Posted February 27, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe
We are still in Mexico for National Kahlua Day.
Kah-lua is a translation for the native Nahuatl people of Veracruz meaning ‘House of the Alcolhua People’ Some believe it is a slang Arabic word for ‘coffee’.
It is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans with rum, sugar and caramel. The coffee and sugar are grown side by side in the state of Veracruz. The rum used is derived from their sugarcane grown under optimum warm growing conditions.
So if you have a decaf coffee and kahlua to avoid the caffeine as I did, it’s redundant. There are 10 mg of coffee per 100 ml of kahlua. 25% of what is in coffee! That explained the coffee rush.
From the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, Kahlua was born. In 1936, four friends joined forces to begin the world renowned drink. The Alvarez brothers were local coffee growers. A chemist, Montalvo Lara, provided the knowledge to transform the ingredients into a cruder version of today’s kahlua. Senior Blanco came up with the idea. Four years later, it made its way to the United States and has grown in great popularity. In 1980, it became the #1 selling coffee liqueur in the world.
In the 1950’s, a Mayan statue collector, Jules Berman (1911 – 1998), worked at Kahlua who put his statues in every advertisement the company posted. It was a hit and continues to today. His collection is now on display in Los Angeles museums and galleries.
It takes 7 years to produce a finished product. The coffee beans, themselves, take 6 years to reach the harvest point. They are grown in the shade so it takes longer. Harvesting of the coffee ‘cherries’ is between October and March.
The traditional method is a dry method when the bean is extracted after the cherry has gone through the drying process. It will have a lower acidity level and an intense, exotic flavour. A newer version uses a wet method which produces a cleaner, brighter, fruitier coffee.
The dried beans are put in burlap bags to rest for 6 months then are roasted, ground and brewed.
The distillation of the sugar turns the liquid into rum then it is aged. Distillation is the process of heating a liquid mixture to form a vapor then cooling the vapor to get a purified form of liquid.
At this point, it is combined with the coffee and rests again for another 8 weeks. The the vanilla and caramel are added. Now it is filtered and bottled.
In the 1960’s, a team of only women led the Kahlua company. They were known as the ‘Kahlua Ladies’.
Calgary produced the first B-52 in 1977. It is layered in a chilled shot glass starting with Kahlua, then with Bailey’s, and last, Grand Marnier (or another orange flavoured liqueur).
Peter Fich, a head bartender at Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta first invented it. The drink was, of course, named after the music band, The B-52’s. He apparently named many drinks after celebrities, music bands or songs.
One of the first customers for this shooter owned restaurants in various cities in Alberta and liked the drink so much that he put it on the menu. Which is why it is believed to originate at the Keg Steakhouse in Calgary. We can just be proud it’s Canadian!
Layering these shooters is not easy. Have a few taste testers on hand so you don’t have to down them all!
How I love thee, kahlua, let me count the ways…..cocktails, shots, coffees, desserts, such as cakes, pies, cookies and a banana bread. See below for instructions.
Black Russians, invented in 1949, are made with kahlua and vodka. White Russians are the same but with milk. The Black Russian is labelled as the most popular cocktail using kahlua.
What’s your favorite?
Mudslides are equal parts Kahlua, Baileys and Vodka, 1/2 oz. each, with 1 oz. of milk.
Espresso Martini’s are mixed with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka and 1 part espresso. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass
Mexican Coffee is made up of 1/2 oz. kahlua, 1/2 oz. tequila and 1 cup of strong, hot coffee, topped with a scoop of melted vanilla ice cream.
Even add it to your Hot Chocolate. MMMMocha!
Add kahlua to desserts, cookies, pies, almost anything with chocolate. An example is the Banana Bread with chocolate and kahlua (below).
The distillation process can be witnessed at Kinsip House in Bloomfield, Ontario which is in the beautiful Prince Edward County. They have tours year round and it is best to pre-book, especially in the winter months.
Call them at 613-393-1890 if you’re interested in learning this process. It’s best to have a group of 6 people but will do them for less. The cost is $5.00 per person. Personally, I would take the special tours with tastings. For $10.00, you get the tour plus tastings of 3 different types of spirits of your choice or, for $15.00, you get the tour and all 11 types of spirits.
Not So Local
At this time, tours are not possible at the Kahlua Company. However, tours of coffee plantations in Coatepec, Veracruz are available. Non-direct flights to Veracruz start about $600.00 round trip and last approximately 10 hours, longer if there are more stops. Fly to Mexico City and it will likely be cheaper and in about 8 hours. If you want to rent a car, it will take about 4 hours to reach Coatepec and 5 to reach the coast of Veracruz. Price to rent a car is $45.00 and up or a week. Here are a few ideas of what to do there.
My own attempt at making kahlua turned out decent despite the lighter color.
Boil 1/2 cup water and 3/4 sugar (I used brown sugar). Add 1/2 cup corn syrup. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon coffee.
Instant grains will remove the step of straining it later. I used ground coffee which will leave sediment at the bottom. Notice the grit.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla then 1 cup of rum. Odd but some recipes I found used vodka. I doubled the ingredients and it yielded a full 24 oz bottle with a couple of ounces left over.
Since I knew I would have to filter this, I popped in a couple cinnamon sticks. In a week, I’ll let you know it turns out.
I would recommend using homemade kahlua for baking the desserts. The recipe for the banana bread used almost 2 cups which gets expensive. A 750 ml bottle from LCBO costs $28.95. To refill this bottle with the homemade (doubled) batch, it cost me a total of $17.00.
To make the banana bread, I followed this link. I made a few changes because of my food limitations. Such as using brown rice flour instead of cake flour.
Please Drink Responsibly