Cocktails and Liquors, DIY, Recipes

Homemade coffee liqueur (Kahlua, Tia Maria)

Homemade coffee liqueur

Homemade coffee liqueur was one of the first liqueurs I experimented with when I realized that Malabo would be an excellent opportunity to get really really good at my hobbies (one of which is DIY everything).  A copycat Kahlua looked easy, and I thought it’d be easy to make in bulk for Christmas presents.  I was absolutely right (of course I was).  

When I’m playing with a new recipe, I generally make double (or triple) batches, so that I can test ideas out.  Then I refine the recipe until I’m pleased with it.  The first time I made coffee liqueur, I used the Serious Eats recipe, with minor modifications (cold brewing the coffee w/ the vanilla, for example, and also A/B testing with vodka and rum).  After it sat for two weeks, I filtered the whole thing through a coffee filter. Alas, the vodka batch broke my heart when it molded.

But now I’ve made several successful batches, taken bottles to a couple of parties, and gotten some very helpful feedback.  Here’s the recipe I use to make large batches for gifting.

First, cold brew some coffee.  Most internet recipes seem to call for instant coffee.  I’m not a huge fan of the flavor that this produces.  I also tried cold brewing the coffee in the rum itself, but it ended up extracting too much bitterness from the coffee beans (whew! that was an expensive mistake).  No need to brew with your vanilla means.  Just do a simple cold brew, using quality beans, for 24 hours.

While your coffee is brewing, make caramel simple syrup.  This simple syrup will change your cocktail making life.  It’s rich and adds complexity of flavor to this coffee liqueur (and cocktails).  

Once you’ve filtered your coffee, mix the coffee, syrup, rum, and vanilla in a large mason jar, and then let it sit for a few days.  The ratio is basically 1:1:1 coffe:syrup:rum, with a heavy hand on the rum.  Dark aged rum is amazing.  Light rum works well, but yields a slightly different flavor profile.  Vodka is much much much less amazing and I do not recommend.  

After a week, filter and serve.  This liqueur is absolutely drinkable right away, but it does benefit from a few weeks of sitting to mellow the flavors. 

Recipe for homemade coffee liqueur



  1. Combine all ingredients in a 32 oz mason jar.
  2. After a week, remove the vanilla beans and filter twice through coffee filter.  The coffee liqueur is ready to drink right away, but is even better after sitting for a month.
DIY Homemade Coffee Liqueur

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