Granita is perfect for hot days when ice cream just won’t do. Marcella Hazan describes this coffee variety as a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. “Watching life dither by while you let the… crystals melt in your mouth” is how she describes it. It’s more refreshing than espresso and has a similar kick.

Coffee Granita

Prep 15 minutes

Cook in 5 minutes

Freeze about 2 hr

Serves 4

40g ground espresso coffee (see step 1)

40g of caster sugar

Half a tablespoon of lemon juice

200ml Whipping Cream (optional).

2 tbsp icing sugar (optional)

A dark chocolate square

Coffee: A Word of Advice

You can use any type of coffee (even decaf) as long as it is strong enough to maintain its flavor after being diluted and frozen. This method is used at the Gran Caffe Tirreno gelateria in Formia Lazio. However, you can use either 500ml of freshly brewed espresso, or 500ml of strong instant coffee.

How to make coffee

Pour 500ml of cold water in a medium-sized pan if you are using espresso powder. Bring the water to a rolling boil while stirring it occasionally. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Pour the mixture through coffee filters, fine sieves or a sheet muslin.

Add lemon and sugar to the sugar.

Stir the sugar into the hot coffee until it dissolves. Add the lemon juice, let it cool and then taste. The flavours will be muted due to freezing so this may seem too sweet. If you don’t like the taste of this mixture, add more sugar.

Let it cool down, then chill

Pour the coffee mixture into a freezer-proof, wide dish. It should not be deeper than two centimetres. Place the dish into the refrigerator to chill. Make sure that you have enough space in your freezer to allow the dish to be completely flat.

Repeat the process of freezing, stirring, and repeating.

Check on the dish after 45 minutes. Stir with a fork as soon as the edges start to freeze. This will mix the solid ice on the outside of the dish into the liquid center. Repeat this process every 30 minutes, until the mixture is frozen. It should take two hours to complete.

Now it’s ready to use…

If you want to serve the granita immediately, keep it in the fridge and rake it regularly. (Or pulse briefly in a processor before serving it) Granita should be consumed within two days.

Add cream and chocolate 

Whip cream and sugar if you are using it to soft peaks. Pour the granita in four glasses, and then top with whipped cream and grated dark chocolate. In Sicily granita can be served with sweet brioche, making it a great breakfast for a hot summer day.


If you want to make a boozy coffee granita to serve after dinner, you can add up to 100ml of coffee liqueur, or any other alcohol, to the mix. However, keep in mind that if you use spirits, it will become softer and more slushy.


Add 50g of cocoa powder at the beginning to the coffee grounds for a mocha-flavored granita. Add two cardamom pods crushed and/or a cinnamon stick broken, or add nutmeg, orange zest, vanilla extract, or even two broken cardamom sticks. Brown sugar gives caramelised notes while maple, honey, and other syrups add their own flavour.