A Tasty Coffee Liqueur




After reading a few google postings and other Instructables about making liqueurs, I decided to try it for myself. This really is a simple recipe (borrowed from brawns214) with a bit more description of tactics and things I've learned about coffee from being a barista for 3 years.

Step 1: Basic Ingredients

The great thing about this process is that there is a lot of room for flexibility of ingredients. You can create a wide variety of flavors by adding your favorite spices to the mix.

Here are the important components to a great coffee liqueur:

Great, strong, whole bean coffee. I went to my local coffee shop (La Costa Coffee) and picked their French Roast. I bought a half-pound, but think you could manage with about a quarter pound. If you do not have a coffee grinder, buy the coffee right before you use it. Ground coffee only keeps about a day, whole bean only a week, so plan appropriately. It needs to be ground just a smidge more coarse than espresso grind, however, if you are wary, espresso grind will be just fine.

Everclear or other grain alcohol. Everclear is readily available in the U.S. Be sure to use the highest alcohol content you can find. Most people in the states will only be able to find 151, but if you are lucky, you may be able to get the 190. Both work just fine, the only difference is the alcohol content in the final product. You will need 1 cup of alcohol.

Turbinado sugar. I'd recommend any kind of raw sugar before white sugar. Turbinado sugar is just another name for raw cane sugar. It adds a great flavor to the final product. You will need a 1/2 cup.

Vanilla Extract. Add depending how much vanilla flavor you would like. Omit if you do not like vanilla. I added about 1 1/4 teaspoons. Some people add vanilla beans, other spices, or cinnamon sticks, but I have not tried these so cannot vouch for them.

Tools necessary:

Coffee grinder with adjustable grind setting (or have your coffee pre-ground).
Moka pot, espresso maker, or french press. Moka pot is recommended, with espresso maker as a second.
Measuring tools.
Small to medium sized saucepan.
Heat-resistant mixing bowl (I used a glass Pyrex container).
Air-tight bottles

Step 2: All About Coffee Beans

The beans are the most important part of this liqueur. Chose beans you like the flavor of, even if they are not dark roast, because this will be the flavor of your final product. I chose the darkest roast I could find, which in this case is French Roast. Try to buy your beans right before you use them. Lots of recipes recommend powdered coffees or canned ones (like Folgers) but I think you should avoid these if at all possible. And never put your beans in the freezer! This ruins their quality. Your coffee beans should slightly glisten with oil, if not, you have an old (or inferior) product, so be sure to check!

Step 3: Making Your Coffee

You will need about a liter of coffee for this recipe. I would recommend using a Moka pot or espresso maker, however the Moka pot will take significantly less time. My Moka pot only makes about 1 cup every batch, so it took about 8 batches to make enough coffee.

If you have never seen this crazy contraption in the photo, rest assured, it is available in most home-goods and cooking stores. The bottom reservoir is filled with water. I boiled hot water in an electric kettle before filling the reservoir each time and this cut prep time in half. You fill the water to just below the pressure valve on the side.

Coffee grinds go in the middle portion. You do not need to pack it tightly, just scoop it in until it is full.

Coffee needs to be ground about espresso coarseness. Do a test run first to see if the grind needs to be adjusted. If the water has a hard time coming out, make your grind more coarse. If the coffee appears too light or tastes weak, make your grind less coarse.

Place it on the stove and watch. The stove should be at medium heat.

Step 4: The Coffee

This is what it looks like when your coffee is almost ready to be pulled off of the stove. Pull it off of the heat as it is bubbling up. If you don't, you risk boiling the coffee, which will negatively affect it's flavor. If you aren't sure if you did it right, taste it. Pour the coffee into your heat-resistant container while you brew your next batch. Do not keep the coffee on a warmer or re-heat it. Just allow it to cool.

Step 5: Let It Cool

Here is my coffee container hanging out next to my moka pot on the stove. I'm about halfway there.

Step 6: Bottles

I'm self-admittedly cheap. You can buy bottles with air-tight seals at cooking stores and Bed Bath and Beyond, but these cost about $6-10 each depending on the size you purchase. I'd love to have been able to use the wine-sized (750ml) bottles, but being cheap, I opted for Grolsch bottles.

You can buy Grolsch at your grocery store or local BevMo for about $6-8 for 4 bottles, plus you get to drink a few delicious beers in the process.
To clean them, I recommend boiling them in a large pot for a few minutes, but in reality, a good cleansing under the faucet would do. The Everclear is a high enough alcohol content to discourage bacterial growth. I ended up using 2 1/2 Grolsch bottles for this recipe.

Step 7: Adding the Sugar

Mix your 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar with a 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. I used a medium-sized one, and as you can see, it was a bit of overkill. Stir it frequently with a spoon or whisk. You will notice the color darkening and the texture changing. This will take several minutes so be patient. When it gets very syrupy, pull it off of the stove and have a taste. Good and sweet? Great. If it tastes burnt, it is burnt, so start over.

Mix the sugar syrup and your coffee. This is where you add the vanilla. I added 1 1/4 teaspoons, but you can add more or less to taste. Let it cool completely. I cannot stress this enough. Everclear evaporates at a higher temperature than your average alcohol, so you need to make sure the mixture is not still hot.

Add 1 cup Everclear to the mixture and have a final taste. Good, huh?

