Dessert or coffee—why pick one when you can have the best of both worlds?

What do you choose after a satisfying meal—dessert, or a cup of Joe? The Italian’s post-meal ritual is the quintessential dessert-beverage hybrid: the affogato. A classic affogato involves a serving of vanilla or fior de latte gelato drenched in a two-ounce double shot of hot espresso. The espresso should flow down and pool at the bottom of the serving glass, allowing the gelato to melt gradually into it.

This treat is indulgent enough on its own, but it’s common to find more embellished versions these days such as a splash of dessert wine or liqueur for an alcoholic kick. While using gelato is the most authentic way to go, affogato with ice cream (of various flavours)is widely served too. Roasted almonds, amaretti, and biscotti biscuits may also be added for texture, along with berries, coconut and honeycomb to amp up the flavour. Sound good? Here's where to sip on the best without leaving the country.


Bella Pasta


We love the dessert-beverage hybrid at Bella Pasta, which comprises a generous scoop of classic vanilla gelato with a single shot of espresso in a wide-bottomed margarita glass. The piping hot bitter coffee runs down the sides of the gelato rather than immediately melting it, giving you ample time to savour each spoonful. #01-09, 30 Robertson Quay.


Craftsmen Specialty Coffee


Craftsmen’s affogato may look a bit overwhelming with the Magnum Mini Almond ice cream sticking out of the cup but it hits all the right spots. The mildly acidic notes from the custom blend of Brazilian coffee beans are balanced with the sweet vanilla ice cream and roasted coconut shavings, revealing a creamy and lingering sweet flavour. A dash of Kahlúa completes the dish. #01-58/59 Clarke Quay Central, 6 Eu Tong Seng Street.


Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar
 

The sublime Affogato Al Caffe con Gelato alla Vaniglia at Garibaldi makes for an ideal afternoon energy boost. You get homemade vanilla gelato laced with bourbon and drowned in a heady shot of espresso from Lavazza. Bonus: a sprinkle of dark Valrhona chocolate shavings. #01-02, 36 Purvis Street.


Jewel Coffee


Cocoa and acidic nuances in Jewel Coffee’s rich espresso, brewed from El Salvador beans, are the perfect foil to the ivory, vanilla bean-flecked ice cream. The icy treat coats the palate with its creaminess while tempering the acerbity of the coffee. A textbook-perfect and thoroughly satisfying affogato. #B1-06 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street. 
 

La Braceria


La Braceria’s affogato is as authentic as they come. Imported from Italy, the vanilla gelato sits as a swirl, before it’s drenched in espresso. The coffee is not too strong; its smooth body is pleasing enough for espresso novices. It melts the milky gelato gradually, allowing the flavours to meld together smoothly. 5 Greendale Avenue.
 

La Ristrettos


It’s the frills that make all the difference in La Ristrettos’ Affogato. Two heaping portions of homemade vanilla ice cream accompany the café’s own Nicaragua roast. What seals the deal, however, is the topping of almonds and dried berries. The latter adds a sweet tang and chew to the luscious ice cream and bitter notes. #08-37 Novena Medical Centre, 10 Sinaran Drive.


One Man Coffee


The OMC Seasonal Espresso Blend of 50 percent Nicaragua and 50 percent El Salvador beans imparts sour cherry and brown sugar notes that go swimmingly with the French vanilla bean ice cream. A generous dusting of cacao powder accentuates the nuanced dark chocolate flavour of the espresso shot. 215R Upper Thomson Road.
 

Ronin


This popular coffee joint, tucked in a corner of Hongkong Street, offers two straightforward servings of creamy vanilla ice cream (sourced from Meiji) doused in a double espresso shot of medium roasted ‘Super Brazil’ blend of beans from Genovese Coffee. The brew combines the unique characteristics of beans from 12 countries – including Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Indonesia. The result: a full-bodied and complex coffee with alluring hints of caramel, nuts and fruits, and a long, pleasant finish. An addition of hand-grated dark chocolate contributes texture and a richer flavour. 17 Hongkong Street.


Strangers’ Reunion


Brewing quality cuppas since 2012, Strangers’ Reunion is no stranger to the local coffee scene. Award-winning barista and co-founder Ryan Kieran Tan serves a stellar Spiked Affogato that starts off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, a splash of Kahlúa, and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Pour a perfectly pulled double espresso shot of house-roasted Chakra blend – equal parts Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Misty Valley (Natural) and El Salvador San Carlos (Washed) – which boasts a robust roasted peanut flavour. Enjoy the Kahlúa-doused ice cream; the coffee liqueur adds another dimension to the dark roast and vanilla. 35 Kampong Bahru Road.


A version of this article first appeared on Epicure Singapore as the Best affogatos in Singapore.