For the coffee addict that I am, I just found the perfect combination of ice cream and coffee, one that would forever be linked to a hot day in Italy. Its sweet name is Crema al Caffè. A journey in itself, but let’s rewind and I will tell you how I got here.
Last July, I spent two weeks in the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy. The sun was shining. The food was amazing. So much to see and eat but so little time. I asked an Italian friend of mine what I needed to try besides the usual gelati, Parma ham, chianti or limoncello. He asked me two questions: “Do you like coffee?” and “Do you eat ice cream?” After I said YES to both, then came his answer: “You absolutly have to taste Affogato al Caffè. It is a scoop of creamy vanilla gelato drowned (affogato) in a warm cup of rich aromatic Italian expresso. Unforgettable and so Italian!”
After a few days of visiting stunning and ancient cities, wandering around beautiful landscapes and enjoying the Tuscan foodscene, we found ourselves in Pisa. The view of the famous leaning tower was impressive; the crowd and the heat overwhelming. So after a stroll around the old city and a delicious lunch in a local trattoria, we decided to get away from the tourist crush and headed for the small seaside town of Marina di Pisa. The place was much more peaceful, with the white pebble beach stretching along the turquoise sea. A dip in the water and we were ready for a sweet break.
We quickly found a cafe opposite the beach and this is when we remembered the advice of our Italian friend. We had to try Affogato al Caffè. We asked the waiter and sure enough, they could make one for us. For coffee and ice cream lovers, this drink is such a heavenly combination – so simple yet so impressive, the hot coffee melting the ice cream slowly. We were addicted. Then I noticed a granita machine on the countertop of the cafe, a creamy nutty mixture swirling inside, a large sticker on it saying ‘Crema al Caffè‘. I asked the man behind the counter what it was. He told me it was a kind of coffee gelato, made with a coffee infusion, obtained by cold extraction. The long process results in a coffee that is not as bitter and contains less caffeine than a hot coffee. The infusion is then whipped with fresh cream and fresh whole milk. Once the process is completed, the mixture is brought to the bar and inserted in the slush, ready to be served. Well, after all these explanations, I couldn’t walk away without tasting this Crema al Caffè. Served in an espresso cup, its creaminess and outstanding taste provides a long-lasting pleasure, one you will not forget. I instantly loved everything about it: its luscious texture, its nutty color, its strong yet delicate coffee flavour, its subtle aroma. Memorable!
That is how I became addicted to Crema al Caffè, deliciously sweet, however with such a strong coffee essence, it is perfect for coffee aficionados. Next time you find yourself in Italy, live ‘la dolce vita’ by savouring a Crema al Caffè or an Affogato al Caffè, just like a true Italian!