Caffe Italian Espresso Gelato

By Morgan Morano | September 28, 2015
Espresso bars are a significant part of Italian culture. They are everywhere, and Italians take their espresso very seriously. Almost all are experts at tasting the difference between good and bad espresso, and I have many friends who drink up to eight shots a day! Like making gelato, the romance of making Italian espresso resonated with me during my first trip to Italy. It’s only right that an espresso gelato should be made with the same attention to detail as Italian baristas give their espresso. I love both my espresso and coffee light and sweet, and that’s exactly how this gelato tastes. At Morano Gelato, we’ve begun to serve the King’s Row Coffee Company’s espresso blend, which is crafted to pair with dairy—making it the perfect roast to use in our Italian Espresso gelato. The result is a balanced, sweet, and strong flavor that produces thoughts of freshly pulled espresso shots with the perfect crema, or foam, on top. Italian Espresso gelato is a great dessert to serve at the end of a meal. Paired with Chocolate gelato, it’s irresistible. Or, you can try adding a small scoop to your morning coffee for an indulgent way to start the day. Italian Espresso gelato also makes a great frappé when blended with milk—the perfect afternoon “pick-me-up.”


  • 2 ounces / 56 grams milk powder
  • 6.35 ounces / 180 grams granulated sugar
  • 0.15 ounce / 4 grams espresso grounds
  • 0.7 ounce / 20 grams tapioca starch
  • 7.6 ounces / 215 grams heavy cream
  • 21.15 ounces / 600 grams whole milk
  • 1.25 ounces / 35 grams light corn syrup
  • 3 ounces / 85 grams brewed and cooled espresso (just over 1 shot)
  • 1 egg yolk


1. Mix the milk powder, sugar, espresso grounds, and tapioca starch in a bowl.

2. Add the heavy cream and whole milk and whisk well to incorporate all of the dry ingredients into the liquid.

3. Whisk in the corn syrup, espresso, and egg yolk.


4. Pour the mixture into a 2.5-quart / 1.42-liter saucepan, using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Place the saucepan on medium-high heat and cook, whisking continuously to prevent any burning or clumping. Whisk slowly in the beginning and increase speed as the mixture gets warmer and begins to steam and thicken. It should thicken without boiling after 8 to 10 minutes on the heat; watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Once the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, continue cooking 15 seconds longer, whisking vigorously. Then immediately remove from the heat.


5. Pour the mixture into a clean glass or stainless-steel bowl and lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming on top. Allow the mixture to sit 30 to 45 minutes, until no longer hot. Then place it in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 4 hours. If the mixture needs to be used right away, submerge most of the bowl in an ice bath and let it sit 30 to 40 minutes, refreshing the ice as necessary.

6. Once the mixture has cooled completely and thickened further, pour it into the bowl of the gelato machine and churn the gelato according to the manufacturer’s directions. The gelato will expand and should spin until it’s thick and creamy but still soft enough to scoop into a storage container, about 30 to 55 minutes.

7. Using a rubber spatula, scoop the gelato into a storage container.

8. Press a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on the surface of the gelato, seal the container with an airtight lid, and put it in the freezer. 

9. Freeze at least 4 to 6 hours. When ready, the gelato should be firm enough to scoop but soft and creamy in texture.


10. Enjoy the fresh gelato as soon as possible. If using after 2 days, allow 7 to 10 minutes for the gelato to soften outside of the freezer before eating. 

Yield: About 1 quart / 950 milliliter

Excerpted from The Art of Making Gelato, Race Point Publishing, 2015

About this recipe

At Morano Gelato, we use King’s Row Coffee’s European-style Espresso Blend for our Caffè gelato, but any espresso or strong coffee will work in this recipe. Just make sure it’s bold in flavor and has a taste you enjoy. I also add espresso grounds to this gelato for a little more flavor, texture, and contrast to the color of the base.

  • espresso gelato