When in Rome, do what Romans do. In this case, that means infusing your espresso shot with lemon. You heard that right!
Actually, according to experts, the citrusy coffee specialty what invented somewhere in the United States. Nevertheless, today you’ll find it listed in cafés all over Italy, especially around Naples and, you guessed it, Rome.
So, what’s the deal with the espresso Romano? It’s quite simple, really. A proper shot infused with the sweet and citrusy flavors of lemon. Here’s where things get complicated: Some people will use orange wheels or wedges, while others will only use the yellow fruit’s peel.
As you know, all the flavor and aromatics in lemon come from the fruit’s essential oil, which is encapsulated in the peel. Lemon juice is not that aromatic, but it certainly is refreshing and acidic.
Acid in coffee, you say? This is not such a wild thought. Coffee is already acidic. If you compare coffee and lemon juice in a PH chart, coffee has an acidity of between 4.85 to 5.10. Lemon juice, on the other hand, has an acidity of 2.
This means lemon adds a tangy acidity to coffee that makes it summerier and more refreshing. Actually, the best espresso Romano I’ve tried was poured over ice. Today we’re making the regular kind, though.
Now, hear this. Here’s a wild thought. If you can flavor your coffee with lemons, why not use oranges or tangerines? Well, actually, this is not my idea. People have been infusing their coffee with all kinds of citrus fruit, and every version is special in its own way.
Today we’re using a lemon wheel because I want to offer you the chance of using just the oil in the peel, the lemon juice or both. You’ll be calling the shots.
Before we make ourselves a Roman specialty, let’s talk about coffee briefly. I know dark roasts are popular right now, they offer caramel and chocolate scents, but that’s not what you want for this one.
If you want a light roasted coffee, one that tastes and smells like coffee berries, then you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven. Trust, me you’ll fall in love with light roasts; let’s give them a chance!
Preheat your espresso cup with steam.
Rub the lemon peel into the rim of the cup. Optionally squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the glass.
Brew your espresso and pour it into your lemon-scented cup.
Sweeten to taste.