What is Irish Coffee?

Irish Coffee – Everything You Need To Know

Irish coffee is a delicious boozy beverage that has four main ingredients: coffee, sugar, cream, and Irish whiskey. This coffee cocktail has a deep rich flavor, sweet undertones, a full body, and a velvety mouthfeel.

You don’t have to travel all the way to the Emerald Isle to experience Irish coffee for yourself because it’s pretty popular in every coffee shop, pub, or even restaurant around the world. This iconic cocktail combines deep and rich coffee flavors and smoothness of Irish whiskey. It’s also sweetened with sugar and finished with luscious cream on top–the complete indulgent treat!

So, if you’re looking for a delicious drink that’ll warm you up, Irish coffee is the perfect choice. And in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this delectable beverage, from its history to how to make your own version at home.

Irish Coffee
Main Ingredients: Coffee, Sugar, Whiskey, Cream
Serving Temperature: 68–70°C or 154–158°F
Place of Origin: Ireland
Caffeine per Serving (mg): One serving of Irish coffee contains up to 48 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content depends on how much coffee is added to the beverage. Overall, the caffeine content in an Irish coffee is moderate.

What Is Irish Coffee?

Why is Irish coffee so popular

Because of its name, some people may assume that Irish coffee is simply a type of coffee beverage from Ireland. While that’s somewhat true, we shouldn’t miss the fact that this drink is both caffeinated and alcoholic.

Irish coffee was invented in Ireland in the 1940s and has since become a very popular beverage around the world. Despite being called a hot cocktail, real coffee drinkers will enjoy the beverage any time of day. It’s also perfect for warming up in cold weather or as a dessert after a meal.

What Is Irish Coffee Made Of?

Irish coffee does sound a little too fancy. However, do not be fooled. You don’t need an espresso machine nor complicated barista skills but just four ingredients–whiskey, coffee, sugar, and cream. The Irish whiskey gives a warm and smooth-tasting experience. At the same time, the sweetened coffee offers rich and flavorful nuances to the palate.

Irish coffee is typically served in a glass mug and topped with cream layered above the coffee and whiskey mixture. The whipped cream adds a touch of sweetness and a velvety texture and creates a visually appealing presentation.

History Of Irish Coffee

The idea of mixing alcohol and coffee has not been popular until the mid-19th century. These unique beverage combos were first served in coffeehouses in Vienna, Italy, as well as Denmark and Germany. For at least 100 years, different coffee cocktail variations have been made–including the very famous Irish coffee.

Who invented Irish coffee?

The Irish coffee was invented by Joseph Sheridan, a chef at the restaurant of Foynes airbase near Limerick, Ireland. In the evening of 1943, a boat flight to New York was canceled during a winter storm. Sheridan was requested to come back to the airport to prepare hot food and beverages for the passengers that night. The chef came up with a drink that would warm up his customers and called it Irish coffee.

Where is the Irish coffee from?

The Irish coffee got its name because it was first discovered in Ireland. To be exact, the first cup of this coffee beverage was served at the restaurant of Foynes airport outside Limerick, Ireland.

How did Irish coffee become so famous?

Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer who fell into deep admiration for the Irish coffee, is responsible for making the beverage extremely popular worldwide. In 1952, he brought the Irish coffee recipe to Jack Koeppler, a bartender and the owner of Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco.

Koeppler tried his best to duplicate the Irish coffee but to no success. Specifically, the cream kept sinking into the base of the beverage. Because of this, he was forced to travel all the way to Ireland and learn how to create the drink directly from the one who invented it–Joseph Sheridan. This then led to a position for Sheridan at Buena Vista, where the love for Irish coffee by millions of coffee lovers began.

How Much Caffeine Is In An Irish Coffee?

The amount of caffeine in a cup of Irish coffee can vary depending on the type and amount of coffee beans used. Generally, a standard Irish coffee contains around 48 mg of caffeine. However, some Irish coffee recipes may use espresso shots or stronger coffee, which would increase the caffeine content. Additionally, some types of whiskey may also contain caffeine but are negligible as they are not made from coffee beans.

It’s also important to note that the amount of caffeine in an Irish coffee may be offset by the alcohol content, which can have a sedative effect. The overall effect on alertness and wakefulness can vary depending on the individual and their tolerance to caffeine and alcohol. Overall, the caffeine content in Irish coffee is pretty moderate and is less than the caffeine in a shot of espresso.

How Many Calories Are In An Irish Coffee?

A regular-sized Irish coffee typically contains about 220-280 calories. This depends on the specific recipe and serving size used by the coffee shop or cafe. The amount of calories is mainly determined by the proportions and types of whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream used in the drink. Additionally, if you’re a cautious coffee drinker watching your calorie intake, it’s best to enjoy Irish coffee in moderation as a special treat rather than as a regular part of your diet.

How To Make Irish Coffee?

