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Can a Coffee Chain Convince Londoners to Drink Espresso with Tonic Water En Masse?

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Caffe Nero’s UK menu now includes espresso coffee and tonic, a drinks trend from speciality coffee Khushbu Shah/Eater

A niche coffee trend hits U.K. high street cafes

Caffè Nero has taken a speciality coffee trend mainstream by introducing espresso and tonic water to its menu — a combination credited to Swedish roaster Koppi, which put it on its opening menu in 2007. It’s already grown in popularity in the U.S. — whose coffee market has matured at scale faster than the U.K.’s and is more receptive to (and strongly financed for) innovation. As flat whites, pour over coffees, and cold brew have grown more mainstream on these shores, the intersection between ‘speciality’ coffee and U.K. chains has become more notable — brands looking to outflank each other with the latest, or in this case most warm weather-adjacent trend. While the drink is designed for lighter roasted espressos brewed for sweetness and acidity, Caffè Nero’s dark roasted coffee may lead to a clash of bitter on bitter with the quinine, though it claims “salted caramel and chocolate” flavours are the real thing. Like most things online, it’s proving divisive, with unconditional support playing serious doubt. Those looking for an alternative version of the drink in London’s coffee shops could head for Lyle’s, in Shoreditch; cold brew and tonic, meanwhile, must be stopped. [Twitter]

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