The internet—and social media in particular—doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to viral food trends. For every Dalgona Coffee there’s a Tide Pod Challenge, and one should take great caution when literally putting your life on the line because the internet told you to put something in your maw.
Still, when there’s a popular coffee trend making the social media rounds a la the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad extra Starbucks orders, we are compelled to report on it. And sometimes even try them out ourselves. Thus is the case with the latest coffee craze taking the TikToks: orange juice and espresso.
The twist? It’s actually pretty good.
The drink is pretty simple: put espresso in orange juice. How much orange juice? Who can say—certainly not Buzzfeed—but apparently the combination espresso and some amount of orange juice is said to be quite good. “I have not seen one person who likes espresso and orange juice not like them together,” avers @bundaddy on TikTok, whose video has amassed over 1.6 million views.
At first blush, it’s a weird combination. Sure, they belong at the breakfast together, but not like, together together, right? But the more I thought about it, the more it kinda started to make sense. Espresso tonics are good, and Colombia’s Diego Rivera just won the World Barista Championship with sig bev containing frozen reductions of cherry, pineapple, and starfruit. As something of a poor man’s Diego Rivera myself, I figured why not give the Espresso & OJ a whirl myself?
(Why is no one calling this drink an Espresso Sunrise? That’s clearly what it is.)
[Editor’s update: Please note that the term “Espresso Sunrise” is the subject of a pending trademark submitted by Barefoot Coffee (Wheaten Ventures LLC) for a drink combining espresso and orange soda.]
After dusting off the ole Rancilio Silvia, I had to first figure out what ratio of espresso to orange juice would work best. Most of the videos I found looked like they were something like 3:1 or 4:1 OJ to spro. But being more cortado than latte myself and after working through nearly an entire bag of Verve Coffee’s Guatemala Santa Clara, I landed on a the simple, clean 1:1. It was the ratio I found that allowed the bright sweetness of the OJ to come through without overpowering the flavor of the espresso. And the cascading effect of the espresso as it is poured over orange juice and ice is definitely Gram-worthy.
It goes without saying, because tiny little fruit chunks in drinks is disturbing, but make sure you are using pulp-free orange juice. This is not the time for some pulp. And yes, I know that espresso over ice is a big no no for the very serious coffee crowd, but if you’d allow yourself a moment of sub-consternatious coffee drinking, this is a tasty little bevvy that you can enjoy in secret. We won’t tell anyone and ruin your coffee cred.
If you want to take things a step further, per Buzzfeed, Bon Appetit put out a recipe a few years back for a “Spritzy Americano,” which is basically just an Espresso Sunrise (that’s what we call it now) with some bubbly water. Their recipe calls for 2oz of OJ, 2oz of espresso, and 5oz of seltzer, but this completely washes out the flavors of the espresso and orange juice. I found just a single ounce of bubbles did the trick. It brought the effervescence without diluting the complexity.
Final verdict: social media got it right with the Espresso Sunrise. To quote my colleague Jordan Michelman: “This is a good drink.”