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La Dolce Vita in a Glass: Mastering the Art of Italian Iced Coffee at Home

Enjoy life's sweetness with each sip of a perfect Italian Iced Coffee, made at home using our secret recipe. Indulge in this classic, refreshing beverage.

11 min read
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Photo-Illustration: Catchy Shopper 

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Over the past few weeks, we have embarked on a journey of discovery, traversing the exhilarating world of iced coffee. From understanding the basics of What is Iced Coffee to unlocking the secrets of making your own concoctions with How to Make Iced Coffee, we have journeyed far and wide. We've explored essential gear in Iced Coffee Makers and Iced Coffee Tumblers, ventured into healthy options with Protein Iced Coffee Recipes, and indulged our sweet tooth with Coffee Ice Cream. We've even dived into specific regional brews like Thai Iced Coffee and Japanese Iced Coffee and savored the creamy delight of French Vanilla Iced Coffee. But our adventure doesn't end there.

Today, we are about to add a touch of 'La Dolce Vita' to our series by introducing you to the magic of Italian Iced Coffee. Italy, a country renowned for its art, culture, and exceptional cuisine, holds a special place in the world of coffee. The land of espresso has its unique, delectable version of iced coffee that is not only a beverage but a lifestyle experience, especially treasured in the heat of summer.

In this blog post, we will travel from the scenic streets of Rome to the tranquil canals of Venice, bringing the essence of Italian coffee culture to your homes. We will delve into the origins of Italian Iced Coffee, its distinction from other iced coffee variants, and why espresso plays such a vital role. We will guide you in mastering the art of Italian iced coffee through various recipes and share the secrets behind perfect pairings. So prepare your tastebuds for a cultural trip as we uncover the secrets of enjoying La Dolce Vita in a glass: Mastering the Art of Italian Iced Coffee at Home.

What is Italian Iced Coffee

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Italian Iced Coffee

Italian Iced Coffee, known locally as Caffè Freddo, is a broad term that refers to several variations of chilled coffee beverages originating from Italy. Unlike its counterparts in other parts of the world, Italian iced coffee emphasizes the purity and robustness of espresso, typically using it as the base ingredient.  

There are several types of Italian Iced Coffee, each with its unique preparation method and serving style. Let's explore each of these intriguing versions.

Italian Iced Coffee Recipe

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 Italian Iced Coffee Ingredients

What is an Italian Iced Coffee?

Classic Italian iced coffee is simply a shot of espresso that is brewed extra strong, sweetened (optional), chilled, and then served over ice. This method provides a refreshing coffee experience that maintains the integrity of the espresso flavor even when chilled and diluted by the ice.

Here's a simple yet delightful recipe for making a classic Italian Iced Coffee (Caffè Freddo) at home:


  • Freshly ground coffee beans (for espresso)
  • Ice cubes
  • Cold water
  • Sugar or simple syrup (optional)

Step-by-Step Recipe:

  1. Brew Your Espresso - Prepare a double shot of espresso using an espresso machine. If you like your coffee sweet, add sugar or simple syrup to the hot espresso and stir until dissolved.
iced coffee recipe espresso
Brewing Espresso with an Espresso Machine
  1. Chill the Espresso - Allow the espresso to cool to room temperature. You can speed up this process by placing it in the refrigerator.
  2. Prepare Your Glass - Fill a tall glass with ice cubes.
  3. Serve - Once the espresso has cooled, pour it over the ice. Your Italian Iced Coffee is ready to enjoy!
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 Italian Iced Coffee Recipe

Tips for Choosing Coffee Beans and Water:

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Different Types of Coffee Beans
  • Coffee Beans: Italians traditionally use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans for espresso. Look for a blend that's medium to dark roast for a bold and rich flavor profile.
  • Water: Always use fresh, cold water to make your coffee. The quality of water can affect the taste of your coffee, so use filtered or bottled water if your tap water has a strong taste or odor.

Optional Variations to Consider:

  • Sweeteners: While sugar is the traditional sweetener, you can also consider using simple syrup, honey, agave nectar, or even a flavored syrup like vanilla or caramel. Remember to mix it in while the espresso is hot for better dissolution.
  • Creaminess: For a creamier texture, consider adding a splash of half-and-half, whole milk, or a dairy-free alternative.
  • Flavors: You can add a twist to your Italian iced coffee with additional flavors. Consider adding a splash of Amaretto or Frangelico for an almond or hazelnut twist, or infuse with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for a warm and comforting touch.

Remember, Italian Iced Coffee is all about highlighting the taste of the espresso. Any additions should complement, not overpower, the coffee's flavor. Enjoy the process, experiment a little, and you'll soon master the art of making the perfect Italian Iced Coffee at home!

