|At the center of the Kahlúa story is the city of Merida, which was stablished in the 1500s and is believed by many historians to be the oldest continually occupied city in the Americas Centuries later, within this flourishing city, the chemist Montalvo Lara created the product formula for Kahlúa.
Behind Montalvo Lara’s bold flavoring for Kahlúa are two key ingredients, coffee and vanilla. Fittingly, Kahlúa’s name comes from the slang Arabic word for coffee, “Kahwa.” While Montalvo Lara may be responsible for Kahlúa’s flavor combination, the world can thank a man simply known as Señor Blanco for introducing the unique coffee liqueur.
Little is known about Señor Blanco, except that he was a man of Spanish origin and was the entrepreneur behind Kahlúa. He was assisted by the Alvarez brothers who harvested the premium Arabica beans used in the Kahlúa recipe. In 1930 the brothers introduced the beans to Señor Blanco and engaged him to use them in a new liqueur he was backing. The liqueur was the first iteration of Kahlúa, the original coffee liqueur. However, it was not until the early 1960s that Jules Berman, an entrepreneur and art collector, introduced it to the United States. Jules Berman sold the brand to Hiram Walker and Sons in 1964, but he remained as a corporate officer in charge of brand development until 1970.
Today, Kahlúa is the world’s number one selling coffee liqueur. With its unique coffee flavor, Kahlúa was awarded a silver medal at the 2008 International Wine and Spirits Competition. Kahlúa Especial won silver at both the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competition.