Introduction: How to Make Delicious Coffee Liqueur

Picture of How to Make Delicious Coffee Liqueur

Sure you can get reasonable coffee liqueur (liquor) at vons for $30.00, but this instructable shows one way of making it for dubiously less cost and with much more personality! Making liqueurs takes patience and a devotion to the final product. There will be many opportunities to take short cuts, but if all you wanted to do is get drunk, then don't bother reading any further...Well read the part about Everclear

I should warn you that not only is the drink you're going to make extremely alcoholic (50-80 proof), but the base alcohol is so much more. Grain alcohol is also highly flammable, but I'm not going to get into that...

Edit*: Another instructable for some info

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

Picture of Ingredients and Equipment

The following is sufficient to fill a 750 bottle.

Coffee, grounded just before making the coffee, enough to make 1 pint - Dark Roast
1 cup Grain Alcohol, 190 proof alcohol or 151 proof - typically goes by the name Everclear in the states. For our international friends this shouldn't be too hard to find as 190 proof, for Americans you typically will only get 151.
1/2- cup of raw Sugar or turbinado sugar, or if you want white boring sugar.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I will be using a Moka pot (Bialletti). Its typically an Italian coffee maker that makes something in between strong french coffee and espresso. Ideally you want your coffee as strong and as flavored as possible. Moka pots are fairly cheap ($20-$30) if you can find them. Bialletti makes sizes from 1 cup to 6. You'll be waiting awhile if you go with a 1 cup coffee maker, but a 6 cup coffee maker is tough to use for your morning shot.

You'll also need a large mixing pot, a pot for caramelizing sugar, and a coffee filter of some sort. Paper coffee filters don't seem to work well because the flow stops after awhile, so I found a reusable coffee filter that seems to work alright. The mesh may have been a bit too big though.

Step 2: Make the Coffee

Picture of Make the Coffee

Coffee tends to be best when the beans are ground right before you are to use them. I would recommend finding the best coffee you can, as its flavor goes a long way in this liqueur. I found a local roaster that has excellent coffee styles (shout out to Jameson Brown in Pasadena, CA). I liked using their French Roast, but any dark blend/roast would do just fine.

To make coffee from a moka pot, just fill-up the bottom container with water up to the pressure release valve. Place freshly ground coffee into the strainer and place into the bottom container and screw on the top receptacle. If you have the ability, try to grind the beans as fine the coffee maker can take before they start seeping into the coffee. It takes trial and error.

Place the coffee maker on the stove at a low heat and wait for the coffee to start coming out. Once you see it start coming out be prepared to take it off the stove. Remove as soon as the coffee stops flowing and all you get is air. The longer you leave it on the stove at this point, the more burnt the coffee is going to get. Also don't attempt to reheat the coffee (for the same reasons).

Step 3: Caramelize the Sugar

Picture of Caramelize the Sugar

This step is pretty much essential if you have any sort of pride in your final result. Sure you could just add the sugar to coffee, but why then don't you just go to the liquor store and buy coffee liqueur.

To caramelize the sugar, mix the 1/2 cup of sugar and about 1/2 cup of water in a pot. The sugar will dissolve easier as you heat the mixture, so don't try to mix it before setting it on the stove. Basically just keep stirring the mix as it heats up even once its mixed. It will start boiling and bubbling and will require much more frequent stirring. I guess there is a fine line between making caramel and making candy, but it will all dissolve into the coffee anyway. Its tough to tell when enough is enough (ok, I'm not a professional caramelizer), but you'll notice eventually that the stuff is thickening. Thats probably a good point to add it to the coffee. Don't heat up the coffee to blend the caramel in. You don't want to burn the coffee.

Like I said, its difficult to determine the point of caramelization because you are stirring while hot when the stuff tends to flow the best.

Uhh, I guess I looked it up, and this is not the way to make caramel. Its the way I made it for the liqueur, so I'm going to leave it until I try differently. There isn't an instructable that gets at it, but Wikihow suggests just melting sugar.

