Caffè Shakerato – with a nod to Frank Sinatra

April 8, 2014

It’s with a heavy heart that I bid a fond farewell to a new-found summer friend.

The Caffè Shakerato has been my drink of choice lately, but is meant for long, hot afternoons rather than our current autumn weather.

Not quite a frappé, and certainly not an iced coffee, the Caffè Shakerato is made from espresso coffee, sugar and ice cubes shaken vigorously to create a chilled coffee with a frothy crema.

The Shakerato has been popular in Italy for a few years but I had trouble finding one in Sydney. There’s a smattering of newish inner-city cafes offering it, but the three old-style Italian cafes I visited had never heard the term and, judging by their baristas’ shrugs of indifference, weren’t in a hurry to embrace it.

Keen to make one myself, I needed to ramp up the sultry atmosphere to accompany all the grinding and shaking.

I remembered a novelty coffee tune with an uptempo beat and absurd lyrics that I first heard decades ago and had stubbornly stayed with me.

The Coffee Song was first sung by Frank Sinatra in 1946 and seemed perfect for exercising my samba legs. Also known as They’ve Got an Awful lot of Coffee in Brazil, it lampoons Brazil’s coffee glut and the inventive ways the Brazilians found to consume it. It starts off  …

Way down among Brazilians

Coffee beans grow by the billions

So they’ve got to find those extra cups to fill

They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil


You can’t get cherry soda

’cause they’ve got to fill that quota

And the way things are I’ll bet they never will

They’ve got a zillion tons of coffee in Brazil

… and The Coffee Song  gets even nuttier further along, ending with signor Sinatra attempting an indistinguishable foreign accent.  I couldn’t help thinking he had an awful lot of Spanglish in his words.

For a Caffè Shakerato, you’ll need:

. 1 espresso coffee – hot

. 1/2 tsp caster sugar (or sugar syrup)

. 6 small ice cubes

~Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker for about 30 seconds until ice is almost ~melted. Strain into a statement glass. (You could add a dash of liqueur too).

This now completes my list of summer coffee favourites including the affogato and granita di caffè con panna (with cream on top).


Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 6.54.12 PM


Here’s a full version of the tune (which was later covered by Sam Cooke and The Andrews Sisters among others: The Coffee Song/They’ve Got an Awful lot of Coffee in Brazil 

Any other sightings of the Shakerato are welcome.








  1. This is a new drink for me also. It will be getting hot here very soon and this recipe will come in handy.
    Very interesting post.

    • Do try it Jovina. It’s the perfect summer drink – refreshing without the glugginess of milk that comes in normal iced coffees. Let me know what you think!

  2. Bonkers song! Interesting take on coffee, too – I’m thinking a hint of Vecchia Romagna or that Angelico stuff might be good with it.

    • Isn’t it hysterical Colin. Whatever happened to novelty songs? Yes, I think there’s just enough of the warm weather left to experiment with some liqueurs in the Shakerato. I tried Frangelico and it was rather nice. Ooops, it’s turning into a cocktail!

  3. First sighting (and tasting) in a little hole in the wall down a lane next to the Blind Society (now a block of units) on William Street circa 1968. How sophisticated I felt! Been a favourite ever since 🙂

    • Wow, you win the prize already. But if the coffee had milk in it, you’re disqualified! In which city is the William St you mention?

  4. Now I’m doubly impressed. William St was slightly more interesting in 1968 so it makes sense. Still, it’s a big gap between then and now for a Shakerato. Where have they been hiding?

  5. Anything to do with good coffee gets the thumbs up in my book!

    • Yes, agree. One of the essential food groups!

  6. […] to coffee. I’m raising a cup to signor Bialetti with my current drink of choice – a Caffe Shakerato (iced, strong, sweet black coffee) – to beat this hot humid Sydney summer […]

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