Dining With Denise Neil

Coffee shops drowning Wichita in affogato, an ice cream/coffee hybrid

Wichita coffee shops are not going to just sit back and let all the summer business flow to ice cream stores, snow cone stands and yogurt shops.

Many of them are now offering an elegant and decadent Italian treat called affogato, which translates to “drowned.” The dessert for grownups is simply made by topping a scoop of ice cream with a shot of hot espresso, the results of which contrast the cold sweetness of the ice cream with the steamy bitterness of the coffee.

“Even if you don’t like espresso, which is an acquired taste, the ice cream adds a whole new level of texture and sweetness,” said Andrew Gough, whose Reverie Coffee Roasters at 2611 E. Douglas added affogato to the menu about three weeks ago.

In Wichita, the various coffee shops serving affogato all prepare it differently.

Reverie is using cream cheese ice cream made by head coffee roaster Ian Miller’s Little Lion Ice Cream business. The shop puts a generous scoop of the ice cream in a small Gibraltar glass before topping it with a fresh-made espresso shot. It’s $5.

Espresso to Go Go, which has two downtown Wichita shops, also serves affogato, but theirs comes more in drink form. The staff there starts by putting two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a plastic beverage cup. The rest of the drink is customizable. A traditional affogato would be finished with two shots of espresso, a big pile of homemade whipped cream and a few bunny-shaped cookies.

Another sweeter version, called the Cuban, adds shots of espresso and “hydrolyzed” raw sugar, made by steaming the sugar and mixing it into the espresso. Espresso to Go Go also makes a version that mixes the ice cream with Nitro Joe’s cold brew, a milder, almost effervescent coffee.

Espresso to Go Go owner Warren Tandoc said his customers most frequently order the drink for a sweet afternoon treat or for an evening dessert. Some like to slurp it down right away. Others prefer to let it melt and meld a bit first.

“It’s accessible, and it’s summer accessible,” he said. “It appeals to anyone, even if their love of coffee is marginal.”

Here’s a list of several Wichita stores serving affogato:

Espresso to Go Go, 102 S. St. Francis and 120 E. First St.: Customers can get several variations of an affogato here, but all are topped with homemade whipped cream and little bunny cookies and are $7.

Churn & Burn, 548 S. Oliver: This shop’s name came from the concept of mixing ice cream (churn) with coffee (burn). It offers a menu of several affogato-like drinks that add flavorings, syrups and candy. But it also has traditional affogato, which features a scoop of fresh ice cream with a shot of espresso.

Cocoa Dolce, 2132 N. Rock Road: This chocolate shop serves an affotago that features a scoop and a half of gelato and two shots of espresso for $4.50.

College Hill Creamery, 3700 E. Douglas: This shop makes traditional affogato and also will let customers choose any flavor of ice cream. Two scoops, two shots and whipped cream on top is $4.30. Tip: Try a scoop of ice cream doused in a shot of espresso on top of one of the shop’s caramelized Belgian waffles, then prepare to die of a sugar- and caffeine-induced high.

Mead’s Corner, 430 E. Douglas: Mead’s serves its affogato in a 12-ounce cappuccino mug and offers two scoops of any flavor of gelato topped with two shots of espresso. It’s $5.50.

R Coffeehouse, 1144 Bitting: This Riverside coffee shop just added affogato last week. Its version tops a scoop of whole-bean vanilla ice cream with two shots of espresso for $4.

Reverie Coffee Roasters, 2611 E. Douglas: Reverie’s delicate affogato tops a scoop of Little Lion’s cream cheese ice cream with a shot of espresso. It’s served in a Gibraltar glass with a tiny spoon for $5.

Twisted Java, 2615 W. 13th St.: This coffee shop serves two scoops of ice cream with two shots of espresso, but it serves the espresso in a test tube on the side so customers can add the coffee themselves.