Does Kahlúa Actually Contain Caffeine?

Nickolaus Hines / Supercall
Nickolaus Hines / Supercall

You’re getting ready to turn in for the night and reach for a nightcap of Kahlúa. You pour a little bit over ice, or maybe mix it into a White Russian. The smell of the sweet coffee liqueur wafts off your glass, and you pause to think: Does Kahlúa contain caffeine? Is this nightcap going to ruin my beauty sleep?

Kahlúa has been available in the United States since the 1930s, and it’s arguably the most well known coffee liqueur on the market. It’s easy to find a bottle at liquor stores large and small—some 1.5 million cases are sold every year. But whether or not it contains caffeine isn’t clear. The information isn’t listed on the company’s website and is harder to find than a simple Google search would tell you.

But according to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments organization, Kahlúa does indeed contain caffeine. A 2015 report by the organization tracked the stimulants in alcoholic beverages made by 12 major beverage companies. Regular Kahlúa that is 20 percent alcohol by volume has 101 milligrams of caffeine per liter. That breaks down to around 4.5 milligrams per standard 1.5-ounce serving, or a shot’s worth. For comparison, a standard cup of coffee has around 100 milligrams of caffeine, and a 12-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola contains about 34 milligrams of caffeine.

The caffeine comes from the Mexican coffee used to produce Kahlúa, which is mixed with cane spirit and other ingredients to make the liqueur we all know and love. The reason the caffeine amounts aren’t explicitly listed is because of an agreement by alcohol companies to “not market any beverage alcohol product or promote any beverage alcohol combination as delivering energising or stimulating effects,” the Producers’ Commitments report says.

Even though Kahlúa contains caffeine, it’s a very small amount. So unless you have an extremely low tolerance for caffeine, your Kahlúa nightcaps won’t keep you tossing and turning.