The Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Cocktails

Whether you are making an Irish Coffee or an Espresso Martini, you will want to use speciality coffee, high-quality liquor, and a beautiful glass from which you can sip the cocktail. For more tips, read on for the beginner’s guide to making excellent coffee cocktails.

1. What are some of the best coffee cocktails?

Just as there are many different types of coffee drinks and cocktails, there are also a number of different coffee cocktails – so you are guaranteed to find one that fits your tastebuds and the occasion.

One of the first drinks people think of when they hear “coffee cocktail” is an Irish Coffee which includes whiskey, espresso, and fresh cream. You can also make an iced version of this classic drink by adding cold brew and ice.

If you prefer to have some rum with your coffee, consider an El Cafecito. This delightful beverage is made from dark rum, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and chocolate bitters. To make it, add all these ingredients to a shaker before pouring over a rocks glass with a large ice cube.

Of course, there is always an Espresso Martini that tastes delicious as an afternoon pick-me-up or an after-dinner drink. This particular cocktail is created by mixing a vodka martini with coffee. The rich sweetness of the Kahlua makes a perfect match for the bitterness of the coffee, and the result is a full-flavoured drink that is cool, frothy, and not too sweet.

Another sophisticated option is a Siciliano. This cocktail is a mix of sweet vermouth, amaro, strong cold-brew coffee, simple syrup, and club soda. This drink is usually consumed with dinner or as an after-dinner drink and is generally served over ice. A Siciliano is the perfect option if you are in the mood for a coffee cocktail but don’t want one served hot.

Finally, you can always fall back on a classic White Russian. This drink is simple to make yet tastes good in all conditions and can be drunk before, during, or after dinner (and anytime in between!). To make one of these cocktails, you are going to need vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream. Together, these ingredients create a decadent, sweet drink. This cocktail doesn’t require a cocktail shaker nor a mixing glass; you can simply add the ingredients into a glass and mix them in there. Just stir gently if you want to get the swirl effect!

2. What do I need to make a coffee cocktail?

To make a coffee cocktail, you need the required ingredients and some classic bar cart items.

The type of alcohol that is required is going to depend on the cocktail that you are looking to make. This may be rum, vodka, vermouth, whiskey, or something else entirely. In many cases, you may want to use Kahlúa, a coffee-flavoured liqueur that tastes delicious when paired with even more coffee. Cognac is another liquor that pairs well with coffee. One of the oldest spirits in the world, cognac is a type of brandy that is only produced in the Cognac region of France.

Most coffee cocktails don’t require anything too specialized; however, you will want to ensure that you have some basic bar cart tools. These items will help you to make all different kinds of cocktails. For starters, a shaker with a built-in strainer is essential because this tool ensures that all the cocktail ingredients are mixed and aerated. It also creates the frothy texture that several of these recipes call for.

Glassware is also crucial as the glass that a drink is served in makes a significant difference in the experience of consuming it. Ideally, you want your bar cart to have a variety of different glass options so that you can pick and choose the right one for a particular cocktail. However, if you are just starting out with your glassware collection, opt for a set of short glasses, as these can be used for almost any beverage.

3. What about the coffee?

You are also going to need some high-quality coffee to use in these cocktails. There are several reasons why you always want to consume high-quality coffee, even when you are pairing it with alcohol. First and foremost, it provides the most delicious taste because it is expertly roasted to balance the acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. Second, you want your coffee to have a complex and nuanced flavour, and only high-quality coffee beans will provide you with this.

Additionally, high-quality coffee offers significant health benefits, including protecting you from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. It is a well-documented fact that coffee contains antioxidants that help decrease internal inflammation, reducing the chance that you will suffer from type-2 diabetes, heart failure, and colorectal cancer.

Moreover, when you purchase your coffee beans from a speciality coffee roaster, you can be assured that you are supporting an ethical supply chain. These roasters go to great lengths to ensure that they are sourcing beans in the most sustainable and ethical manner. They do this by prioritising their relationships with all stakeholders throughout their supply chains, from the coffee farmers to the producers, the exporters, and the co-operatives. This enables them to source, roast, and sell the most exquisite coffee imaginable and to do it in a sustainable way.

Finally, speciality coffee roasters will present you with a broad array of high-quality coffee options, so you are sure to find a bean that suits your palate. From blends to single origins, filter to espresso coffee, or even decaf, these roasters have a variety of good-tasting coffee beans on offer. Some of these beans may have a more fruit-forward taste with notes of fresh citrus and other tropical fruits. Other ones may have undertones of caramels, chocolates, and nuts. In contrast, others are heavier and bring flavours of dried fruits and berries.

If you are unsure what kind of coffee you want to drink (whether in your coffee cocktails or by itself in the morning), have a look at this guide to coffee colours that breaks down the different taste profiles and characteristics of coffee.

Are you interested in making coffee cocktails at home? If so, which cocktail is first on your list to try? What type of coffee beans do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below!


Drew Dennehy is the co-founder of THREE Coffee, one of the region’s leading specialty coffee companies, headquartered in Dubai. His passion for coffee has led to the pursuit of career opportunities around the world from New Zealand and Europe to the United Arab Emirates. Drew’s goal is to enhance coffee experiences and ensure the industry is sustainable at every level. “We will achieve this by telling the story of the farmers who make each cup possible.”