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The 7 Best Non-Alcoholic Coffee Liqueur Substitutes

The right substitute for your cocktail varies depending on your drink, budget, and time, so it can be challenging to decide. This article will give you seven of the best coffee liqueur substitutes that you can use to enjoy an espresso martini or white Russian cocktail without feeling the after-effects of alcohol in the morning.

Coffee liqueur is a syrup made from coffee beans and spirits—usually rum—, so it can be substituted with non-alcoholic spirit alternatives or alcohol-free alternatives, depending on your preference and the drink.

From flavored extracts to sweetened espresso shots, there’s something for everyone. Now, let’s get to the list!

1. Coffee Flavored Syrup

If you love a coffee-based cocktail but aren’t fussed about the alcohol, coffee-flavored syrups are a great way to get your fix without the hangover. Intended for baking, this sweet syrup is just like a coffee liqueur without rum.

The coffee-flavored syrup is best used in a virgin White Russian or a family-friendly tiramisu. As coffee is already a large part of the espresso martini, this syrup may be too intense for this particular cocktail.

You can buy coffee-flavored syrups from some major grocery stores or online. I especially like the Torany Syrup, Coffee Flavor on Amazon.com. It has a sweet coffee taste that many have described as an excellent dupe for a coffee liqueur. It’s both caffeine and alcohol-free, so you won’t have to worry about any nasty side effects.

Coffee-flavored syrup works great in:

  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails
  • Tiramisu and Other Baked Goods

2. Non-Alcoholic Coffee Liqueur

If you love the taste of an alcoholic coffee liqueur but have given up drinking right now, you might want to look for a non-alcoholic liqueur.

These are great for use in a virgin Espresso Martini, where you might want to maintain that rum flavor without the rum. They can be one of the more expensive alternatives, but they come with an authentic taste, and you won’t need to follow any recipes.

One of the best brands of non-alcoholic spirits is Lyre’s. They specialize in creating virgin spirits so you can enjoy your favorite cocktails without getting drunk. I highly recommend Lyre’s Coffee Originale in an Espresso Martini or White Russian. It has a distinctive coffee flavor and makes an excellent replacement for a Kahlua or Tia Maria. 

Non-alcoholic coffee liqueur works great in:

  • Espresso Martinis
  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails
  • Tiramisu and Other Baked Goods

Related The 7 Best Substitutes for Kahlua in Drinks and Recipes.

3. Non-Alcoholic Irish Cream

You can make your own Irish cream without the whiskey with as little as three ingredients at home. This is an excellent option if you’re making a non-alcoholic White Russian and want that coffee flavor without using the liqueur. You’ll need the following:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Freshly-brewed Espresso
  • Vanilla Extract

Mix these ingredients to your taste until you have a fluffy mixture of coffee and cream. You can then add your own spices and extracts to improve the flavor. Adding cinnamon will give it a more festive taste, while maple syrup can enhance its sweetness. A touch of almond extract may remove some sweetness in place of the whiskey.

You can add this to your coffee for an indulgent take on Irish Coffee or pour it over a non-alcoholic vodka to make a delicious alcohol-free White Russian. The downside is that it won’t taste like rum, but it is highly customizable, so you can experiment and find new flavors to enjoy.

Non-alcoholic Irish Cream works great in:

  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails

4. Instant Coffee or Pure Espresso

If you’re after the coffee taste of liqueur and don’t care so much about the rum, then many recipes can be substituted with instant coffee or espresso shots.

This doesn’t work for everything—adding more espresso to your espresso martini might be a bit overkill—but when baking a tiramisu or making another mocktail, pure coffee may be a more bitter alternative to coffee syrup.

Another benefit to this over the coffee syrup is that it’s caffeinated. Using coffee is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a pick-me-up in your drink.

If you have a coffee machine, I love to use the Starbucks K-Cup Coffee Pods (available on Amazon). They have a delicious blonde roast that complements the cream in a White Russian, and the pods are recyclable, so it’s good for the environment too.

Instant coffee or pure espresso work great in:

  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails
  • Tiramisu and Other Baked Goods

5. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract is often used instead of rum in a virgin coffee liqueur. While it isn’t an exact match in terms of taste, the vanilla flavor complements the coffee well and transforms the Espresso Martini into more than a glass of cold espresso.

