This iced espresso tonic is the perfect way to enjoy coffee on a hot Summer day.
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 are not alone! What was once considered unusual has now been embraced as a fantastic and simple way to drink iced espresso coffee.
I hope you enjoy our espresso tonic recipe – and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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.
Variations include the cold brew tonic and cold drip tonic made with cold brew concentrate and tonic water.
The sweet botanical tonic flavours combine with the fruity acidity of the coffee to produce a unique carbonated espresso drink unlike any other black coffee drinks.
Coffee tonic vs coffee fizz
If you are wondering if a coffee tonic is the same as a coffee fizz, note they are different coffee drinks.
Whereas a coffee tonic combines espresso with tonic water, a coffee fizz is made by combining espresso 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 flavour that pairs well with espresso.
History Of The Iced Espresso Tonic Drink
The espresso tonic is credited to have been created in 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 flavour 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.
What You’ll Need To Make A Coffee Tonic At Home
They key piece of coffee making equipment you need to make a good café tonic is an espresso machine.
At a pinch you can use a moka pot, which produces the closest style of coffee to an espresso machine.
I don’t recommend using french press, pour over or filter coffee – they just won’t have the intensity needed to hold its own with the tonic water.
Espresso And Tonic Ingredients
As you can probably guess from the title, this coffee drink has just a handful of ingredients you are likely to have at home.
- Tonic water
- Espresso coffee
- Citrus fruit
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 is 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.
You will 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 look for a medium roast for our coffee and tonic recipe.
What is the best tonic for espresso tonic drinks
There are many different types of tonic water on the market, so what is the best tonic for an espresso tonic coffee drink?
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 dominate 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 flavour for our coffee tonic recipe.
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.
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. You can find a recipe in this collection of cold brew recipes.
How To Make Espresso Tonic At Home
Step 1 – Chill the glass
Fill a short glass (250-250ml) 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.
For a more subtle citrus flavour, use a long piece of orange or lemon peel instead of a slice.
When using orange peel, the aromatic citrus oils are blended with the drink without the more intense flavour of the juice in the sliced fruit.
Step 2 – Add the tonic water
Pour your tonic water over the ice until almost full – leaving enough room for your espresso.
Depending on the size of your glass, this should be up 180 ml (6 oz or 3/4 cup) of tonic water. Don’t use more as it will dilute your drink too much.
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 180ml/ 6oz of tonic water) and adjust as necessary for personal taste.
Step 3 – Pull the espresso
Next pull your espresso shot. I use one shot (30ml) 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.
Note: If you are using cold brew instead of espresso, use about 60 ml (2 oz or 1/4 cup) of cold brew concentrate.
Step 4 – Combine the espresso
Finally, and the next capitalised word is important, 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 and non fizzy result.
Serve and enjoy whilst ice cold.
Espresso Tonic Recipe FAQs
Is an espresso tonic good?
Espresso tonic is a refreshing and simple iced coffee drink that tastes delicious. The secret to a good espresso tonic is using craft tonic water and freshly ground medium roast espresso coffee beans.
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.
What is coffee with tonic water called?
A coffee with tonic water has many names including espresso tonic, coffee tonic, cold brew tonic and café tonic.
More Iced Coffee Drinks Recipes
If you loved our espresso and tonic recipe, you may like to try some of these iced coffee drinks recipes.
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- 1 shot espresso
- 180 ml tonic water (3/4 cup)
- 1 slice of orange (or lemon)
- 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.
- Lemon and orange both work well in this drink so choose which ever citrus fruit you prefer or have on hand.
- Pouring the tonic water first allows it to chill and settle before adding your espresso.
- Gently pour the espresso on top - pour too quick and it may fizz and up and over the top of your glass.
- Experiment with different coffee beans - fruity Ethiopian or Kenyan coffee beans work well.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 29mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 0g
Please note that nutrition information is a computer generated estimate and should not be interpreted as a dietitian's advice. Values can vary greatly among brands, amounts and ingredients used.