Does Kahlua Go Bad? (And How Long Can It Last)

Does Kahlua Go Bad

Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liqueur that can be enjoyed over ice or used in mixed drinks.  It has a smooth flavor and comes in original, flavored, and ready-to-drink mixes.  This popular coffee liqueur is versatile and delicious.  If Kahlua is a liqueur you don’t enjoy on a regular basis, you might be wondering if that bottle of Kahlua in your cabinet is still good.

Kahlúa Original can spoil, as it has a shelf life of up to four years. Ready-to-drink Kahlua lasts one year, and Flavored Kahlua lasts two years. After that period, the coffee flavor wanes due to the presence of sugar and other ingredients. To avoid the decline in flavor, consume by the expiration date and follow proper storage guidelines.

Let’s explore the shelf life of homemade and store-bought Kahlua, how to store it, how to tell if it has gone bad, and some alternatives to Kahlua.

Does Kahlua Go Bad Over Time?

Kahlua has a production date etched on the glass, containing a set of letters and numbers.  What’s important is the first four digits.  The first one is the last number of the year of production—for example, four means produced in 2014.  The next three numbers are the day of the year, so 125 means May 5th.  The rest of the numbers and letters correspond to the production location.

From there, you can calculate how old that dusty bottle of Kahlua might be and how fresh it might taste.  The manufacturer recommends drinking Original Kahlua within four years of the production date.  After this time, the flavors will start to fade.  It is still drinkable.

Does Homemade Kahlua Go Bad?

Homemade Kahlua is made with coffee, sugar, vanilla, and rum.  Ideally, it should be aged a few weeks to a month to meld the flavors before enjoying it for the first time.  Seal it well and use the same storage techniques as store-bought Kahlua, and it should last three to four years.  If it’s bad, it may smell weak and taste watered down.  In that case, you can still use it in dessert recipes quite safely.

How Can You Tell If Kahlua Has Gone Bad?

Use your senses to tell if Kahlua is not optimal:

  • Smell the Kahlua and discard it if it has a sour or foul odor. Kahlua should have a strong coffee scent, and when it goes “bad,” that scent will fade.
  • Pour it in a clear glass and take a look at it. If it has changed color, curdles, has sugar crystals, or anything floating in the liquid, be safe and toss it.
  • If you see mold, definitely toss it. This is rare as not many bacteria can live in the alcohol but can happen due to contamination from outside sources.  Be sure to check around the lid and rim of the bottle.
  • The best way to tell if Kahlua has gone bad is to take a sip. If it tastes stale or bland, get a new bottle.

How to Properly Store Kahlua

  1. Kahlua should be stored in a dark and cool place. The pantry is best, but a kitchen cabinet or closed liquor cabinet is fine.  Ensure it is away from heat sources such as the furnace, fireplace, etc.
  2. The most important thing to do is to keep it well sealed. Air will degrade the product quicker than anything.  The alcohol will evaporate, causing it to have a bland taste.
  3. Kahlua does not have any ingredients that require refrigeration. Some people think it tastes better chilled, so you can pop it into the fridge a few hours before you want to pour a drink.  Those who drink Kahlua quite often store it in the fridge.  Although some swear it keeps it fresh longer, it’s more convenient and not a necessity.  If you do store it in the fridge, make sure it is sealed well, so it doesn’t pick up any of the flavors of other foods stored in the fridge.
  4. Kahlua can also be chilled in the freezer. It will be ready to drink and taste wonderful in about a half-hour.  Storing it in the freezer long-term will give it an unpleasant taste.
  5. Storing Kahlua at room temperature does not make it go bad quicker. Storing it in the refrigerator does not make it last longer.

Does Kahlua Go Bad After Opening?

Kahlua will hold its flavor for quite a while, but eventually, it will degrade.  Light, air, and bacteria are all enemies of liqueurs.  Once air gets into the bottle, the alcohol will start to evaporate, taking away some of the flavors.  After the bottle is opened, particles from the environment will inevitably get into the bottle.  That’s why it’s so important to keep the lid on and tightly sealed when you are not pouring.  Avoiding touching the opening with your fingers or lips will also keep the top clean.  Following the storage tips will extend its life.

Can You Get Sick from Drinking Old Kahlua?

