How to Make Coffee Tonic: A Guide to Crafting the Perfect Drink

Joshua Allerton
February 21, 2024

If you're anything like me, you're always on the hunt for that perfect drink to shake up your daily coffee routine. That's where the coffee tonic comes in. It's a refreshing twist on your standard cup of joe, combining the rich taste of coffee with the crisp, bubbly sensation of tonic water.

Making a coffee tonic at home is simpler than you might think, and it's a fantastic way to impress your friends or just treat yourself to something special. No need to head to the coffee shop when you can whip up this delightful concoction in your own kitchen. Let's dive into how you can make your very own coffee tonic.

Choosing the Right Coffee

When embarking on the journey to create the perfect coffee tonic, selecting the right coffee is paramount. This isn’t just about grabbing any old bag off the shelf; it's about understanding what flavours blend harmoniously with the unique bitterness and effervescence of tonic water.

Single-origin coffees are my go-to for this refreshing beverage. These coffees come from one place, whether it be a single farm, a group of farms in the same area, or a specific country. The unique characteristics and flavors of these coffees can really shine when paired with tonic water, creating an unparalleled depth to your drink. For a coffee tonic, I tend to lean towards beans with fruity or floral notes, as they complement the tonic water's slight bitterness rather well. Think Ethiopian or Kenyan beans – both are fantastic choices.

Here's a simple breakdown of the steps I follow to select the right coffee:

  1. Decide on the Roast: A light to medium roast is ideal. These roasts preserve the bean's original characteristics and subtle flavours, which will make your coffee tonic more complex and enjoyable.
  2. Opt for Quality: Invest in high-quality, single-origin beans. The quality of your coffee directly influences the taste of your coffee tonic.
  3. Consider the Flavour Profile: Look for beans with a fruity or floral profile. These will blend beautifully with the tonic, enhancing the overall experience.

The method of brewing is equally crucial. A cold brew concentrate or an espresso shot are my recommendations. Cold brew concentrate offers a smoother taste with lower acidity, perfect for a refreshing, chilled drink. However, for those who prefer a punchier, more robust flavour, a freshly pulled espresso shot does wonders.

Remember, the beauty of a coffee tonic lies in its simplicity and the quality of its components. By choosing the right coffee, you're already halfway to crafting an invigorating drink that's as delightful to sip as it is easy to make. So take your time, experiment with different beans and roasts, and find the combination that speaks to your taste buds.

Making Cold Brew Coffee

Crafting the perfect cold brew coffee for your coffee tonic isn't just a step in the process; it's an art form that demands a bit of patience but rewards you with an explosion of flavor. Trust me when I say, getting your cold brew just right is the secret sauce to elevating your coffee tonic from good to unforgettable.

First off, you'll need coarse-ground coffee, akin to raw sugar granules. This ensures optimal extraction and prevents your brew from becoming too bitter. Here's a straightforward guide to get you started:

What You'll Need

  • Coarse-ground coffee
  • Cold, filtered water
  • A large jar or pitcher
  • A fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth
  1. Ratio is Key: Combine 1 part coffee to 4 parts water in your jar or pitcher. I've found this to be the sweet spot for a balanced flavour.
  2. Stir and Steep: Give it a good stir to ensure all the coffee grounds are wet. Then, let it steep. Cover the jar and leave it at room temperature or in your fridge for about 12 to 18 hours. The longer you steep, the richer the flavour will be.
  3. Filtering: After steeping, it's time to separate the grounds from your brew. Place the sieve or cheesecloth over another jar or pitcher and pour your cold brew through it. If you're after a really smooth texture, consider filtering twice.
  4. Dilution (Optional): Some prefer their cold brew undiluted, which is perfect for a coffee tonic. However, if you find it too strong, feel free to add a bit of water until it matches your taste preference.

Remember, the best part about making cold brew is that it can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, making it a convenient option for coffee tonics any day of the week. Plus, experimenting with the brewing time and coffee-to-water ratio can lead to personalized tweaks that make your coffee tonic uniquely yours.

Mixing the Perfect Coffee Tonic

Once you've mastered the art of making cold brew, you're well on your way to enjoying a refreshing coffee tonic. The beauty of this drink lies in its simplicity and the harmonious blend of bold coffee with the light, fizzy sweetness of tonic water. Here's how I mix the perfect coffee tonic, keeping things straightforward for those of you eager to try it out at home.

