The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2010

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Page 64 of 100

Liqueurs Mexican-grown arabica coffee is the key ingredi- ent in Kahlúa. PHOTOS COURTESY OF PERNOD RICARD USA An Extended Coffee Break WE VISIT KAHLÚA ON LOCATION by Anthony Head ans of The Big Lebowski surely remember that “the Dude’s” drink of choice was the White Russian, which, in 1998, helped make Kahlúa cool again. These days, as tequila continues its meteoric rise as Mexico’s de facto spirit of national identity—and while mezcal makes serious inroads into America’s liquor market—it would be wise to remember that Kahlúa is also a Mexican original and still the number-one-selling coffee liqueur worldwide. In February, brand ambassadors from parent company Pernod Ricard USA invited THE TASTING PANEL to Mexico City for a first-ever tour of the Kahlúa plant. With the warm aroma of F coffee in the air, we saw first-hand how one ton of coffee beans can be toasted in about an hour, before grinding, blending and bottling as this intensely delicious liqueur. Coffee is, of course, Kahlúa’s key ingredient, so our trip included a stop in the state of Veracruz, Mexico’s coffee capital, to tour an arabica coffee plantation. Premium arabica coffee (as opposed to the cheaper and much more commonly consumed robusta) has a smoother, less acidic flavor quality; it is also a much more labor-intensive crop and therefore more expensive to pro- duce. Kahlúa uses only arabica coffee. In an effort to broaden its appeal for today’s cocktail-savvy consumers, Kahlúa has introduced several new flavors in the past few years, including Kahlúa French Vanilla and Kahlúa Hazelnut, as well as Kahlúa Especial, a more intense, higher-proof espresso- flavored liqueur. The brand is also promoting a broader range of cocktails that go beyond the traditional White Russian (sorry, Dude) and the B-52. For ex- ample, drinkers in Mexico sometimes add a shot of Kahlúa to a Piña Colada. There’s also the Kahlúa Sour (2 parts Kahlúa, 1 part lemon juice and 4/5 part simple syrup), a cola-colored concoc- tion served over ice that proves to be as refreshing in the summertime as any iced coffee. 64 / the tasting panel / june 2010

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