Finally, Iced Coffee Got an Upgrade, and We’re So Ready

Part coffee, part bubbles, it's the "mocktail of the coffee world."



I am never without quality tonic water stocked in my kitchen. Sure, I typically use it for one of my go-to summer cocktails, the classic gin and tonic. But I also like to combine lower sugar, light tonic water with a few drops of bitters—my current obsession is hemp bitters—for a refreshing, nonalcoholic drink.

When I read that espresso tonic will be the drink of summer, I was intrigued. Espresso and tonic together? With my love of bitter beverages, how did I not know this was a thing? Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Until recently, it’s been popular throughout Scandinavia but has yet to become a mainstream trend in the U.S. That may change by the end of summer.

What Is an Espresso Tonic?

An espresso tonic is exactly what it sounds like—espresso and tonic water combined over ice, often with a little citrus added in the form of an orange wedge or lemon. If you want to lighten up the drink's bitterness, add simple syrup. I love how quick and simple this drink is.

Where Can I Get an Espresso Tonic?

Caribou Coffee recently added espresso tonics to its summer menu and offers them in two versions: Classic Espresso Tonic and Cherry Peach Espresso Tonic. The national coffee chain makes the drinks with Fever-Tree Premium Tonic Water, saying the tonic brand “brings out the citrus notes in Caribou’s Cross Fox espresso to create a refreshing, lightly carbonated, cocktail-like beverage experience.”

On a recent Instagram post, Caribou calls espresso tonic the “mocktail of the coffee world” and describes adding tonic to espresso as a “uniquely crisp and refreshing taste to your coffee that cuts through the traditional richness of Espresso.”

Starbucks has not yet added the drink to its U.S. menus, but on the brand’s Coffee At Home site, it has a recipe for a Cold Brew Orange Tonic, using cold brew coffee (a great substitute for espresso) mixed with tonic and orange cardamom simple syrup.

How to Make Your Own Espresso Tonic at Home

The drink is so simple, and it’s easy to make it at home. Of course, it’s easiest if you have an espresso machine, but there’s a workaround if you don’t—make espresso in an inexpensive French press.

To Make a Double Shot of Espresso in a French Press:

  1. Add 4 tablespoons of ground espresso to a clean French press.

  2. Boil about 1 cup of water and allow it to cool a little.

  3. Add 1/2 cup of the slightly cooled boiled water to the French press.

  4. Add the plunger to the French press, but wait a minute before plunging to let the grounds “bloom.”

  5. Push the plunger down and allow the espresso to steep for 4 to 5 minutes.

  6. Let the espresso cool. (Pour it out of the French press to cool quickly.)

To Make an Espresso Tonic:

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice.

  2. Add about 5 ounces of tonic water.

  3. Slowly pour the double shot (4 to 5 ounces) of espresso over the tonic water.

  4. Add simple syrup if desired.

  5. Finish with an orange or lemon wedge.

An alternative, if you’re a cold brew lover, is to make your own Cold Brew and Tonic.