Espresso Romano

Espresso Romano

If you are habitual of having a cup of espresso daily like me and want to explore different versions of the drink, try Espresso Romano. This article will discuss everything about the popular espresso drink with a lemon slice, the Espresso Romano!

What is an Espresso Romano

Espresso Romano, or café Romano, is defined as an espresso shot served with a slice of lemon on the side or a lemon twist. You also have the option of placing the lemon slice or the twist of lemon rind in the coffee or squeezing the lemon juice into the espresso.

Roman Coffee

The lemon juice is highly acidic with a pH value of 2. An average coffee drink has a pH value in the range of 4.8 to 5.2. Hence the espresso served with lime has higher acidity and a much more complex flavor profile, with a fresh citrusy undertone.

It is a decent way to spin the espresso flavor without bothering to add many other ingredients like steamed or foamed milk. You may add a teaspoon of sugar though if you like.

The natural acids in the lemon break down the essential oils bringing out other subtle flavors.

Exploring the History of Espresso Romano

As the English meaning of the word Romano is “Roman,” the name of the drink translates to Roman espresso, giving an impression of its Italian origins, like the other Italian inventions – the espresso and moka pot. But most coffee experts agree that the drink has no connections with Italy or Rome as far as its origin is concerned. Hence contradictory stories abound about its origin instead of any definitive evidence.

Some even consider it to be an American invention that has been associated with fake Italian heritage to attract tourists.

Some argue that the lemon was added by the Americans to mimic their cocktail bar practice during the first fad for Italian-style coffee in the 1950s.

Others suggest that the combination was first used on the Amalfi coast in Italy, where American troops first landed during the second world war. In order to have larger volumes of coffee in the cup, the shots were often over-extracted, resulting in a beverage with a very dull taste. Hence, the practice of combining espresso with little lemon juice started to enhance the flavor.

Yet another version suggests that the use of lemon started when the Italians were forced to consume cheap instant coffee during the world war, and even after the war, it took substantial time till the trade resumed.

Whatever may be the reason, it has resulted in a potent classic drink for all of us to enjoy.

Espresso Romano Recipe

We presume that you are familiar with the different options or variations in making espresso shots at home. Hence, we must focus more on the different options with the defining ingredient, the lemon. The main options are

Espresso Romano Recipe

Using Fresh Lemon Juice:

The most obvious choice is to squeeze a few drops of lemon juice directly into the drink. To do so, remove the lemon peel and slice a piece of lemon. Squeeze its juice directly onto the espresso. This prevents the bitter notes from the white part of the peel.

The lemon juice softens the bitterness of the espresso and brightens your drink. You can even add some sugar to counter the sour taste of the lemon.

But, if you suffer from acidity issues, it is better to avoid these drinks or ensure they are prepared from dark roast beans with a lower acidic profile.

Using Lemon Slice:

Add a slice of lemon without squeezing its juice. In this option, the acids and oils from the different parts of the lemon infuse slowly onto your drink. If you are habitual of drinking your espresso quickly, you may not encounter any increased acidity and may go in for lighter roasts if you prefer them.

However, ensure that you have washed the lemon thoroughly before using it in this manner, as the outside surface may carry insecticides and pesticides.

Using Lemon Zest:

Zest refers to the colored part of the peel, often used for seasoning foods, and contains citrus oil. You can use a lemon zester or grater for the purpose. Or peel off a thin piece of the lemon rind, twist it, or roughen its surface with a sharp object and place it directly into your espresso.


  1. 0.5 to 0.75 oz (16 to 23 g) of finely ground coffee beans.
  2. Double espresso Shot (1.5 to 2 fl. oz), 45 to 60 ml.
  3. Lemon Slice.
  4. A teaspoon of sugar,


  • Espresso Machine or Moka Pot
  • Whisk

Brewing your Espresso Romano

You can prepare a double shot of espresso using the shot variables of your liking and pour it into your favorite espresso coffee cup. You may use an espresso machine or single-serve capsule machine if you have one at your home or go in for the stovetop moka pot version. Our separate articles on these topics have detailed the procedures for brewing these drinks.

Rub the peel of the lemon gently around the rim of your cup. Use one of the methods to add lemon to your Espresso Romano drink suggested in the section above.

Add a teaspoon of sugar, if you like, and enjoy the drink.

If you want to experiment further, try the cold or the iced version of the Espresso Romano drinks this summer.


Did you brew a cup of Espresso Romano at home? Did you enjoy the drink? We request you share your valuable experiences with our readers in the comment section below.

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