Is Espresso With Lemon a Weird Brew or An Inspiration?

Espresso with lemon

Do People Really Enjoy Espresso With Lemon?

It may sound strange to many people who are used to the traditional way that espresso is served with cream, sugar, or milk. However, more and more people are asking why the espresso coffee they ordered was brought to them with a lemon peel or a lemon wheel on the side?

Reactions have ranged from nose-wrinkling to even mild anxiety over not knowing what to do with the citrusy lemon peel or even why it came with one in the first place. Served inside some of the world’s most amazing Barista joints and world-class restaurants the world over people want to know – What am I supposed to do with this zesty piece of lemon? What is it for? Fear not and please don’t panic, we’ve got the scoop…

According to some coffee houses, it is said that traditionally you are supposed to rub the lemon peel around the rim of your espresso cup before you ever take a drink. Why you do that however is highly debated.

The History Of Espresso Coffee And Lemon

The earliest recipe found for coffee and lemon came from an Algerian fortress that French soldiers were stationed at and it was called Marzapan. Only then it was actually made with lemonade and coffee. The French soldiers were said to have drank (some say with rum) to stay awake and freshen up. After the war was over the soldiers were said to have returned home and numerous recipes and traditions began.

Most lemon peel theories will point you in the direction of Italy or Rome during World War 1 when espresso was made a little different. Some say it was for sterilization purposes but Italians deny that it came from their culture. Some say it’s just a way for fancy places to stick a high price tag on a cup of coffee and charge extra for having an espresso made in “a foreign way”.

Yet others swear by the combined effect of lemon juice and coffee, especially first thing in the morning, as a natural energy booster that is also a natural fat burner. (That theory seems to make the most sense to me).

But yet others out there seem to think it’s to counteract an overly hard water content or a heavy extraction method that leaves too much of a bitter or smokey taste that can sometimes leave behind by what is called an overabundance of Tannin in the drink. Stating that a well-made cup of espresso should never need to have it unless they just like the flavor or effect of the combined ingredients together.

How Do You Make It?

There’s always the traditional way of having your hot cup of espresso served with either a lemon wheel, lemon juice, or your lemon peel to stir your coffee with or to rub around and onto the rim of your espresso cup before you take your first sip. (Not too shabby) But there are also some really great cold recipes out there as well. Martha Stewart in particular has one of my favorites if your willing to try it out and fairly simple to make.


  • 1 Cup Lemon soda (Maybe something like san Pelligrino)
  • 11 1/2 ounces of Cold Espresso
  • 1 Or 2 Lemon Wheels (for flavor and presentation)
  • 1 to 2 Cups shaved Ice
  • Blender If you desire a frozen beverage


  • First decide if you want to drink or serve your Espresso just on ice or as a frozen blended beverage. (Both ways are good)
  • Start by placing your ice into serving glasses or into your blender
  • Pour your Lemon soda over ice and wait for the fizz to go down
  • Next pour your Cold Espresso on top of your other ingredients
  • Either garnish with lemon wheels on glasses and serve if you chose serving just on ice or
  • Blend frozen mixture to desired consistency and pour into glasses then garnish with 1 to 2 lemon wheels
  • Serve your delicious beverage.

Espresso and Lemon – The Verdict

There are many different traditions concerning coffee. There’s spicey coffee with chili powder, sweet coffee served with chocolate confections or chocolate-covered spoons to stir with. During the holidays in the USA, we use peppermint and candy canes in our coffee. Sometimes, mint also which other countries can find strange. Lemon espresso is just another variation on that and is all down to our personal taste of course.

The only thing that matters, in the end, is what you really like and what tastes good to you. The flavor is many things combined such as aromas, sensations, and of course textures and visual dynamics also. No two people are the same so why should their tastes have to be?

Explore, create, and best of all taste all the flavors of life. Let us know what different things you like with your coffee. I’m interested to see the different flavor combinations out there and as always, thank you for reading.