Kahlua is one of the best gifts to share or receive and it’s a staple in every home bar or liqueur cabinet.
This coffee-flavored rum is the base of many of our favorite, easy to make cocktails, including Mudslides, White Russians, B-52, and simple Espresso Martinis.
With so many options, it makes sense to pick up the largest bottle you can find. But if you end up not hosting as many cocktail parties as you thought you would, you may look at your bottle and wonder, “does Kahlua go bad?”
So, does Kahlua go bad? Kahlua will begin to degrade in quality, flavor, and aroma about 4 years after it was bottled. However, it won’t ‘go bad’ by growing mold or fermenting.
If the long lifespan of Kahlua has you intrigued, this article will answer all your questions about what it is made from, why it can remain so shelf-stable, how best to store it, and a few other pertinent liqueur questions.
What is Kahlua?
Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liqueur made from rum, sugar, and, most importantly, 100% Arabica coffee.
Arabica coffee is thought to be the first coffee ever cultivated and, to this day, it accounts for approximately 60% of coffee production worldwide.
For those of you who are curious, what does Kahlua mean, the answer lies in its origin.
Kahlua was originally invented in Veracruz, Mexico, and, in Nahuatl, one of the indigenous languages of the region, it means “house of the Acolhua people.” The Acolhua were a sister culture to the Aztecs.
What Is Kahlua Made Of?
As mentioned, Kahlua is made from coffee, sugar, and rum.
The coffee is an important part of the production process and the manufacturer waits up to 6 years just to grow a crop perfect for their needs. It then needs to be harvested, rested, and roasted.
As an alcoholic beverage, the rum component is even more important. Kahlua makes their rum from sugarcane, not the more popular molasses that many other brands of rum are made from.
This creates an earthy, grassy flavored rum that complements the coffee flavor oh so nicely.
It’s obviously not straight alcohol, considering it has coffee in it, so how much alcohol is in Kahlua? The original coffee liqueur has 20% Alcohol by Volume (ABV).
What Does Kahlua Taste Like?
Kahlua is surprisingly sweet, but the flavor that stands out the most is the coffee. Of course, it also tastes pleasantly of rum, providing a warm afterglow as you drink it.
Many people confuse Kahlua with Baileys, which is a creamy, chocolate liqueur. They are nothing alike in flavor, but Baileys is commonly added to coffee drinks, hence the confusion.
Does Kahlua Go Bad?
Now that you know what this coffee-flavored rum is, it’s time to answer the burning question – does Kahlua go bad?
Yes, it can and will eventually go bad, but not in the traditional sense of growing mold or turning sour.
Instead, when Kahlua goes bad, it simply is no longer good to drink. It has deteriorated in quality to the point where it’s no longer as enjoyable to consume, but it is not unsafe.
The good news is that it takes a long time before that happens.
Does Kahlua Go Bad Once Opened?
No, the ingredients in Kahlua prevent it from spoiling in the most common usage of the word. The alcohol and sugar content makes the liqueur inhospitable to bacteria and other pathogens, so even after it’s opened it won’t spoil.
The flavor and aroma are most sensitive to air exposure, however, so you do want to keep your bottle sealed tightly once it has been opened.
If you were to leave the bottle open at all times it would remain safe to drink but the compounds that provide the delectable coffee flavor will lose their strength much more quickly.
Alcohol also evaporates, so if you leave your bottle open, the volume will begin to reduce quickly.
Do Kahlua Flavors Go Bad?
Kahlua Flavors bring another layer of rich flavor to your favorite coffee-flavored liqueur.
There are many to choose from, including Vanilla, Hazelnut, Mocha, and Mint Mocha, Cinnamon, Chili Chocolate, and Salted Caramel. The company also brings out seasonal options, such as Pumpkin Spice.
Even though the basic recipe stays the same, the manufacturer suggests that Kahlua Flavors are consumed within 2 years, instead of 4, of the production date.
Again, as with their original formula, this recommendation isn’t based on the product becoming unsafe to drink, but rather that the flavors will no longer be as strong as intended.
