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DIY Coffee Liqueur: How To Make Best Homemade Coffee Liqueurs

DIY Coffee Liqueur: How To Make Best Homemade Coffee Liqueurs

You can find lots of coffee liqueurs on the market, with two of the most popular being Kahlua and Tia Maria.

Although both are delicious, if you don’t want to spend money on buying coffee liqueur you can make your own at home. It’s really easy and you’ll enjoy drinking it or using it in baked goods.

What ingredients do you need to make coffee liqueur?

You can easily make your own DIY coffee liqueur with coffee, vanilla bean, water, and sugar.

It’s also common to use rum or vodka as the alcohol in your liqueur. Which one you choose will depend on how sweet you want your liqueur to be, as rum will make it slightly sweeter than vodka. Here’s what to know about making your own coffee liqueur.

How To Make Coffee Liqueur

Ready to get started?

What You’ll Need

  • 2 cups water
  • 750mls rum or vodka
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 tablespoons instant coffee
  • Saucepan
  • Mesh strainer


  • Start by putting your vanilla bean, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. You want to heat it on medium heat on the stove so that it will start to form a syrup.
  • Once it comes to a boil, stir it well so the sugar dissolves.
  • Then, reduce it to a simmer and take it off the stove.
  • Stir in the instant coffee and leave the saucepan somewhere it can cool down.
  • After it has cooled down, mix the liquid with your alcohol and put it in a sealable bottle or jar.
  • Shake it very well and let it rest in a dark, cool place for about 10 days.
  • To ensure that the mixture is well blended, you need to shake the bottle every second day. You might have to set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget all about it!
  • Once the 10 days are up, you should strain the liqueur with the use of a fine-mesh strainer. This serves to remove the vanilla bean and granules of coffee.

Some Changes You Can Make To Your Recipe

One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use it as a base for many other types of liqueur. You can also make a few changes to the recipe so that you get the most delicious coffee liqueur. Here are some suggestions to shake it up.

  • If you don’t want to use vanilla beans, you can make use of a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • If you don’t want to use instant coffee, you can use whole coffee beans. You’ll need half a cup of your favorite coffee beans. But, bear in mind if you’re using whole coffee beans instead of instant coffee, you need to keep your liqueur for a longer or shorter amount of days before straining it. The best advice is to keep checking on it regularly and strain it when it reaches the flavor you like. That’s when you’ll know that it’s done.

Why Should You Choose Rum Or Vodka?

Why Should You Choose Rum Or Vodka?

Of course, it should go without saying that you can make coffee liqueur with any alcohol you want to, but you might find that the taste doesn’t come out in the way you want it. That’s why rum or vodka are usually hailed as being the best types of alcohol to use.


To answer this question, let’s first look at rum. Rum, which is a spirit that’s distilled from sugar cane or fermented molasses, and coffee have complementary flavors.

They blend together really well and this is why they’re a combination that’s used in many different types of beverages, whether smooth and creamy or chilled. They also work well in all seasons, so they’re versatile.

As for vodka, which is made from fermented grains such as rye or wheat, it might seem like it would be too strong to use with coffee.

But, because you’re combining other ingredients into the beverage instead of drinking just coffee and vodka together, such as cream, this helps to tone it down and make it subtle yet delicious.

Want Something Else Instead?

If you really don’t want to make use of vodka or rum in your coffee liqueur, perhaps because you just don’t like their taste, it’s good to know what alcohol will pair well with coffee. Here are three of the best picks.

Butterscotch Schnapps

This is a sweet liqueur that is blended with butterscotch. It will give your coffee and liqueur a lovely sweet touch so it’s perfect if you have a sweet tooth!


This distilled liquor is made from fermenting the juice of agave plants, and it can be semi-sweet or bitter so it works well with coffee – especially if your coffee has bright notes, such as because it hails from Central America.


Brandy, which is a liquor that’s produced by distilling wine, goes beautifully with coffee, thanks to how it’s filled with complex flavors of flowers and fresh fruit. It’s also sweeter than whiskey.