Step 4: Mix in Other Ingredients and Let Sit (for a Short Time)

Picture of Mix in Other Ingredients and Let Sit (for a Short Time)

Mix in the caramel (sugar) and vanilla into the coffee until its well dissolved. Let this stuff cool a bit perhaps by putting it in the refrigerator for a bit and then add the alcohol. The only reason is that alcohol tends to vaporize quicker at higher temperatures. Bottle this magical concoction into a 0.75 liter bottle (wine bottle size) that has been well cleaned out and seal it up. Let it sit for a few days, and you will notice something interesting happen...

Step 5: Filter Once and Let It Sit (for a Long Time)

Picture of Filter Once and Let It Sit (for a Long Time)

Let the bottle sit for about 3-4 days. You will see that the bottle has acquired a small amount of whatnot. Filter this out through the aforementioned coffee filter thats not a paper coffee filter. Clean out the bottle and put the mix back in.

Now let the bottle sit for a few months. This is a liquor, it will do better the longer you leave it (up to a point). Recipes I've found from Italy suggest up to 3-4 months. How long can you wait? Perhaps you might take this opportunity to make several bottles of it, so that when the day comes you can enjoy it for quite awhile.

Step 6: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

There are many ways to enjoy this liqueur. The most popular would be white/black russians, but you could also make chocolate cordials!

Go wild, and if you have some interesting comments, please let the community hear them!

Also, making your own labels is probably the most important part of this whole instructable. If you skip it, you will be sad. I used printable packing labels (5 1/2" x 8 1/2") from Office Depot, btw.

Now that you are done making coffee liqueur, you can check out my similar instructable on making Chocolate Liqueur.

P.S. Kelly, please enjoy this instructable as well as the alcoholic beverages you will be receiving for your birthday.


EricM63 (author)2015-10-01

I don't think "dubiously less cost" is what you mean.

TalulahBancroft (author)EricM632015-10-22

So much cheaper, that it makes you doubt it. Like it's too good to be true :) Dubiously less cost.

leapdog (author)2015-08-28

Caramel is easy. Place your sugar in a thick bottomed stainless steel saucepan and gently warm it up in the oven for 10 minutes, say 100c, (this helps the sugar melt more easily), before placing it over a small to medium flame on the cooker. (You don't need to add any water at the start, it just boils off anyway!) NOW...Don't go anywhere, you have to watch it carefully. The sugar will turn to a golden liquid and quickly get darker and darker. Not too dark! or it will become bitter and burn. You just want a nice dark golden or light auburn colour. Take it off the heat and stop the cooking by placing the bottom of the saucepan in cool water. Use a small sauce pan for small amounts of sugar because it cools and sets very quickly, so pour it into your hot coffee and dissolve completely. If the caramel does set on the side of the pan, you can reheat it quickly to get it out. Waste not want not, as they say!

Now you made your coffee liqueur, try Nigela Lawsons Brilliant Coffee Ice cream and fantastic Salted Caramel Sauce.

Thanks for this great Coffee liqueur recipe; It is really good. So far I've made it with Tia Maria, Vodka, and Irish Whiskey. It makes brilliant Christmas presents too. Happy days!

hoobajoob (author)2015-01-04

I make a version of this but i don't brew the coffee with water, i just cold brew with 100 prof vodka, and i just mix the sugar in to the "vat of yummieness" (a 2 gallon mason jar) let sit for 30-60 days and shake it daily. it is wonderful with a decent Irish cream.

CaliforniaDreamin (author)2014-11-28

Do you need a moka pot or will regular brewed coffee work too? I have beans and I'm grinding at home but I don't have a moka pot.

JimP2 (author)2014-09-26

I'm tempted to try this, but this is the method I have always used to make my own. I'm pasting from the 17 year old coworker's email that I use to make it:

Put 1 quart of water (smart idea to use bottled or filtered) and 6 Cups of sugar in a pot. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix 1 quart of new water with 1 jar of Taster's Choice French Vanilla coffee. Warm it up to make sure it dissolves completely. Set aside.

Mix the water/sugar and coffee solutions in a 1 gallon pitcher with 2 oz of vanilla and 1 pint of grain alcohol (aka Everclear.)

