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Kahlua from Mexico is the most widely known coffee liqueur.

How is coffee liqueur made?

Most coffee liqueur is made by adding natural coffee flavors and sugar to a distilled spirit such as vodka, rum, or brandy. There are several different ways to achieve this. For example, Kahlua starts with rum that is infused with arabica coffee beans, sugar, and vanilla. The company grows its coffee and distills rum, so the process of making a bottle can take up to seven years, counting growing time for coffee beans and sugarcane.

When Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur is made in Italy, mountain-grown Jamaican coffee beans are fermented along with the grain used to make the base spirit. In Israel, where Sabra is made, it starts as a neutral grain spirit, and then it is percolated through coffee beans, and sugar is added later. So there are many different ways to create a delicious liqueur that tastes like coffee.

Where does coffee liqueur come from?

Coffee liqueur can be made anywhere in the world. The main ingredients in coffee liqueur are a distilled spirit, coffee beans, and sugar, so it’s not limited to one geographic area. At Total Wine & More, we carry coffee liqueur and other spirits from Mexico, Ireland, Italy, Israel, St. Maarten, and the United States.

Is Kahlua a coffee liqueur?

Yes, Kahlua is probably the most famous coffee liqueur in the world. It was launched in 1936 in Mexico and stars in many coffee liquor drinks such as the Black Russian and White Russian.

Is Baileys a coffee liqueur?

Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur is not a coffee liqueur; it’s mostly made with cream, sugar, and whisky. They have launched a Bailey's Espresso liqueur that adds espresso to their recipe. Bailey’s is very closely associated with coffee, however, because it’s a great way to perk up a cup of black coffee. Hence the saying, "make it Irish," which can pertain to adding either Irish Cream or Irish Whiskey to coffee.

Is there caffeine in coffee liqueur?

Yes, there is caffeine in coffee liqueurs since most are distilled with coffee beans. The Kahlua company says that there’s 10mg of caffeine in every 1.5 ounce shot of their spirit. That compares with 95 mg of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup of coffee. If you’re caffeine sensitive, it may be a good idea to enjoy coffee drinks in the early part of the day.

What are popular coffee liqueur cocktails?

Probably the simplest coffee liqueur cocktail is just pouring a slug into a cup of coffee–it’s a great way to stay warm and awake in the wintertime. Any Big Lebowski fan knows two of the best coffee liqueur drinks: the Black Russian, which is just coffee liqueur and vodka, and the White Russian, which adds a little cream to the mix.

Here are a few other coffee cocktails to try out:

What are the popular brands of coffee liqueur?

Total Wine & More stocks all the best and most popular brands of coffee liqueur, as well as some discoveries you may not have tried yet. Our vast selection of popular coffee liqueurs includes:

Want to learn more about coffee liqueurs and cordials? Check out our collection of Liqueurs, Cordials, and Schnapps to explore spirits from all around the world with a sweeter taste.