Trade Olive For Lemon Oil In Your Next Coffee

You may have heard of drizzling olive oil into your coffee, but have you considered adding lemon oil? At first glance, pairing coffee with lemon might seem odd, as both foods are known for their highly acidic, robust flavors. However, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that the citrusy brightness balances the darker flavors of the roasted coffee beans, while adding a zesty aroma for an extra invigorating pick-me-up. The key is to use lemon oil, not lemon juice. Rather than squeezing juice from the whole fruit, you'll need only a small amount of the essential oil stored in its yellow peel.

Adding lemon oil to your coffee is suitable for any time of year. It brings a refreshing, nostalgic taste of lemonade to cold coffee options like iced, cold brew, or nitro in the summer. Moreover, it adds a burst of sunshine during the dark days of winter, which coincidentally is the peak harvest season for citrus.

Why adding lemon oil to your coffee makes sense

Several coffee trends in recent years have gained momentum, in part due to the inclusion of unexpected ingredients. First, there was the butter in bulletproof coffee; then, in February 2023, a buzz emerged — and not just from the caffeine — about Oleato, a new lineup of Starbucks beverages infused with olive oil. Though these ingredients may seem odd and dissimilar at first glance, butter, olive oil, and lemon oil share a common trait: They are all sources of fat that can enhance the overall coffee-drinking experience.

The process of extracting essential oil from a citrus peel is often referred to as "expressing," a technique frequently employed in cocktail making. When it comes to both coffee and cocktails, the expression of citrus oils serves not just to add the flavor and aroma of the citrus itself, but also to enhance the flavors, aromas, and textures of other ingredients.

Pairing lemon oil with coffee beverages

To try this at home, start with your usual coffee routine, whether that involves roasting a rare type of coffee bean at home or using your favorite pre-ground coffee package. Once your hot or cold brew is ready, take a washed lemon and slice a thick strip from its peel. With the yellow side facing down, press the peel against the rim of the mug or glass containing your coffee, rubbing it along the entire edge while squeezing gently to release the oil. You can enjoy the drink as-is, or for a shortcut, you can add some purchased lemon-infused oil to your beverage instead.

The lemon and coffee combination is also suitable for evening drinks. Beverages that meld espresso and lemon have existed for hundreds of years, as seen in the "ponce livornese" — a drink made of rum, coffee, sugar, and lemon peel — that is believed to date back to the 1700s. This Italian drink serves as a precursor to the modern espresso martini. Interestingly, some bartenders express a lemon peel around the rim of the glass before serving an espresso martini. You can make one at home using a classic espresso martini recipe or opt for a low-alcohol or non-alcoholic version.