The Untold Truth Of Kahlúa

In 2019, Kahlúa was the number one coffee liqueur in the entire world (via, and there are so many factors that contributed to the massive boom of this tasty, naturally coffee-flavored, rum-spiked drink. Whether it be as a fun addition to your coffee, a sweet sidekick in your brunch cocktail, or a surprising topping for an Italian dessert, this coffee liqueur has made waves in the food and drink industry in the last 20 to 30 years. 

Aside from the fantastic drink product, the company Kahlúa has some interesting highlights in its story since it was first created south of the U.S. border in the 1930s. Its Mexican heritage is an important aspect of the company branding, including the way in which the coffee beans were originally grown and the deep flavor profiles. Let's unpack the depths of Kahlúa, both the coffee liqueur and the brand. 

It takes seven years to produce one bottle of Kahlúa

According to the Kahlúa website, making one single bottle takes seven years. Yes, seven, you heard that right! It's actually all about the coffee beans, and those take up to six years to perfect, which is why the process is so time-consuming. The kahlúa website explains that the coffee cherries are grown in the shade and simply take much longer to mature versus growing them in the sun. 

Following the growth of the coffee beans, the natural product undergoes a whole series of steps to become the popular drink people know and love. The coffee beans have to be harvested, dried out, and following that the rum in the Kahlúa, made from sugarcane, is distilled. After all of that, we've finally made it to the roasting and blending steps. The coffee beans get roasted and incorporated with the rum, and the drink sits for about a month longer. It's at this point, the kahlúa is ready to go.

The word Kahlúa means heart of the Veracruz people

Foodimentary states that the word Kahlúa means "the heart of the Veracruz people," which is completely fitting since Kahlúa was born in Veracruz, Mexico. The meaning and definition of Kahlúa holds a lot of truth and significance to the boldness that the company highlights through its Mexican roots. It's been written that the word Kahlúa also has a close relation to the Arabic slang word for "coffee," according to Sip Awards

Some will solely define Kahlúa as a coffee-flavored liqueur made in Mexico (via, but some note the word Kahlúa to be the actual brand rather than the physical drink, defining it as the brand of coffee liqueur. In other languages, the word Kahlúa directly translates to different things like in the Veracruz language, where it translates to house of the Acolhua people

The coffee beans used for Kahlúa are referred to as coffee cherries

While the coffee beans that are grown for Kahlúa produce real coffee, the true name for the whole coffee beans is coffee cherries. So, is Kahlúa actually made out of fruit? While the answer is no, the coffee plant happens to be considered a fruit tree. 

According to the Coffee Chronicler, the fruit grown from a coffee tree is similar in appearance to a berry, and they react the same way as berries, too. The unripened fruit is green before becoming a bright red color once it's ripe. Once the fruit is ready to be picked, the seeds are removed, and what's left is ultimately what we all know as coffee beans. The reason why people don't eat coffee cherries like other fruit is that it lacks nutritional value, and the majority of the actual fruit consists of the skin and the seeds.

The liqueur was born out of a partnership between a businessman, two brothers in the coffee business, and a chemist

According to the Kahlúa website, the first idea regarding the creation of Kahlúa was born in 1936 with four men, Senior Blanco, Montalvo Lara and the Alvarez brothers. Senior Blanco was a businessman, the Alvarez brothers were in the coffee business, and Montalvo Lara was a chemist. The combination of these four people is really what created the bestselling drink that is so popular today. 

The Kahlúa website notes that "one of the guys had a great idea, two of them forked out rich and tasteful Arabica coffee" and the chemist "turned the idea into reality." The men took pride in using high-quality ingredients that integrated the rich spirit of Mexico into the drink, and brought the positive energy of rural Veracruz to life. While Kahlúa has expanded heavily since those days, the original recipe was born from this group of four men (via

After the initial meeting in Mexico in 1936, Kahlúa was introduced to The United States in the year 1940. Following its initial idea, the coffee liqueur went through early stages of branding, creation, and production, and continues to be a liqueur enjoyed around the world. 

Many classic and popular drinks include Kahlúa, such as the white Russian and an espresso martini

Kahlúa is featured in so many of the classic, popular drinks that are consumed in The United States and across the globe today. One that has become incredibly popular in recent years is the Espresso Martini, which includes ice, Kahlúa, vodka, and espresso. The Kahlúa website instructs to shake for about 20 seconds, and strain into either a martini or a cocktail glass. 

This specific drink was born in 1938 by a London bartender named Dick Bradsell, and it's generally a great brunch cocktail. A similar drink that's equally popular but a little creamier is the white Russian, made with ice, Kahlúa, vodka, and heavy cream. This drink doesn't require any shaking, and is typically served in a shorter glass. According to the Kahlúa website, it takes less than a minute to prepare this drink and it should taste very sweet and indulgent. Try these drinks on your next night out!

There's a whole day to celebrate Kahlúa

February 27th is the national Kahlúa day, and there's so much to celebrate. There are many suggested activities for Kahlúa lovers to partake in on national Kahlúa day, like drinking it in either coffee, hot chocolate, a cocktail, or poured over a dessert. Another idea to celebrate the joys of Kahlúa, according, to National Today, is to organize a party to celebrate Kahlúa. 

