Ice Cream or Gelato

Italy’s longstanding tradition of gelato and coffee has been steadily gaining interest among Americans over the years.

As a coffee shop owner, why should you care about ice cream and gelato? Also, how is gelato different from ice cream and supermarket gelato… are they all not simply frozen desserts?

While the terms ice cream and gelato are commonly used interchangeably, it is actually illegal to refer to gelato as ice cream in the United States… Okay, not really. However, the FDA defines ice cream as a frozen product with no less than 10% fat. Unlike ice cream & supermarket gelato, which contains 10-26% fat, artisan gelato is made from milk rather than cream meaning it contains just 0-8% fat.

Gelato is not simply “fancy low-fat ice cream” you can charge a little extra for, it is a healthier alternative to ice cream made from fresh ingredients that provides a more intense flavor profile and a denser, creamier, smoother texture.

Supermarket gelato is really high fat premium ice cream using the name gelato, because there are currently no restrictions on what you can call gelato.

For years, Americans have been searching for the secret to Italian health and beauty, and as it turns out that secret might just be gelato! Gelato is a healthy and natural dessert made from fresh, all natural ingredients. The fresh fruits commonly used in gelato make even the smallest servings high in vitamins and even high in protein when the gelato is made with milk and nuts.

Aside from the lower fat content and fresh ingredients, gelato actually provides a more enjoyable palette experience than ice cream. Gelato is prepared by churning the mixture at lower speeds, incorporating less air into the final product. In fact, gelato averages 50% less air than ice cream. The lower air content results in a very dense product that boasts an enjoyable smooth and creamy texture.

This product density and smooth, creamy texture produces a more intense flavor profile than can be achieved with ice cream. The robust flavor profile of gelato provides ample opportunities for artisans to experiment with unique flavor combinations and natural ingredients.

Gelato is served at a 5-10ºF higher temperature than American ice cream, adding to a more enjoyable palette experience. The slightly warmer temperature combined with lower fat and air content produces a palette-flooding, more intense flavor profile that is irresistible to many foodies and coffee experts.

Expect the tasty combination of coffee and gelato to grow at an accelerated pace now that large coffee chains have recently added premium artisan ice cream to some locations.

Stay tuned for part two, where we will outline how artisan gelato can increase all-day menu sales. We will simplify the numbers, calculate the return on investment, and outline exactly how you can make more money by adding artisan gelato to your menu. So grab a scoop and stay tuned…

About Carpigiani:

Carpigiani Corporation began in 1947 and has been serving the foodservice market for 67 years. Carpigiani is dedicated to providing the highest quality, most reliable and most durable frozen dessert equipment in the industry. Carpigiani also hosts the Gelato World Tour, the world’s largest gelato competition, and Carpigiani Gelato University, providing unparalleled professional education on frozen desserts for gelato artisans. For more information, visit our website at

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