Tips For Making Delicious Coffee For Use In Liqueur

As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use instant coffee to make a delicious batch of liqueur. If you want to use other types of coffee, here are some important tips to bear in mind:

Grind and brew immediately

Roasted coffee beans purchased from a specialty shop are a great way to add more flavor to your liqueur.

When you grind the beans and then put them into your liqueur immediately afterwards, you’ll have much more of that delicious coffee flavor in your drink. It’s certainly worth the extra effort! 

Don’t do the drip

You could use a drip coffee maker to make your coffee liqueur, but a good tip (via The Spruce) is to make use of a French press method instead, because this will produce even more flavor.

Bear in mind that coffee made with these presses will contain more of the oils in the coffee because they aren’t trapped by a filter. This makes the coffee stronger.  

Consider a cold brew instead

When coffee cools down, it can sometimes lose a bit of its flavor. If this is problematic for you, you could cold brew the coffee so that it doesn’t become too bitter.

How To Make A Cold-Brewed Coffee Liqueur

If you want to make cold-brewed coffee for your liqueur recipe, here’s an easy recipe (via Serious Eats):

What you’ll need

  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 2 sealable glass jars
  • Strainer with fine mesh
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 ½ cup rum
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Pot
  • Bottle (for storing the liqueur) 


  • To cold brew your coffee, you’ll have to mix together your coffee grounds as well as the water.
  • Put the liquid in a glass jar that seals well and shake it thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate it for 12 hours.
  • Afterwards, you want to strain the coffee with a filter and put this new liquid into a different glass jar that can also be sealed.
  • Now you want to add a cup of raw sugar to your water. Put them in a pot and let it come to a boil.
  • Once that’s done, take it off the heat.
  • Allow this syrup to cool down.
  • Then, add the cooled syrup, along with one and a half cups of rum and one vanilla bean to the jar containing the coffee.
  • Allow it to steep for about three days, then remove the vanilla bean.
  • You can now put the coffee liqueur into a bottle.

How To Use Your Coffee Liqueur

While you can sip it and add it to your chocolate cake icing recipe for a nice twist on the traditional way to make it, you can also make use of coffee liqueur in beverages. Here are some alcoholic and non-alcoholic ideas.

Use It In A White Russian Cocktail

This is a milky beverage that is great for consuming after a big meal when your digestion needs a bit of help.

You’ll need

  • 25ml coffee liqueur
  • 50ml vodka
  • 30ml pouring cream

How to make it

  • Start by filling a glass with ice.
  • Add the vodka and coffee liqueur.
  • Add the cream on top.
  • Stir it slowly so that the ingredients combine.

Note: You can use milk if you don’t want the richness of the cream.

Make A Whipped Coffee

Mmm, is there anything more delicious than coffee and cream?

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to take that idea up a notch with the use of your DIY coffee liqueur.

You’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur

How to make it

  • Whisk the sugar, coffee, and hot water. 
  • Then add the liqueur before adding the glass of milk.
  • Stir gently so that all the ingredients are combined well.

That’s it! While you might wonder if you can use coffee granules instead, it’s probably best not to as they won’t dissolve as well as instant coffee.

Of course, if you don’t mind taking the time to brew a cup of delicious coffee and then adding it to your whipped coffee recipe, that could definitely work!

Brief History Of Liqueur

You can find lots of coffee liqueurs on the market, such as Kahlua and Tia Maria, and coffee is often a flavor that appears in many types of alcohol to make it more delicious, but how did coffee liqueur come about?

One of the earliest traces of alcohol being consumed dates back to the 15th century. But even in 2100 B.C. clay tablets made by ancient civilizations displayed evidence that Sumerian doctors would prescribe beer to people (via Paste).

As for coffee’s origins, while it’s said that it came about around the 15th century, by around 800 A.D. people were already discovering that coffee beans could be eaten.

