Espresso Romano Recipe – Making Espresso With Lemon

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Espresso is one of the most well-known drinks around the world. You can enjoy this drink throughout the day, including as a morning pick-me-up or an after-dinner treat. Espresso is versatile. You can add milk, sweeteners, or other lovely flavors to bring out a different flavor profile from the usually bitter coffee. 

But today, we’re going to be talking about an espresso drink in particular—the espresso romano. An espresso romano is an espresso with lemon. If you have never heard of this drink in local coffee shops, you might wonder what it tastes like and how to make it. Do not worry! Continue reading to learn all you need to know about this classic and refreshing espresso drink.

What Is an Espresso Romano? (Lemon in Espresso)

As mentioned, an espresso romano is a shot of espresso served with lemon juice and sometimes a lemon twist or lemon peel.

Make this drink more delicious by adding a teaspoon of sugar and lemon juice to a freshly brewed cup of espresso. The lemon juice can be from a juicy lemon wedge or a few drops of lemon flavor. 


Researcher, teacher, and doctor at Brazil’s Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia, Dr. Wilton Soares Cardoso, has his ideas on why the drink is popular and what makes it work.

He states that the citric acid and bitterness from the coffee work together to balance each other out. The drink is still bitter, but the acidity from the lemon balances the bitterness from the coffee to create a drinkable and enjoyable espresso drink. 

You can also try adding lemon to your regular filter coffee or cold brew.


Espresso Romano Origin and History 

Espresso is reminiscent of Italian culture. However, this drink may not have any connection to Rome despite its name. Many believe it originated in the United States and is an American drink. 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to its origin. Some say it is an American invention but given an Italian name to attract tourists. Others think it is an invention of France or Italy. 

Some origin stories say that the Italians created this drink because the imports of coffee were limited. American coffee was the only thing available during the two World Wars, so the Italians might have created the espresso romano to consume the bad espresso and mask the taste. Some even said the baristas use lemon twist to clean coffee cups since the water was limited during the war.


How Does Espresso Romano Taste

The espresso romano still tastes bitter and robust if you do not add sugar to it. You can also add milk if you prefer it. However, the espresso shot tastes less bitter with the citrus notes from the lemon. Rub a fresh lemon wedge along the edge of the coffee cup to get the perfect amount of lemon taste in every sip. 


How to Make Espresso Romano (Espresso with Lemon)

Making an espresso romano is easy. You only need a few ingredients and a few coffee-making supplies. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to create the perfect espresso romano. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Brew the espresso. Make your shot of espresso in the same manner you always do with the machine you are most comfortable using. You want to get a good shot of espresso to begin! 


Step 2: Preheat your cup if possible. You can use the steam wand on your espresso machine to do this. Preheating the cup can help preserve the full flavor and reduce the temperature drop that often occurs when you pour the espresso into a non-preheated cup.

Step 3: Rub the lemon wedge along the entire rim of the mug. You can add more lemon juice to the drink if you want in the next step. 

Step 4: Add in lemon and sugar if you prefer. This step is optional, but if you like a sweeter drink, add a teaspoon of sugar. Add two or three squeezes of fresh lemon juice if you want more lemon taste. 

Step 5: Once you have added the mix-ins, you can add the espresso. Stir with a stir stick and enjoy hot or cold. The lemon and sugar will incorporate more fully if you combine the ingredients while the espresso is hot. 

Espresso Romano Recipe 

The espresso with lemon recipe is extremely bare bones, but the taste that comes out of it is not. The complex but balanced bitter flavor of an espresso romano comes from using quality ingredients. Do not skimp on quality lemons and espresso coffee beans! The combination of these premium flavors will create a premium drink. 


Espresso Romano Recipe

This Espresso Romano recipe shows you how to properly combine lemon and espresso to make a delicious drink.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 cup


  • Espresso Machine Or Moka pot, Nespresso machine
  • Espresso cup
  • Stir stick 


  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice 
  • 1 shot Espresso
  • 1 tbsp Sugar optional
  • Lemon peel for garnish optional


  • Pull a single or double shot of espresso
  • Rub the lemon wedge along the rim of the cup.
  • Add a tablespoon lemon juice and sugar to the cup, if you prefer.
  • Add espresso, then stir to combine and enjoy.


There are a few tips you should take into account when it comes to making an espresso romano. These include recommended ways to make the espresso, how to mix the drink, and what ingredients to use. 
Firstly, be sure to use high-quality espresso and lemon. Premium quality ingredients will mix best, thus creating the optimal taste. 
Second, you should use an espresso brewing method you are comfortable with and happy with. If you prefer to use a Moka pot, use that. If you like your Nespresso machine, brew an espresso shot with that tool instead. Delicious espresso shots are key to making a high-quality drink. 
Lastly, adding the lemon juice and sugar before adding the espresso is key to a good mix. Be sure to start with only a few drops, and add the lemon juice around the rim of the cup. 
Some people add tangerine or orange flavors instead of lemon. These flavors work similarly to the lemon because they have citric acid that will similarly react to the coffee. Try out these flavors the next time you make an espresso romano!


Serving: 30ml
Keyword espresso romano, espresso with lemon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Benefits of Adding Lemon to Coffee

Adding lemon to your daily coffee routine comes with many benefits. 


Such benefits include the addition of Vitamin C and antioxidants. There is evidence that Vitamin C and antioxidants can potentially lower the risk of some cancers. Vitamin C helps aid your immune system, and some scientific evidence suggests that it can help with cardiovascular and metabolic health. 

There are plenty of known benefits to coffee, like increased energy burn throughout the day and a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It is important to note that adding lemon to your coffee will not double the health benefits. This is especially true when it is consumed in small quantities, like a shot of espresso. 

However, there are a couple of benefits specific to mixing lemon and coffee. These include increased fat burn, easing headaches, relieving diarrhea, and skin care benefits. 

It is important to note that these health benefits have promising statistics, but they are not foolproof. Each person reacts to supplements and vitamins in varying ways, so while these benefits are probable and likely, they are not definite. 

Final Thoughts 

The espresso with lemon—or espresso romano—is an odd flavor combination at first glance. 

The addition of more acid to an already acidic and bitter drink like espresso seems counterintuitive. However, the combination of the citric acid with the acid found in espressos balances each other out to create a lighter flavor profile, while still adhering to the bitter taste of espresso. 

This is a good recipe for you if you like lemon or you are trying to incorporate more Vitamin C and antioxidants into your diet. Try this espresso recipe out the next time you make an espresso shot!

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.