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Iced Espresso Tonic

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On a hot Summer day, nothing beats an iced espresso tonic – bubbly and icy cold with a hint of citrus, espresso and tonic water is a super refreshing iced coffee drink you can make at home in just a few minutes.

And if it has never occurred to you to combine coffee and tonic water – you’re not alone! What was once considered an unusual coffee recipe is now a popular way to enjoy an easy iced espresso coffee.

iced espresso tonic with citrus in low glass with ice.

What Is An Espresso Tonic?

An espresso tonic is an iced coffee drink made by combining a shot of espresso with tonic water in a lowball glass full of ice.

The sweet botanical tonic flavors combine with the fruity acidity of the coffee to produce a unique carbonated espresso drink unlike any other black coffee drinks.

It goes by many names in cafes including a coffee tonic and café tonic. Variations include the cold brew tonic and cold drip tonic made with cold brew concentrate and tonic water.

When Was The Iced Espresso Tonic Created?

The espresso tonic is credited to have been created in Sweden by Anne Lunell & Charles Nystrand at Koppi Coffee Roasters at their (now closed) café in Helsingbord.

Made almost by accident when experimenting with different flavor combinations, it soon became a staple menu item and popular coffee drink choice.

Since then this coffee drink recipe has spread far and wide, with countless customisations along the way.

From the cold brew tonic to alcoholic espresso tonic cocktail recipes, the once unusual combination of espresso coffee with tonic water has become a common feature on café menus worldwide.

top view of espresso and tonic water.

Why You’ll Love This Espresso Tonic Recipe

In the heat of Summer, I crave cool coffee drinks – do you? I love to drink flat whites, but when it’s hot, I often need something more refreshing – which is why this espresso tonic recipe is so good!

The tonic water gives the espresso a rich sweetness and it also has lots of lovely bubbles – which always makes a drink seem more Summery, don’t you think?

And not only is the coffee drink refreshing, sweet and bubbly, you can also make it in under 5 minutes.

If you need more Summer coffee ideas, this iced brown sugar latte is divine, my Greek frappe is so easy to make, and this Vietnamese iced coffee is sweet and strong!

iced citrus espresso tonic in glass.

Espresso And Tonic Ingredients

As you can probably guess from the title, this coffee drink has just a handful of ingredients. I talk some more about these ingredients below, or scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredient list with quantities.

  • Tonic water
  • Espresso coffee
  • Citrus fruit
  • Ice cubes

As the drink has just two main ingredients, the secret to a delicious tonic and espresso coffee drink is good tonic and good espresso.

What’s The Best Espresso For Coffee Tonics?

The espresso is the hero in this drink and I find the best espresso beans to use are light to medium roasted coffee beans. The fruity acidity of light and medium roast coffee beans is a much better pairing with the naturally bitter tonic water.

Single origin Ethiopian or Kenyan coffee beans work well, as do Central American medium roasts. See 5 awesome coffee bean roasts to try here.

You’ll find that most dark roast espresso coffees are too heavy and have too much bitterness when combined with tonic water. So save them for your milky espresso drinks and use a medium roast instead for my coffee and tonic recipe.

What’s The Best Tonic To Use?

There are many different types of tonic water on the market. Many commercial tonic waters are quite bitter and have a lot of sugar added, like Schweppes Indian Tonic Water.

I would avoid these as they really overpower the drink and don’t allow the coffee to shine. Instead, look for botanical or aromatic craft tonic waters with a light floral or citrus flavor.

Fever Tree is a premium tonic brand I like to use. Their Mediterranean and Elderflower tonics are a great choice for this recipe. In Australia, Capi is another brand of tonic to try. Q tonic and Fentimans are also great choices.

The key is to look for premium tonic waters with a floral, citrus botanical base.

three bottles of different brands of tonic water.

Can I Use Cold Brew Concentrate Instead Of Espresso?

Many cafes selling coffee tonics actually use cold brew coffee instead of espresso.

Apart from the convenience factor of using pre-made cold brew concentrate, cold brew and tonic has a lighter taste than espresso and tonic water.

So if you find the taste of tonic and espresso too heavy or intense, by all means experiment with a cold brew tonic.

Equipment Needed To Make A Coffee Tonic

They key piece of coffee making equipment you need to make a good café tonic is an espresso machine.

If you don’t own an espresso machine you could use a moka pot, which produces the closest style of coffee to an espresso machine.

I don’t recommend using french press coffee, pour over or filter coffee for this recipe – it just won’t have the intensity needed to hold its own with the sweet tonic water.

See the espresso machines I recommend to make cafe-quality drinks at home here.

orange espresso tonic drink.

How To Make Espresso Tonic At Home

Here’s a quick overview of how to make a homemade espresso tonic. For the full recipe and ingredient list, scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Step 1: Chill the glass. Fill a lowball tumbler or short glass (6-8 oz / 250 ml) all the way to the top with ice cubes. This helps chill the glass and keep your drink cold. Add a slice of orange or lemon to the glass.

