The brand name Kahlua is so closely associated with its coffee liqueur products that it is often assumed to be an ingredient. The main ingredient in Kahlua liqueurs is actually mountain-grown dark-roasted coffee from the Veracruz Mountains in Mexico. The lack of nutritional value in Kahlua liqueurs is reflective of a product that is designed to pamper the senses and not necessarily the body.
The coffee beans used in Kahlua dark coffee liqueur are shade grown in the foothills of Mexico. The beans are picked green, and roasted in small batches before being ground and brewed to form Kahlua’s base ingredient. Dark coffee beans traditionally contain caffeine which offers a boost of energy by stimulating the nervous system. The natural oils in Arabica coffee beans are actually omega-6 fatty acids that play a role in brain function and normal growth and development, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC.
In her book “Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flower and Fragrance,” anthropologist Patricia Rain says the Aztec Indians used vanilla beans as currency and the Spanish heralded the sweet scent of vanilla as a natural aphrodisiac. The vanilla extracts found in Kahlua dark coffee liqueur are used as an exotic last impression in a series of flavors, according to Kahlua.com. Vanilla contains miniscule amounts of potassium, an electrolyte that supports nerve and muscle function in the body.
Caramel is a man-made sweetener that is created by melting white sugar into a dark amber state and adding water. Kahlua dark coffee liqueur has added butter to their caramel to meld the flavors of the coffee and vanilla. As a carbohydrate, caramel is broken down by the digestive system, tossed into the bloodstream and is used as energy by body cells. The Harvard School of Public Health states that eating foods with high sugar contents can eventually cause diabetes due to a gradual decrease in sugar absorption.
Sugar Cane Rum
The 20 percent rum content found in Kahlua dark coffee liqueur is made by distilling water and sugar cane. The sugar in sugar cane originates from a process of fermentation that uses cane juice, concentrated cane juice and molasses. Contrary to popular belief, rum is colorless and is usually given its dark color through the addition of caramel. In his book, “The Complete Guide to Rum,” rum connoisseur Ed Hamilton states that the type of cask used in aging also determines the lasting flavor of the rum.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
If you have ever felt an immediate compulsion to have another shot of Kahlua immediately after the first, it may have been a result of the corn syrup it contains. While high fructose corn syrup adds shelf-life to the product by working as a natural preservative, a 2009 report published at the New York Daily News website states that it is also addictive. Dr. Susan Bartell, author of “Dr. Susan’s Fit and Fun Family Action Plan,” says that high fructose corn syrup leaves you feeling hungry and tricks the brain into believing you need more food.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- “Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flower and Fragrance;” Patricia Rain; 2004
- “The Complete Guide to Rum;” Ed Hamilton; 1997
- New York Daily News: High Fructose Corn Syrup Fuels Our Latest Addiction Epidemic