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Kaffe Karlsson

Kaffe Karlsson is a classic coffee cocktail. It’s tasty, warming, and the perfect treat on a winter’s night.
Published December 14, 2021
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Daniel Hedlund
Coffee experts@The Coffee Lab
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What is Kaffe Karlsson?

A Kaffe Karlsson drink is a classic Scandinavian coffee cocktail, particularly popular in Sweden. A Kaffe Karlsson kalix recipe is often compared to an Irish Coffee (Coffee with Bailey’s or other Irish Cream) as the base is the same and they are both warm, coffee-based drinks typically served in wintertime and extremely popular around Christmas.


But a Kaffe Karlsson recept or recipe has a secret ingredient that gives it a sweeter, deeper flavor and an almost festive taste.

If we look at the Kaffe Karlsson historia, or history, we see that it dates back to the establishment of Irish Cream, and particularly the Bailey’s brand in Ireland in the 1970s. Since then, this drink has traveled all over the world, with each country and even household making additions of their own to create a warming drink that builds on the smooth flavor of a Bailey’s Coffee.


Kaffe Karlsson Ingredients

For a traditional Kaffe Karlson you will need:

  • Coffee – This can either be a strong cup of instant coffee, a double espresso brewed with your machine, or made with an AeroPress topped with water to make around ¾ of a cup, but it should be a blend that you love.
  • Bailey’s – or any other brand of Irish Cream Liqueur.
  • Cointreau – An orange liqueur that gives this coffee cocktail its distinctive orange flavor.
  • Whipped Cream – You can either whip your own whipping cream by hand with a whisk or use a can of squirty cream. If you want a lower fat coffee, you can skip this step entirely.
  • Dark Chocolate – Finely grated or shaved to sprinkle onto the top of the whipped cream to decorate your Kaffe Karlsson. Again, this is optional, and you can also use orange chocolate, or milk chocolate if you prefer.


Typically, the ratio of Cointreau and Bailey’s is equal, but you can alter this if you prefer a stronger orange flavor.


Cointreau is a fairly sweet drink, so you shouldn’t need to add any extra sugar or sweeteners to your coffee, but if you prefer a very sweet drink, stir in a teaspoon of sugar. 


How to do Kaffe Karlsson at Home

While Kaffe Karlson is popular in Scandinavia, it’s not something that’s as readily available from bars and restaurants in other parts of the world. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own at home. 

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About the Author

Author-image
Daniel Hedlund

Working with the Era of We initiative and loves knowledge sharing and a really good cup of coffee.

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