Caffè Shakerato (Italian-Style Shaken Iced Coffee) Recipe

[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

I’ve been experimenting with iced coffee methods to get a little reprieve from the summer heat (and to make the isolation imposed on us by coronavirus more entertaining). My go-to is Japanese-style iced coffee, which I learned some years ago was my preferred form of iced coffee (much more so than cold brew), but there’s a whole world of iced coffee beverages beyond that, like caffè shakerato.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from caffè shakerato, which I’ve been aware of for years but hadn’t tried. Often served in a martini or cocktail glass, the drink struck me more as a gimmick since, on paper at least, it appears to just be basic sweetened iced coffee. Turns out I underestimated it by a lot.

The name clues you in on what’s involved here: “Shakerato” is just the English verb “shaken” with an Italian ending. And that’s precisely how it’s made—a shot of espresso (or another form of concentrated coffee) is shaken with sugar on ice. What comes out isn’t just a sweet iced espresso, but one that’s been transformed in texture: velvety and capped with a creamy foam, mostly thanks to the vigorous shaking that aerates the coffee. The generous dose of sugar helps, too, increasing the coffee’s viscosity and allowing it to hold more fine air bubbles.

Feel free to adjust the sweetness level to your own tastes; this version leans dessert-y, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea coffee. And if the whole concept of this iced coffee has you asking whether one might ever mix some booze in, the answer is yes: Some recipes spike the coffee with an ounce or two of a sweet, cream-based liqueur, such as Baileys. Just, you know, maybe don’t do that first thing in the morning.

Why It Works

  • Using hot coffee helps dissolve the sugar more quickly.
  • By making the coffee fresh and then pouring it onto the ice, its flavors are better preserved (similar to Japanese-style iced coffee).
  • Yield:Makes 1 drink
  • Active time:5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 4 ounces ice cubes (about 4 to 6 cubes)
    • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon; 15g) sugar
    • 2 fluid ounces (60ml) freshly made hot espresso (see note)


    1. 1.

      Add ice and sugar to a cocktail shaker. Pour hot espresso on top, seal shaker, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled, 10 to 20 seconds.

    2. 2.

      Strain iced espresso into a cocktail glass, coupe, or other glass vessel and serve right away.

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