Kaori’s Iced Espresso Tonic

A unique and refreshing summer coffee drink

The heat is on and caffeinated icy-cold coffee drinks have been the topic of conversation in my circle on the sand. 

My friend Keith said in Key Food the Manhattan Special now has a little pop-up stand! I’d like to think my column on the vintage coffee soda a few weeks ago resulted in an up-tick in sales! 

I’m on the beach last weekend with a bunch of friends. We were enjoying the entertainment of a very crowded foamy lineup on a knee high afternoon. “I think I have to go, I need coffee.” I weakly blabbered. “Have you ever had an espresso tonic?” My friend Karoi said. That woke me up…

Kaori was recently in Nakano Japan visiting family. There she often goes to the kissaten (a tea-drinking shop). Kissatens also sell coffee and on the menu was an espresso tonic. This drink is a popular tea alternative in Japan. The bubbly coffee coolers she had was so fantastic, she’s been recreating the summer drink at home since her return. 

Kaori offers to make me one!  We left the flaming sand and went back to her cool apartment for an espresso tonic tutorial and needed refuel.

Kaori’s Espresso Tonic was wow-refreshing! The combination of the cold, strong espresso and the effervescence of tonic water created a unique zesty flavor profile. Here’s Kaori’s must try, easy and impressive espresso tonic recipe.

Kaori’s Iced Espresso Tonic


2 shots espresso or moka pot coffee
Tonic water
Lemon to taste
Honey (optional)

Directions: Brew the espresso in advance and chill. Over ice in a cup, pour the espresso. Add a healthy splash of tonic water. Squeeze in the lemon to taste. If you like sweeter coffee add a touch of honey. I’d recommend trying it without honey first.

The history of espresso tonic is not well-documented, but it is believed to have originated in Sweden or the U.S. in the early 2000s, then gaining popularity worldwide.

The concept of combining espresso with tonic water might have been inspired by the Spanish drink called “café con hielo,” which is a shot of espresso served with ice and a glass of sparkling water on the side. 

As the specialty coffee culture grew, baristas and coffee enthusiasts began experimenting with different ways to delight in coffee. The idea of mixing espresso with tonic water emerged as a unique and refreshing variation, offering a different taste and texture compared to traditional coffee bevs.

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Kaori's well-loved espresso pot


tagged in coffee, recipe, recipes