Rich, intense, enticing; Kahlua is a deeply complex coffee liqueur. The star of favorite cocktails, including White Russians and Espresso Martinis, this product is a must-have in any liquor cabinet. So, is Kahlua vegan or not? Here’s what you need to know.
The Short Answer: Is Kahlua Vegan?
Update: Kahlua is NOT vegan. One of our readers kindly brought to our attention that both the official Kahlua website and the the Kahlua entry at Barnivore were recently updated (June 2020) to indicate the original Kahlua is not vegan. Read the full update on Barnivore.
Yes! Both Kahlua Original and Kahlua Flavors are completely vegan, according to the brand’s main website. What’s more, these liqueurs may also be gluten-free as the company states that they do not add any ‘known gluten ingredients’ to these particular products.
However, it’s worth noting that not all Kahlua products are vegan-friendly. The brand’s Ready-To-Drink line of premade cocktails—which include a White Russian, Vanilla White Russian, Mudslide, and Kalhua with Milk variety—are not vegan. Unsurprisingly, the drinks contain milk and/or milk proteins, meaning they are unsuitable for vegans.
Kahlua combines a silky texture with a creamy, intense flavor. While the brand’s website doesn’t include an ingredients list for the drink, Wikipedia states that the drink is made from rum, sugar, vanilla bean, and arabica coffee beans.
The official Kahlua website also states that the Original product is free from allergens. However, if you’re concerned about specific dietary needs, it’s worth contacting the customer services team to check whether you can consume the beverage. Simple!
Best Vegan Kahlua Alternatives
While Kahlua is vegan, it’s worth exploring the wide range of vegan coffee liqueurs available. Let’s take a look at three alternative options you may enjoy.
Kamora is perhaps the best known Kahlua alternative available in the U.S. It’s less expensive than Kahlua, so it’s often used to make drinks like White Russians and Mudslides if you order from a bar and don’t specify you want Kahlua. But taste is subjective, and with it’s smooth mouthfeel and notes of vanilla, chocolate, and caramel, you may find you actually prefer the taste of Kamora. Give it a try!
Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy
If you’re interested in a coffee liqueur that packs a little more punch and offers a different flavor profile, try Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy. This 60 proof naturally flavored brandy is considered a New England treasure and a true favorite in the state of Maine. The parent company, M.S. Walker, confirmed that the company uses no animal products, so this drink is also vegan-friendly.
Aber Falls Coffee & Dark Chocolate Liqueur
The Aber Falls Coffee & Dark Chocolate Liqueur is made in Wales, United Kingdom, which means that it may be hard to get your hands on. However, if you do manage to source it online, you’re in for a treat. Inspired by the famous Espresso Martini cocktail, it includes hints of bitter dark chocolate and coffee. The company confirmed for us directly that they do not use animal products in this liqueur.
Make Your Own Kahlua
Of course, if you’re handy in the kitchen, you could whip up a batch of your own coffee liquor. Our unique homemade Kahlua recipe takes just 20 minutes to complete. Infusing vanilla beans, dark chocolate, syrup, and a spirit of your choice, the homemade product tastes as good as any store-bought options. Why not give it a try?
The Bottom Line
The takeaway is that—yes—Kahlua is vegan-friendly. You can enjoy this liquor without worrying about the ingredients. But you don’t have to stop there. There are loads of vegan coffee liquors to try and you can even make your own too. The choice is yours.
Feature photo: monticello/Bigstock