Liqueurs are said to have been produced commercially during medieval times, and they’ve had some interesting uses over time, such as being used as medicine or love potions! (via Britannica).

One of the earliest liqueurs that was produced was Chartreuse, which was made by monks – it’s the only liqueur that’s completely green in color. In 2016, a manuscript entitled ‘An Elixir Of Long Life’ was given to the monks of a Chartreuse monastery in Veuvert by Francois Hannibal d’Estrees (via Oxford Wine).

By 1703, this recipe was revealed and thus what was known as the first Chartreuse Elixir was produced!

When researching coffee liqueur it’s impossible not to mention Tia Maria and Kahlua. Both of these have a rich history that’s worth exploring.

History Of Tia Maria

The actual recipe for this coffee liqueur can be traced to the 17th century, but the liqueur was only commercialized in the 1950s (via Paste). Ever wondered why it was called “Tia Maria”?

It was named after a brave woman who helped a Spanish heiress escape a colonial war. She was also the person who found a family recipe for the alcohol and, because of this good deed, the heiress decided to name the alcohol after her.

Then, in the 1950s, a man by the name of Dr. Kenneth Leigh Evans added to the history of this liqueur because he tasted the drink at a friend’s house and made the decision to sell it as coffee liqueur.

History Of Kahlua

This famous Mexican liqueur was invented in 1930 by businessman Señor Blanco.

It underwent some changes by a chemist called Montalvo Lara and then started being manufactured in Mexico around 1936. The word “kahlua” is taken from the word “kahwa” which, in Arabic slang, means coffee.

As you know, Kahlua is immensely popular. Research (via Statista) shows that in 2019 alone, sales for Kahlua were 1.6 million (of their nine-liter cases) worldwide.

What’s the difference between liquor and liqueur?

It’s pretty easy to get confused when it comes to liquor vs. liqueur – they almost sound exactly the same. But there are some important differences between the two.


Liquor is a word that can be used to describe any distilled beverage and it can also be defined as a spirit. Liquor is distilled and will have a minimum alcohol content of 20 percent, but you’re likely to find it has 40 percent of alcohol as this is more common.

Liquor isn’t a sweet beverage, even though sugar is usually used to ferment it. Even after it has been flavored, it won’t taste sweet but will instead have a strong flavor.


By comparison, liqueur has a sweet flavor. Liqueurs are spirits that are made with a variety of extracts and flavors.

Now, earlier we talked about how it’s really easy to confuse liquor with liqueur, and a reason for that is because of how some liquor can be used as a base for making liqueur. Examples include brandy and whiskey.

So, one could say that liqueur is a sweetened form of liquor.

You’ll find that liqueurs tend to have a lower amount of alcohol in them as compared to liquors – they usually have 15 percent of alcohol, but some can have much more than that, like around 55 percent, so it really depends on the type of liqueur that you purchase.

If you’ve ever heard of liqueur being referred to as a cordial, that’s because centuries ago liqueur was used for medicinal purposes.

Related Questions

How long will homemade coffee liqueur last?

As long as you keep it tightly sealed and in a cool, dry place, you should be able to enjoy your coffee liqueur for several months.

What’s the difference between a shot and shooter?

When people say they are doing shots, this refers to drinking straight liquor. On the other hand, when people say they are doing shooters, this refers to drinking liqueur and other mixes that are combined to liquor (via The Spruce).


Although it might seem like a difficult task, making your own coffee liqueur is really simple and you don’t need a lot of ingredients to be able to whip up delicious liqueur. Chances are you’ll be able to make it right away with what you have in your kitchen!  

In this article, we’ve provided you with a really easy coffee liqueur recipe to start with, and you can tweak it according to your preferences, such as if you have your heart set on using a different type of coffee or alcohol.

If you want to preserve more of the delicious coffee flavor, you might want to make use of a cold-brew coffee liqueur recipe instead.

Last Updated on May 15, 2021

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