Coffee liqueur can often be sweetened, which you lose out on if you use pure espresso. Adding vanilla reduces the harsh, bitter flavor of the drink.

Vanilla extract is cheap and easy to access. Made with Madagascar vanilla beans, the McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract will last you for a long time.

Vanilla extract is an excellent addition to your drink at a much lower cost than fancy syrups or alcohol substitutes. Mix a teaspoon of vanilla extract with a double espresso shot and use as you usually would with a regular coffee liqueur.

Of course, this won’t have the same taste as rum or vodka, but it wonderfully mimics the sweetness of coffee liqueur and offsets the tartness of a pure espresso shot. It adds a delicious twist to your cocktail at a low price and low effort.

Vanilla extract works great in:

  • Espresso Martinis
  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails

6. Imitation Rum Extract

Imitation rum extract is an incredible alternative to alcohol because it tastes just like the real thing but has no alcohol. Adding a couple of drops of this into your espresso shot will make you an utterly sober beverage that tastes just like an espresso martini. You could even mix this with the vanilla extract to create a flavor that is both sweet and a little boozy. 

Some rum extracts contain small amounts of real rum. While this is negligible if you’re simply trying to limit your alcohol intake, you should always be careful to ensure that there is no real rum involved if you are trying to maintain sobriety.

This McCormick Culinary Imitation Rum Extract (Amazon Link) is designed to taste like rum but contains no alcohol. Always remember to check the bottle of any imitation rum you purchase.

Imitation rum extract works great in:

  • Espresso Martinis
  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails
  • Tiramisu and Other Baked Goods

7. Homemade Coffee Liqueur With a Non-alcoholic Spirit

If you have a little more time on your hands, you can actually make your own non-alcoholic coffee liqueur at home with as few as five ingredients. This isn’t a quick fix—the steeping process can take up to two weeks—but you get the added satisfaction of making it yourself. 

There’s no need for a specific non-alcoholic recipe. Just grab your favorite brand of non-alcoholic rum or vodka and replace it with the real deal. I recommend the Fluere Rum Alternative (Amazon Link), a delicious rum alternative available on Amazon. This alcohol-free spirit tastes just like rum and can be used as an alternative in any of your favorite rum-based cocktails. 

This alternative is mostly just for fun. You can buy non-alcoholic coffee liqueur for the same price as any other non-alcoholic spirit, so it costs a little more and takes more time. However, it can be a fun activity and really pays off when you get to drink your own faux liqueur in your martini.

Homemade coffee liqueur with a non-alcoholic spirit works great in:

  • Espresso Martinis
  • White Russian Cocktails
  • Black Russian Cocktails
  • Tiramisu and Other Baked Goods

Related The 5 Best Substitutes for Chocolate Liqueur.

What Is the Best Non-Alcoholic Substitute for Coffee Liqueur?

The best non-alcoholic substitute for coffee liqueur is an espresso martini like Lyre’s Coffee Originale. It is designed to replicate the flavor of coffee liqueur exactly and will serve as a completely sober alternative in your cocktails without sacrificing the taste.

What Is the Best Substitute for Coffee Liqueur in an Espresso Martini?

The best substitute for coffee liqueur in an espresso martini like Lyre’s Coffee Originale. However, if you want a cheaper option, a dash of coffee-flavored syrup or a small amount of espresso mixed with non-alcoholic rum extract will also work.

What Is the Best Substitute for Coffee Liqueur in a White Russian?

The best substitute for coffee liqueur in a White Russian is a homemade Irish cream made from cream, espresso, and vanilla extract. Otherwise, you can mix espresso with non-alcoholic rum extract and add this to your White Russian as usual.

Can I Use Espresso Instead of Coffee Liqueur?

You can use espresso instead of coffee liqueur in some cocktails. Doing it in a White Russian is a great way to weaken the cocktail or make it completely virgin. However, replacing the coffee liqueur in an espresso martini for more coffee leaves you with an extra-strong coffee in a fancy glass.

For more, don’t miss 15 Best Alcoholic Drinks for Beginners or Lightweights.

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