Step 8: The Hardest Part

This is where you bottle your mixture and say goodbye to it for 2-3 months.

Fill your bottles and cap them. Ensure the caps are snug and air-tight. Most "experts" recommend leaving your liqueurs on a shelf for 2-3 months to allow the taste to fully develop. Can you drink it earlier? Of course!
The liqueur over time will develop a layer of "crud" that will need to be filtered out. You can do this a few days after making it. I used a metal coffee filter, but these same experts recommend filling a regular strainer with cotton balls and pouring the mixture through it. Why cotton balls? The thickness blocks the particles while allowing the fluid to pass through. When they get clogged you can easily toss them and add new ones, whereas straining through a dishtowel will require many dishtowels and laundry later on.

Return to the bottles, then let sit for awhile. A few months later you'll have a great drink to enjoy with friends and family, or a cheap Christmas gift to distribute!



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    13 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Question: I can't get everclear in my corner of the world, but there's a kind of 58%abv clear grain alcohol. Would that work?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i highly recomend cold brewing the coffee. just grind coarce drip, half cup beans to 12 oz water. but the idea is to make a concentrate, so it can be less water if you wish. it has to steep for about 6 hours.

    2 replies

    Considering I don't have either an expresso maker or a moka pot (I've seen them, but they cost of $100 - am I looking in the wrong place?) this is probably my best bet. Do you have directions on how to do this?

    yea, thats going to be the price of a very basic espresso machine, not worth the money at all. to get a good one that will give you real espresso and not just very strong, black, bitter motor oil you will have to spend $600+. crazy i know. thats for the serious *insane* coffee connoisseurs such as i use to be last year. but like i said, the ones that are $100 or so are not worth it at all, you can get amazing coffee comparatively with a Toddy cold brewer or an Aeropress. i never got a Toddy, but the Aeropress i did and loved it!! it makes the smoothest coffee i ever had. but, what you use to brew your beans is of little importance if they are not fresh, roasted by a pro and ground on the spot per brew with a very good burr grinder such as the programmable Cuisinart conical grinder which is a beginner grinder for about $130 (a good grinder is worth more by far than any other machine you use to make your jo, all good tasting coffee starts with a proper roast immediately followed by a precision grind). a pro grinder that will far out-perform the Cuisinart will run around$300-$1000. but again, for the serious coffee maniac, lol.

    but bottom line both brewers i mentioned will make better more drinkable coffee from almost any beans. also they are both highly easy to use! very simple workings, no complicated processes. oh and one tip, i found that while the Areopress says to brew for 30 seconds that in reality a 1 minute brew gave a thicker body to the cup. and also, you can find a better grinder for less if you are willing to use a hand crank . Hario is a brand that is a pretty small cute little grinder, its $40. but there is also Zassenhaus("zauzenhaus"), they are about $100 and one will last you up to 5 years and still grind well. the better grind you have, the sharper definition your coffee will have in the taste department.

    Hakam Al Kemawy

    7 years ago on Step 7

    Ethyl alcohol and water mixture will not evaporate completely, alcohol will for an azeotropic mixture at about 45% and will need reduction of pressure to be completely removed.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    If you want to make the edit, Everclear evaporates at a lower temp because of its higher alcohol content. If it actually evaporated at a higher temp, it would be okay if the liquid were still hot. :) Great instructable, though!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    So hey, since you're obviously a coffee enthusiast who is in this for the coffee flavor, tell me--how sweet is this recipe, exactly? I find Kahlua way too sweet; I want to make a coffee liqueur which actually tastes like a cup of bold coffee with a bit of sugar added. After all, it's a lot easier to sweeten a drink than to make it less sweet, right?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I just saw this! Beans are definitely the key ingredient here, being all the flavor and what not. I take yours turned out very well for having written a complete 'nother instructable about it! I'm still enjoying mine, how did yours come out?

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah thanks for the inspiration! Mine turned out pretty nicely but I'm hoping to do another batch using the espresso method. I'm sure I'll have a good stockpile before the winter months start creeping in...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, so what kind of espresso maker are you thinking of using? I've been thinking about getting one, but I cannot for the life of me choose one since the moka pot has been doing pretty well. Also, how well does La Costa Coffee do compared to others? And probably more importantly do they ship their beans?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The espresso machine I have now is very slow and I can't imagine how long it would take to even fill a cup. I'm sure Krups makes a decent one for under 60 bucks. If only I could afford a Jura-Capresso machine!

    I really like La Costa Coffee because they roast their beans on site in small batches. The roaster is in view of the public and they are always ready and willing to educate people about the roasting process. Here is the link for their site: http://www.lacostacoffee.com/. Their beans have never tasted burnt (like I get from Starbucks) and they are always fresh. I could always send you a sample if you wanted to try them out!

    Ohh nom nom to say the least.... Hmm, Whenever you're bored and looking for a quick and easy coffee liquer, make a coffee, instead of milk and sugar, even if you take sugar drop in some Bailey's or similar Irish cream, honestly it's the cheaper sweeter with the rough ones... Honesly it's like replacing milk with cream and alcohol, literally, not bad but very, very sweet, though the first sip'll taste like pure spirits because alcohol boils at a much lower temperature, after that though, it's lovely...

    1 reply