Starbucks in London, England, with people visible
What Exactly Goes Into Starbucks' Lemonade Concentrate?
By Garth Clingingsmith
Originally renowned for selling roasted coffee, Starbucks now sells almost three-quarters of its drinks on ice, the most popular of which is its lemonade. Although Starbucks’ lemonade follows that tried-and-true recipe of using filtered water, lemon juice, sugar, and ice, it additionally uses another ingredient to upgrade the traditional recipe.
Lemon oil, extracted from lemon skin by pressing or steaming, is one of the essential ingredients that gives Starbucks lemonade a distinct aroma and flavor, which juice alone cannot provide. Lemon oils are not to be confused with the less-potent lemon extract, which uses alcohol to pull the oils from something like lemon zest.
If you don’t want to buy lemon oil for your homemade lemonade, try an alternative: crush or muddle lemon zest with sugar to release the zest's oils into the resulting mixture, steep it in hot water, strain it, and keep it in the fridge for fresh lemonade at any time. Equal proportions of the lemonade and water over ice are recommended, but you can adjust that ratio to suit your tastes.