Expert tip: Using a full glass of large ice cubes will slow the melt and chill the drink more effectively than small ice cubes.

cafe tonic process step filled glass with ice.

For a more subtle citrus flavor, use a long piece of orange or lemon peel instead of a slice of orange.

When using orange peel, the aromatic citrus oils are blended with the drink without the more intense flavor of the juice in the sliced fruit.

Step 2: Add the tonic water. Pour your tonic water over the ice until almost full – leaving just enough room for your espresso.

Depending on the size of your glass, this should be up to 6 oz (3/4 cup or 180 ml) of tonic water. Don’t use more as it will dilute your drink too much.

coffee and tonic water process step filling glass with tonic water.

In terms of what is the right ratio of espresso and tonic, this varies greatly from recipe to recipe and cafe to cafe.

Many recipes suggest a ratio of 1:2 espresso to tonic water. I find this far too strong and short and instead prefer a ratio of around 1:6. Really anything from 100 ml to 180 ml of tonic water with a shot of espresso works well.

I suggest trying my ratio of 1:6 (1 shot of espresso and 6 oz/180 ml of tonic water) and adjust as necessary for personal taste.

Step 3: Pull the espresso. Next pull your espresso shot. I use one shot (1 oz / 30 ml) of espresso for each drink.

But if you have a taller glass or prefer a stronger coffee by all means pull a double espresso shot.

To use cold brew instead of espresso, use about 2 oz (1/4 cup or 60 ml) of cold brew concentrate.

Step 4: Combine the espresso. Finally, GENTLY, pour your espresso over your tonic water.

Too fast and your drink may fizz and bubble over the sides of your glass or produce a foamy bitter crema that isn’t nice.

So pour it slowly, or even pour it over the back of a spoon into the glass for a pretty layered result. Serve and enjoy whilst ice cold.

iced coffee tonic water in glass.

Recipe Tips For Success

For a delicious espresso tonic my top tips are:

  • This drink is all about the coffee! Use a light to medium roast coffee that is freshly ground for the best tasting results.
  • Botanical and floral tonic waters work best for this recipe. Searching out a craft tonic water will be worth your time.
  • Experiment with the ratio of tonic water to espresso to find your perfect drink.

Espresso Tonic Recipe FAQs

What Is The Difference Between Coffee Tonic Vs Coffee Fizz?

A coffee tonic is not the same as a coffee fizz. A coffee tonic combines espresso with tonic water. On the other hand a coffee fizz is espresso mixed with sparkling water.

A simple espresso fizz has a much lighter taste when compared side by side with an espresso tonic. The botanicals, sugar and quinine in tonic water give it a more complex and bitter flavor that pairs well with espresso.

Does Espresso Tonic Have Sugar In It?

A classic espresso tonic does not have added sugar, but sugar is a significant ingredient in tonic water. So a coffee tonic does contain sugar but the amount will vary depending on the brand of tonic water used.

top side view of iced coffee tonic with orange.

Other Cold Coffee Recipes To Try

Find more iced coffee recipes or browse all my coffee recipes.

Loved this recipe? Leave a review, and join me on Facebook and Pinterest for more tasty coffee recipe ideas.

espresso tonic drink in glass.

Iced Espresso Tonic

Espresso, tonic water and a slice of citrus is all that's required to make this simple coffee tonic drink. Super refreshing, fizzy and icy cold, this espresso tonic recipe is perfect for Summer drinking.
5 from 1 vote
Servings: 1 drink
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 shot espresso
  • ¾ cup tonic water
  • 1 slice orange or lemon
  • Ice cubes

Instructions
 

  • Fill your lowball tumbler with ice cubes and a single slice of lemon or orange.
  • Pour tonic water over the ice until the glass is 3/4 full.
  • Pull a single shot of espresso into a separate glass or cup.
  • Slowly pour the espresso over the iced tonic water and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Lemon and orange both work well in this drink so choose which ever citrus fruit you prefer or have on hand.
  2. Pouring the tonic water first allows it to chill and settle before adding your espresso.
  3. Gently pour the espresso on top – pour too quick and it may fizz up and over the top of your glass.
  4. Experiment with different coffee beans – fruity Ethiopian or Kenyan coffee beans work well with this style of coffee drink.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drink | Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Rachel Rodda
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Did You Make This?Leave a comment and let me know how it was!

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coffee tonic drink in glass with text overlay.
espresso tonic with text overlay.
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Rachel Rodda

It's no surprise that as a former barista and founder of Creators of Coffee, I'm obsessed with all things coffee. I love to share easy and delicious coffee recipes, expert brewing tips and helpful coffee gear reviews with my fellow coffee lovers!

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