Iced coffee has long been the cool and refreshing drink of choice for those seeking a caffeine fix on a hot summer day. But try the superior alternative to iced coffee called the espresso tonic — a delightfully cold, caffeinated, and carbonated beverage that more Atlanta coffee shops should be serving.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘spro ton, the expresso tonic has been around for over 15 years, likely originating in Oslo, Sweden. It was further popularized by Swedish coffee roaster Koppi in the early aughts, and later by barista competitions held throughout the mid-2010s.
Unlike nitro cold brew, which offers subtle carbonation from tighter bubbles afforded to the drink by nitrogen gas (Think draft beer,) the espresso tonic is much more effervescent and bittersweet, given the combination of quinine and a shot or two of unadulterated coffee. It’s also highly customizable, often seeing other ingredients mixed in, like orange bitters or herbaceous and floral syrups. Variations on the espresso drink can replace the tonic water with plain seltzer or flavored sodas.
Here are four espresso tonics and espresso tonic variations to try around Atlanta.
Espresso Tonic (‘spro ton) at Peoples Town Coffee
Located on Milton Avenue in Peoplestown, this coffee bar serves coffee and espresso drinks using beans from Black-owned Atlanta roastery Portrait Coffee and Methodical Coffee out of Greenville, South Carolina, with wine and beer and grilled cheese sandwiches in the afternoon. The shop keeps the espresso tonic simple, mixing tonic water and orange bitters with Methodical Coffee’s Blue Boy blend offering hints of chocolate, graham cracker, and brown sugar. Try the black tea and lemon tonic for a tea lover’s take on the espresso tonic.
The U-Haul at Finca to Filter
West End and Adair Park
With locations inside Wild Heaven Beer in West End and Create ATL in Adair Park, Finca to Filter serves everything from drip coffee, flat whites, and lattes to espresso drinks and seasonal coffee beverages. One of Finca’s most popular summertime coffee drinks is the U-Haul espresso spritzer mixed with orange-basil syrup topped with plain Montane seltzer water.
Espresso tonic at Cafe Comma
Cafe Comma serves all the typical coffee drinks, as well as seasonal caffeinated beverages like churro and lavender lattes and coffee elixirs such as the orange dreamsicle. But regulars to the Vinings coffee shop and cafe know to order the espresso tonic on a hot day in ATL, which is given a boost of vitamin C from orange.
Lick Shot at Gilly Brew Bar
Stone Mountain Village
Stone Mountain Village coffee shop Gilly Brew Bar, owned by Daniel Brown, is known for its innovative cocktail coffee and tea elixirs. This includes year-round favorite the Lick Shot made with espresso, lime juice, and zesty ginger beer. Look for other creative espresso-based drinks, too, like the Malt and Spro with nonalcoholic barley malt. A location of Gilly is also open at Woodstone Bakery at Town Trilith in Fayetteville.