There’s a new coffee beverage that’s trending in the world of caffeine right now, and we couldn’t be happier about it: coffee and tonic water. Cafes and roasteries all around the United States and beyond are offering “coffee tonic,” which is a mixture of some kind of coffee — usually espresso or cold brew — and tonic water.
Sounds strange, right? We thought so too, but then we tried it. Coffee tonic is not only delicious and super low-calorie, but it’s also refreshing and can easily be consumed at any time of year, including the hottest days of the summer.
Below, we’re going over everything you need to know about this new coffee trend, and we’ll teach you how to make it in a few simple steps!
What Is Coffee and Tonic?
Before we get into the recipe, let’s cover something basic: what is a coffee tonic and why should you give it a try? Coffee and tonic is a beautiful take on an iced coffee drink, so it’s easily drinkable and enjoyable year-round. This makes it a great alternative to regular iced coffee in the summer, which requires a race against the clock as your ice melts in the summer heat and threatens to make your coffee watery and tasteless.
While some may despise tonic water on its own, the flavors and taste of coffee and tonic really blend well together. The perceived sweetness of the tonic water balances the coffee’s bitterness a bit, while the tonic water’s flavor smoothes out the acidity from the espresso or coffee.
And, did we mention the bubbles? Coffee isn’t typically carbonated, but the carbonation in the tonic water adds a beautiful complexity to the coffee.
It’s a beautiful marriage of two not-so-relatable beverages, and you really need to try it to see what all the fuss is about! Speaking of trying it yourself…
How Do You Make Coffee Tonic?
Coffee and tonic couldn’t be easier to make. Just follow the steps below, and you’ll soon have an Instagram-worthy cup of beautiful, bubbly, perfectly layered coffee tonic.
- 6 ounces of tonic water
- 2 ounces of espresso
- Simple syrup to taste
- Slice of lemon or orange as garnish
1. Fill a glass with ice.
Begin by filling a small rocks glass to the rim with ice. Make sure not to skimp on the ice! You’ll be adding hot espresso to the glass in just a minute, so you want enough ice to cool it down quickly.
2. Add tonic and simple syrup.
Pour tonic water and simple syrup over ice and let sit.
3. Pull two shots of espresso.
Prepare 2 ounces of fresh espresso.
4. Carefully add the espresso to your glass.
Carefully pour the espresso into your rocks glass. If you want a nice, layered look, pour slowly and directly onto an ice cube, or use an upside-down spoon to distribute the espresso over the top of your tonic water without mixing
5. Garnish and enjoy!
Add a slice of lemon or orange to your beverage (optional) and serve!
Can I Make Coffee and Tonic Without Simple Syrup?
You certainly can! The simple syrup adds a nice, refreshing sweetness to the mix, but you can, of course, ditch the ingredient altogether. The tonic water does taste a little sweet naturally even though it contains no sugar, so just espresso mixed with tonic water may be sweet enough for you.
Can I Use Espresso Alternatives?
If you don’t have an espresso machine, don’t worry! Coffee tonic can be made without espresso; you’ll just want to make sure your coffee is strong enough to blend nicely with the tonic water.
You can make stovetop espresso in a Moka Pot if you have one, or you can use very strong French press coffee. We’d recommend making French press coffee about twice as strong as you usually would for this recipe.
Cold brew concentrate also works very well in a coffee tonic, so if you have cold brew concentrate prepared, feel free to add 2 ounces of that instead of the espresso. Just make sure not to dilute the concentrate before using it to make a coffee tonic.
Is This the Same as Espresso Sparkling Water?
No, and we’re offended that you would even ask that. Just kidding! That’s a perfectly reasonable question, and these two drinks do differ in a few key ways.
First, espresso sparkling water doesn’t include tonic water but instead uses sparkling water or unflavored seltzer. The result is similar in bubbliness and how refreshing it is, but the taste of the tonic water is, of course, missing. Usually, espresso sparkling water also includes a splash of orange juice to add to the flavor. The sweetness of the juice replaces the perceived sweetness you’d typically get from the tonic water.
Espresso sparkling water is an excellent alternative if you’re not too keen on the taste of tonic or if you don’t have simple syrup lying around, but we do still recommend trying coffee tonic before you write it off!
Sparkling Coffee Tonic
- Tumbler or rocks glass
- 6 ounces tonic water
- 2 ounces espresso
- Simple syrup to taste
- Slice of lemon or orange as garnish optional
- Begin by filling a small rocks glass to the rim with ice. Make sure not to skimp on the ice! You’ll be adding hot espresso to the glass in just a minute, so you want enough ice to cool it down quickly.
- Pour tonic water and simple syrup over the ice and let it sit.
- Prepare 2 ounces of fresh espresso.
- Carefully pour the espresso into your rocks glass. If you want a nice, layered look, pour slowly and directly onto an ice cube, or use an upside-down spoon to distribute the espresso over the top of your tonic water without mixing
- Add a slice of lemon or orange to your beverage (optional) and serve!
This super simple mixed coffee beverage is sweeping the nation, and once you taste it, you won’t wonder why. Coffee tonic is delicious and refreshing, and it feels good to drink because of the carbonation and the way the flavors mix so perfectly together. It also helps that the layers of liquid and the bubbles make this drink remarkably worthy of social media posts!
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Featured image credit: Lucie Liz, Pexels
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