Eyewitness Booze Investigation: Kahlúa Iced Coffee

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


I recently broke my own heart by dumping four perfectly unterrible bottles of liquor down the drain. My booze and coffee mug cabinet had been at maximum capacity for months, and at first it had been simple enough to replace clutter like my #3 Potential Dad If By Dad We Mean Assistant Little League Coach And By Potential We Mean I Guess Sometimes These Things Happen mug with new liquor prizes, but eventually I had to address the root of the problem and deal with the burden of too much free alcohol. This was made less painful by the fact that most of the free alcohol I get is putrid—don't let the doorknob hit you, Popcorn Shrimp Vodka and Caribbean Jerk Brandy—but it was shameful and wasteful all the same.

I hate wasting food and drink. If I live long enough to be inducted into the Assistant Little League Coaches' Hall of Fame, I will owe it all to my juicer, which I bought solely to avoid throwing out neglected vegetables. Every Sunday morning I buy every green thing at the farmer's market, and every Saturday I turn it into juice that surely counteracts the week I spent chugging Trader Joe's frozen burritos.

This system works fine for vegetables, but I struggle to close the herb loophole; you'd be surprised how staunchly rosemary resists liquefaction. I suppose I could turn into one of those creepy pesto survivalists with a freezer full of mashed herbs, but I prefer to just get rid of my less juicy greens as I go, which is what led me to add a handful of cilantro to a can of soup yesterday, which is what should have led to great praise but instead led an Internet person* to scold me for eating soup on such a hot day.

*Of course I told the Internet; otherwise the meal wouldn't have counted.

To that Internet person I say this: Your photo indicates that you are quite fetching (as Internet people go). Would you like to come over for some soup? Just kidding, I am engaged to be married and furthermore I do not serve soup to my tormenters. I also say, without retraction, that you were mistaken in your assumption that I ate hot soup on a hot day. I certainly didn't eat cold soup, because that is for barbarians and gazpachans, whereas I am a gentleman and a lentil man; but I also didn't heat it to customary soup temperature. I left the can in the sun while I washed and chopped my cilantro and self-served it at a reasonable 80 or so degrees.

Despite my willingness to compromise on the soup heat, I can get pretty temperature-picky with my eating and drinking. I can't stomach warm beer, and every few picnics will find me heating cold ham with my thighs. One thing I can take all across the temperature range is coffee. I drink it hot first thing in the morning, then lukewarm second thing in the morning, lukecool third thing in the morning, and then finally iced in the afternoon. So when Kahlúa offered samples of their new line of single-serving iced coffee drinks, I said, "Sure, I like iced coffee and also free alcohol that doesn't require lengthy storage."

The 6.8-ounce cans come in three flavors: Iced Espresso, Iced Mocha, and Cinammon Spice. They're each 5% ABV, which means each little can packs about half a beer's worth of punch. The cans instruct you to shake them and pour them over ice, so I did and this is how it went:

The Iced Espresso looks exactly like cold black coffee and smells a lot like straight Kahlúa. It is quite tasty. It's smooth and calm, without any jagged boozy edge, but it's not overly sweet. It certainly tastes like it has a real coffee base, too. If you like this drink in theory, you will like it in practice.

The Iced Mocha is very similar to the Espresso as far as your eyes and your nose go, but it tastes distinctly sweeter and creamier. This is another fine option and an individual's stance regarding mocha v. espresso will dictate her preference for the cold Kahlúa versions. (This is less no-shit than it sounds. For example, you don't pick your 4 Loko flavor based on real-world fruit biases; you go for the one that tastes less chemically offensive. Since both the Mocha and the Espresso are pretty good, you don't need to resort to the desperate measure of simply avoiding awfulness.) Cinnamon Spice isn't bad, but it's the least successful of the three. Too much cheap spice overwhelms the coffee; it tastes thick and heavy and somewhat schnappsy.