Coffee and tonic: How to drink it properly and why it’s actually good

Yes, you read that correctly – combining coffee and tonic is a huge deal in other countries but not so much in the United States.

It’s even available pre-mixed in a can now – East Imperial has even infused it with a bougie grapefruit vibe – and one of New Zealand’s top mixologists, Mikey Ball, believes it’s past time for Aotearoa to jump on board with this new drinks trend.

Here’s how to get a taste of summer’s chicest beverage.

Where did the coffee and tonic craze begin?

The Coffee & Tonic originated in 2007 when The Koppi coffee roasters cafe in Helsingborg, Sweden introduced the ‘Kaffe Tonic’ menu item.

The combination was initially popular in Scandinavia, but quickly spread to the United States and other countries with strong coffee cultures.

We experimented with this combination in 2015 with a local coffee roaster, but it was probably a little early for New Zealand at the time.

New Zealanders adore coffee – why have we been so slow to embrace it?
Traditional coffee drinking habits and possibly a lack of education have contributed significantly to the slow uptake in this country. Coffee is, on the whole, a daily ritual, and these are the most difficult to break when it comes to stepping outside our comfort zones.

We’ve centred Coffee & Tonic on reimagining our current perceptions of coffee and the patterns in which we consume it. Not only is the format novel, but we believe the flavour combination of quinine, citrous oil, and coffee is delectable.

At first glance, it does not appear to be a good match – why is it?
There is a lot to consider here in terms of balance, and things can go wrong if you use too much of one element. The primary reason Coffee and Tonic work so well together is due to the delicate balance of bitterness, acidity, and texture. Both quinine and coffee are bitter by nature, and the citrous oils add acidity and a velvety texture.

To take this a step further and create a velvet-like drinking experience, we experimented with the level of carbonation and treated the coffee with nitrogen to highlight its creaminess and oils. In general, we aimed to create something that was both luxurious and refreshing.

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