Does Kahlua Go Bad After Opening? (Shelf Life & Storage)

It is one of the signature ingredients in white and black Russians and the perfect accent to coffee, ice cream and chocolate cake! Kahlua is a rich coffee liqueur made with rum and coffee beans.

While you can use this delectably sweet alcoholic spirit in a handful of cocktails, if you tend to save this drink for special occasions, how long does Kahlua last? We have information that will mocha your day!

Kahlúa, a coffee-flavored liqueur, does not require refrigeration after opening, but it should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The shelf life of an opened bottle of Kahlúa is approximately 4 years, with the flavor and quality best maintained when stored properly. Refrigeration can help preserve its flavor for a longer period, especially in warmer climates. However, it’s important to tightly seal the bottle after each use to prevent oxidation and evaporation, which can affect the taste over time.

What Is Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur?

Liqueurs are essentially a diluted liquor. This means that they have a much lower alcohol content, normally around 15% ABV.

They are also stereotypically much sweeter than other spirits, making them a drink commonly served with dessert.

While high alcohol spirits have a virtually indefinite shelf life, Kahlua is a mixture of ingredients and because it only has an ABV of 20%, the shelf life is limited. Therefore, it will not last nearly as long. 


Kahlua Ingredients 

Coffee Beans

Kahlua uses 100% Arabica coffee beans to make their trademark coffee liqueur products. These beans are much sweeter than others.

This is due to the high sugar content in these seeds. This attribute helps to enhance the sweet, buttery flavor of the beverage.

In case you didn’t know,coffee beans are the seed of a fruit known as the coffee cherry, which produces a small amount of sugar as it matures. Coffee beans absorb this sugar, which burns off during roasting and gives coffee its flavor.” 


The alcohol portion of Kahlua’s ingredients list is distilled in house from sugarcane juice. This adds even more sweetness to the spirit.

It is also what allows it to have a longer shelf life. Why? Sugar can serve as a natural preservative

“Acting as a humectant (maintaining and stabilising the water content in foods) sugar helps to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria, moulds and yeast in food like jam and preserves. It [also] helps to prolong the shelf life of many foods on our supermarket shelves.”

Kahlua Shelf Life & Storage

Shelf Life Of Kahlua Alcoholic Drinks — Opened And Unopened Products Have The Same Guidelines

According to the company, “for Kahlúa Original, we recommend a shelf life of 4 years.”

In contrast, the line of Kahlua Flavors will only last for two years and their ready-to-drink products will only span one year. After this time frame, the flavors will begin to degrade. Refrigeration will not impact shelf life.

It is important to note that these time frames begin at the date of production, not the date of purchase. This guideline applies whether or not you have opened the bottle of Kahlua.


To locate the production date, the company advises sending them “an email with the LOT code of the bottle and pictures of the front and back label.” Their email address is 

Kahlua Will Lose Its Flavor After The Expiration Date, But It Is Still Safe To Drink

Even with proper storage, all products begin to degrade over time. The company notes that while they recommend a shelf life of four years, “the product will be good for many more years, but the coffee impact fades over time so it won’t give you the full flavor impact.” This applies to both opened and unopened Kahlua drinks.

However, this will not be the case for the Ready-To-Drink products that have been opened.

Since they are individual servings, once you drink from the bottle or can, you will introduce bacteria to the beverage, greatly limiting the shelf life.

Storage Guidelines

Kahlua Products Do Not Require Refrigeration [One Exception]

Since all Kahlua products are free of milk and other dairy based ingredients, these beverages do not need to be refrigerated. However, the Ready-To-Drink products must be refrigerated once opened.

Otherwise, you do need to store Kahlua beverages in a cool and dry environment. A pantry or liquor cabinet at room temperature (68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) is ideal.

Additionally, keep the bottles out of direct sunlight. Also, ensure that the caps are tightly sealed. 

These are extremely important steps for ensuring that your Kahlua has an optimal shelf life. The reason – oxygen, light and temperature are the three factors that can expedite spoilage.

Lastly, remember to always read the packaging prior to use. Each product will have different guidelines for storage.

Kahlua Products

Kahlua Original Coffe Liqueur

Kahlúa has been making their liqueur since 1936, originating in Veracruz, Mexico. This spirit is made to be mixed into cocktails and coffee drinks.

You can also drink it straight! Furthermore, you can serve it at room temperature, chilled or over ice. 

