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A New Trend in Coffee – The Cafe Tonic

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Last Updated on July 17, 2024 by Leah Hall

An interesting combo of flavors in this coffee and tonic water combo!


When we first read about this combination of coffee and tonic on Tasting Table, we thought it sounded so crazy that we just had to try it, especially when we found out it is a trend that is sweeping the coffee houses in San Francisco. The combination of bubbly tonic and the bitter espresso combine to make a drink that is complex and surprisingly refreshing.


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Brown coffee tonic in glass mug with handle and clear ice cube

What is a Coffee Tonic?

It’s iced coffee with bubbles, and tasty! It’s a beverage as simple as espresso poured over tonic water and ice. The result is tasty, crisp, and refreshing, but pretty, as the espresso sinks into the tonic water.
Depending if you want a sweeter drink or not, simple syrup is an optional add in this.
Sometimes cold brew coffee is used instead of espresso, just use what you like, or try some different brews out to see what you like!

What does Espresso Tonic Taste Like?

Though coffee and tonic may sound strange, the tonic water’s quinine has a bright and citrusy flavor that pairs well with the brightness and floral notes of many coffees.
This drink can be great for your regular morning iced coffee or as an afternoon pick me up!

What Ingredients are Needed for the Cafe Tonic?

  • espresso
  • tonic water
  • simple syrup (optional, more info below!)

Brown coffee tonic in glass mug with handle and clear ice cube

What Other Ingredients can be Used in A Coffee Tonic?

  • Garnishes: maraschino cherries or pomegranate arils, lemon slices or rosemary
  • a dash of lemon juice can be added, or a splash of orange juice
  • Make it spiked: feel free to add some booze in this if you like! Gin would be lovely (Gin & Tonic, duh) or a coffee liqueur to compliment the coffee flavors would be great!


What Tonic Should be used in the Coffee and Tonic?

Of course, it’s completely up to you, but we encourage you to use a higher quality tonic, such as Fever Tree. Feel free to play around with flavored tonics too, see what you like!

Brown coffee tonic in glass mug with handle and clear ice cube

Making a Coffee Tonic at Home

  • Use fruitier beans (like Ethiopian) if possible. They pair well with the citrusy taste of the tonic water. If you choose a Latin American blend that will mean a nuttier, more chocolate flavored coffee, which can be ok with tonic, but maybe less tonic.
  • A cold brew concentrate may be easier to use than espresso or regular cold brew.If you are using regular cold brew, use less tonic and maybe more coffee.
  • Always pour the tonic first for less mess, as it can bubble over!


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Other Tonic Water Cocktails


It makes a cool layered drink that is visually appealing! Try a warm coffee cocktail with our Nutty Irishman!




Like this recipe? Try these below, too!

Cold Brew Bourbon


The Roast and Toast - A Bourbon and Coffee CocktailRoast and Toast Cocktail


Other Coffee Cocktails

Brown coffee tonic in glass mug with handle and clear ice cube
Yield: 1

The Coffee Tonic

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A new trend in coffee - the cafe tonic is an interesting combination of espresso and tonic water.


Coffee Tonic

  • Simple Syrup to taste
  • 2 ounces espresso
  • 6 ounces tonic water


Add ice cubes and tonic water into a glass. Slowly pour the espresso over the ice and tonic, allowing the tonic to mix the espresso and make a creamy bitter layer on top.

Gently stir to mix and if needed add a dash of simple syrup to make it a bit sweeter.


We recommend Fever Tree tonic water. You can also use a cold brew concentrate instead of espresso.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 59Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g

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[…] Otherwise known as an espresso tonic, the drink is exceptionally easy to make. […]

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Thursday 13th of August 2020

[…] Coffee Tonic [Gastronom]Feeling a little adventurous? Cue the coffee tonic. True to its name, this iced coffee beverage contains tonic water for a fizzy kick. A dash of simple syrup offsets the slightly bitter taste of the tonic. It’s kind of like a coffee cocktail, just sans the boozy element. […]


Tuesday 7th of April 2020

I am a coffeeholic, but not sure what simple syrup is.

The 'Noms.

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Simple syrup is an easy mix of sugar and water. You take it to a simmer on the stove, and then let it cool! Boom, simple syrup. Great for coffee drinks, cocktails and lemonades!

Sami @ Be Mindful, You're Creative

Friday 10th of July 2015

Very very interesting!!

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