Homemade Coffee Liqueur!

Be warned: there is no knitting in this post!

Dan and I decided to make homemade coffee liqueur (like Kahlua or Tia Maria) for holiday presents this year. An assortment of our friends and family will be receiving these bottles. I’m really impressed with how the liqueur came out – the coffee really mellowed out, as did the vodka, and it’s really sweet without being overpowering and very tasty. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth the effort to make instead of picking up a bottle of Kahlua: yes. Totally.

Coffee Liqueur

Our estimated costs, total, were $75. That breaks down to $6.25 per bottle – and we have 1.5 quarts left over! But no more bottles. [The bottles were from Sunburst Bottle Company – the labels are from MyOwnLabels]

Edited to answer some questions:  We used Gordon’s Vodka, which was pretty inexpensive at $15 for 1.5 liters at the warehouse club.   I had intended to use a better quality vodka, but was low on cash that day.  It doesn’t taste like we used cheap vodka – I wouldn’t recommend, say, Leed’s, but it doesn’t have to be top-shelf.

The same goes for the coffee.  I used instant coffee [Nescafe to be exact] – partly because I’m not a coffee drinker and thus did not have any coffee grounds or a coffee maker at hand, and partly because I realized I COULD make some cold-brew coffee and use that instead of instant AFTER I had purchased the instant coffee.’

Both of these slightly cheaper, less quality ingredients made for a very bitter drink right after it was mixed.  The coffee flavor was very predominant, as was the sting of the vodka.  As it sat and aged for a few weeks, it mellowed considerably, and the flavor expanded, as well as became less bitter.

The moral of the story?  Use top shelf ingredients if you want.  Figure out the ratios to use real, brewed coffee, spend a few extra bucks on espresso – but I didn’t, and my liqueur is still amazingly delicious, and much better than any coffee liqueur I’ve ever had off the shelf. 

As for how to drink it?  How not to!  I found it much more palatable straight up than Kahlua, and it would be fabulous in any cocktails that call for Kahlua or Tia Maria.  I think it would be delicious over ice cream, or used as a coffee flavor in baking.  Mmmm..

Coffee Liqueur
The leftovers. For us!

Here’s my recipe (which I doubled).

JD Blumriel Coffee Liqueur

1 & 1/4 cups instant coffee
1 lb brown sugar + 1/2 cup white sugar

6 cups of water

6 cups of vodka 

2 vanilla beans (or vanilla extract, but I don’t know the equivalent)

Yields: 120 oz

In a large pot, heat the water and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved. Take off heat and add coffee. Stir until coffee is dissolved. Allow to cool.
In a even larger pot or large jar, combine your cooled coffee/sugar syrup with the vodka. Split the vanilla beans in half and add. Seal tightly, and place in cool, dark place to mature for as long as you can stand it (a month is good). The vodka bite will mellow, the coffee flavor will expand, and the vanilla will come out.
Pour into bottles, removing vanilla beans*, if you used them. Give to people you like, or drink it yourself.

*You could probably dry off the beans and soak them in some vodka to make home-made vanilla extract when you’re done with them in this recipe.


Coffee Liqueur
A close-up of the labels. MyOwnLabels has a bunch of different patterns and templates to choose from – this was one of the “beer” ones, I believe. The name is our initials, and a portmanteau of our last names.



12 Responses

  1. Lovely labels. A wonderful gift. Please share some recipes with your Blumriel’s as an ingredient. or do you just drizzle over ice cream and call it yummy? smiles and thanks

  2. What kind of vodka did you use? Does it matter? A few years ago I tried to make vanilla extract, and I used Aristocrat vodka because I was being cheap; the results were terrible and I had to throw it away.

  3. What a great, unique gift.

  4. Very cool! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Caroline: I used Gordon’s Vodka, which was the cheapest I found at $15 for 1.5 liters. It wasn’t top shelf, but it wasn’t too bad – I had wanted to get more expensive vodka, but was low on cash when we went shopping that week.

  6. Wow! That turned out really well. The labels and bottles look great! I’m sure everyone is going to be duly impressed.

  7. I LOVE those labels! How cute! Blumriel isn’t a bad nickname!!

    I really want to make coffee liqueur now!

  8. This sounds awesome. I wonder if I could use regular coffee and less sugar…

  9. How creative and brilliant! I don’t drink coffee, or liqueur, but I love making gifts that other people really like, and I know a bunch of people who would really get into this. Thanks for sharing your fabulous recipe and idea.

  10. r we drinking our coffee liquer in a new 2 bedroom???xxxxx

  11. You’re freaking awesome!


  12. What bottles did you use from the site? Are they glass or plastic? Thanks!! 🙂

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