Irish Coffee recipe

Image credit > Maria Orlova from Pexels

Do you know you can make Irish coffee at home? You don’t need expensive espresso machines and much time to make your own version. Just follow these steps:

  • Prepare the mug: preheat a glass mug by filling it with hot water and emptying it.
  • Brew your coffee: start brewing your coffee grounds and when done, pour it into the preheated glass mug.
  • Sweeten your brew: add one teaspoon of brown or granulated sugar to the coffee and stir until it dissolves.
  • Mix in the whiskey: add 1-2 ounces of Irish whiskey to the coffee and stir.
  • Top with whipped cream: using a spoon, gently pour whipped cream over the back of the spoon onto the top of the coffee until it forms a thick layer.
  • Serve and enjoy: enjoy your delicious Irish coffee by sipping the coffee through the layer of whipped cream.

Note: Do not stir the cream into the coffee, as it is meant to be enjoyed separately. Also, adjust the amount of sugar and whiskey according to your taste preference.

Irish Coffee

Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 Spoon
  • 1 Glass mug for serving


  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1-2 ounces of Irish whiskey
  • Homemade whipped cream


  • Prepare your serving glass by priming it with hot water.
  • After a few seconds, discard the water and pour your hot brewed coffee into the cup.
  • Add one teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Pour the Irish whiskey into your coffee and mix it all together.
  • Scoop out your homemade whipped cream and top this on your beverage until a thick layer is formed.
  • Serve your Irish coffee and enjoy!

How to make homemade whipped cream?


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk or electric mixer


  1. Chill your tools in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before starting.
  2. Add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract to the chilled mixing bowl.
  3. Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Be careful not to overbeat the cream, or it will become stiff and difficult to pour.
  5. Use the homemade cream immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Types Of Irish Coffee – Different Irish Coffee Flavors

Types Of Irish Coffee

Image credit > Sarah Power from Unsplash

Here are a few popular Irish coffee variations to try next time.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

Inspired by Joseph Sheridan’s Irish coffee recipe, thousands of Buena Vista Irish coffees are served daily. Room temperature whiskey, medium-roasted Colombian coffee, and the crisp white collar of whipped cream that floats on the glass make each Irish coffee a classic perfection.

Irish Cream Coffee

Known for their sweet and cozy flavors, Irish creams are as simple as mixing cream, sugar, and whiskey. Combine it with coffee and you’ll have a delicious after-dinner coffee cocktail.

Bailey’s Irish Coffee

This is the perfect cocktail for colder nights. Hot coffee combined with Bailey’s Irish creme liqueur is an indulgent favorite for the winter season.

Spiced Irish Coffee

Why don’t you add a little spice to your usual Irish coffee–literally! Create a sugar syrup combined with different winter spices and mix it with your coffee. Sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon to finish your coffee drink and you’re good to go.

The Italian Coffee

Italian malt whiskey, dark-roasted coffee grounds, Frangelico, whipped cream, and crushed hazelnut wafers–a unique take on the classic Irish coffee. You’re welcome!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is different about Irish coffee?

Unlike a shot of espresso, Irish coffee is not that simple. It’s actually a cocktail made of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream.

What is the difference between Irish coffee and Baileys and coffee?

Irish coffee is made up of whiskey, sweetened hot coffee, and cream. Meanwhile, “Baileys and coffee” typically includes hot coffee and Baileys Irish Cream liqueur.

Is Irish coffee a morning drink?

Irish coffee is traditionally served after dinner, but there is no rule about when it can be consumed.

Why is it called an Irish coffee?

The coffee drink is named after the country of Ireland, where it originated.

Why is Irish coffee so good?

Irish coffee is good because the combination of sweetened coffee, Irish whiskey, and cream creates a unique and delicious flavor profile–it’s rich, smooth, and creamy!

How are you supposed to drink Irish coffee?

Irish coffee is typically consumed by sipping the hot coffee through the layer of whipping cream. The cream tones down the bitterness and intensity of the cocktail.

Why does cream float on Irish coffee?

The cream floats on the Irish coffee because it has a lower density than the coffee and whiskey mixture, which causes it to remain on top of the beverage.

Is Irish coffee better hot or cold?

Irish coffee is typically served hot in most coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. However, cold and iced variations have been introduced.

Wrapping Up

The Irish coffee is a cocktail made with sweetened coffee, Irish whiskey, and whipped cream–and it is simply delicious. It’s not a surprise that it’s been offered in many coffee shops, bars and restaurants for decades. In fact, the Buena Vista cafe has been considered a historical attraction in San Francisco, serving top-tiered Irish coffee to its customers for over 70 years now.

Who would’ve thought that whiskey and coffee could come together and be an incredibly beloved beverage? Not only to the Irish, but to many coffee lovers around the world. Thanks to Joseph Sheridan and his Irish coffee recipe, it has paved the way for more coffee-infused spirits, liqueurs, and other exciting coffee innovations!