Place the pitcher in the fridge for a while. Generally, letting it sit overnight sets it up nicely. Mix with coffee, half and half or whatever you like to do with Kahlua.

diegot (author)2011-11-09

I wonder how this recipe would come out using a "cold brew" coffee.
Cold brew coffee does not have the somewhat acidic aftertaste that some hot brewed coffee can have.

diegot (author)2011-11-09

I think the correct name for a 50/50 mixture of water and sugar (no matter what kind) is called simple syrup.

hoffmakd (author)2011-01-13

Caramelizing sugar and making actual caramels are two totally different things. That might be where you got tripped up. As far as I know, you're doing just fine with your method!

hixfixit (author)2009-12-04

You can also caramelise sugar in the microwave, be careful as the sugar holds a lot (A LOT!) of heat so will continue cooking for at least 30 seconds after removing from the microwave. 

Nothing usually happens for the first  minute or two, then pow, it's burnt.  you have been warned.

moonchildmeli (author)hixfixit2010-11-14

I could have not said it better myself!

sonaps (author)2009-04-21

You said "grounded" sorry to be a grammar nazi but it's just "ground".

brawns214 (author)sonaps2009-04-21

Don't apologize for noting poor grammar, you are free to do so. You are also free to use poor grammar in commenting about poor grammar. Also please excuse me for ignoring your comment and leaving the typo in they're.

sonaps (author)brawns2142009-04-22

Did I miss a comma or something?..........I bet that I missed a comma.

chriskarr (author)sonaps2009-08-19

You missed a comma or, more properly, a semicolon.

sonaps (author)chriskarr2009-08-22

I've always had trouble with semicolons.

chriskarr (author)sonaps2009-08-22

I always have trouble with 'affect/effect', though most people seem to not notice; the grammar that I am proud of and most recently learned is proper use of 'whose', 'who' and 'whom'.

brawns214 (author)sonaps2009-04-22

Don't worry about it. Its just the internets.

chriskarr (author)brawns2142009-08-19

Nice touch with the adding of the homonym. <(_)>

Deerzeye (author)sonaps2009-04-22

Cool instructable

aryding (author)2009-07-25

Yes, you can get it in Oregon.

anthony41 (author)2009-05-07

Good stuff! Thanks for the informative thread. I made some and it turned out very nice.

brawns214 (author)anthony412009-05-09


anthony51 (author)2009-05-03

A friend of mine has a still that makes a nice clear booze, if I get him to brew up some it should work well with this recipe. We always dissolved the sugar and added glycerine to thicken. Your trick of caramelizing and adding vanilla sounds to me like it would make a veery smooothe drink( extra letters intentional for the spelling nazi's).Some of the filtering comments have shown me where I've been messing up. Distilling alcohol is lawful in Qld Australia so long as no sales are made, sell it & the law lands on you like a ton of bricks. But there is a large community of brewers & distillers here. Thanx fer the ible

brawns214 (author)anthony512009-05-06

You're welcome, and I'm curious how it will turn out with home-distilled alcohol. What sort of alcohol percentage can you get?

illdoyourdrugs (author)2009-04-21

Not bad but all this...? There's plenty of quality coffee liquor for cheap. 8 bux and tasted delicious.

brawns214 (author)illdoyourdrugs2009-04-21

I had a much longer rant about this, but the little box below says be nice, so I had to erase it. Heh, not really. I just like doing things on my own. Making my own beverages certainly falls in that same pattern. Learning how to do something like this is half the fun, and the other half is refining the process until you can make something that is superior to what the industry makes. I guess another half is enjoying the homemade product.

illdoyourdrugs (author)brawns2142009-04-29

i love coffee liquor but it just seemed like an expensive process and i thought i saw the word cheap in the title so thats why i commented. Why not sell your product if you feel its worthy?

brawns214 (author)illdoyourdrugs2009-04-29

Because I would have to go through all sorts issues getting permits to sell and distribute an alcoholic product. Really I just want to sit back, relax and enjoy a nice cup of liqueur with some whole milk made in my own kitchen. It does make great gifts though. Try it out, see how it compares to what you've got sitting at home.

