What's Espresso Tonic

What’s Espresso Tonic Explained (With Recipes)

Are you wondering what's espresso tonic? Is it coffee? An alcoholic drink? It sounds like an alcoholic drink, doesn’t it? It uses an ingredient often found in alcoholic drinks: tonic water.

Tonic water offers the drink a more carbonated kick. Therefore, it’s an espresso beverage with tonic water. Sounds like a fantastic refreshment to cool off with on these hot summer days!

Read on to learn what's espresso tonic, where it came from, cool recipes and everything there is to know about this trending beverage!

Espresso Tonic On Counter With Coffee Beans

Where Did Espresso Tonic Originate From?

The espresso tonic originated from Koppi, a cafe in Helsingborg, Sweden. The drink also goes by other names such as the following:

  • The Kaffeetonic
  • Espresso Fizz
  • Spro and Tonic
  • Cold Brew Tonic
  • C & T

Yet, they are all essentially the same drink. There are some variations home brewers and baristas incorporate to match their unique taste.

What's In Your Tonic Water?

Have you ever wondered what's in tonic water? If you look at the back of the bottle, you will find these similar ingredients:

  • Carbonated Spring Water
  • Sugar
  • Natural Flavors Including Quinine

You might be wondering: what's quinine? The Gourmet Sleuth states quinine as a "bitter essence from cinchona tree." It’s essentially the ingredient that makes tonic water so bitter.

Couple Sharing A Espresso Tonic

Is Quinine Healthy For You?

It depends because quinine can affect some people more than others. According to Live Science’s article on quinine, there is very little chance that the low dosage of quinine in tonic water will cause any side effects.

However, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of with even a slight amount of quinine.

The Following Side Effects Could Occur

  • People can RARELY develop Thrombocytopenia, which could lead to internal or external bleeding.
  • Pregnant women should refrain from drinking it because it could cause birth defects.
  • People with metabolic disorder glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) need to avoid it.
  • exclamation-triangle
    Those allergic or sensitive to quinine should not drink it.

However, some have used quinine to treat leg cramps. People were receiving considerable amounts of quinine for medical purposes: leg cramps.

It caused some severe side effects in some patients. In 2010, the FDA banned doctors from prescribing it to their patients.

As Live Science stated, using quinine for medical purposes can cause the following side effects:

  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Permanent Kidney Damage

Of course, you don't have to fear drinking quinine.

As reported by Wise Geek, quinine can have the following health benefits:

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects

In fact, quinine is frequently used to treat malaria. Although you would need more than the quinine in tonic water to treat malaria yourself, because quinine in tonic water is diluted.

Note: A person would have to drink at least 20 liters a day of tonic water to equate the amount used to treat malaria.

There are so many choices when you go searching for tonic water. You might get a little overwhelmed.

Most baristas and home-brewers like to use the following tonic waters:

  • Fever-Tree Tonic Water
  • Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water
  • San Pellegrino Limonata
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    Luscombe’s Tonic Water
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    Nordic Tonic Water
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    Canfield’s Tonic Water

If you don't want to chance drinking tonic water, consider some alternatives that you can use:

  • Ginger Ale
  • Lemon-lime Soda
  • Soda Water
Foamy Espresso Tonic

Where Can You Buy Espresso Tonic?

The negative aspect of espresso tonic is you can’t buy it on Amazon or anywhere online. Espresso tonic is a unique coffee drink, so it's made in cafes or in your own kitchen. If you have your own espresso maker, try experimenting with your own recipes.

If you do decide to make it at home, you will need to buy tonic water and your own choice of espresso coffee beans.

In the recipes below, I used the Starbucks Espresso Roast grounds. This kind of espresso isn’t my favorite, but it was conveniently located at my local supermarket.

Espresso tonic started out in 2014, so there isn’t a whole lot of cafes who have it on their menu. Some cafes that have espresso tonic on their menu include:

  • Neptune Coffee
  • Function Coffee Labs
  • Rally Bella Vista
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    Double Knot
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    Herman's Coffee
Honey and oranges for espresso tonic

Choosing What Goes Into Your Espresso Tonic

The significant aspect of the espresso tonic, like many coffee drinks, is you can try a variety of side choices.

