What is an Espresso Romano? + 4 Step Easy Recipe

Espresso Romano

The Espresso Romano is a simplistic coffee drink typically made by adding a lemon slice and a teaspoon of sugar into a shot of espresso. The drink can be served hot or cold, with or without milk, and sometimes a nip of anisette or another type of liqueur is added. It can also be served over ice.

When it comes to the lemon flavor, most often a lemon slice is squeezed and dropped into the glass before serving. However, some baristas may simply add pure lemon juice, candied lemon slices, or even Limoncello, a popular Italian lemon liqueur.

Coffee enthusiasts really enjoy this unique drink because the sharpness and acidity of the lemon mixed with the sweetness of the sugar are said to help balance the intensity and bitterness of the espresso. Plus, having the option to add a nip of liqueur is definitely a crowd-pleaser for many.

That was the quick overall summary. Read on for the full details.

What is the history of the Espresso Romano?

history of the Espresso Romano
Born in Italian history or no?
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino

The Espresso Romano is a popular drink that is served in many places around the world. The drink can go by different names depending on where it is ordered, however, the Espresso Romano is the most common name. This is considered a bit odd since the drink itself has no actual connection to the city of Rome. 

In fact, there is much disagreement about when and where the drink originated. Some people think the drink wasn’t even invented in Italy at all and that it was an American invention given a fake Italian name to sound authentic. Others think it was actually invented in France.

The Italian Story

For those who believe that the drink originated in Italy, it is believed that the town of Giugliano is the birthplace of the Espresso Romano. Giugliano is a small city located just northwest of Naples in the Campania region of Italy that is famous for its Caffè Canarino or Caffè al Limone

The Caffè Canarino or Caffè al Limone was said to have been invented by locals in Giugliano who were using their famous Sorrento lemons mixed with sugar to mask the extremely bitter taste of the instant coffee they were only allowed to drink during the World Wars.

Because of import limitations that were placed on Italy during the wars, the only type of coffee Italians could acquire was the cheap instant coffee that was served to American GIs. 

This poor-quality coffee was hard for Italians to enjoy and so many drinks were created, including the Caffè Canarino or Caffè al Limone to help improve the flavor. At some point, when the drink became more popular in other countries, the name became the Espresso Romano that it is known as today. 

The Espresso Romano: What you need to know

What you need to know
Does it suite your taste buds?
Photo by Dagmara Dombrovska

What does an Espresso Romano taste like?

The Espresso Romano has a bold and balanced citrus and coffee flavor that is created when the citric acid from the lemon interacts with the bitterness of the espresso.

The citric acid is a strong flavor in itself. However, when mixed with espresso, both intense flavors seem to balance out nicely. The added teaspoon of sugar adds a level of sweetness that further balances the acidic and bitter flavors of the lemon and espresso. 

Does an Espresso Romano have any health benefits?

The Espresso Romano is said to be more healthy with fewer calories and a lower fat content than other drinks that involve the use of cream, half-and-half, and milk.

Also, many die-hard Romano drinkers say that it makes the perfect hangover cure. The caffeine of espresso is said to help relieve headache pain while the oils in the lemon aid in digestion, help with nausea, and speed up the metabolism. 

What ingredients are in an Espresso Romano?

The most basic way to make an Espresso Romano is to add two lemon slices and a teaspoon of sugar to a single or double shot of espresso.

However, there are different variations of the drink that can be served with or without milk, served hot or poured over ice, and with or without a nip of liqueur such as anisette. 

How much caffeine is in an Espresso Romano?

An Espresso Romano served with a single shot of espresso can come with approximately 64 mg of caffeine whereas the drink served with a double shot may come with up to 128 mg of caffeine. 

Can you order an Iced Espresso Romano?

Yes, of course. Simply inform the barista that you prefer your Espresso Romano to be served over ice and they should happily accommodate you. You can even ask for the drink to be served in a bigger glass with a few ounces of milk if you want to further cut down the acidic and bitter flavors that are common with the Espresso Romano. 

How to make an Espresso Romano at home

How to make an Espresso Romano at home
How do you make an espresso romano at home?
Photo by Николай Демин

Making Espresso Romanos at home can be incredibly easy and delicious if you have the right ingredients and equipment. Having an espresso machine is the best way to make an Espresso Romano, however, you can also use espresso made with a French press or Moka pot if you do not own a machine. 

To make the best-tasting Espresso Romano, it is recommended that you choose the highest-quality espresso beans and freshest lemons you can find. You will also need some sugar, raw sugar being the best. 

Once you have gathered the equipment and ingredients, follow these steps.

  1. Brew a double shot of light roasted espresso using an espresso machine, French press, or Moka pot.
  2. In a small cup, squeeze and add a slice or two of lemon or add a few drops of pure lemon juice.
  3. Add a half to full teaspoon of sugar depending on how sweet you want the drink to be.
  4. Pour over the espresso and stir.


Is Espresso Romano good?

Yes, the Espresso Romano is good, especially if you use the highest-quality espresso and freshest lemons. If you enjoy citrus, then the Espresso Romano is at least worth a try. 

Do people usually put lemons in espresso?

Typically no. Lemons were originally added to espresso to help mask the extremely bitter flavors of poor-quality coffee beans. However, what was once done out of necessity has transformed into a delicacy. 

Coffee Has Never Read This Good!

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