Shakerato Recipe

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Italian Shakerato 

What is a Shakerato?

Shakerato is an elegant and frothy Italian iced coffee beverage. Traditionally served in a martini glass, it is created by shaking espresso, ice, and sweetener together until frothy. The result is a chilled, sweet, and velvety drink that offers a refreshing twist on traditional iced espresso.


  • Freshly ground coffee beans (for espresso)
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar or simple syrup
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Martini glass
flavored iced coffee recipe
Italian Shakerato Ingredients

Step-by-Step Recipe:

  1. Brew Your Espresso - Prepare a double shot of espresso using an espresso machine.
  2. Sweeten - While the espresso is still hot, add sugar or simple syrup to taste and stir until dissolved.
  3. Shake It Up - Pour the sweetened espresso into a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice, and shake vigorously for at least 15-20 seconds. This will chill the espresso and create a nice froth.
  4. Serve - Strain the frothy, chilled espresso into a martini glass. Your Caffè Shakerato is ready to enjoy!
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Italian Shakerato Recipe

Tips for Getting the Best Results:

  • Sweetener: It's best to add the sweetener while the espresso is still hot for better dissolution. If you prefer your coffee less sweet, you can reduce the amount of sweetener or leave it out altogether.
  • Shaking: The key to a great Shakerato is in the shaking. Shake the mixture vigorously to create a good amount of froth. This not only cools down the espresso quickly but also gives the Shakerato its characteristic frothy top.
  • Glass: A chilled glass will help keep your Shakerato cool longer. You can chill your glass by placing it in the refrigerator or freezer a few minutes before preparing your Shakerato.

Enjoy the dance of creating a Shakerato, and savor the moment of sipping this frothy, chilled Italian delight!

Affogato Recipe

sweet iced coffee recipe

What is an Affogato?

Affogato, meaning "drowned" in Italian, is a classic dessert-coffee hybrid that typically consists of a scoop of vanilla gelato drowned in a hot shot of espresso. It's a delightful mix of cold and creamy meeting hot and bold, resulting in a dessert that's simultaneously refreshing and warming, sweet and bitter.


  • Freshly ground coffee beans (for espresso)
  • A scoop of vanilla gelato
  • Espresso cup and dessert glass
Affogato Ingredients 

Step-by-Step Recipe:

  1. Prepare Your Gelato - Scoop a generous serving of vanilla gelato into a dessert glass.
  2. Brew Your Espresso - Brew a hot shot of espresso.
  3. Drown the Gelato - Immediately pour the hot espresso over the gelato.
  4. Serve - Serve your Affogato right away with a spoon, and enjoy!
iced coffee recipes with espresso
Affogato Recipe

Choosing the Right Gelato for Your Affogato:

While vanilla is the traditional choice for Affogato, as it pairs beautifully with the espresso, don't let that limit you.

  • Classic Vanilla: A high-quality vanilla gelato will give you the classic Affogato experience. The creamy, sweet notes of vanilla complement the robust, slightly bitter espresso perfectly.
  • Chocolate: If you're a fan of mocha, consider using chocolate gelato. The blend of chocolate and cold coffee creates a richer, dessert-like experience.
  • Hazelnut or Almond: For a nuttier flavor profile, try hazelnut or almond gelato. The nutty notes will add depth and contrast to the espresso.
  • Seasonal Flavors: If you're feeling adventurous, consider pairing espresso with a seasonal gelato flavor like strawberry, pumpkin, or peppermint for a unique twist.

Remember, the quality of the gelato is crucial in an Affogato, so opt for a high-quality, creamy gelato. Whether you stick with classic vanilla or experiment with other flavors, an Affogato is a delightful way to end a meal or enjoy as a mid-afternoon treat. Enjoy this Italian gem that perfectly embodies 'La Dolce Vita'!

Crema di Caffe Recipe

Crema di Caffe 

What is Crema di Caffè?

Crema di Caffè is an Italian specialty, a delightful mix between a dessert and a coffee drink. As the name suggests, "coffee cream," it's a frothy and creamy blend of espresso, sugar, and cream, similar to a coffee-flavored whipped cream. It's sweet, light, and absolutely decadent, making it a perfect treat for hot summer days.


