Why Combining Orange Juice and Coffee Weirdly Works

This refreshing recipe from Nam Coffee has a Vietnamese twist.

nam coffee orange juice espresso recipe lemongrass
Photo courtesy of Nam Coffee
Photo courtesy of Nam Coffee

Orange juice and coffee make sense together in the morning. Imagine the conventionally ideal breakfast spread, something you’d witness on a ’90s sitcom: perhaps there are eggs, pancakes, some type of breakfast meat—and always a glass of orange juice and cup of coffee. Why not put the two together?

This concept first went viral on TikTok when user @bundaddy encouraged followers to put espresso into their orange juice. “I’ve not seen one person who likes espresso and orange juice not like them together,” she proclaims in the video.

Since then, people began trying the citrus coffee combination with shockingly refreshing results. This includes Vince Nguyen, the founder of new Los Angeles-based coffee roaster, Nam Coffee.

Nguyen has been around coffee his whole life. “I helped my mom with a coffee cart when I lived in Vietnam,” he explains, “so I’ve been loving Vietnamese coffee all my life.” But when he moved to the U.S., he had trouble finding beans from his home country. He missed the captivating smell of Vietnam’s robusta beans and its eye-widening, strong flavor, so he decided to start his own Vietnamese coffee brand and bring the flavors stateside—for himself and other Vietnamese immigrants.

The brand currently has three roasts: Dalat, District One, and Orange County, all named after places significant to Nguyen.

“Part of me starting this brand is me wanting to uplift Vietnamese culture and people,” Nguyen says. That includes showing consumers that Vietnamese coffee isn’t a one-note drink that only works with condensed milk.

Nguyen first began experimenting with citrus coffee when he paired lemon juice with his coffee, hoping for a refreshing twist on his favorite caffeinated beverage. What it needed, however, was more sweetness. With inspiration from his Orange County coffee, he opted for orange juice.

Orange County, which is a 70% arabica and 30% robusta blend, is bold enough to stand up to the fresh fragrance of orange juice without overpowering it. The two create a sweet and bitter balance that is the perfect marriage of America’s favorite breakfast drinks. To make it a bit more Vietnamese, Nguyen included the addition of lemongrass.

“Lemongrass is a signature ingredient in Vietnam, Thailand, and throughout Southeast Asia,” Nguyen explains. “I’d had lemongrass in tea before so I always thought of it as a tea drink, but what if it was in coffee?”

The combination, to Nguyen, encapsulates the perfect summer drink. “This is just something different the community should try,” Nguyen encourages.

So if you’ve seen videos of orange-flavored cold brew, or espresso shots being added to tall glasses of OJ, this is your sign to try out this new coffee trend. It might just become your next favorite way to start your morning.

Lemongrass Orange Iced Coffee Recipe from Nam Coffee


  • 2 ounces Nam Coffee (Orange County blend)
  • 1.5 ounces Lemongrass syrup (150 grams of sugar, 100 grams of water, 100 grams of lemongrass, boiled together)
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • Lemongrass stalks, orange slices, or rosemary for garnish

1. Steep coffee using pour-over method or cold-brew method (overnight).
2. Fill a highball glass with ice
3. Add lemongrass syrup and orange juice, then stir
4. Top off with coffee and garnish with lemongrass, orange, or rosemary

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.