What is a Spanish Coffee?
A spanish coffee is an alcoholic coffee beverage, made using hot brewed coffee, coffee liqueur and rum. It’s a standard after-dinner desert drink in parts of Europe, but is more commonly a cooler-weather beverage in North America.
Since it’s not very holiday-season oriented, this recipe is more commonly a weekend autumn afternoon drink.
Spanish Coffee (Carajillo) Recipe
The Spanish coffee originated as a war-time drink, combining rum and coffee to give the troops courage (coraje). It's been adopted and modified for the American tastes to include a coffee liqueur and whipped cream.
- 1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur eg. Kahlua
- 1/2 oz Rum
- 6 oz Coffee hot brewed
- Whipped cream optional
- 1 Cherry
How to Make
Combine coffee liqueuer and rum into glass
Pour coffee into glass, stirring with a spoon
Optionally: use a spoon to top with whipped cream, maintaining separation of ingredients.
This Spanish Coffee recipe combines the best of coffee and alcohol into a pleasant after-dinner drink. The sweet liqueur and whipped cream means that typically sugar isn't needed.
Other Spanish Coffees
When visiting a Spanish speaking country, you’d typically order a more traditional drink:
- Coffee: cafe
- Black coffee: cafe negro
- Cup of coffee: taza de cafe
- White coffee: cafe blanco
- Coffee with milk: cafe con leche
Note that most Latin-American and European countries make “coffee” as a long-espresso, and not drip-coffee. It’s typically a darker roasted coffee, and the espresso extraction process means that there are more coffee solubles, making it more flavorful.
These specialty drinks tend to contain a lot of calories, whereas a straight black coffee contains almost none.
Truthfully, any coffee can be used to make a spanish coffee. The abundance of alcohol and sugar from the alcohol, whipped cream and cherry means that very little of the nuanced coffee flavor remains after brewing. We recommend using whatever coffee you regularly use, and using the correct amount of coffee per cup when brewing.
A dark roast is likely to keep the most flavor, as the more subtle nuances of a lighter roast will be easily lost. Your best bet is to go for a single origin that’s commonly accepted as having the “default” coffee flavor. Colombian and Brazilian coffees are perfect for this, because they take a dark roast very well and are typically inexpensive.
Some people who have made this recipe have said that the Starbucks French Roast is excellent.
More premium coffees like those from Kenya or Ethiopia can also be used, but won’t be to everyone’s liking due to the higher acidity content and more floral/fruity notes that may interfere with the liqueurs.