lemonade iced coffee
Jubala Coffee is offering a new summer drink to customers of the North Carolina coffee shop: lemonade iced coffee. (Image via Slate)

Lemonade Iced Coffee Might Be the New Summer Coffee Drink (If You’re Brave Enough)

When life gives you lemons, put their juice in your coffee.

With selections such as pour overs, cold brew, sparkling cold brew, espresso tonics, turmeric lattes, charcoal coffees, nitro coffee and blue algae lattes made with a living blue algae, the world of coffee trends is far from lacking. Some become coffee house staples, while others remain popular only in niche, connoisseur communities.

Colorful varieties, for example, can be intimidating for the average iced coffee or latte drinker, but one particular summer coffee beverage with only a few familiar (albeit conflicting) ingredients might receive the most skepticism.

Jubala Coffee in Raleigh, North Carolina, is combining lemonade — the crisp, tangy-sweet staple drink of American households during the summer — with tonic water, lemon syrup and cold brew coffee to create lemonade iced coffee.

Tonic water is exceptionally bitter, and at first glance, the drink’s ingredients seem to be an overpowering combination of bitter acidity and harsh sours that would be unappealing to the majority of coffee drinkers.

Slate writer Jessica Rotenberg, who reviewed the lemonade iced coffee, felt otherwise. “It had the complexity of a really good cocktail. The tonic water provided an energizing boost. It was slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so. The lemon didn’t overpower my taste buds either. The coffee flavor was subtle at the beginning, but asserted itself at the end with those familiar toasty notes.”

Rotenberg said, “By the time I had taken my last sip, I felt smug in knowing that I now belonged to a group of bold and daring coffee lemonade ambassadors: It was effing delicious.”

The bitterness of the cold brew and tonic water are softened by the lemon syrup and somehow create a reportedly complex floral and citrus flavor. However, the drink is served without cream, and consequently, lemonade iced coffee would likely be most popular among people who enjoy a sharp black iced coffee.

Lemonade iced coffee and the blend’s genius oddity can be traced to Sweden, where lemon coffee has existed for years as “kaffelemonad.”

In the United States, Jubala Coffee is not the first to try its hand at lemonade iced coffee. During the spring of 2015, the Brooklyn-based Stand Coffee started offering the drink to customers. Then, in 2017, another coffee business in the same city, Keepers Sparkling Co., released a carbonated citrus cold brew, created through a Japanese flash brewing method.

Brooklyn café Smith Canteen, however, is the common U.S. epicenter of the lemonade iced coffee phenomenon due to the “Thunderbolt,” a simple but electric combination of espresso and lemonade.

Despite the recent emergence of lemonade iced coffee, lemon and citrus flavors are not a new trend in the coffee world. Lemony coffee blends, such as the Ecco Caffee’s Rwanda Bufcafe and the Panama Esmeralda Estate Coffee (the winner of the Cup of Excellence award, which is said to resemble a lemon cookie in flavor), have existed long before lemonade iced coffee.

Although lemonade iced coffee is yet to be known as a common staple of the U.S., the drink poses a summer trend deserving of exploration if a nearby brew is available. If not, recipes online provide the necessary steps to create the caffeinated citrus cocktail just in time for the summer cookout season.

Writer Profile

Jamie Lovley

University of Maine
Journalism and Psychology

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