Coffee Liqueur is an easy, affordable liqueur you can make at home! Perfect for after dinner sipping, cocktails and gifts!
There were two homemade liqueurs I grew up with my mother making: Crème de Menthe and Coffee Liqueur (we knew it as ‘Kahlua’ which is the name brand).
Large batches would reside in the liquor cabinet for years and be given as gifts.
Once I was of drinking age, I totally understood why. Homemade Coffee Liqueur is very easy to make, affordable and lasts indefinitely.
There are many ways to use it and it’s a perfect DIY gift idea!
What is Coffee Liqueur?
If you’ve ever had Kalua this is a homemade Kahlua recipe!
A liqueur is a strong, sweet liquor usually consumed by itself after a meal or in a sweeter cocktail.
Coffee liqueur has a sweet coffee flavor and is perfect to drink by itself on the rocks or in many popular cocktails.
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Sugar. Both white granulated sugar and brown sugar are used in this recipe. The combination give great rich flavor to complement the coffee taste.
Instant Coffee. Regular instant coffee is used; not powdered espresso.
Vodka. Vodka is the liquor base for the recipe. Notes on the type of vodka are shared below.
Vanilla Beans. Vanilla beans are used over extract for the flavor infusion. The beans are slit lengthwise exposing the insides to the liquor mixture.
The warm vanilla flavor from the beans makes a big difference and continues to infuse as the liqueur sits.
Use Good Quality Instant Coffee
My original handwritten recipe card has a notation of ‘good coffee’ next to the instant coffee ingredients!
Since the quality of the coffee determines the ultimate flavor of the coffee liqueur choose a good quality brand for this recipe!
Use Medium-Grade Vodka
The note on my original recipe card suggests using ‘cheap vodka’ for making coffee liqueur; I actually don’t recommend that!
What I’ve learned from talking to distillers is the quality of the ingredients determines the outcome of the liquor.
My recommendation is not to use the most expensive, high end brand but a medium-grade neutral-flavored (not flavored) vodka to create a delicious homemade coffee liqueur.
How to Make Coffee Liqueur – Step by Step:
This recipe could not be eaiser or faster to make!
- Combine the white sugar, brown sugar and water and bring to a boil on the stove top. Boil up to five minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the sugar to dissolve.
- Add the instant coffee and stir to dissolve.Allow the mixture to cool.
- Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass storage container with lid. Add the vodka and split vanilla beans.
- Allow to sit in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks before drinking so the flavor can fully develop.
How to Use Coffee Liqueur
My first experience drinking Kahlua was after a large meal when I had to order something to drink since I was at a club.
A friend suggested ordering it on the rocks. It was perfect.
Just the right amount of sweetness and easy to drink.
How to Store it
To store it long terms store in a cool dark area (a pantry is perfect) in a sealed jar or bottle. It will stay good indefinitely.
Bottle Ideas for Gifting
Homemade liqueurs are a perfect and affordable gift idea! They are inexpensive for you to make.
Your recipient also doesn’t have to buy the liqueur at the store.
For a more decorative option to give the homemade Kahlua for gifts select a bottle that seals securely.
Also selecting a bottle that is more narrow toward the top is easier to pour from.
Here are a number of great choices of homemade liqueur bottles on Amazon.com.
Coffee Liqueur Cocktails
There are many delicious cocktails using coffee liqueur too.
The most popular cocktails are probably a White Russian cocktail and a Black Russian cocktail.
White Russian Cocktail Recipe
- In an Old Fashioned glass with ice,
- add 2-ounces vodka, and
- 1-ounce coffee liqueur
- Finish with a splash of heavy cream and stir.
Black Russian Cocktail Recipe
A Black Russian is a White Russian without the cream!
- Combine 2-ounces Vodka, with
- 1-ounce Coffee Liqueur
- Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice.
More Coffee Liqueur Cocktail Ideas
Colorado Bulldog (a version of a White Russian with a fizzy twist!)
Gingerbread Brandy Milk Punch (cold weather spices make this cocktail delicious for the winter)
Eggnog and Coffee Liqueur: Combine prepared Eggnog and coffee liqueur in a 50/50 ratio. Pop in a cinnamon stick for good measure.
More Homemade Liqueurs and Infusions You’ll Love!
If you’ve made this Coffee Liqueur recipe please RATE THE RECIPE below!
Homemade Coffee Liqueur
- 3 ½ cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 cups water
- 2 ounces powdered instant coffee ‘good coffee’
- 750 ml vodka
- 2 vanilla beans split lengthwise
- Combine white sugar, brown sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and do not allow to boil over (reduce heat if needed).
- Add instant coffee to sugar syrup while syrup is still hot. Stir to dissolve. Let cool.
- Pour liquid into glass storage jug or container. Add vodka and vanilla beans. Let stand in a cool, dark location for 2 weeks before drinking.
Originally published: November 7, 2011