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Espresso Tonic

The Espresso Tonic will cool you down and pump you up at the same time. We show you how to craft the versatile coffee drink at home for a fraction of the price of ordering one at a cafe.

Espresso Tonic with White Background Close Up

Is it just us or is the Espresso Tonic everywhere?

We’ve encountered the carbonated coffee drink at cafes as far away as Shanghai as well as on the block where we live. And, yet, until recently, we never thought of crafting Espresso Tonics at home. Finally, after drinking an excellent Espresso Tonic in Prague, we decided to craft the caffeinated summer sipper ourselves.

As we quickly learned, crafting Espresso Tonics has more than one benefit. For starters, it’s less expensive than buying the trendy drink at a coffee shop or bar. However, a bigger benefit is the simple pleasure we derive when we sip the refreshing drink at home.

What Is The Espresso Tonic?

Espresso Tonic with Black Background from Above
The Espresso Tonic is having a moment more than a decade after its European debut.

The Espresso Tonic is essentially a two-ingredient drink crafted with espresso and tonic water. However, the alcohol-free coffee drink isn’t truly complete without garnish.

Typical Espresso Tonic garnishes include wedges of lemon, lime and orange or something herbal like a mint sprig. While we typically prefer an orange wedge, how you garnish your Espresso Tonic is up to you.

History Of The Espresso Tonic

Espresso Tonic at EMA in Prague
This Espresso Tonic cooled us down during a hot day in Prague.

While people have been crafting gin and tonic cocktails for centuries, the concept of combining the carbonated quinine mixer with espresso is a more recent development.

Research reveals that Swedish baristas concocted the first Espresso Tonic in 2007, calling the caffeinated combination a Kaffe & Tonic. Considering Sweden’s affinity for coffee breaks a/k/a fika, this origin is no surprise. The only surprise is that it took over a decade for the Espresso Tonic to conquer America.

Ingredients

Espresso Tonic Ingredients
The primary Espresso Tonic ingredients are espresso and tonic water. Our recipe also includes an orange wedge and ice cubes.

Although we like to think of the Espresso Tonic as a two-ingredient drink, you’ll need the following four items to craft this Espresso Tonic recipe at home:

  • Espresso
  • Tonic Water
  • Orange Wedge
  • Ice Cubes

Espresso

Nespresso Espresso Pods
While any espresso will work in this Espresso Tonic recipe, we usually opt to use single origin Nespresso pods sourced from Colombia.

Especially popular in Italy where it was invented, espresso is concentrated coffee with foam called crema on top. Baristas use the intense coffee variation to craft Americanos, Cappuccinos, Flat Whites and Lattes.

The best espresso to use is your favorite espresso, preferably one that’s not overly roasted so that the espresso doesn’t overpower the bitter yet sweet flavor of the tonic water.

Pro Tip
Buy a single shot of espresso at a nearby cafe if you don’t have a way to make espresso at home. We use our handy dandy Nespresso system to make our espresso.

Tonic Water

Fever Tree Tonic Water Bottle
Fever-Tree is our go-to tonic water brand in this and other recipes.

Most home mixologists have tonic water on hand since it’s a common ingredient in cocktails like the Porto Tonico. Everybody else can buy a bottle at the grocery store – typically on the aisle where club soda and seltzer are sold. However, unlike club soda and seltzer, tonic water is enhanced with both quinine and sugar.

The choice of tonic water is as important as the espresso in this recipe. Ideally, the tonic water should be fresh and bubbly. We like to use Fever-Tree tonic water but any decent tonic water will suffice.

Fun Fact
Peruvian Incas extracted quinine from cinchona trees (a/k/a fever trees) to treat malaria. Brits later added quinine and sugar to fizzy water and called their creation tonic water.

How To Craft An Espresso Tonic

Espresso Tonic Mise en Place
Crafting an Espresso Tonic is a breeze once you assemble the recipe’s simple ingredients

Using freshly brewed espresso is a must in this Espresso Tonic recipe. We use a Nespresso machine to make espresso at home. Another option is to use a Moka Pot.

Pro Tip
Chill freshly brewed espresso for 15 minutes before you craft an Espresso Cocktail. Otherwise, the hot espresso will melt the ice which will dilute the drink.

Brewing Espresso with Nespresso Machine
It takes us less than a minute to make an espresso shot with our Nespresso machine.

Once your espresso is chilled, fill a glass with ice cubes. We like to use a lowball glass but you could use a highball glass instead.

Adding Ice to Espresso Tonic
You don’t need fancy ice to craft an Espresso Tonic at home. We typically use ice straight from our refrigerator’s ice maker.

Pour the tonic water directly into ice-filled glass.

Adding Tonic Water to Espresso Tonic
We use Fever-Tree tonic water in this Espresso Tonic recipe but feel free to use your favorite brand.

Top the tonic water with the chilled espresso.

Pouring Espresso into Espresso Tonic
Pouring the espresso over the tonic water is when the two ingredients becomes an Espresso Tonic.

Express the glass with an orange wedge and then garnish the glass with the same wedge.

Espresso Tonic on Coaster
An orange wedge and a brown striped straw provided the finishing touches to this Espresso Tonic.

Stirring the Espresso Tonic is an optional step that we choose to skip. However, we go one extra step by finishing the drink with a striped brown straw.

Alternatives

Espresso Tonic with White Background from Below
After you try our Espresso Tonic recipe, feel free to modify it to your personal taste.

We think of the Espresso Tonic as a launching pad with an almost unlimited number of possible variations. Here are a few ideas to consider as you start your Espresso Tonic journey.

  • Add a splash of simple syrup to craft a sweeter Espresso Tonic.
  • Add gin to create an Espresso Gin Tonic.
  • Experiment with different tonic flavors.
  • Replace the espresso with cold brew to craft a more intense Cold Brew Tonic.
  • Replace the espresso with decaffeinated espresso to craft a caffeine-free Espresso Tonic.
  • Replace the orange wedge garnish with a different fruit or a mint sprig.
  • Use sugar free tonic if you’re watching your calories or sugar intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Espresso Tonic?

An Espresso Tonic is a non-alcoholic beverage crafted with espresso and tonic water.

Who invented the Espresso Tonic?

Swedish baristas invented the Espresso Tonic in 2007.

What are the ingredients in an Espresso Tonic?

Espresso, Tonic Water, Orange Wedge and Ice Cubes

Is there alcohol in an Espresso Tonic?

The Espresso Tonic is an alcohol-free coffee drink crafted with espresso and tonic water. When combined, these two simple ingredients provide a wonderful mix of sweet and bitter flavors.

What’s the best garnish for an Espresso Tonic?

An orange wedge is the most popular Espresso Tonic garnish.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please rate it below.

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Espresso Tonic Recipe

This Espresso Tonic recipe hits the spot when you want a refreshing drink with a caffeine kick.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Global
Servings: 1
Calories: 43kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 shot espresso (chilled)
  • 3 ounces tonic water (chilled)
  • 1 orange wedge (garnish)
  • ice cubes

Instructions

  • Fill a lowball glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour tonic into the glass.
  • Pour chilled espresso into the same glass.
  • Express the rim of the glass with an orange wedge.
  • Add the orange wedge as garnish.

Notes

  • Using hot espresso will cause the ice to melt.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 43kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 29IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this drink.

Original Publication Date: August 15, 2023

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