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Espresso Romano is the most unsual, yet authentic, espresso recipe


Italy is home to espresso, however authentic espresso-based Italian drinks are really few, as austerity is one of the main features of Italian gastronomy, something that has been passed down to coffee culture as well.

So, besides ristretto, lungo and doppio, which play with the amount of water, coffee and extraction time, we have espresso with ice cream (affogato), espresso with alcohol (corretto) and espresso with… lemon, espresso romano!

Espresso Romano combines the unexpected marriage of two distinct flavors, coffee and lemon. While the two flavors may seem incompatible, many argue that some drops of lemon enhance the aromas of espresso, but also mitigate its bitterness due to citric acid. Although, of course, espresso romano is no longer common (at least not as it used to be in the past), this is an original recipe from the Italian tradition!


How did espresso romano start?

The stories surrounding the birth of espresso romano are many, and no one knows what the truth really is. Many associate espresso romano with the years of World War II. One version states that because of the lack of sugar, Italians reduced the bitterness of coffee with a few drops of lemon while others argue that because of water shortages during the same period, rubbing the cup with a little lemon was the easiest way to sterilize it.

However, there are others who argue that this recipe was born as a method of dealing with hangover, as the combination of bitter and sour with espresso caffeine is the best way to recover after a heavy binge drinking. However, it is almost certain that Espresso Romano is not originally from Rome, despite his name.

What is the best way to serve an Espresso Romano?

Espresso Romano is nothing more than a single lemon espresso combination, however there are two different ways of serving, each with a slightly different effect.

The traditional way:

We prepare a single espresso. With a mandolin, cut a lemon peel, and squeeze it so that the peel oils will "wet" the lips of the cup. Serve, placing the used peel on the saucer.

The easy way:

Prepare a single espresso and before serving, drizzle three to four drops of lemon.


Tips for those who will dare a sip of espresso romano

  • Although classic Italian espresso is usually prepared with blends that have at least some Robusta content, it is best to choose a 100% less bitter Arabica blend that will interact better with lemon.
  • Opinions are divided on the use of sugar. Many argue that as citric acid cuts down on the bitterness of coffee, sugar is not necessary, but others point out that espresso is sweet in many Italian cities - so is espresso romano.
  • Prefer to enjoy it in the morning, as the combination of flavors makes it an ideal tonic. It's a coffee that can easily wake you up!
  • Due to the coolness of the lemon, it is also suitable for hot summer days, or at least so its fanatical friends support.
  • Don't overdo it with lemon! The dominant flavor should continue to be the coffee flavor, with the lemon acidity just offering a 'play'.


Probably, espresso romano is not going to change the way you drink your espresso, nor expose you to new worlds of coffee. But it's a traditional recipe worth experimenting with - espresso we want to know it all!