A popular and deeply intense coffee liqueur Kahlua is used in a lot of popular cocktails and also in some desserts. If you have ever asked yourself is Kahlua vegan you may already know the answer.
Let’s take a look at Kahlua, its ingredients and what alternatives you can use instead.
Can Vegans Drink Kahlua?
The answer to this question comes directly from Kahlua’s own website on its FAQ page. It says “Kahlúa Original, Kahlúa Flavors and Kahlúa Ready-To-Drink (RTD’s) are NOT acceptable for a vegan diet.”
So no, vegans cannot drink Kahlua. Let’s take a look at why not.
Kahlua is a rum and coffee liqueur. It is used in classic cocktails, such as the White Russian, Black Russian and Espresso Martini.
Many people also use Kahlua in cooking and baking for dishes such as cheesecakes or as a dessert topping.
Original Kahlua has 3 basic ingredients, rum, pure Arabica coffee and sugar. So why is this drink considered non-vegan?
With only three ingredients it is perhaps difficult to understand why vegans cannot enjoy Kahlua. The rum and coffee are clearly vegan friendly so that just leaves the sugar. And here lies the answer.
Non-Vegan Kahlua Ingredients
Until recently the cane sugar used in the making of Kahlua was refined using bone char. This process is why a lot of vegans avoid any product that uses sugar.
Without further clarification it is not clear if sugar added to any product is cane sugar that has been whitened in this way.
However, the company that makes Kahlua has recently stopped using cane sugar that is refined using bone char.
Unfortunately some of their suppliers still adopt this method.
The makers hope to correct this problem in the future making Kahlua vegan friendly in the process.
The Ready To Drink option from Kahlua contains milk and so are not suitable for vegans either.
Vegan Kahlua Alternatives
For those who want a vegan alternative to Kahlua there are some good options.
Kamora is perhaps the best vegan option as a replacement for Kahlua. It is a cheaper alternative and can often be used by bars in your cocktail if you don’t specifically request Kahlua.
It has a smooth texture with notes of chocolate, vanilla and caramel. Add it to some of your favorite cocktails, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you like it.
Aber Falls Coffee & Dark Chocolate Liqueur
This rich coffee and dark chocolate liqueur comes from Wales in the United Kingdom which is somewhat surprising. Wales is not exactly known for its coffee or dark chocolate.
However, this liqueur is produced at the wonderful Aber Falls distillery with indulgent bitter dark chocolate, freshly roasted coffee and is made with Welsh water.
The company confirms that there are no animal derived products in this liqueur.
Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy
Coming from Maine where it is a state favorite, Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy is a great alternative to Kahlua for vegans.
Beware though, this is strong stuff at 60 proof but can be used in all your favorite cocktails instead of Kahlua. It is confirmed free of animal products by the company.
Make Your Own Vegan Friendly Kahlua
If you want to be 100% sure that the coffee liqueur you are drinking is completely vegan then the best way is to make your own.
Homemade Kahlua Recipe
- ¾ cup ground dark coffee
- 1 cup rum
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- In a small saucepan, add the water and vanilla bean and bring to the boil. Remove the vanilla bean and set it aside.
- Use a French press and combine the coffee grounds and boiling water. Brew for 3-4 minutes. Now pour the brewed coffee into a measuring cup.
- Add the vanilla bean, rum, maple syrup and agave nectar to the coffee in the measuring cup. Stir until the ingredients are well combined.
- Let the mixture cool down and then taste. If necessary you can add more maple or agave syrup.
- Transfer the liqueur to a resealable bottle (you can leave the vanilla bean in the bottle or remove it)
- Serve immediately or let it rest for a few days before serving.
Until the company makes it plain that the sugar in Kahlua is no longer processed using bone char the drink will still be considered unsuitable for vegans.
For now try an alternative or make your own homemade version.