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

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

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

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)

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)

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!

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.



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    63 Discussions


    3 years ago

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

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

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


    3 years ago on Step 6

    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!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    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.


    7 years ago on Step 4

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


    7 years ago on Step 3

    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!


    9 years ago on Step 3

    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.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 1

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

    8 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

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


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

    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'.