Lastly, gifting Kahlúa to somebody is an amazing way to celebrate the national day of the coffee liqueur, and it's much more fun to drink it with a friend than to consume it alone. If you're attending a Kahlúa party to celebrate, be sure to bring some fun facts with you, like the fact that Kahlúa used to contain 26% alcohol and now contains closer to 20%. According to National Today, a few other reasons why Kahlúa is a great liqueur is because it's versatile and can be added to many drinks, it can be used for many occasions, and it has coffee which is very enjoyable!

There are actually more ways to consume Kahlúa than solely in a drink

While Kahlúa is a great additive to a cocktail, it's also a great addition to a number of different dessert dishes! For a delicious and boozy dessert, try pouring a small amount of Kahlúa over some of your favorite gelato or ice cream. The affogato martini drink recipe on the Kahlúa website makes our mouths water, with just four ingredients for a creamy, sweet, delicious nightcap. All you'll need is Kahlúa (of course), vanilla ice cream, chocolate shavings, and a hefty shot of espresso. 

According to Kahlúa, this is a classic Italian dessert and an amazing way to utilize their popular drink. If you're a coffee lover with a sweet tooth, add this to your must-try list as soon as possible. Not an ice cream fan? There's no reason you can't try incorporating it into your favorite chocolate cake recipe. 

Kahlúa is made with 100% Arabica coffee beans from Veracruz

Kahlúa owes the intense, aromatic characteristics of the coffee liqueur to 100% Arabica coffee beans. According to the brand, the sourcing of coffee beans are one of the most important parts of the company, and it wants to begin a program to reach peak sustainability throughout the company. In 2022, Kahlúa is starting to source all of its coffee from sustainable communities, and that involves both the growth and working conditions surrounding harvesting these Arabica coffee beans. Written in an article on Culture Trip, the Arabica coffee beans have an intense, less sweet, and less coffee-oriented flavor profile.

 To protect the flavors and quality of the coffee in the coffee liqueur, Kahlúa is committed to using the highest quality ingredients, and that comes back to the way they're grown. The Kahlúa website describes the flavors of its coffee liqueur as grounded in Mexican roots and achieved by using the best quality coffee beans the company can find, which are the Arabica coffee beans. These coffee beans are what contribute so heavily to Kahlúa's intense flavor and impressive finish.

Kahlúa management team made up entirely of women drew attention in the 1960s

In the year 1960, Kahlúa branded its management team as the Kahlúa ladies being that the entire team was made up of women. This entirely female-led management team was a very large step for the Kahlúa brand since the company was founded by multiple men and had just passed its global distribution (via 

The steps taken by Kahlúa with the product being brought to The United States in 1940 and the transition to a larger and more gender-inclusive team all allowed the coffee liqueur to boom in the United States and become a global brand. Noted on the Kahlúa website, it was interesting and rare to have an all-female team during the 1960s based on the culture of The United States, and this led to the company getting a lot of new attention. 

Kahlúa has caffeine

While Kahlúa is a liqueur, it does contain some caffeine due to the coffee product inside the drink. According to the Kahlúa website, there is 100 ppm of caffeine, which equals out to about five mg of caffeine for a serving of Kahlúa, which is one and a half ounces. This is far less than an average eight ounce cup of coffee, which has up to 200 mg of caffeine. 

If Kahlúa is mixed into coffee, which has become a popular way to consume it, the amount of caffeine per drink is a much larger amount than solely the liqueur by itself. According to Hey Joe Coffee, the average shot size of Kahlúa doesn't have a high enough amount of caffeine to keep someone awake, but when it's combined with other drinks it can spike an increase in the sugar content, as well as both the caffeine and alcohol. For a largely caffeinated and delicious drink, try a Kahlúa iced coffee with coffee, Kahlúa, ice, and milk.

Kahlúa had a rise in popularity after 1950, specifically from 1980s to the 1990s

In the 1950's, Kahlúa started getting more attention because of its Mexican heritage rooted advertisements, and in 1955 when the white Russian drink came to be in California, Kahlúa had another wave of booming popularity (via Kahlua). Kahlúa sat at the base of these drinks, and when they started popping up all over Oakland, Kahlúa became a household name. In 1980, according to the brand, Kahlúa became the number one coffee liqueur in the world, and by the 1990s Kahlúa started to become a popular prop featured in movie scenes. It was found on film, through different songs, and TV shows, and much of the fast popularity was due to the white Russian cocktail. The classic white Russian drink has two ounces of vodka, one ounce of Kahlúa, and one ounce of heavy cream, all stirred with ice. 

The deep Mexican roots of Kahlúa, the branding it has utilized, and the spike in popularity at the right time all contribute to the maintained growth of the famous coffee liqueur. The versatility of when and how to drink it really keeps consumers excited and interested, and it's a classic while also still seeming fresh. On that note, we're just about ready for an espresso martini nightcap.