Ingredients and Tools

Before we dive into the mixing process, let's ensure you've got everything you need:

  • Cold brew coffee: Ideally concentrated for a robust flavour
  • Tonic water: High-quality brands recommended for the best taste
  • Ice cubes: To keep your drink cool
  • Lemon or orange peel: For garnish (optional)
  • Measuring cup or jigger
  • Glass

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prepare Your Glass: Begin by filling your glass with ice cubes to the top. This not only chills your drink but also helps maintain its bubbly texture.
  2. Measure the Cold Brew: Using your measuring cup, pour about 60 ml of the cold brew concentrate over the ice. I find this ratio offers the perfect balance between the coffee's strength and the tonic's crispness.
  3. Add the Tonic Water: Slowly top up the glass with tonic water. The trick here is to pour gently to preserve as much carbonation as possible. I usually go for a 1:1 ratio of coffee to tonic, but feel free to adjust based on your personal taste.
  4. Garnish: Although optional, adding a twist of lemon or orange peel not only makes your coffee tonic look more appealing but adds a subtle citrus aroma that complements the coffee brilliantly.
  5. Stir Gently: With a long spoon, stir your coffee tonic gently. This is just to ensure the coffee and tonic are well combined without losing too much fizz.
  • Experiment with Ratios: Depending on how strong or light you prefer your coffee tonic, feel free to play around with the ratios of coffee to tonic.
  • Try Different Garnishes: Besides citrus peels, consider experimenting with fresh herbs like mint or rosemary for a unique twist.

Garnishing Your Drink

After mixing my perfect coffee tonic, I've learned that the right garnish can elevate this refreshing beverage from good to great. I always say, the beauty of a coffee tonic lies not only in its taste but also in its presentation. Here's how I like to add that extra flair.

  • Citrus Twists: A spiral of lemon or orange peel isn't just for looks; it adds a burst of citrus aroma that complements the coffee's richness wonderfully. I gently rub the peel around the rim of the glass before dropping it in, releasing its essential oils.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs can transform the drink. I often opt for a sprig of rosemary or mint. The key is to clap them between my hands before garnishing. This action releases the herbs' natural oils, enhancing the drink's aroma and flavor profile.
  • Edible Flowers: For special occasions, I'll add an edible flower or two. Not only do they make the drink Instagram-worthy, but certain flowers, like lavender, can introduce a subtle flavor that pairs delightfully with coffee.
  • Fruit Slices: Thin slices of cucumber or fresh berries can introduce an element of freshness and a pop of color. I particularly enjoy the way a few raspberries or a cucumber slice adds a subtle nuance to the overall flavor.

To Garnish, Simply:

  1. Choose your garnish based on the above suggestions or get creative with your favorites.
  2. Prepare as mentioned, whether it's twisting citrus peels, clapping herbs, or slicing fruits.
  3. Place your chosen garnish atop your drink or along the rim of the glass.

Remember, garnishing is where you can let your creativity shine. Experiment with different combinations to find what speaks to your palate. Most importantly, don't be afraid to try something new; you might just discover your new favorite way to enjoy a coffee tonic.

Serving and Enjoying

Once you've perfected your coffee tonic, serving it in a way that enhances its unique taste and aesthetic appeal becomes paramount. I've discovered that presentation significantly influences enjoyment, turning a simple drink into a sophisticated experience.

To serve, you'll want to follow a few straightforward steps:

  1. Choose the right glass. A tall, clear glass showcases the beautiful layers of the coffee tonic. This isn't just about looks; the shape of the glass can also enhance the aroma that hits your nose before each sip.
  2. Ice is essential. Fill the glass to the brim with ice cubes. Not only does this keep your drink refreshingly cold, but it also slows down the mixing of the coffee and tonic, maintaining that gorgeous gradient for a bit longer.
  3. Pour carefully. Start with pouring in the tonic water, then gently add the coffee. The slower you pour, the better the layers will form. I often use the back of a spoon to guide the coffee into the glass, reducing its speed and impact.

Personal Touches

Here's where you can really let your creativity shine. Garnishing isn't just about making your coffee tonic look good; it's about adding complementary flavours and aromas that can elevate the entire drinking experience. Depending on the season or your personal preference, you can experiment with different garnishes. Some of my favourites include:

  • Citrus twists for a zesty aroma
  • Fresh herbs like mint or rosemary, which introduce a refreshing note
  • Edible flowers like lavender, adding elegance and a subtle floral scent
  • Fruit slices such as cucumber or berries, which offer a hint of sweetness or crispness

Don't be afraid to mix and match these garnishes to find what enhances your coffee tonic best. Every sip should be a journey of discovery, unveiling layers of flavour that keep your palate intrigued. By focusing on both taste and presentation, you're not just serving a drink; you're crafting an experience that's sure to delight and refresh.


Crafting the perfect coffee tonic isn't just about mixing two ingredients; it's an art that elevates your drinking experience to new heights. By focusing on the presentation and experimenting with garnishes, you'll not only enhance the flavour but also turn a simple beverage into a sophisticated delight. Remember, the key lies in the details – from choosing the right glass to mastering the pour. So, don't hesitate to get creative and personalise your coffee tonic to suit your taste. Whether it's a morning pick-me-up or a refreshing afternoon treat, a well-crafted coffee tonic is sure to impress. Cheers to exploring the delightful nuances of this unique drink!

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