traditional strong irish coffee on wooden bar
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Kahlua is a delectable brown-colored liqueur that has been produced in Mexico for over 50 years. It came to be when four guys – Senior Blanco, Montalvo Lara and the Alvarez brothers – got together in 1936 and came up with the concoction from ingredients grown in Veracruz, Mexico. Then in 1940, it finally made its way to the United States. The flavor is multilayered with notes of roasted coffee, vanilla and semisweet chocolate, which takes seven years of aging to achieve.

The early versions of Kahlua had 26 percent alcohol, but the current amount is 20 percent; though there was a Kahlua Especial in 2002 with an alcohol content of 36 percent. While Kahlua can be found in many cocktails, like B-52s and mudslides, there is none more popular than the Black Russian created in 1948. But on a cold winter's evening or with brunch on a Sunday, Kahlua and coffee hits the spot.

Easy Homemade Kahlua Recipe

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • 4 cups strong brewed Mexican coffee
  • 5 cups granulated or cane sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans cut into thirds
  • 4 cups vodka or vanilla-infused vodka
  1. Mix water, sugar and coffee together in a glass container. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

  2. Stir in vodka. Add vanilla beans to six, 12-ounce swing-top bottles. Add vodka mix to each of the bottles. Cap bottles and store them in a cool, dry place. 

  3. After two to three weeks, remove the vanilla beans, strain and store liquid in new swing-top bottles.

Madagascar vanilla beans are an excellent choice for this recipe. You can also substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla beans, but not vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla, which do not provide the rich taste that is needed for this recipe. In general, when substituting vanilla extract for vanilla beans, use 1 teaspoon of extract for every 1 inch of vanilla bean.


To make this truly indulgent, sweeten with caramel syrup or condensed milk instead of regular sugar. Make it an Irish Coffee by swapping out the chocolate liqueur and adding Baileys or another Irish cream instead.

Kahlua and Coffee Recipe

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1

  • 1 cup freshly brewed Mexican Coffee
  • 1/2 ounce Kahlua (you can use premade or homemade)
  • 1/4 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • milk, cream or half and half 
  • granulated or turbinado sugar to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated semisweet chocolate
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  1. Place Kahlua, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons chocolate in a cup and mix until everything is combined.

  2. Add coffee to the mixture and stir.

  3. Add whipped cream, if desired, and dust with remaining chocolate.

  4. Serve immediately.


For those who want a heady indulgence, but live dairy-free, try this recipe with hazelnut milk or cashew nut milk for a nuttier taste. Oat milk can work as well, but rice milk tends to be too watery.

Vegan Kahlua and Coffee Recipe

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1


  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 ounce kahlua

  • 1/4 ounce coconut rum

  • granulated or turbinado sugar to taste
  • whipped coconut cream
  • vegan dark chocolate, grated


  1. Combine

    Kahlua, rum and sugar in a mug. Stir thoroughly.
      2. Add coffee and stir.

    3. Top with whipped coconut cream and grated vegan chocolate.

    4. Serve immediately.