Kahlua Flavored Products

Kahlua also supplies consumers with six flavored coffee liqueur products. These include Mint Mocha, Vanilla Coffee Liqueur, Blonde Style Roast, Chili Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Kahlúa Especial. Just like their Kahlúa Original, these drinks can be served in the best way you see fit! 

Additionally, all of these products have a 20% ABV, except the Kahlúa Especial, which has 35% ABV.

While not specifically noted on their website, this additional alcohol will slightly extend the shelf life of this product, when stored properly. 

Kahlua Ready-To-Drink: Mudslide, White Russian & Coffee Cocktails

Kahlua Ready-To-Drink products have a much lower alcohol content (5% ABV) and additional ingredients. These pre-mixed cocktails come in individual servings.

Therefore, they require no added work. Just pop the top and pour! However, unlike Kahlua Original, after you open these drinks, they must be refrigerated. 

Moreover, their flavors — Mudslide, White Russian and Kahlua Iced Coffee With Cinnamon Spice — are cocktails that are traditionally served cold. This is why the company notes that these beverages are “refreshing over ice or chilled”.

Thus, it is best to keep these drinks refrigerated to allow for the ideal drinking experience at any time.

Conversely, the company also has a line of Ready-To-Drink Coffee products that include Kahlua Espresso Martini and Kahlua Nitro Cold Brew.

Serve these drinks at room temperature or chill them prior to pouring. It is your choice!

Kahlua Original Coffee Pods

For those who love the savory flavor of the Arabica coffee beans used to make Kahlua coffee liqueur, Keurig also makes Kahlua Original Coffee K-Cups.

While this light roast employs the distinct flavors of caramel, rum and vanilla, there is not actually any alcohol in the product. Thus, Kahlua K-Cups will last as long as the Best By date marked on the box.

How To Tell If Your Bottle Of Kahlua Has Gone Bad

With such a long shelf life, many will wonder “did my Kahlua go bad?”. Thus, it is important to know the tell tale signs of spoilage.

In this case, your senses will be your guide. Pour a small amount of the liqueur into a small clear glass. 

Does it have a sweet coffee aroma or does it smell off? Is it a deep brown hue or do you notice discoloration? Finally, does it have that full-bodied coffee flavor or has it lost its luster? If any of these sensations seem off, then throw out the product and purchase a new bottle!

What To Do When Kahlua Is Not Available 

Read Product Labels

When the liquor store seems to be out of your favorite Kahlua spirits, there are a handful of similar products that will help you to achieve a similar result.

While most people will immediately jump to Bailey’s, this is actually an Irish whiskey based liqueur that has Irish cream in the mix.

Similarly, Patron’ XO Cafe uses their signature tequila and Mr Black uses vodka in their mixture.

There are also versions that use gin, Jägermeister and Amaro. Thus, it is important to read the bottle, instead of just grabbing a brand name that you recognize. 

A comparable product to Kahlua is Tia Maria. This spirit is a mixture of 100% Arabica coffee beans, Jamaican Rum and Madagascar Vanilla. This will provide a similar flavor to Kahlua while achieving the same alcohol content. 


Get Creative With Your Recipe

Additionally, think about the beverage that you are hoping to make. What are the ingredients? If rum and vodka are both part of the recipe, you can always reverse the ingredients.

Use a vodka based coffee liqueur and add in Mexican rum! Additionally, if you are making a coffee margarita, then consider trying Patron or Cazcabel. Just know that the alcohol content of these spirits is much higher than a regular coffee liqueur. 

Options For When Your Can’t Drink Kahlua

For those just looking to add coffee flavor, Lyre’s Coffee Originale provides the full-bodied taste of coffee and spice, without any alcohol. Coffee flavored syrups are another alternative that can spruce up any drink! 

These are great options for pregnant women or those on medications who want still to enjoy a delicious dessert beverage, sans the spirits. 

We Thought You Would Like

Final Thoughts

Kahlua is a classic spirit that adds a distinct flavor to desserts and coffee drinks. It has a very long shelf life, making it perfect for any occasion throughout the year.

Remember that the storage time frame applies whether or not you have opened the bottle. Spoilage and degradation will occur either way.

The easiest way to guarantee that your Kahlua always stays fresh is to determine the date of production and then write it in sharpie directly on the bottle. 

Finally, do not forget the importance of enjoying these beverages responsibly. Always ensure that you have a safe way to get home after sipping these signature spirits or any other adult beverages!

Leave a Comment