Expert Advice For Pouring The Best Iced Espresso Tonic

The iced espresso tonic is one of the most accessible coffee drinks. At its core, it only requires tonic water, espresso, and ice. As with any cocktail, mocktail, or espresso beverage, small changes can take your drink from "okay" to "amazing." According to Home Coffee Expert co-founder and ex-barista Matt Woodburn-Simmonds, the key to pouring a memorable iced espresso tonic lies in the espresso's freshness. "I have the ice, tonic water, and lemon ready in my glass to pour the espresso shot in as soon as I've pulled it to avoid the shot oxidizing or going stale while I get everything else," he told Mashed.

For a shot to be oxidized, the coffee has to come into contact with oxygen. The oxygen begins reducing the number of electrons present, which changes the makeup of the coffee's molecules and makes them imbalanced. As they react to other molecules around them, decaying occurs, or in coffee terms, the shot begins getting stale. While there is already oxygen in the brewing water, the foamy layer of crema on top of the espresso helps protect the shot from further oxidation. When the crema disappears and the espresso is exposed, many consider the shot stale, off, or flat-tasting. An espresso's crema usually dissipates entirely after three minutes, so to avoid using an oxidizing shot, it should be added to your espresso tonic within three minutes.

Citrus provides a surprising complement

Matt Woodburn-Simmonds admits that he was initially skeptical of iced espresso tonics. However, he believes they're more refreshing than most other iced coffee beverages. "That extra bitterness from the tonic's quinine mixed with the acidity of the espresso is an absolute joy on a hot morning," he wrote for Home Coffee Expert. He also considers the drink the perfect opportunity to tinker with additions and tonics. "Don't be scared to go a little wild and experiment with the various artisanal/ specialized tonic waters until you find your favorite. A flavored tonic water can add a tasty twist, too," he said.

Woodburn-Simmonds' addition of lemon may seem unusual. Still, citrus provides a zesty balance to the tonic water's strong and biting flavor and complements the quinine. Other additions some have fallen in love with are orange candy peels or raspberries.

If tonic water isn't your thing, try something different, like sparkling liquids. Amp up your espresso tonic with a splash of Coke, root beer, or even raspberry or coconut sparkling water. The two-ingredient mocktail can be incredibly simple, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring.