Coffee Facts

All About Japanese Sparkling Coffee

by BO LI on Jan 30, 2023

All About Japanese Sparkling Coffee
Japan; the home of avant-garde coffee

Japanese coffee. Canned coffee, cold and Dutch brew, coffee brewing towers, you name it. Japan is a nation of coffee and avant-garde takes on coffee at that. There is nothing new under the Japanese gustatory sun and here we have something interesting for sure, Sparkling Coffee. But what exactly is Sparkling Coffee, is it really Japanese, and is it worth brewing?

The origins of “Japanese” Sparkling Coffee

One of the stories of sparkling coffee goes back to 2007. Two Swedish baristas in Norway, Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand were in the mood for some caffeine and had some leftover tonic after some festivities. So they threw together a refreshing mix of the two.

Another tale states that this combination has been a southern Italian staple for some time. Others also claim that its origins are in the American “Manhattan Special”.

But whatever the truth is, The combination of the fizzy tonic and the cool and refreshing synergy that came from its pairing with coffee led to a recipe that would spread globally. In 2015-2016 the avant-garde specialty coffee scene in Japan caught wind of this Scandinavian specialty. One of the key things that made the tonic and coffee combination take-off was to add espresso rather than coffee flavoring or standard brewed coffee to the tonic.

Of course, some coffee lovers may have heard of the coffee-flavored cola Japanese companies have rolled out before, and so not repeating some mistakes with that pairing was a must to sell sparkling coffee. Though the alliance of fizziness and coffee a la coffee-flavored cola may be evoked in the coffee and tonic it should be noted that these are two very different beverages.

The fact that sparkling coffee took off in Japan is not just due to Japanese coffee culture’s love of the unique. Summertime in Japan is a scorching season. Many people will reach for an iced or cold brewed coffee. The espresso tonic is a summer drink par excellence, mixing the fizziness of the tonic, the innervating qualities of the espresso, and the chill of ice together in a nice glass just leads to a stellar, cool drink.

But is it worth brewing?

Yes! But the question shouldn’t be is it worth brewing it should be “should I make one at home or try one from the market” as many companies have already been quick to start marketing their own sparkling espresso beverages. Many of which are canned Ready To Drink (RTD) coffee beverages.

Just to further bring home the point about how sparkling espresso is certainly a mode of coffee to try, imagine espresso’s flavors and aromas opened up and expanded upon by the refreshing and fizzy bubbles from the tonic. This mode of coffee is also a successful way to add two sometimes very antagonistic flavors together-citrus and coffee. Citrus and coffee together are not unheard of by any means and coffee brewed with oranges and other citrus do exist. But with the tonic, things like lemon and lime can be applied more liberally than before, just further heightening the summertime refreshment factor of this drink.

So, can you brew it at home, only assuming you have access to espresso, otherwise home brewed coffee may not pair as swimmingly as the more rich and intensely flavorful espresso shots.

If you would like to try a professionally prepared Ready To Drink (RTD) sparkling coffee, then check out Blue Bottle Japan’s options including a DIY kit to make some yourself, as well as numerous other options from Japan and many others on the rise elsewhere like in the United States, too!

Add a little sparkle to your day

Though many may not expect espresso and tonic water to go together so well, it would appear that they are a match made in summer heaven! This isn’t to say sparkling espresso is a hot-weather-only beverage, coffee lovers are more than welcome to try a glass no matter the season. But do be sure when you sample some exceptional and refreshing sparkling espresso, that you imagine brighter days nonetheless. Happy brewing!

Works Cited
• Haw, Matt. “The Rise and Rise of Japan’s Sparkling Coffee Craze.”, 5 Jan. 2023, Accessed 25 Jan. 2023.
• Martin, Deborah. “What Makes Japan’s Sparkling Coffee Unique?” Tasting Table, 16 Jan. 2023, Accessed 25 Jan. 2023.
• Petkoska, Zoria. “Coffee Trends: Japan Is Obsessed with Espresso Tonic.” Tokyo Weekender, 13 July 2022, Accessed 25 Jan. 2023.

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