Three-Layer Pineapple Express Rum Cocktail


Do you want to eat AND live more colorfully?

Subscribe to my newsletter and explore how to live your most vibrant plant-filled life.

(Note: this post was originally published on January 21, 2021. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)

The Story: A Very Stormy Christmas

Looking to change up your cocktail routine? This unique and beautifully layered coffee cocktail features sweet pineapple juice, luxurious coffee rum, and flavor-packed spiced rum for a very unexpected and show-stopping combination.

There's a story behind this cocktail. As many of you know, Dave and I spend time every winter on Kaua'i, the northernmost Hawaiian island. One time years ago, the island got slammed by a giant storm on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We ended up being without power for three days and there was a lot of damage across the island due to flooding and high winds. This storm was a classic "pineapple express", which is a name given to a specific storm track in the Pacific. Pineapple Express systems originate near Hawaii, then rush up to the western US bringing heavy rain and high wind.

The Pineapple Express that pounded Kaua'i on Christmas in 2019 was the strongest storm we've been on-island for. We ended up hiding inside for over 24 hours as the island got battered with major wind and rain.

Enter the rum. We had a pineapple from the farmer's market, some coffee, a bunch of rum, and not a whole lot else because many of the roads were impassible. But we were able to create some really fun and unique pineapple + coffee rum cocktails out of what we had. This is a slightly more sophisticated version of what we created that evening, but it has all the same flavors.

Pineapple Express cocktail with three layers

Ingredients in this Pineapple Express Cocktail

This Pineapple Express cocktail unites pineapple juice, coffee rum, and spiced rum for a very complex, unexpected combination of flavors. The pineapple and spiced rum give the drink a tiki vibe, while the coffee rum wakes all of the flavors up. The name describes both the storm that we invented this drink during and the primary flavors (pineapple and coffee)!

This show-stopping layered coffee cocktail is unique, special, and interesting. Although it looks fancy, it's surprisingly easy to make and uses just three simple ingredients. The first layer is just pineapple juice, the second layer is coffee rum, and the third layer is light-colored spiced rum.

One important note: I've designed this coffee rum cocktail to work with the fabulous rums from my dear friends at Koloa Rum on Kaua'i. Because layered cocktails are very sensitive to the densities of the liquids involved, I suggest following the recipe exactly as written. (That said, see the ingredient notes below for my best guesses at possible substitutions).

A layered coffee cocktail with pineapple juice, coffee rum, and spiced rum

How to Make a Layered Cocktail

Although layered cocktails can seem intimidating, they're simple to make as long as you use a light touch while pouring. Creating and maintaining the layers in this Pineapple Express cocktail relies upon having liquids with different densities such that they want to sink or float relative to one another.

In this case, the pineapple juice with its high sugar content is densest and stays at the bottom. The coffee rum, which is 68 proof, floats over the juice because ethanol is less dense than water. The spiced rum, at 88 proof, is much less dense and floats easily on top. Those density differences are what keep this layered coffee cocktail looking sharp and neat rather than murky.

The only tricky piece is pouring each subsequent layer gently. Some people prefer to pour the liquids over the back of a spoon to help them disperse and fall delicately into the cocktail. My personal preference is to just pour by hand very slowly, in a very thin stream. My biggest piece of advice: do a miniature trial version of this coffee rum cocktail in a shot glass to make sure you have the feel for it (and to ensure your three ingredients will work together) before you try a full-sized cocktail.

Interested in other layered cocktails? They're a blast! Check out my whimsical Unicorn Cocktail, this unique Solar Eclipse Cocktail, this clever Chai Tai, and this festive Thanksgiving Eve Dark and Stormy.

Pineapple Express coffee rum cocktail

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here's what you'll need for this coffee rum cocktail, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Pineapple juice
  • Coffee rum. As described above, the density of liquids in this layered coffee cocktail is very important. I like to use Koloa's Coffee Rum. I really hope you can find this, it's so special. If you can't, I expect that Patron's coffee tequila would work fine in its place because it's about the same proof. I haven't tried this with Kahlua or other coffee liqueurs, but I'm not optimistic it would work because Kahlua is much more sugary and has a lower alcohol content, hence it will be denser and may want to mix into the pineapple juice.
  • Spiced rum. I like to use Koloa's Spice Rum, which is delightful, high-alcohol (88 proof), and light in color. If you can't get your hands on some, another light-colored spiced rum will work fine. Try to find something 86 proof or above to facilitate floating.
  • Fresh pineapple. For garnishing your beautiful creation!

Pineapple Express cocktail showed with a bottle of coffee rum

Closing Thoughts

This whimsical Pineapple Express cocktail makes me think of hiding inside during an epic storm on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with little but a farmer's market pineapple and an eclectic combination of rums. It's a very nostalgic cocktail in our house and I'm excited for you to try this non-traditional but beautiful sip.

Need some serving suggestions? This layered coffee cocktail is a stand-out at a fancy brunch but it also works nicely as an after-dinner drink since it's on the sweeter side. It's especially fun for a "breakfast for dinner" evening. Regardless of how you enjoy this pineapple + coffee rum cocktail, this combination is unforgettable.

Close-up of the three layers in this Pineapple Express cocktail

Share It

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

As with all my cocktail recipes, please enjoy responsibly!

Suggested Pairings

Tropical Fruity Brunch Salad

Banana Bread Granola

Vegan Mocha Banana Blender Muffins

Healthy Vegan Banana Bread

Flourless Coffee Macadamia Blondies

Disclosure: Koloa Rum is a long-term partner and I receive free product. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Three-Layer Pineapple Express Rum Cocktail

An unexpected combination of pineapple, warming spices, and coffee, this surprisingly versatile Pineapple Express cocktail is a winner for everything from brunch to after-dinner drinks.



  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz coffee rum
  • 1 oz light-colored spiced rum
  • Pineapple slice for garnish


  1. Chill a small serving glass ahead of time.
  2. Pour the pineapple juice into the bottom of the chilled serving glass, being careful not to splash on the sides.
  3. Gently float the coffee rum over the pineapple juice.
  4. Gently float the spiced rum over coffee rum.
  5. Garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

Thanks for contributing to our community! Your comment will appear shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
January 30, 2021
What a combo! We’d rock this for a boozy brunch.