If you mention lemonade iced coffee to people you might be met with funny looks. “I think the combination of citrus and coffee is something we associate with being wrong, but it’s really delicious,” says Eden Elan, general manager of Paramount Coffee Project.
At first, a citrus flavour blooms on the palate. It’s quickly followed by the slightly toasted, slightly sweet taste of coffee.
Every cafe has its own theory about which beans and mixing methods work best. The result is a variety of iterations made with largely the same ingredients.
Here are five places to try lemonade iced coffee.
Dutch Smuggler’s variety is the most literal interpretation of the drink, and also the sweetest. Lemonade is brewed in-store using organic sugar and fresh lemons. Sparkling mineral water is added, and the mixture is poured over coffee.
“Coffees with more body work better,” says owner Byron van Zyl. Because lemon can be strong, van Zyl believes darker roasts (rather than light, fruity ones) make for a more balanced drink.
Zainal Lee of Kafeine in Balmain thinks differently. Kafeine’s coffee tonic has no sugar, just a hint of lemon, and uses Campos Blade Runner, a fruity blend of Kenyan and Ethiopian beans.
It’s served in a beaker that shows off the visually layered drink: tonic water on the bottom, and cold drip on top.
“Not everyone can drink black coffee, and not everyone wants milky coffee,” says Kevin Ly at Brewristas. It makes Brewmanade, a citrus-tonic coffee – made with an 85+ coffee base (“excellent” on the Specialty Coffee Association of America scoresheet) – blended in a cocktail shaker. It’s finished with a few drops of fresh lime.
The idea for Coffee Alchemy’s Alchemy Tonic came from co-owner Hazel de los Reyes’s coffee competition days. “I used to come up with a lot of concoctions, cold and hot, with coffee. I knew espresso with fizzy drinks could work well.
“The bitters in the tonic and the espresso cancel each other out and you get a slightly sweet citrusy tang. It’s refreshing, but you’re still getting something that’s got coffee at its centre,” she says.
Paramount Coffee Project’s espresso tonic combines Fever Tree tonic with two shots of espresso and a squeeze of lemon.
“Citrus and coffee is one of those things you can’t really imagine until you have it, but it really works,” says Eden Elan.