What is Kahlúa?

Born in Veracruz, Mexico in 1936, Kahlúa comes steeped in history, with a rich and colorful heritage.

Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans and rum, Kahlúa coffee liqueur is one of the main ingredients in many of the world’s favorite cocktails.

From the White Russian, Black Russian and Mudslide, to the cocktail du jour… the Espresso Martini! Plus many more classics, old and new.

Brunch, lunch, evening drinks, or whenever—Kahlúa helps turn the average into the extraordinary (and any coffee into a delicious coffee cocktail).

That’s probably why it remains the world’s #1 coffee liqueur*

So, go ahead and enjoy. We think you deserve it.


*IWSR Liqueurs 2019.

How we make Kahlúa

Yep, it takes up to 7 years to produce a bottle of Kahlúa. Here’s why…

Growing and growing

It can take up to 6 years to get the perfect coffee beans for our coffee liqueur. That’s a pretty long time for a drink. Why? The coffee cherries are grown in the shade, which simply takes a lot longer than growing them in the sun. Coffee cherries? Am I drinking fruit now? Nope – the cherries are simply the safeguard that protect our precious beans. After that, our coffee cherries grow into beautiful dark red cherries, and that’s when they’re ready to be opened up.


So now that our beautiful deep dark red cherries are ready, it’s time to rip them apart to get the coffee bean out. Come on, we all know it’s the inside that counts.

Drying and resting

That whole ‘ripping apart thing’ was pretty intense for our beans. So it’s time to wait again, but this time in huge burlaps bags. This takes about 6 months. We know, waiting for something good is exhausting!


So the whole coffee stuff is great, but what about the spirits in Kahlúa? Our Rum is made from sugarcane, from which the juice is extracted, boiled and mixed with water. Once we’ve got the alcohol, it’s time for the distillation process. Kahlúa is distilled to perfection!

Roasting and blending

After up to 7 years the time has finally arrived: the beans and rum spirits meet in our distillery. The coffee that is perfectly roasted for the occasion, finally meets its spirits friend and they rest together for 4 weeks. After these weeks of catch-up, it’s time to bottle and seal the goodness of Kahlúa. People say that good things come to those who wait. We couldn’t agree more.


Legendary Kahlúa was born in Mexico

We’ve all had those evenings when your friend Steve enthusiastically cries out ‘let’s open a bar!’. The day after though, you return to your day job. The story of Kahlúa begins in 1936 when two dudes, Senior Blanco, Montalvo Lara and the Alvarez brothers, decided to go with their gut feeling. One of the guys had a great idea, two of them forked out rich and tasteful Arabica coffee, the second was a chemist who turned the idea into reality. Kahlúa is crafted from the finest ingredients that grow side by side in rural Veracruz, Mexico. The actual word Kahlúa has ties to ancient Arabic languages and is said to be slang for coffee. Yes, there was already street lingo in the 30’s.

Kahlúa goes to the U.S.A.

Four years after the launch, Kahlúa took a leap of faith by travelling to the US.



We all know throwing parties is not as easy as it sounds. You’re basically running around like a maniac filling up drinks, entertaining – while trying not to look pissed when susanne is spilling her drink all over your new couch… Again. There seem to be just a few people out there who actually nail the whole ‘party throwing thing’ down while actually enjoying it themselves. If you nail it, a drink should be dedicated in your honor. That’s what happened in Brussels in 1948, where a famous hostess threw unforgettable parties for important people. In honor of the hostess with the mostess, keep the spirit alive with the Black Russian.

Ancient ads by Kahlúa

In the 50’s, a dude from the Kahlúa company called Jules Berman was an enthusiastic collector of Pre-Columbian figures. Similarly to our founding fathers, he believed in the rich Mexican heritage and included the quirky figures in every ad. It was a weird thing to do, but people loved it, so…

A legend is born, when in 1955 the White Russian is invented in Oakland, California. One day, these milky cocktails with Kahlúa at their base were popping up all over town. A classic had been created. It was a strike of pure genius; cream paired with Black Russian spelled a cocktail senselessly delicious. Carefully stirred, it’s the perfect storm. Thirsty already? So are we. Let’s get busy layering the White Russian.

The Kahlúa ladies – a media sensation

In the 60s, Kahlúa received a different kind of attention, not from our ads, but rather the all female leadership. Apparently this was quite unique in the 60s.

The B-52 shot was first created in Calgary, Canada back in 1977. It soon became a booming success that spread throughout the world. The B-52 today is a well-established drink; it’s been loved by a shedload of partygoers and fired up by numberless lighters. Want to layer one yourself? Get groovy with the 70s and 80s classic, the B-52 shot.

World's number one coffee liqueur

If you weren’t drinking a liqueur cocktail in the 80’s, you probably weren’t there. In 1980, Kahlúa became the number one selling coffee liqueur in the world. While copycat brands were trying to figure out how we did it, our famous Kahlúa ladies were hosting coffee breaks with live music. Livin’ it up.

Kahlúa appears on the red carpet

Lights, camera… Kahlúa! In the 90’s Kahlúa became a popular drink to decorate movie scenes with. Kahlúa was featured in dozens of movies, series and songs. The White Russian might have played the biggest role; co-starring in movies that were unconventional for the 90’s. A cult classic was born.

Kahlúa today

Kahlúa is a brand with a unique and exciting history. We remain the #1 coffee liqueur worldwide and that’s because we keep on saying ‘screw it and let’s do it’. So… enjoy our great classic drinks. We all know that a good story never starts with a salad. Cheers!