The best alcohols to add to your coffee

Love a good spiked coffee drink? So do we! This week, we are sharing some of our favorite coffee-enhancing liquors, liqueurs, and whiskeys. While any combination could be used, some alcohols pair better with coffee than others given coffee’s strong natural tones. From sweet to savory to smokey, adding these alcohols to your coffee transforms your ordinary cup into a work of happy hour art.

Sugars and chocolates (and smiles!)

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love the sweet life? Adding a sweet liquor or liqueur to your coffee beautifully enhances the natural, soft, sugary notes of sweeter coffees and can take the edge off dark or bitter brews. Our favorite coffee cocktail sweeteners? Rum and chocolate liqueur!

Rum is a sweet liquor (composed of up to 5% sugar) made from distilled sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. Given rum’s sugariness, we recommend using a dark roast coffee verging on the edge of bitterness, such as a Vienna Roast or French Roast Blend.

Chocolate liqueur is a rich, chocolatey liqueur most often composed of chocolate extract, vanilla extract, vodka, and simple syrup or sugar. The second best thing about chocolate liqueur (after the taste) is that you can make it on your stovetop. Chocolate liqueur pairs nicely with every coffee. If you prefer a bitter cup and enjoy spicy, earthy coffees, such as Sumatrans, you may want to try Chocolate liquor (pure, unsweetened cocoa) instead of chocolate liqueur,

Our dry sips (e.g., flavored coffee): Belgian Chocolate, L’il Rhody Rum, Buttered Rum, Jamaican Me Crazy

Recipes to try: The Queens take on a Pharisäeer Kaffee (German-rum coffee), Iced mojito coffee, Coffee-a-coco — A Coffee and Cocktails with Cindy short, Chocolate hazelnut espresso martini: A Coffee & Cocktails with Cindy short, The Queens Chariot – A Coffee & Cocktails with Cindy short

A touch of nut

Biscotti with your coffee…coffee with a touch of hazelnut cream… Be it in the cup or out of the cup, pairing alcohol with nut flavors to your coffee accentuates and enhances the smooth, subtle, undeniably delectable natural nutty tones of coffees with dominant nut base notes, such as South Americans. Our favorite go-to’s? Amaretto and Hazelnut Liquor.

Amaretto is an almond-toned Italian liqueur. Made from either bitter almonds or stone fruit, this smooth liqueur brings a marvelous almond / biscotti flavor to your cup. We recommend pairing Amaretto with coffees dominated by strong nut and / or and chocolate notes, such as Colombians, Peruvians, and Brazilians.

Hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, is an Italian liqueur made from a vodka-brandy alcohol infused with crushed and toasted hazelnuts nuts. Some brands may also add vanilla, cacao, and / or honey to their liqueur for extra sweetness. This marvelous nut liqueur goes nicely with espresso and any other medium-dark, dark roasted coffee.

Our dry sips (e.g., flavored coffee): Biscotti, Hazelnut

Recipes to try: HoHoHo Santa you nutty-nutty guy, Café QweenBean

For the love of whiskey

Irish coffee, whiskey aged coffee, whiskey and coffee… however you take it, whiskey and coffee is the perfect combination to warm your hands and your head on a chilly day. The rich, smooth (or bitter), smoked aspect of whiskey makes it a wonderful pairing for darker roast coffees, such as French Roasts, and dark roasted Espresso Blends. We recommend matching the notes in your whiskey to the notes in your coffee to find the optimal pairing. If you are just looking for something to sweeten and add texture to your cup, try adding Irish Cream, a scrumptious mix of Irish whiskey, cream, and other flavorings.

Our dry sips (e.g., flavored coffee): Broad Street Bourbon, Irish Cream, Nutty Irishman

Recipes to try: Coffee bourbon milkshake, Cinnamon kick, The Vanilla Royále, The old fashioned ruler, A rusty crown

Some Mexican magic

Bright, fun, tasty, and may make you a little bit crazy (in the best of ways!), these south of the border bred beauties bring flavor and kick to your coffee. You guessed it, we are talking about Kahlúa and Tequila.

Kahlúa is a sweet Mexican liqueur made from rum, sugar, and arabica coffee. With its dominant coffee flavors and incredible sweetness, Kahlúa pairs well with most strongly brewed good-bodied coffees (Kahlúa’s coffee flavoring easily overpowers lighter roasted and lighter-bodied coffees). Dark roasted coffees bring out more of Kahlúa’s sweetness while full city and Vienna roasted coffees highlight Kahlúa’s intense coffee flavor.

Tequila is a distilled liquor made from the fermented juice of the agave plant. Ranging from semi-sweet to almost bitter, Tequila pairs well with coffees that have some bright notes, such as Central Americans and Mexicans.

Our dry sips (e.g., flavored coffee): Kahlua & Cream

Recipes to try: Iced Mexican coffee, The Queen’s take on a flaming Spanish coffee – A Coffee & Cocktails with Cindy experiment

The elegant after dinner drink

If you are looking for a delightfully smooth, elegant after dinner coffee-liqueur combination (this is truly my best of both worlds!) try adding some Brandy or Cognac to your coffee.

Brandy is light and sweet with lovely winey grape or fruit tones and pairs nicely with lighter, brighter coffees, such as Africans and Centrals. When pairing, be sure the notes in your Brandy compliment the notes in your coffee — pairing a fruity brandy with a strongly wine-toned coffee could create an unpleasant flavor in your cup.

Cognac is a form of Brandy grown in France’s Cognac region and is made from distilled white grapes and aged for at least two years in French oak barrels. If you love a touch of orange or citrus in your coffee, try adding Grand Marnier, a Cognac infused with bitter orange. We recommend adding Cognac to brighter, medium roasted coffees with strong winey notes, such as Africans and Centrals.

To see our collection of coffee cocktails, please click here.

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