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Does Kahlua Expire or Go Bad? And How to Tell if It has? (Answered)

Learn how to prevent your bottle from going bad too quickly.

New bottle of kahlúa.
New bottle of kahlúa.

If you’ve ever had Kahlúa in your home bar, you know it’s one of those bottles you don’t use very often. Fortunately, liquor doesn’t (technically) expire.

But what about liquors? They are, after all, more than just alcohol. In the case of Kahlúa, it’s a coffee liqueur made with coffee and sugar. But does Kahlúa expire?

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Ross organizes Joey’s fridge.

If your bottle of Kahlúa has been sitting in your cabinet for a while, will it go bad? Can you drink it if it has gone bad? And more importantly, how can you tell if it has gone bad?

What’s the difference between expiring and going bad?

We often use the terms going bad and expiration interchangeably but are they the same thing? Not exactly. 

The expiration date states the last day a product is safe to consume. These products don’t go bad as soon as the date hits, but they have a very short time before mold or bacteria take over. Suffice to say that a product should not be consumed after its expiration date. 

If you take a look at a Kahlúa bottle, you won’t find an expiration date. That’s because it, like most spirits, don’t go bad in a traditional sense, but rather lose quality, taste, and smell. In the case of Kahlúa, we are dealing with a product that “goes bad” over time.

When a product goes bad it means our standards of that product have diminished. A product could be said to have gone bad because of its diminished quality or characteristics, but still be safe to consume.

Can a Bottle of Kahlúa Expire?

Kahlúa is an alcoholic product so it has a long shelf life. The alcohol in Kahlúa gives the product a self-preserving property so it should be good for a long time. However, given enough time, Kahlúa will eventually go bad, because it will diminish in flavor and quality.  

What is the shelf life of a Bottle of Kahlúa?

Kahlúa’s parent company recommends that it be consumed within four years of the production date. Not from when the bottle is opened, But from when the bottle was factory sealed. You can find this information on their official website.

Below is an excerpt of a forum in which an official Kahlúa team member explains how to find out if your bottle has gone bad.

“To find out when your bottle of Kahlúa was produced please read the Lot code which is printed on the bottom edge of the label on the backside of the bottle. You will find a code consisting of numbers and letter e.g. L3043FJ 12:01. The code in this example stands 12th of February 2013. The second character in the example “3” indicates the last digit of the year it was produced. The following 3 digits indicate the day in the year (Julian date) and the last 4 digits indicate the time of day.”

kahlua lot calendar
A table used to identify a bottle’s lot number. Check out this link to go to their official website and download the PDF.

Kahlúa Is a coffee liqueur, so its main ingredient is coffee. After sitting on the shelf for who knows how long, the Kahlúa will begin to get stale and the aroma of the coffee will begin to degrade. And as the smell goes, so does the tase. Therefore, the easiest way to check if your bottle of Kahlúa has expired is by giving it a whiff. If it smells like Starbucks, you should be good to go. If it smells a little flat, then it’s likely time to buy a new bottle. 

giphy
The rock smelling what Kahlúa is cooking.

Given the alcoholic properties in Kahlúa, it’s unlikely that an old bottle will harbor harmful bacteria or other pathogens, but it’s still possible. This is why it’s important to pay attention to any foul smells. Is it a weak coffee smell, or a slightly sour scent? If it’s the latter, this may be an indicator that your bottle of Kahlúa has been contaminated and should not be consumed. 

Don’t forget to check for any visual signs of contamination. Look all around the bottle, especially the lid for any funky mold or growths that could have found a home in your bottle.

How to Properly store a bottle of Kahlúa

Like most liquor bottles, Kahlúa should be stored in a cool, dark place far from heat or sunlight. You can store Kahlúa in a refrigerator, but if you’re doing so to extend its shelf life, you can forget about it. Storing Kahlúa in a refrigerator will not extend its shelf life; at least not to any notable degree. 

And If you think keeping your bottle in the freezer to preserve it is a good idea, it’s not. Most home freezers do not have the capacity to fully freeze alcohol, rendering it a thick slushy mess that becomes difficult to pour. The main takeaway is that you should never store your Kahlúa bottles in a freezer. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to chill a bottle. Just don’t set it and forget it. You might not want to come back to it. 

Image Of Freezer Source Pixabay - Cocktail Hammer
Packed Freezer. Source: Pixabay.

The best thing you can do to preserve your bottle of Kahlúa, or indeed any bottle, is to ensure that the lid is tightly sealed. This will help prevent flavor degradation and preserve the coffee aroma. This will also prevent the alcohol from oxidizing.

If you need to use an older bottle of Kahlúa (less than four years old), remember that it, like most things, will eventually start to settle after a while. So before you serve that cocktail, remember to flip it upside down a few times to wake it up, sort of speak. But don’t shake it! Just let it gently wake itself up. And for god’s sake, make sure that the lid is tightly sealed!

Conclusion

I was once like you. Contemplating a Kahlúa purchase; concerned about how often I’d get to use it. But not that you know all about the shelf life of Kahlúa, you know that you can have a bottle around for years before it goes bad. After all, you’d rather have it and not need it, than need it, and not have it, right? 

So how do you store your bottle of Kahlúa? let me know in the comments. If you liked this post, you can check out our other posts by clicking here. And as always stay home and get hammered.

Does Kahlúa Expire or Go Bad? How Can You Tell if It Does?
Does Kahlúa Expire or Go Bad? How Can You Tell if It Does?

Written by Yerain Abreu

As a native New Yorker, Yerain is no stranger to fine food and cocktails. He writes with a deep appreciation and passion for the art of mixology. When he’s not writing or practicing flair bartending techniques, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including, cycling, video production, and photography.

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