What Cream Is Best for Irish Coffee?

Irish coffee is a simple yet delicious cocktail made with sweetened coffee, Irish whiskey, and whipped cream. If you want to know what cream is best for Irish coffee, keep reading to find out. 

What cream is best for Irish coffee - Irish Coffee cups with cream
Irish coffee is popular and is served during special occasions

Irish coffee reached the shores of the United States back in the 1950s when a travel writer named Stanton Delaplane had it replicated at San Francisco’s Buena Vista Cafe. Its popularity then exploded, which is no surprise.

Few things are as enjoyable as a well-made Irish coffee on a special occasion like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  

Three of the four ingredients in Irish coffee are straightforward, but the fourth raises questions when people make this drink themselves. The cream type varies from recipe to recipe, but you can’t go wrong with lightly whipped heavy cream. 

Irish Coffee Ingredients

Coffee ingredients placed in separate containers
Irish coffee has few ingredients

So, you know you need cream, but what else goes in an Irish coffee? Because this drink has so few ingredients, they all stand out. It’s critical to get each one right, both for flavor and to get the cream to float.

To make a perfect Irish coffee, you’ll need: 

  • Four ounces of freshly brewed coffee. Some people use espresso, but it may overpower the drink or make it too bitter. Regular brewed coffee works perfectly for this drink.  
  • Two teaspoons of brown sugar. Even if you prefer non-sweetened coffee, the sugar is about more than flavor—it keeps your cream on top. 
  • 1 ½ ounce of Irish whiskey. We prefer Jameson to keep it traditional. 
  • One ounce of lightly whipped cream to top things off. 

How to Make an Irish Coffee

Making an Irish coffee is a relatively simple affair. Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Brew your coffee. 
  • Pour the coffee into a cup and add the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the Irish whiskey and stir. 
  • Gently whip the cream. 
  • Carefully pour the cream over the back of the spoon. 

Tips for Perfecting the Cream

a coffee drink with cream
The technique in making cream is an important factor

The cream is arguably the trickiest part of creating the perfect Irish coffee. There’s nothing more disappointing than adding the cream and watching it slide into the drink. But getting your cream to float is less about which type you use and more about how you use it. It’s all about the technique.  

The Buena Vista Method

The aforementioned Buena Vista cafe has its own special method of floating the cream. They use an upright blender to whip it—not too much and not too little.

What you want is to pour the cream without it being too thick or thin. Additionally, staff members discovered that ageing the cream for a few days helped it float better than fresh cream. If you like Irish coffee, you might be interested in learning how to make a White Russian without coffee liqueur.

Other Tips

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • The cream’s fat content is critical. Look for something with 36 percent fat content or above; otherwise, it won’t float.
  • Steaming hot coffee is another must to get the finished product. 
  • Pre-heating the glass also helps ensure the temperature is correct. Fill yours with hot water and leave it there until the coffee is ready to use.
  • Finally, the pour technique is vital. Use a warm teaspoon, and hold it right above the coffee as you pour the cream over it. Slowly lift the spoon as you pour, and voila

The final tip to keep in mind when making Irish coffee at home is that it may take practice to get right. However, with a bit of patience (and by following these tips), you’ll be impressing your friends before you know it!


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.