Old Kahlua will not make you sick.  It may give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and cause your cocktails to be less enjoyable.  Consuming Kahlua while it is younger in its life will ensure that your drinks taste the best.  Those who find old Kahlua in their cabinet that smells ok, but doesn’t want to consume it find that it works well in recipes.

Does Kahlua Have Dairy?

Original Kahlua does not have dairy.  The ingredients are rum, coffee, corn syrup, and caramel color.  Nothing is derived from dairy.  Kahlua ready-to-drink cocktails such as a Mudslide, White Russian, Vanilla White Russian, and Kahlua with Milk do contain milk or milk proteins.   Kahlua Espresso Martini and Nitro Cold Brew are dairy-free.  Vegans often avoid Kahlua due to the processing methods performed by the sugar supplier.

Alternatives to Kahlua

Sheridans-Coffee Layered Liqueur

This is a newer liqueur in a unique package.  There are two sections to the bottle.  One has black liqueur with coffee and whiskey, and the other half has a white liqueur with milk-white chocolate.  When poured, it makes the perfect mixed drink.  The cream floats to the top, and the coffee and whiskey combination sits on the bottom.

Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

Mr. Black is based in Australia.  The coffee is ethically sourced.  They use no animal-derived products in their production process.  It is certified gluten-free.  It is also Kosher.  The liqueur is made by hand and, instead of rum, uses vodka.  There is more caffeine than Kahlua, and the creator recommends keeping it in the refrigerator.

Kamora Coffee Liqueur

Kamora has a touch of vanilla, chocolate, and caramel flavors.  It is the #2 selling brand of coffee-flavored liqueur in the United States behind Kahlua.  It is less sweet than Kahlua but goes well in mixed drinks.  It’s produced in Mexico using freshly brewed coffee.

Koval Coffee Liqueur

Out of Chicago, they are certified Kosher, which means they cannot use animal products in their processing.  They use single-origin beans, which gives this a vanilla cream flavor.   Dark chocolate adds lighter notes on top.  Designed as an after-dinner drink, in desserts, or added to coffee.  It’s small-batch, organic, and a bit stronger than the original Kahlua.

Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

The company claims that it is gluten-free and vegan-friendly.  The ingredients are a secret but are natural ingredients (roots, herbs, spices).  It has a hint of cacao.

Aber Falls Coffee & Dark Chocolate Liquor

Hailing from the United Kingdom and at 20.6%, Alcohol by Volume is more on par with Kahlua’s alcohol content.  The Espresso Martini inspired their recipe.  The company confirmed they do not use any animal derivatives in their products.

Allen Coffee Flavored Brandy

While a brandy and not a liqueur, Allen’s will still give you that coffee flavor taste.  Allen’s has a proud heritage in Maine.  It is made with authentic imported coffee bean extract.  It’s perfectly mixed with other ingredients – liquors and creams.

Related Questions

Does Kahlua contain caffeine?

Kahlua contains 5mg of caffeine in a 1.5-ounce drink.  As a comparison, a cup of black coffee contains up to 200mg of caffeine.  If you are highly sensitive, you might notice a little caffeine.  Of course, if you mix it with coffee, this will increase.  The sugar in the Kahlua can be a stimulant as well.  Remember that homemade Kahlua we mentioned earlier?  You could certainly make that from decaffeinated coffee.

What mixes well with Kahlua?

Kahlua drinks are trendy, and the mixes are left to your imagination.  Many enjoy it with hot coffee or hot cocoa.  Combine it with cream or milk for a White Russian.  Layer it in a glass with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Grand Marnier for the popular B-52.  Other options include vodka, ginger ale, tonic water, or club soda.  Visit the Kahlua site for tons of recipes.  Of course, Kahlua can also be enjoyed over ice or just chilled and poured in a glass for sipping.  It all depends on your tastes.

Is Kahlua Gluten-Free?

Kahlua does not contain any gluten grains.  Rum is distilled from sugar and is gluten-free as well.  They do not have a gluten-free label, so a certain amount of caution should be exercised with advice from your medical practitioner.  Be careful what you mix with Kahlua as well.

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Choosing Nutrition Team

Here at Choosing Nutrition, our goal is to help people with making smarter food choices. Whether you're wondering about vegan, keto, paleo, or other diets, we'll help you determine which options fit your nutritional lifestyle. Our staff is composed of registered dieticians, nutritionists, and health-conscious individuals.

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