Made with freshly brewed espresso, sugar, and club soda this Refreshing Espresso Soda is the perfect pick-me-up at any time of the day. The love child of an espresso coffee and throwback soda shop cola, it's sweet, crisp, and bubbly. If you ever tasted the original coffee soda- Manhattan Special, then you will love this easy homemade version.
If you know me, you know I hate coffee. I know, I know, but I do love all the coffee-flavored things. And this one counts! As does my delicious espresso panna cotta. Why- because when you mix espresso with sugar and bubbles, well that my friends is a treat!
If you grew up on the East Coast anywhere near New York City, you may have heard of the Brooklyn-made coffee soda beverage, Manhattan Special. The original may be the King of coffee sodas, but mine is a close second. It's sweet and crisp, with a toasty molasses flavor. And of course, it's full of coffee goodness.
Nowadays, Manhattan Specials are hard to find in supermarkets, but you might get lucky at a small bodega or specialty shop. Of course, they are readily available on Amazon and other retailers. But I say skip the delivery and just make your own. Only 3 ingredients and completely customizable!
What you will need to make an espresso soda
According to its ingredient list, a Manhattan Special contains pure coffee, carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, and preservatives. For my refreshing espresso soda, we skip the artificial colors and preservatives and opt for pure espresso and club soda for carbonation.
- Freshly brewed espresso- You can certainly use regular coffee too. If caffeine is not your thing, make it decaf.
- Simple syrup- I make my simple syrup with brown sugar to mimic the caramel color, while adding a hint of molasses flavor.
- Club soda- You can also use plain seltzer.
- Ice- Gotta keep it cold!
- Milk- Optional.
See recipe card for quantities.
This espresso coffee soda is as easy as 1-2-3! Just grab a glass, fill it with ice, add the cooled espresso, and sugar syrup, then top with club soda. That's it! You can add a splash of milk or cold foam if you wish.
Feel free to adjust the amount of coffee, sugar, and club soda to your liking. If you want to mix it up, try these coffee-boosting ideas!
- Add a splash of vanilla extract for a true nostalgic flavor.
- Instead of espresso or regular coffee, opt for a cold brew.
- Swap out the club soda or seltzer for Coca-Cola to make a Fat American (Americola). If you do, adjust the amount of sugar syrup, or you just may get a cavity even looking at it!
- Make it boozy! Add a splash of Sambuca liquor and make an Espresso Corretto.
- Add a splash of milk, half and half, or even cold foam on top.
You can make the espresso coffee in advance and store it in a glass container for up to 3 days. Making the simple syrup ahead of time will also make this drink a breeze when the mood strikes you. When you are ready to make your drink, just grab your chilled espresso, and sugar syrup and add the remaining ingredients.
Make sure your espresso and syrup are fully chilled before assembling the drink. You don't want the warm coffee or syrup to melt the ice. The amount of ingredients you use will depend on the size of the glass you choose as well as the amount of ice you use. I used a 12-ounce old-fashioned glass
Espresso soda has a deep, sweet syrupy taste that is crisp and refreshing. It's reminiscent of a soda shop cola but with a moderate coffee flavor.
These are my favorite dishes to serve with my espresso soda!
Refreshing Espresso Soda
- coffee maker espresso or regular
- small pot
- ¼ cup freshly brewed espresso coffee
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar simple syrup recipe below
- ¼-½ cup club soda
- milk or half and half optional
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- Brew your coffee as per your coffee maker's instructions. You will need about ¼ cup. Place in a glass container and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.¼ cup freshly brewed espresso coffee
- Prepare the drink. Fill a glass with ice. Add espresso, 3 tablespoon sugar syrup, and stir. Top with club soda, give it another quick stir, and drink immediately. Adjust with more sugar if needed. Top with milk if desired.3 tablespoon brown sugar simple syrup, ¼-½ cup club soda, ice, milk or half and half
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- In a small pot, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool in the fridge at least 30 minutes.½ cup dark brown sugar, ½ cup water