Kahlua Flavors won’t go bad, but after 2 years they may not be as flavorful as you want them to be. You don’t want a perfectly delightful drink to go to waste, so you might as well drink it on time!
Does Kahlua Mudslide Go Bad?
Kahlua Mudslide is a Ready-to-Drink (RTD) beverage available in either 200 mL bottles or 1.75L bottles.
In addition to the traditional coffee and rum, a Kahlua Mudslide also has a dairy concentrate to make it deliciously creamy, and it’s sweetened with caramel, rather than sugar.
By making this beverage RTD, the alcohol content is significantly decreased, down to 5% ABV. This lower alcohol level as well as the introduction of diary and caramel decreases the potential shelf life of the drink.
Kahlua recommends storing Mudslide for no longer than 1 year after production. Unlike the original liqueur, Mudslide can actually curdle or mold because of its dairy content.
Once the bottle has been opened, the lid should be kept sealed as much as possible and any leftovers should be refrigerated.
Always pour the Mudslide from the bottle into another glass. This way, if there are any leftovers to be saved, you aren’t risking contamination by drinking straight from the bottle.
Even if you’re the only one going to drink it and you aren’t concerned about catching your own germs, they can evolve into pathogens that will more quickly spoil your drink.
Ready to Drink Kahlua
In addition to their RTD Mudslide, Kahlua has 3 other RTD blends: White Russian, Vanilla White Russian, and Kahlua with Milk. All of these drinks contain milk concentrates or proteins.
Just as with Mudslide, the manufacturer suggests that all of their other RTD options are consumed within 1 year of production and refrigerated after opening.
Since they have real dairy in them, these RTD Kahulua beverages can curdle or turn sour if they’re not refrigerated after opening.
They are shelf-stable, however, so before the seal is broken they can be stored in any cool, dry location out of direct light.
How Long Does Kahlua Last?
The manufacturer sets a recommended Kahlua shelf life of 4 years from the production date. This does not vary, regardless of whether the bottle has been opened or how it is stored.
Some liquor manufacturers stamp the production date on their bottles, making it easy for consumers to do the math themselves. Kahlua does not. Instead, they stamp their bottles with a LOT code, a combination of letters and numbers.
If you think your Kahlua has been in storage for more than 4 years, or that it might live that long, you will have to email the company with the LOT number to find the production date.
How Long Does Homemade Kahlua Last?
Making off-brand homemade Kahlua isn’t difficult at all and, although it won’t ever be exactly like the original, it’s still delicious.
To make your own Kahlua-style liqueur, you’ll need to start with equal parts white rum, sugar, and strong, brewed coffee.
To start, create a syrup by reducing the coffee and sugar in a saucepan kept at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Once the syrup has cooled, stir it into the rum. If you like, caramel or vanilla extract.
Your homemade Kahlua is now ready to enjoy, but you should first bottle it. Make sure you sterilize your bottle before filling it and, if possible, use a dark, glass liqueur bottle with a tight-sealing cap.
Whatever you don’t drink can be stored just like the original Kahlua beverage. Because the ingredients and alcohol content is similar, so is the shelf-life.
Homemade Kahlua will last up to 4 years after you first made it, provided you used clean, sterile production methods and store it, sealed, in a cool, dry location.
Does Kahlua Expire?
Kahlua doesn’t necessarily expire or have an expiration date but it can go flat in flavor over time. The coffee flavor degrades over time, leaving you with less intense flavor and more unbalanced sweetness.
There is no date at all stamped on or engraved into Kahlua bottles. All you’ll find is the LOT code which can lead you to the production date of the batch of alcohol your bottle was poured from.
As we said above, the manufacturer suggests that the best quality of Kahlua will be enjoyed within the first 4 years of its life. After that, it will still be safe to drink, but it may not be as flavorful.
Does Kahlua Need To Be Refrigerated?
The flavor and quality of Kahlua will degrade very slowly over time, regardless of where or how it is being stored. That said, it’s always a good idea to store any alcohol out of direct sunlight and away from direct exposure to heat.
