One of the easiest homemade liqueurs is a version of the well known Kahlua. Simply mix some dried coffee with vodka, sugar, and vanilla and wait a couple of weeks and voila…you’ve made Homemade Coffee Liqueur!
I first posted about Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua) almost ten years ago…and it showed. My youngest daughter worked at Nordstrom’s in their Visual Merchandising department; she was one of the elves that worked behind the scenes for weeks in preparation for the big reveal of all things Christmas which happens the day after Thanksgiving.
She was my helper bee and when I did this post she was not around and I had sort of counted on her. Heck I need a Santa type elf for all of the cocktail photos I wanted to publish; I need to get on that! Nonetheless, I made it again recently, I got some new snaps and I decided to publish again…it’s been a decade and it was lost in the archives!
Lauren has moved on from that job and even moved on from Denver and is living in San Jose, CA and loving it. I will say that for this single mom though that having one girl on the east coast and another on the west coast was not what I expected during all those years of raising them! I’m so grateful for my wonderful young neighbors and the family units we’ve built…I even have a part time dog!
So I decided that I best get this brew going stat; I want to give a couple of those families a bottle for Valentine’s Day; something really from the heart. If you’ve never made your own liqueurs before, they are so easy; for the most part it’s a blend of sugar, vodka, and flavoring.
I’ve made Limoncello and it’s the most time consuming because it consists of lemon rinds for the flavor; fun to make but not nearly as easy as my other favorites, including this coffee liqueur. The hardest part of this recipe is the wait!
There are a variety of methods I’ve seen for making home brewed
Kahlua coffee liqueur. The primary difference in methods is using either coffee grounds in the brew or instant coffee. I’ve done both and personally prefer going the instant coffee route.
The one year I tried using coffee grounds there was no way to remove every bit of them; even pouring it through cheesecloth didn’t completely work and I hated to see the loss of the heavenly elixir that was soaked up by the fabric.
One thing I do that is not in most recipes it to cook down the sugars and water to get a bit of a syrupy consistency before adding the vodka. Is it totally necessary? Not really; just my personal preference and makes it more reminiscent of the real deal.
I’ve found that my favorite concoction includes some of my own revisions. For this Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Copycat Kahlua) I used dried espresso instead of instant coffee; I just think it’s a bit richer as a result. And beyond the standard water, sugars and vodka I add just a touch of chocolate liqueur to the mix.
It’s optional and not something you should run out and buy though, I have the luxury of making my own chocolate liqueur too so I always have some on hand.
I often use espresso in a chocolate recipe because they are so compatible with each other so I’ve just done ‘opposite day’ and added a bit of chocolate to this espresso based liqueur. There is some vanilla bean too but those suckers are SO pricey; I’ll forgive you if you decide to forego that ingredient too.
My additions are subtle but I think it makes for a richer, more delicious product and I simply love this Homemade Coffee Liqueur!
By the way; I don’t recommend that you use either Everclear or your best vodka for this; I don’t care what the ‘experts’ say. Everclear is often recommended but it’s grain alcohol that has such a high proof that many liquor stores won’t even carry it; just look for a bottle of 100 proof vodka; I typically use Smirnoff 100 Proof.
Using great sipping vodka is also not required; save that for your favorite cocktails. Once you mix the vodka with sugars and coffee and let it age a bit; the vodka will mellow out. I usually ask a liquor store for a recommendation if they don’t have the Smirnoff 100 Proof available and spend around $15 for a 750 ML bottle.
I do love making liqueurs and have several more favorites we love; hope you enjoy them too.
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PIN IT! ‘Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Copycat Kahlua)’
Homemade Coffee Liqueur
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups white sugar
- ¼ cup dried espresso
- 3 cups vodka
- 2 vanilla beans split
- 2 shots of chocolate liqueur
- Combine the water, both sugars and dried espresso in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour.to reduce the mixture and make a more syrupy consistency.
- Watch constantly and stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add vodka, vanilla beans and chocolate liqueur.
- Pour everything into a storage container.
- Age for 3-4 weeks in a cool, dark location; stirring once or twice a week. (Note...it's absolutely drinkable earlier; so if you have less time to age it than that; gift it and make a note on the gift tag to wait just a bit).
- When ready to bottle, remove vanilla beans, bottle mixture and store.