There is always a new trend, a new fad or diet – keto, paleo, low carb and similar. The latest trending hot topic now involves one of our favorite beverages, coffee. So, what is Lemon Coffee?
Lemon coffee is simply coffee with the addition of juice from a lemon. There are claims of health benefits and weight loss benefits, most of these being unproven scientifically. The concept of lemon coffee has not been around long enough for any comprehensive studies on the effects.
So keep reading as we explore this innovation, and possibly discover if the claims have any bearing on reality.
How to make Lemon Coffee
First, let us look at what constitutes lemon coffee and how it is made.
The easiest method is by using instant coffee powder, which is unlikely to appeal to true coffee lovers. We recommend using freshly brewed coffee/espresso.
A tablespoon of lemon juice is added to the cup of hot coffee, along with honey to sweeten it – both coffee and lemon juice are bitter, so the honey makes it more pleasant to drink. Plus honey has known health benefits and should be used rather than sugar.
Milk of course cannot be added – only black coffee can be used. Lemon juice curdles the milk – the citric acid in lemons reacts with the lactose and casein in milk, turning it sour and leaving the milk floating in small lumps on the surface of your drink.
How to make Iced Lemon Coffee
Probably the most popular method of drinking lemon coffee is as iced coffee. Again, the recipe is simple – using either instant coffee or freshly brewed coffee/espresso which has been previously made and chilled, combine the coffee with freshly squeezed lemon juice, ice cubes and a sweetener and stir.
Cold brewed coffee is ideal for this, and it may not even need any sweetening, since cold brew in itself has a sweeter flavor than regular coffee which has been chilled.
If honey is used in iced coffee it should be added during the brewing so it dissolves. If put straight into an iced drink it may just pool around the bottom of the glass. A healthy alternative is Stevia powder, which will dissolve when stirred in to the cold drink.
Or try it without sweetening for a refreshing wake-up drink.
Making Lemon Coffee with other types of Coffee
Although using instant coffee seems to be the most popular method, virtually any type of black coffee can be used. Because instant coffees are generally made from the cheaper and more plentiful Robusta beans, their flavor can be a bit harsh with strong acidity. Espresso and fresh ground drip coffees are usually made from Arabica beans and in a light to medium roast which will allow the lemon flavor to blend better and be more palatable even without a sweetener.
Despite claims from so-called experts, lemons have never been combined with espresso coffee in Italy – it is completely unknown there. This tale comes about from the practice of some Italian cafes serving a small slice of lemon with an espresso. The lemon rind is wiped around the lip of the espresso cup to add a little zing, much like in a Margarita cocktail. This is known as a Café Romano.
Health Benefits of Lemon Coffee
Both coffee and lemons are known to have health benefits – they are both rich in antioxidants.
The caffeine and chlorogenic acid (CGA) in coffee has been shown to be protective against some types of cancer, including liver, prostate and breast cancer. It also reduces the risk of diabetes.
Lemons are packed with Vitamin C and flavonoids – the chemicals that are responsible for the fruit’s color, they are also anti-inflammatory, offering protection from heart disease.
The claimed health benefits from lemon coffee include the reduction of headaches, and the improvement of skin appearance.
How do the two affect our system?
Caffeine has a restricting effect on our veins reducing blood flow to the brain, which could help relieve migraines and headaches.
The antioxidants and CGA in coffee may improve skin hydration, improve blood flow and reduce scaliness.
The high vitamin C in lemons may stimulate the production of collagen, which gives the skin elasticity and reduce skin damage from exposure to the sun.
However these benefits are not new, and have always been known to be present in both coffee and lemons. There is no reason to suggest that combining the two has any more added effect than consuming each separately.
Does It Help to Lose Weight?
This is the big question, since this is the most often quoted benefit of drinking Lemon Coffee. Not according to dieticians, who state emphatically that, aside from surgical intervention, the only way to lose any weight is to eat less and exercise more.
The idea that drinking lemon juice with coffee can burn off fat the same way as a sensible diet and a regular work-out does, seems a bit unrealistic.
The only possible way you can lose weight is from having a cup of coffee every morning, with or without lemon. The coffee acts as an appetite suppressant so you eat less. This may be why followers of the trend who say they have drunk lemon coffee every day for two months have lost a bit of weight but replacing a meal with a cup of coffee is not a good solution to start the day.
What is the Downside of Drinking Lemon Coffee?
To start with, dentists agree that a drink high in citric acid every morning can erode the tooth enamel through a process called demineralization, eventually the acid can make its way to the dentine which will lead to dental problems like pain and tooth sensitivity.
The acids in coffee commonly act as a trigger for acid reflux, or indigestion, when they react with gastric acids in the stomach. Combined with citric acid, this could make the effects even worse, especially in the morning on an empty stomach.
Citric acid can turn caffeine into a salt, which is then absorbed in the bloodstream. This is bad news for anyone with high blood pressure since high salt levels in the body can aggravate the condition.
Can You Buy Lemon Coffee in the Supermarket or in Cafes?
The answer to this question is partly, yes. Lemon tea is available and has been for many years, but lemon coffee?
One niche supplier and coffee bean roaster, La Colombe, sells a can of ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew coffee with lemon.
Cusa Coffee makes an instant coffee powder claimed to be a dark roast Arabica with lemon peel.
However it is not likely that you will find these specialty products on your local supermarket shelves, and so far the big coffee companies have resisted the trend, so home-made is still the way to go.
I don’t believe it has yet featured on a Starbucks menu, and you will not likely come across it in a regular café or restaurant. But you can always ask – after all, they will generally always have lemons in stock, and will happily oblige you (although they may charge a bit extra for the trouble).
The concept of lemon coffee seems to have started on the TikTok app, where the young (and sometimes not so young) issue challenges to their followers, like “Try this lemon coffee for 28 days and see what happens”.
This is what the advertising world calls a classic CTA, a call to action. Dieticians despair, that all their recommendations for good nutrition are so easily countered by an online app, designed purely as entertainment.
Yes, lemons are healthy, and yes, coffee also has health benefits, but working together in some sort of symbiosis? No evidence.
As for claims about weight loss, yes it will certainly help you to lose weight if you use lemon coffee as a meal substitute. Exactly the same can be said for just a cup of coffee. Or just a drink of lemon juice.
In the end, maybe it’s best to just forget about all the unproven claims, and just enjoy it as a pleasant drink, a refreshing way to get your caffeine hit.
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