How To Make an Irish Coffee

Whether you’re looking for a cocktail to serve at brunch or want an indulgent digestif following a delicious meal with friends, Irish coffee offers a unique alternative to a classic cocktail on ice. This drink was originally served as a treat for passengers whose flights were delayed. Now, you can find the cocktail in bars and restaurants across the globe. 

With the right tools and recipe, you can make Irish coffee at home to serve at parties or to simply enjoy on a chilly evening. Use this guide to learn more about Irish coffee and how to make it.

White KitchenAid® burr grinder next to a cup of coffee and pastries White KitchenAid® burr grinder next to a cup of coffee and pastries

What are the traditional ingredients of an Irish coffee?

A classic Irish coffee is made using only four ingredients: coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream. The drink is rich, sweet and simple to make, which is why it has become such a staple. You can customize your recipe to fit your taste, adding more or less sugar or even flavored syrups.

Hot Irish coffee topped with whipped cream and cinnamon Hot Irish coffee topped with whipped cream and cinnamon

Irish coffee recipe

Use the following recipe to make this simple yet delicious cocktail at home with the help of your kitchen’s coffee bar.



  • Coffee

  • Irish whiskey

  • Sugar

  • Heavy cream

  • Ground nutmeg or shaved chocolate (optional)


  • 4 servings


  • 10 minutes

Close up image of a burr grinder grinding coffee beans

Step 1: Grind your coffee beans

The first step to making a delicious cup of coffee is to grind your coffee beans yourself. Set your grinder to a medium grind for drip coffee.

Person pouring coffee grounds into a KitchenAid® coffee maker

Step 2: Brew coffee

Add your freshly ground beans to your coffee maker and brew coffee as normal. If you prefer a stronger coffee flavor, add more coffee to your machine than the recommended ratio provided on your coffee bean package. For a mellow brew, add fewer grounds to the filter.

Person making whipped cream in a pink KitchenAid® stand mixer

Step 3: Whip cream in stand mixer

Add the cream into your stand mixer and attach the Wire Whip accessory. Start your stand mixer on a low-medium speed, then slowly increase the speed to 8–10 to whip the cream just until it has thickened slightly. If you’re only making enough whipped topping for one or two servings, you can use a hand blender instead.

Coffee being poured into a ceramic mug

Step 4: Combine sugar, whiskey and coffee

Once your coffee has brewed and your cream has been whipped, stir together your whiskey, sugar and coffee until the sugar has dissolved. You can use white, brown or even turbinado sugar to make Irish coffee, depending on your preferences. 


Pour your cocktail into heat-safe mugs and top with freshly whipped cream. You can also sprinkle ground nutmeg, chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder on top.

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Iced coffee with cream Iced coffee with cream

How is Irish coffee different from other alcoholic coffee drinks?

The main difference between most other coffee cocktails and Irish coffee is that Irish coffee uses freshly brewed coffee in the recipe. Most other coffee cocktails get their java flavor from coffee liqueurs or strong espresso. The Irish coffee is a lighter take on a coffee cocktail.

Person pouring coffee from a pot into a mug Person pouring coffee from a pot into a mug

Should I use coffee or espresso for an Irish coffee?

Traditionally Irish coffee is made using drip coffee for a lighter drink with more volume. However, if you prefer the rich and strong flavor of espresso over drip coffee, you can substitute espresso in your Irish coffee recipe. To create the same long-sipping amount, mix the espresso with hot water for an Americano Irish coffee.

Irish coffee topped with a dollop of whipped cream Irish coffee topped with a dollop of whipped cream

What are some typical Irish coffee variations?

There are a few common variations on the traditional Irish coffee. You can create a sweeter, creamier drink by adding Irish cream liqueur to the traditional cocktail recipe. For a smokier flavor, replace Irish whiskey with Scotch to create a Highland coffee, or use bourbon for a Kentucky coffee.

You can also get creative and experiment with different flavor syrups and toppings for your Irish coffee. You can add in homemade cinnamon simple syrup to make Irish coffee feel more festive around the holidays, or top your cocktail with a drizzle of chocolate sauce to make it even more enticing.

How is Irish coffee served?

Irish coffee is served hot and typically inside heat-proof glass mugs or footed glasses. To prep your serving glasses for the hot liquid, pour hot water in each glass and stir it around the bowl, then pour out the water. This helps to temper the glass so that the taste of your piping hot coffee doesn’t get altered by the shock of being poured into a cold glass.

Brunch pizza topped with fried eggs and asparagus Brunch pizza topped with fried eggs and asparagus
Homemade coffee cake Homemade coffee cake
Person slicing freshly baked bread on a cutting board Person slicing freshly baked bread on a cutting board

What type of foods pair well with Irish coffee?

Like your regular cup of joe, Irish coffee pairs well with breakfast foods, pastries and even pies. When you host your next brunch, serve Irish coffee with French Toast Sliders, mini Brunch Pizzas, homemade Croissants and Blackberry Coffee Cake with Oat Streusel.

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Turn your kitchen into your own custom cafe with the help of KitchenAid® coffee products. Shop the entire collection of coffee machines, coffee grinders and at-home espresso makers so you can learn how to make your favorite coffee beverages in a few simple steps.

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