illdoyourdrugs (author)brawns2142009-04-29

Possibly i will my friend

scoochmaroo (author)brawns2142009-04-22

This is the spirit of Instructables! You don't make it just to save money, you make it because you can! Because we take pride in what we make. Because a handmade gift is better than anything mass-produced. Because any extra cost is worth the looks on their faces when they receive. Kudos to you, now where do I find the chocolate liqueur recipe????

i misunderstood. I thought i saw the word cheap in the title so that was what my comment was about. You dont have to tell me about the spirit of instructables. i have been a member since 07 and have been on the site years before that. I love making things as we all do.

brawns214 (author)scoochmaroo2009-04-22

Thanks! You should be able to find it as the top listing in 'related' or under "How to make delicious chocolate liqueur".

scoochmaroo (author)brawns2142009-04-23

Awesome! You could link to it directly from here in step 6!

brawns214 (author)scoochmaroo2009-04-23

Will do! Since this one has been featured and put in a newsletter, its has 15 times more views. However coffee liqueur is not (!) 15 times better than chocolate liqueur.

MRubenzahl (author)2009-04-26

Here's a good way to make the coffee. Better than most espresso makers, in my opinion:

robot797 (author)MRubenzahl2009-04-27

I realy preverer the krups 889. i like its koffie.

brawns214 (author)MRubenzahl2009-04-26

Haven't tried the AeroPress, but I did randomly get that Aerolatte from my mother. It works surprisingly well. The aeropress sounds like a great way to get good espresso quality coffee for this liqueur.

MRubenzahl (author)2009-04-26

Regarding caramel, in step 3: What you are doing is caramel, and it is the right way. The wikihow is the same method (they're using less water, which makes little difference). You're doing it right. Just one hint: Watch it very carefully and use a light-colored pot (not dark non-stick). Once it starts to brown, it goes very quickly and burns quickly. Take it to a medium-dark color. Caramel candies are made by adding cream to the caramel.

brawns214 (author)MRubenzahl2009-04-26

Glad to know, it seemed to turn out alright. Though since I was using raw sugar it started out brown to begin with, so its hard to say when it was done.

weno (author)2009-04-26

is this some hacks pressure valve?

brawns214 (author)weno2009-04-26

No its a safety valve built in to just about every coffee maker of this type. If you were to pack the grounds to tight, it actually may be used. Otherwise, most people don't really notice it being used.

isaberg (author)2009-04-22

Great instructable! I can't wait to try it. One question: I can't find the quantity of water anywhere - it just says "fill up the bottom of the container with water," but you also say that this coffee pot comes in different sizes and don't specify the one you're using. Once I know how much water, I'm trying this right away! Thanks -

brawns214 (author)isaberg2009-04-23

The amount of water to use just depends on the size of moka pot you choose. I have a 3 cup and a 1 cup. For both you fill the water until the pressure release valve in the bottom container. I think the picture shows the level pretty well. The cool thing about these types of coffee makers is that the strength is the same as commented below. If you were to add in half the water needed, you get half the coffee at the same strength.

brawns214 (author)brawns2142009-04-24

Cup here means little espresso shot sized cup, not an 8 ounce mug like Americans typically used. Needless to say, it will take quite a bit of coffee to fill up your pint glass.

AlessandrPru (author)isaberg2009-04-23

if you are talking about how much water to put in the coffee maker, its until the pressure valve/nut in the base. Brawns also has it in the second photo under step two.

djsc (author)isaberg2009-04-23

it says use enough coffee to make 1 pint, and I think in a moka pot-the device he is using, the strength is basically fixed. I think he is using the smallest size moka pot which makes the espresso 1 or 2 shots at a time, so I guess you fill it up with water multiple times until all the ground coffee is used, irrespective of the size of pot.

buZztiaan (author)isaberg2009-04-23

looks like he's using a '6 cups' bialetti mocha express :)

Swishercutter (author)2009-04-21

I have heard you can buy the 190 proof stuff in Montana and someone said far as Washington and Idaho I personally have never even seen the 151 Proof Everclear in a store.

I bought the 190 in Arizona.

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