What Is Espresso Romano? (Espresso With Lemon)

Last Updated on November 19, 2021 by John Moretti

Espresso is a wonderful thing, and it comes in several various forms. The most common forms of espresso seen internationally do not typically include one of the more specialty espresso drinks – the Espresso Romano. There is much confusion surrounding this drink, and many struggle to define what it is, so let’s answer the question, what is Espresso Romano?

Espresso Romano is espresso served with lemon. This is typically a slice of lemon placed into the espresso, a twist of lemon rind placed into the espresso, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into the espresso. The addition of lemon increases the acidity of the drink and adds to its flavor profile.

The world of espresso is complex and complicated. There are several types of espresso drinks, and all coffee lovers have their own espresso preferences. Espresso Romano is a favorite among many espresso drinkers, so let’s explore this drink a little deeper for those who are unfamiliar with it.

What Is Espresso Romano?

espresso with lemon

Espresso Romano is a unique espresso drink. There is much debate about the exact recipe for an Espresso Romano, but the same definition of the drink is always true: an Espresso Romano is an espresso with lemon of some form. 

Coffee is a very intense and often bitter-tasting drink, and adding lemon is a way of elevating the flavors of the espresso and adding some fresh acidic flavors to it to change the flavor profile of the drink.

Lemon is a very acidic flavor, but the juice from the fruit also contains a small amount of natural acids. These acids help to break down the oils in the espresso, which helps to let some of the more subtle flavors of the drink shine through.

An Espresso Romano can be prepared with a single espresso or double espresso. The drink is often prepared with one of three main lemon additive methods. The most popular method is to squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the espresso, some baristas refer to using a twist of lemon rind, and others prefer to add a whole slice of lemon into the cup.

Sugar is often added to Espresso Romano to mitigate a bit of the sourness from the lemon, especially when the drink is prepared with a lighter roasted coffee. 

The Espresso Romano is a popular drink in specialty coffee shops but is not the most common espresso-type drink around.

Espresso Romano Recipes

The Espresso Romano can be prepared in several different ways depending on your taste and the availability of ingredients. The most basic definition of the drink is espresso with some form of lemon, but there are several effective ways for introducing lemon into espresso depending on the type of espresso used.

Let’s examine some of the best Espresso Romano recipes used by modern espresso lovers.

Espresso Romano: Lemon Twist

The most common and most obvious preparation method for Espresso Romano is to squeeze a small amount of fresh lemon juice into the drink.

The best way to achieve the purest version of this Espresso Romano is to peel off the lemon rind and cut a slice of lemon from an area with no rind. This prevents any bitter flavor notes from the rind from finding their way into the coffee and provides to most clear lemon favor.

This recipe is best prepared with a double espresso made with darker roasted beans, as it will add significant acidity to the drink. Adding a small amount of refined sugar to the drink will help to mitigate the sourness of lemon and help to bring out a wider range of flavors.

Espresso Romano: Lemon Zest

Adding lemon zest to espresso is another popular preparation method for Espresso Romano.

This can be achieved by grating lemon rind directly into the cup, but a better method is to peel off a sliver of lemon rind, rough up the surface of the rind with a knife, twist the rind to release its flavors, and place the twisted rind onto the shot of espresso.

Adding lemon zest in this way allows the flavors from the lemon rind to soak into the espresso effectively and adds a pop of interesting flavor notes to the drink.

This method is useful for all coffee roasts but is better for medium to dark roasted coffee beans. Single or double espresso can be used for this method, and a small amount of sugar can be added according to taste.

Espresso Romano: Lemon Slice

The last method for preparing an Espresso Romano on this list is simply adding a while slice of lemon into espresso. This is best done with double espresso to better accommodate the slice of lemon, but a cappuccino cup can be used as well.

The trick to this recipe is to add the slice of lemon without squeezing it first. This will allow the lemon to infuse slowly into the coffee without adding too much acidity, as the drink is intended to be drunk quite quickly.

This is the best way to prepare an Espresso Romano with lightly roasted coffee, and lightly roasted coffee creates acidic espresso, even before the lemon is added.

Which Coffee Is Best For Espresso Romano?

The best coffee beans to use for Espresso Romano is a medium roasted coffee. Dark roasted coffee beans have a lot of body and a lot of bitterness but also contain a lot of oils. Adding lemon to dark roasted coffee may clash with the flavors of the coffee, so only a small amount of juice should be used.

Lighter roasted coffee beans are naturally acidic without any additives. Adding lemon to an already acidic drink may increase the acidity to unpleasant levels, which is why only a small amount of lemon rind zest is best for lighter roasted coffee.

Medium roasted coffee is the best for Espresso Romano, as this coffee is not overly bitter, not overly acidic, and creates the perfect platform for adding lemon to elevate the flavor profiles of the coffee.


Espresso Romano is one of the most unique espresso drinks, as it is not tempered by milk, nor is it drunk straight, but rather has lemon added to alter and enhance the flavor of the drink.

The flavor of an Espresso Romano varies depending on the bean roast used for the espresso and how the lemon is added into the drink.

Most Espresso Romano’s taste very bright, fruity, and the lemon and coffee flavors are very complimentary on the palate.

If you enjoy espresso, but you are looking for something interesting to try, the Espresso Romano is the perfect drink for you!