Kahlua comes in a dark, heavy glass bottle which does a good job of protecting the liquid inside from UV exposure, but you still want to store it in a cool, dry location away from direct light.
Can Old Kahlua Make You Sick?
No, old Kahlua is no more likely to make you sick than young Kahlua. You may not enjoy the flavor as much as before, but it will not be dangerous or unsafe to drink.
However, any alcohol can make you sick if you drink too much at one time, are not used to the effects of alcohol, or are intolerant to alcohol.
Kahlua specifically is made from rum, so if you have a sensitivity to this particular type of alcohol, it may make you sick any time you drink it, regardless of how old the bottle is.
Similarly, if you are sensitive to caffeine or coffee, Kahlua may irritate you but this has nothing to do with the age of the liqueur.
Does Kahlua Have Caffeine?
Yes! Kahlua is made with real, strong brewed coffee and therefore it contains caffeine. The alcohol does not, in any way, burn off the caffeine content.
The Original Kahlua contains approximately 100 ppm caffeine. This roughly translates to about 5 mg per 1.5 oz shot. This is enough caffeine to be declared, but it’s still only a small amount.
An 8-oz coffee contains about 200 mg of caffeine to the measly 27 mg in the same amount of Kahlua. Their other flavors will contain similar levels of caffeine and their RTD bottles even less.
Is Kahlua Vegan?
No, none of the Kahlua family of liqueurs are vegan-friendly, though the manufacturer does not explain why the non-dairy Kahluas are not vegan.
Their Ready-to-Drink bottles are all made with milk concentrates or proteins. and their website explicitly states that even the Original blend and the Flavors family are NOT acceptable for a vegan diet.
Does Amaretto Go Bad?
Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored liqueur made combining pure alcohol with sugar and a selection of herbs and fruits that don’t actually contain any almonds.
Some off-brand Amaretto may be made using almond extract so, if you have a nut allergy, you need to do your research before drinking this type of liqueur.
Amaretto has an Alcohol by Volume percentage between 21-28%, which is enough alcohol to prevent any pathogens from living in or on the liquid.
There are no ingredients that will spoil easily, so it can be stored in any cool, dry location, such as your liquor cabinet.
The bottle should always be sealed tightly when not in use because alcohol evaporates and you will lose your volume quickly. The flavor will also deteriorate over time, once it has been opened.
Amaretto won’t go bad in terms of becoming unsafe to consume, but once the bottle is opened, it should be enjoyed within 5 years to ensure the best flavor and aroma. An unopened bottle can last indefinitely.
Does Frangelico Go Bad?
Frangelico is a hazelnut flavored liqueur, further enhanced by coffee, cocoa, and vanilla extracts for a complex, sweet yet perfectly balanced and versatile liqueur.
Similar to the other liqueurs discussed in this article, there are no ingredients that will go bad, or unsafe, especially being contained in high-proof alcohol.
Frangelico has many subtle flavors, however. Once the bottle is opened, these flavors will start to fade at different rates, though you aren’t likely to notice substantial flatness until 4–5 years after opening the bottle.
If the bottle is never opened, it will stay safe and of good quality indefinitely.
Does Tia Maria Go Bad?
Tia Maria is very similar to Kahlua. It is a sweet liqueur made specifically from cold-brewed 100% Arabica coffee.
It was developed in Jamaica, originally made from Jamaican Rum, Jamaican coffee beans, and Jamaican vanilla, and sugar. These days, it’s produced in Italy.
The ingredients are very similar to Kahlua, and the shelf life is arguably the same. It will last indefinitely if the bottle is unopened, but the flavor will slowly start to disintegrate over many years.
Tia Maria also produces a line of Ready to Drink beverages, though they may not be available everywhere in the world.
Their Cold Brew Ready Nitro Cocktail is a take on an iced coffee frappuccino. It does contain milk, however, and will therefore spoil once it is opened.
These RTD beverages are packaged in single-serving containers. However, so it’s unlikely you’re going to need to store them, after being opened, for any considerable length of time.
Try to drink your can within 2–3 days of opening, at the very most.