  • Freshly brewed espresso (cooled)
  • Granulated sugar or simple syrup
  • Heavy cream or whipping cream
  • A tall glass and a whisk or hand mixer
Crema di Caffe Ingredients

Step-by-Step Recipe:

  1. Prepare Your Espresso - Brew your espresso, then let it cool completely.
  2. Whip It Up - In a large bowl, combine the cooled espresso, sugar (to taste), and heavy cream. Using a whisk or a hand mixer, whip the mixture until it's light, frothy, and holds soft peaks.
  3. Serve - Spoon the whipped coffee cream into a tall glass and serve immediately. Your Crema di Caffè is ready to enjoy!
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Crema di Caffe Recipe

Possible Additions to Enhance the Recipe:

While Crema di Caffè is delightful on its own, you can customize it with various additions to create your own unique creamy iced coffee treat.

  • Spice It Up: Adding a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg can provide a warm, spicy contrast to the sweet, creamy coffee.
  • Liqueurs: A splash of coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua, or a hazelnut liqueur like Frangelico, can add an extra layer of flavor and complexity.
  • Toppings: Top your Crema di Caffè with a sprinkling of cocoa powder, a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate syrup or some chocolate shavings for an extra indulgent experience.

Remember, the goal is to create a balance that suits your palate. The creamy sweetness of Crema di Caffè pairs well with many flavors, so don't be afraid to experiment. Enjoy this decadent Italian treat that's sure to bring a touch of 'La Dolce Vita' to your day!

The Perfect Pairings: What Goes Best with Italian Iced Coffee

When indulging in Italian iced coffee, pairing it with traditional Italian pastries can elevate the experience, making it truly feel like you've been transported to a café in Italy.

how to make italian coffee
Various Italian Pastries

Traditional Italian Pastries

  1. Cannoli: This classic Sicilian pastry is a tube of crisp, fried dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually made of ricotta. The shell provides a satisfying crunch, while the filling is rich and creamy.
  2. Tiramisu: Meaning "pick me up," tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian dessert. It's made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, and dusted with cocoa.
  3. Biscotti: Biscotti are twice-baked cookies that are very dry and crunchy. They come in various flavors, but almond is the most traditional.
  4. Pasticciotto: Originating from Apulia, Pasticciotto is a small pie filled with custard cream or chocolate, perfect for a sweet breakfast or an afternoon snack.
coffee italian style
Traditional Italian Pastries

Why These Pastries Pair Well with Italian Iced Coffee

The rich, robust flavor of Italian iced coffee is the perfect counterbalance to these sweet pastries. The creaminess of cannoli and tiramisu, for example, pairs beautifully with the bold coffee flavors, while the dry, crunchy biscotti provides a nice contrast, especially when dunked in the coffee. Pasticciotto with its sweet filling offers a delightful balance to the slight bitterness of the coffee.

Recipes or Suggestions for Where to Find These Pastries

While you can certainly try your hand at baking these pastries at home, they are also commonly found in Italian bakeries and some upscale grocery stores. For a more authentic experience, consider visiting a local Italian café or deli – they often carry a range of traditional pastries.

Alternatively, if you're interested in making them yourself, there are many recipes online. Here are a few to get you started:

Remember, the beauty of Italian cuisine lies in the simplicity of the ingredients and the balance of flavors. Whether you're enjoying a homemade Italian iced coffee with a pastry in the comfort of your own home or at a local café, savor the moment and enjoy a little piece of 'La Dolce Vita'.

Final Thoughts

In this exploration of Italian iced coffee, we journeyed from understanding its origins to mastering how to prepare it at home. We delved into the distinctions between Italian iced coffee and other variants and learned the significance of espresso in the preparation process. We unraveled the magic behind four fantastic recipes - the basic Italian Iced Coffee, the elegant Coffee Shakerato, the delightful Affogato, and the creamy Crema di Caffè. And of course, we mustn't forget our taste exploration of delectable pastries perfect for pairing with these beverages.

As with any culinary tradition, truly appreciating Italian iced coffee means embracing the culture it comes from. It's not just about the coffee itself, but also about the atmosphere, the company, and the accompanying treats. It's about enjoying 'La Dolce Vita', the sweet life, even if only for the time it takes to sip your coffee.

Whether you're a seasoned barista or a coffee novice, we encourage you to try making your own Italian iced coffee at home. Enjoy the process of brewing, mixing, and savoring these beverages, and perhaps even attempt to make the suggested pastries for the full Italian experience.  

We'd love to hear about your experiences with Italian iced coffee. Did you try one of our recipes? How did it go? Do you have a favorite pastry to pair with your coffee? Or perhaps you've discovered a secret tip for making the perfect Italian iced coffee. Whatever your experience, we invite you to share in the comments below.

Here's to mastering the art of Italian iced coffee and bringing a little piece of Italy into our homes. Salute!

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