German-Style Pharisee Coffee with Rum (Pharisäer Kaffee)

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It can be fun – sometimes – to not do what you’re told. And a little taste of mischief is what Pharisee coffee with rum is all about!

Vertical image of a tall glass filled with a dark drink topped with whipped cream, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

The drink is said to have originated in the late 19th century in a small Protestant town in North Frisia, Germany. And there’s some amusing lore behind its name.

In the most popular story told of its creation, a local congregation was led by a very strict clergyman named Gustav Beyer, who scorned the consumption of alcohol and all its wicked vices.

It was custom for the villagers to abstain from drinking alcohol during church services or events. But when it came to more celebratory ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings, the partying churchgoers wanted something more than just the non-alcoholic options to enjoy.

On one noteworthy occasion, guests prepared mugs of strong hot coffee – and secretly added shots of dark rum.

Vertical close-up image of a swirled foam on top of a glass mug with a little sugar sprinkled on top, on a wooden board.

In order to prevent any immediate suspicion, they quickly put a thick layer of freshly whipped cream on top to keep the aroma of the alcohol from wafting through the air.

While the guests enjoyed their spiked beverages, they served their stringent pastor a non-alcoholic version.

Unbeknownst to him as to why, the guests seemed to get rowdier, louder, and more boisterous with every sip!

When he finally became aware of this drunken deceit, he angrily shouted to the crowd:

Ihr Pharisäer! – You Pharisees!

Vertical top-down image of two mugs with swirls of white foam topped with a sprinkle of sugar, both on a wooden board next to jiggers and sugar cubes.

This was a biblical reference to the Pharisees, a religious sect criticized for their relentless acts of hypocrisy and perjury.

And so, a new and popular drink was named!

You won’t have to hide your Pharisäer Kaffee when you decide to make it at home. Share this deliciously potent beverage with all of your 21-and-over guests who wish to partake. Our recipe makes two mugsful, but it’s easy to scale up to serve a festive party crowd.

Use your favorite coffee, but make it strong! A couple cubes of turbinado sugar in each mug bring the right amount of sweetness to balance the strength of the potent base.

Vertical image of a tall mug filled with a dark brown liquid topped with swirled white foam on a wooden board.

Top off each glass with unsweetened whipped cream right before serving, and enjoy immediately while the cream is still thick and fluffy – or Gustav might come knocking on your door!

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Horizontal image of a glass mug filled with a dark brown drink topped with a white foam on a wooden board with sugar cubes.

Pharisee Coffee with Rum (Pharisäer Kaffee)

  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 drinks 1x


Adding some booze to hot coffee creates a fun beverage. Try Pharisäer Kaffee, a North Frisian drink with strong coffee, rum, and whipped cream.


  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups strong hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 4 cubes turbinado sugar


  1. Whip the cream by hand with a whisk in a large mixing bowl or with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer until soft, fluffy peaks form, about 2 minutes. Cover and place in the refrigerator to keep cool.
  2. Prepare two cups of strong hot coffee.
  3. Gently heat the rum in a small saucepan over low heat just until it starts simmering, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Place two sugar cubes in each mug. While they’re still hot, immediately pour 1 cup coffee and 1/8 cup rum into each mug. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  5. Top each drink with whipped cream and serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Coffee
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Alcoholic Drinks

Keywords: coffee, rum, drink, pharisee, Pharisäer Kaffee

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Measure and Prep

First, decide how you want to make the whipped cream: either by hand with a whisk in a bowl, or using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Horizontal image of measured milk, coffee beams, rum, and sugar cubes in glass mugs.

Prepare your appliance for making coffee, using the appropriate amount of water to brew 2 cups.

Measure and grind the amount of whole beans recommended for your appliance to create a strong brew. This is a super easy hack that results in a fresher experience compared to pre-ground beans.

For this particular recipe, strong coffee is preferred. Up the ratio of grounds to water to taste. And try this organic, big and bold blend of dark roast whole beans from Vermont Coffee Company, available from Stonewall Kitchen.

Measure out the dark rum and heavy whipping cream.

Place two sugar cubes each in two mugs or heatproof glasses. Sugar in the Raw makes a stellar turbinado sugar cube option, available on Amazon.

Set out a teaspoon for stirring.

Step 2 – Make the Whipped Cream

Whip the cream until soft and fluffy peaks form. This will take about 2 minutes.

Horizontal image of whipped cream in a white bowl on a wooden platter.

If you want to dollop the whipped cream on top of each mug for a casual presentation, it should still be very soft and luscious after whipping, and the peaks should barely hold their shape.

However, for a fun presentation, you could also whip the cream for another minute or so to create stiffer peaks. Transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a large star attachment to pipe swirls on top of the liquid base.

Store the whipped cream in the refrigerator to keep it cold while you prepare the hot coffee and rum. You can store it covered in plastic wrap in the bowl that you whipped it in, or in a piping bag.

Step 3 – Make the Coffee and Heat the Rum

Make the coffee in your appliance.

Horizontal image of coffee in a glass vessel.

As the liquid is brewing, pour the rum into a small saucepan and place it over low heat on the stovetop.

Horizontal image of a caramel-colored liquid in a small saucepan.

Heat just until it begins to simmer, for about 2 minutes. You don’t want to boil and risk reducing the amount of rum or the alcohol content – how sad would that be?! We just want to warm it up here.

Not raving about rum? You can also substitute an equal amount of your favorite whiskey. But you’ll essentially make an Irish coffee with this substitution, if you’re interested in that idea instead of this recipe!

Step 4 – Pour the Hot Liquids into Mugs

Pour one cup of coffee and 1/8 cup of rum into each mug, dividing each liquid evenly between the two.

Horizontal image of two glass mugs with a dark brown liquid, one with a metal spoon in it.

Stir with a spoon to completely dissolve the sugar cubes.

Step 5 – Top with Whipped Cream and Serve

Dollop the whipped cream on top, or pipe on top in large swirls.

Horizontal top-down image of two mugs topped with whipped cream on a wooden board with sugar cubes.

Serve and enjoy immediately while the drink is hot, and the whipped cream is still fluffy and cold.

Tasty without the Rum, Too!

Assuming Gustav was given a nonalcoholic version of the same drink, his beverage would have been just as tasty.

Horizontal image of a glass mug filled with a dark brown drink topped with a white foam on a wooden board with sugar cubes.

Perhaps this is why he didn’t notice right away that everyone was getting drunk around him!

Similar to espresso con panna, which is typically a double shot of espresso topped with whipped cream, this spiked European coffee beverage will be delicious without the rum as well.

You’ll still enjoy a lightly sweetened base of hot coffee, along with a perfectly fluffy topping. It’s simple, strong, and sensational.

And no one will be upset about that!

If you want a hint of depth that you may find lacking without the rum, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to each mugful as a substitute.

Have you heard of this beverage origin story before? When do you think you’ll make this – for a fun weekend brunch at home, or during your next celebratory party? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below.

For other coffee drinks with fun and boozy ingredients, shake up your daily dose of energy with these Foodal favorites next:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Nina-Kristin Isensee on June 7, 2015. Last updated on November 8, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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