Ahh, the taste of ice-cold Arnold Palmer in the summer time. The mix of bitter tea, tart lemon, and sweet sugar is delish on a hot afternoon. Wait—if that combo is so great, then why haven't we tried it with coffee? (BTW you can also make Arnold Palmer alcoholic. You're welcome.)
That's exactly why the latest trend, coffee lemonade, is sprouting up in coffee shops to help you beat the summer heat while getting your caffeine fix. It might sound questionable, but there's a reason it works:
"Coffee is rich in flavor compounds stemming from the Maillard reactions—a set of chemical reactions that take place when sugars and proteins are heated together," says Sam Lewontin, KRUPS ambassador and barista from Everyman Espresso in New York City. "These flavors are sweet, nutty, and complex: if you think of the delicious smells of meat cooking or bread baking, those are Maillard reactions that you're smelling. The sweet, bright flavors of fruits—in this case, lemonade—are a great complement to these Maillard flavors."
Compare the flavor combo, he says, to a fruit pie. (You're a fan of those, right?) Imagine getting that sweet explosion in an ice cold drink. Voilà, coffee lemonade. (Still not convinced? Just ask the Italians—they've been putting lemon in their espresso for years.)
Coffee lemonade hasn't gone as mainstream as Starbucks yet, so you'll have to poke around your local coffee shops to see who's hopped on the new trend. Can't find one? Not to worry—Lewontin served up an easy DIY recipe (below). The most important thing, however, is that you have quality ingredients, he says. "Use iced coffee that's delicious on its own, and fresh lemon juice; you can't make a tasty drink without great ingredients!" Using simple syrup is also important because regular granulated sugar doesn't mix well into cold liquids.
If the combination of coffee and lemonade just isn't your thing, maybe you'll like one of the next unexpected combos that pop up. Coffee trends are leaning towards pairing unorthodox ingredients, like fruit juices or tincture bitters, says Lewontin.
Coffee Lemonade Recipe:
6 oz. iced coffee (cold-brewed or flash-brewed)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a pint glass. Stir gently, top with ice, and serve with a colorful straw! Feel free to adjust lemon juice and simple syrup to taste. (Related: How to Make the Perfect Cold Brew)
For simple syrup: Combine equal parts granulated sugar and hot water, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.