Many baristas and home-brewers have used the following side choices:

  • Luxardo Maraschino Cherry 
  • Japanese Flash-cooled Coffee
  • Lavender-lemon
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    Grapefruit-sage
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    Cranberry-rosemary
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    Ginger
  • Blackberry-thyme
  • Orange
  • Lime
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    Honey
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    Lemon
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    Rosemary

Those who like sweeter coffee drinks might select honey, orange, lemon, or Luxardo Maraschino Cherries as side choices.

If you like bitter or sour tasting coffee, the lime, ginger, and rosemary might complement your taste buds.

Instant Coffee With Spoon

What If You Don't Like Espresso Coffee?

If you aren't partial to espresso, there are other caffeinated alternatives:

Cold brew coffee is a notable substitute for espresso. Some home-brewers prefer it, especially since it doesn't have as much caffeine in it. This is an excellent choice for those you have sleep issues or are sensitive to caffeine.

Espresso Portifilter With Ground Coffee

How To Make Espresso Tonic?

Espresso tonic is simple to make at home unless you found a better version at your local cafe. All you need is freshly made espresso, ice, tonic water, and a lime slice (or another side choice).

Note: Experts on espresso tonic advise you to pour the tonic water in first, then the espresso. If you place the espresso in first, the tonic water will make the espresso too bubbly. Some coffee drinkers might like the extra foam. Your choice!

Weirdly enough, most people don’t stir this drink. You gradually pour the espresso on top of the tonic water. This way, it sits on top of the tonic water instead of mixing the two together. However, some espresso tonic makers stir it up. It depends on your own preferences.

I experimented with my own recipes by changing the stirring process and side choices. In one tonic espresso recipe, I didn’t stir the tonic water with the espresso and the other I did.

The effects astonished me with a simple step. Stirring it up doesn't provide such a strong espresso flavor as letting it sit. Therefore, it's up to your own tastes!

Those who’ve created their own recipes on YouTube and blogs seem to treat this espresso tonic as a cocktail. They end up garnishing them up with their own side choices.

Espresso Tonic With Lime On Black Background

Two Easy Espresso Tonic Recipes

Espresso Tonic With Lime

What You’ll Need

  • Ice
  • Tonic Water
  • 1 Shot of Espresso
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    2 Slices of Lime

How to Make It

  • 1
    Prepare and brew the espresso.
  • 2
    Plop some ice into a glass.
  • 3
    Add tonic water to the ice, but only fill your glass two-thirds of the way to make room for the espresso.
  • 4
    After brewing the espresso, after it’s cooled down, pour a shot slowly on top of the ice. If the espresso is still hot, you’ll hear the ice crinkling as its hit by warm espresso.
  • 5
    Squeeze the juice from a slice of lime to your liking. (optional)
  • 6
    Place another slice of lime on the side of the glass or on top of the ice as decor, making it feel like you are on a beach!
  • 7
    Drink up and enjoy!
Espresso Tonic With Oranges On Wooden Background

Espresso Tonic With Orange

What You’ll Need

  • Ice
  • Tonic Water
  • 1 Shot of Espresso
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    2 Slices of Orange

How to Make It

  • 1
    Prepare and brew the espresso.
  • 2
    Plop some ice into a glass.
  • 3
    Add tonic water to the ice, but only fill your glass two-thirds of the way to make room for the espresso.
  • 4
    After brewing the espresso, after it’s cooled down, pour a shot slowly on top of the ice. If the espresso is still hot, you’ll hear the ice crinkling as its hit by warm espresso.
  • 5
    Unlike the last recipe, stir the espresso and tonic water.
  • 6
    Squeeze the juice from a slice of orange to your liking. (optional- but it’s remarkably good!)
  • 7
    Place another slice of orange on the side of the glass or on top of the ice as decor, making it feel like you are on a beach!
  • 8
    Drink up and enjoy!

Final Thoughts

If you are partial to strong and bitter coffee, I suggest the first recipe with the lime. It has a strong espresso flavor since it sits on top of the ice. As you drink up the espresso, the intense flavors of the lime and tonic water take over.

However, if you are looking for a sweeter taste, I recommend the juices of an orange slice as a side choice. In my one of my recipes, I squeezed the juices of an orange slice to sweeten up my drink. I fell in love with it!

If you have any questions about what's espresso tonic, be sure to leave them in the comments below, we look forward to hearing from you 🙂

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