The Coffee Doctor

Share it

Do you know what the words carajillo, corretto and karsk have in common?

First up, they all contain short, sharp espresso shots. Secondly, they all contain a shot of strong alcohol too. Thirdly – their creators claim they make you stronger and fitter and braver. And finally, they´re all slowly slipping out of fashion as younger generations opt for elaborate caffeinated cocktails instead, tall drinks with lashings of cream and sugar and milk.

But just as the world has embraced purer coffee drinks which release the full aroma of roasted beans, I predict the people drinking coffee cocktails will do the same. And the best bit? These back-to-basic combinations are believed to aid digestion after a big meal  – and help you overcome a hangover the next morning. It´s a win-win situation. Here´s three of the best.

Carajillo - The Coffee Universe

Pic by Miquel C.


Origin: Spain

Alcohol used: Brandy, whisky or rum

Method: The most basic preparation method involves pouring the alcohol into black coffee, but sometimes the spirit is heated with spices.

Meaning: Spanish folklore claims the word carajillo stems from the word coraje, which means courage. The centuries-old drink was developed by Spanish troops defending their country´s colony in Cuba. They would lace their coffee with alcohol to give them courage for the fight.


Pic by Fili Cori


Origin: Scandinavia

Alcohol used: Either vodka or moonshine (high-percentage spirit, often made illegally).

Method: The specific ratios of coffee to alcohol are debatable, but legend says it´s best prepared by dropping a small coin into your cup, pouring coffee until the coin is covered and then adding alcohol until the liquid becomes clear and the coin reappears.

Meaning: The word Karsk is derived from the Old Norse/Viking word meaning healthy, vigorous or agile. In some parts of Norway the drink is referred to as Coffee Doctor.

Caffè corretto - The Coffee Universe

Pic by Gavin Bell

Caffè corretto

Origin: Italy

Alcohol used: Grappa, Sambuca or brandy

Method: As with the carajillo, the basic method is to add drops of alcohol into an espresso. Some bars will serve the coffee and alcohol in separate glasses and customers mix their own.  

Meaning: The word corretto means correct – order one and you´re asking for an espresso that´s been ´corrected´by the addition of alcohol.