the Los Angeles affogato. No two affogatos are quite the same in Los Angeles, but they're always hot and cool. In cafes around LA, some are made with a small scoop of cool ice cream that quickly melts into a bowl of hot espresso, while others drip hot espresso over a giant cool dollop of ice cream. No matter how you shake it, espresso and ice cream together is a match made in “can’t decide between wanting coffee or dessert” heaven.
Johnson tasted a heroic number of affogatos, all in the name of bringing you, dear reader, this round-up of creative affogato contenders. She's collected her thoughts on each hot and cool confection, and given each a helpful classification to best guide you on the journey to finding your own personal affogato heaven.
Coffee that Entertains
“Café Maji in the San Gabriel Valley offers what can best be described as a whimsical coffee experience. The affogato served here is aptly named a ‘snow-fogato’. Three generous scoops of vanilla ice cream rest in a large bowl and are topped with a big fluffy mound of cotton candy. It comes served on a tray with a side of espresso for you to pour overtop. Don’t miss the fun bear latte art too. You heard that correctly, no rosettas or hearts here just cute bear faces starting up at you from your tasty cup of joe.”
Breakfast of Champions
“Rice crispy treat ice cream is not a thing of dreams. It exists, and you can enjoy a big scoop of it over Heart espresso garnished with more ground espresso over top. Quenelle small batch ice creams are served at Brew/Well where you can enjoy this sweet treat. I love the playful pairing of breakfast cereal ice cream and coffee, a real adult breakfast. The best part of this affogato beyond the well balanced brew is the sheer amount of ice cream you get to enjoy. It practically overflows the bowl, allowing you to sip and savor every last bit of ice cream and coffee.”
Affogato with a View
“At most hotels coffee seems to be an after-thought and you have to venture into the city to enjoy a good cup from a local shop. At the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes this is definitely not the case. At their small café Sea Beans you can pair espresso with any selection of their house made gelato. I went for the classic vanilla bean, which is some of the best vanilla bean gelato I have had! Together they make a magical pair. There is so much fresh vanilla bean packed into each sip that this truly is a decadent afternoon treat. You can sit back, enjoy the view of the Pacific and enjoy every last drop here.”
Over the Top
“At Copa Vida in Pasadena, they call them Affogot’ems and there is an entire menu devoted to coffee and ice cream. The choices on their menu seem endless and the pairings playful. My relentless sweet tooth loves Carmela’s salted caramel ice cream, Counter Culture Coffee's Apollo espresso, a drizzle of caramel and a dash of sea salt. These are next level affogatos.”
Best in Show
“G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market pulls some of the best espresso in town and lucky for me they pair it with some of my favorite ice cream–McConnell's sweet cream. I love that they use sweet cream instead of vanilla ice cream, so that the espresso really shines through rather than getting lost in the vanilla bean. This affogato is hard to beat. The additional shot of espresso served on the side is a nice touch as well. If your sweet needs are anything like mine you will most definitely venture further into the market to the McConnell’s Ice Cream stall for another scoop. You are here already, why not!”
Julie Wolfson is Sprudge.com's Los Angeles desk, in addition being a contributor at places like Cool Hunting, Los Angeles Times, and Angeleno Magazine. A native Californian, she lives and writes in Los Angeles.