Why Tonic is the Secret Ingredient Your Iced Coffee Needs

This summer, the Kaffe Tonic, a mixture of espresso and Fever Tree tonic served over ice at Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco rightfully caught on.

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Sung Han

It’s frankly surprising that there haven’t been more conversation-worthy coffee drinks in recent years. The objective of most post-Starbucks coffee shops, though, has been an almost authoritarian pursuit of purity. The one shop we came across a half-decade ago that made fantastic espresso drinks, laced with ingredients like lime and cardamom — The Last Stand Coffee Co. in Eugene, Oregon — was very expensive and is now closed. But it seems we’re turning a corner. The Kaffe Tonic, a mixture of espresso and Fever Tree tonic served over ice at Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco, caught on these last few summers and, as the temperature rises, is returning to our own coffee cups. It’s reminiscent of a better version of Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda: citrusy, spicy, bitter, sweet and refreshing. To make drink like the Kaffe Tonic at home, just fill a tumbler with tonic and ice and then pour a double shot of espresso over it. If you don’t have espresso, you could approximate the taste with a splash of really strong cold-brew coffee.

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