Make your own coffee liqueur at home

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Coffee-flavoured spirits or liqueurs have been served alone or as a part of cocktails for greater than three centuries. A coffee liqueur is basically a distilled alcoholic beverage that makes use of coffee as considered one of its main elements.

The current rise of microdistilling has opened the door to all-new distinctive and small batch liqueurs, a lot of which combine high-quality, advanced coffees with spirits. Naturally, this modification has shortly began to seize the curiosity of residence coffee customers as properly.

To be taught extra concerning the world of coffee liqueurs and how one can make your personal at residence, I spoke with two Coffee in Good Spirits champions. Read on to search out out what they advised me.

You may also like our article on coffee liqueurs & spirits and the way high quality is altering.

coffee liqueur

A quick historical past of coffee liqueurs

While it’s believed that the primary coffee liqueur might be traced again to the 1500s, most fashionable coffee liqueur manufacturers immediately originated within the twentieth century.

Many of those in style manufacturers originated in coffee rising nations which additionally produced alcohol. Kahlúa, as an example, was developed in 1936 in Mexico, whereas Tia Maria can was initially manufactured in Jamaica.

Through the twentieth century, coffee liqueurs turned in style via quite a few completely different popular culture references. The White Russian, as an example, was popularised by the protagonist of the 1998 Coen Brothers movie, The Big Lebowski, whereas the legend behind the espresso martini is one other matter solely. 

In current years, newer coffee cocktails (such because the coffee negroni) have began to look, and folks have more and more began to make larger high quality coffee liqueurs.

coffee cocktail

What’s the distinction between liquor and liqueur?

Before we get into the main points of creating your personal coffee liqueur, an necessary distinction have to be made between liquors and liqueurs.

A liquor is a basic fermented spirit produced from a uncooked materials; sugar cane for rum and grains for whiskey or vodka, as an example. A liqueur, nevertheless, is a sort of “base” liquor that has been sweetened and flavoured.

This provides it a selected flavour and a syrupy consistency, as sugary flavours are sometimes added after distillation.

Liquors typically have the next alcohol content material than liqueurs. It’s additionally necessary to notice that whereas sugar is a vital part of any fermentation course of, liquors are sometimes not candy.

Coffee liqueurs vs. liquor coffees

In the world of mixology, the phrases that describe coffee-related alcoholic drinks might be complicated. 

Liquor coffee refers to cocktails that comprise brewed coffee, which is usually blended with distilled alcoholic drinks (liquor/spirits) – akin to Irish coffee.

Coffee liqueur, in the meantime, is a beverage all by itself which makes use of coffee as considered one of its principal substances. They can be utilized in coffee cocktail recipes, or they are often loved on their very own.

Some coffee liqueurs are manufactured with soluble/prompt coffee, whereas others are made with a coffee focus. 

bottle of coffee liqueur

Artisanal coffee liqueurs

Matthew Foster is the 2019 USA Coffee in Good Spirits Champion and supervisor of The Annex, a specialty coffee store in St. Louis, Missouri. He believes that the perfect at-home cocktail recipe is the best one.

He says {that a} good artisanal coffee liqueur is a straightforward technique to elevate nearly any coffee cocktail, making them extremely versatile.

He says: “Add it to some sizzling chocolate and you’ve got what you may name a midnight mocha. Shake it with some chilly brew coffee, cream, cane syrup, and mint, and you’ve got a coffee mojito.”

One of essentially the most troublesome elements of making high quality coffee cocktails is balancing all of the substances you utilize. According to Matthew, it is because brewed coffee is predominantly water – which implies you dilute the cocktail proper from the beginning.

In addition, in the event you use sizzling coffee as the bottom of a drink, you usually have so as to add ice, which additional waters the drink down.

He says: “A coffee liqueur is an efficient possibility for bypassing this subject. By utilizing one, you possibly can obtain the specified coffee flavour and herald that sweetness.

“This leaves extra room for different substances and helps make your recipes and ratios extra easy.” 

Emerson Nascimento gained the Brazilian Coffee in Good Spirits Championship in 2017 and 2020. He’s additionally a coach and coffee advisor primarily based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

He determined to make his personal coffee liqueur as a result of he believes that the merchandise out there in the marketplace don’t use high quality coffee.

He says: “To produce the very best high quality liqueur, I take advantage of specialty coffee and high-quality vodka – my favourite spirit to make use of on this case.”

homemade cocktail

Why consistency and sweetness matter when making your liqueur

A liqueur can be utilized as the bottom for a wide range of cocktails or it could possibly merely be loved by itself – all of it is dependent upon the consistency.

The White Russian and Black Russian, for instance, use milk of their recipes. The syrupy consistency of Kahlúa is crucial to the identification of the drink. Other drinks, just like the espresso martini and coffee negroni, require thinner liquids that comprise much less sugar.

Emerson says that the majority artisanal or premium coffee liqueurs will not be notably thick. Instead, he says, they are usually fairly skinny. He says all of it is dependent upon the feel of the caramel (or different sugar base) utilized in its manufacturing. 

There’s a large assortment of coffee liqueurs in the marketplace, and Matthew says every one has barely completely different traits. Some are sweeter than others, they usually all have completely different mouthfeels.

These variables might be altered to create the specified consistency. Emerson says {that a} versatile coffee liqueur ought to have a flavour profile that works with any variety of “basic” coffee cocktails – that means not less than some sweetness.

“The quantity of sweetness that every one has will immediately affect the flavour of any drink that’s ready with it,” he explains. 

Because of this, Matthew says that when making a coffee liqueur, you must already know what cocktail you’re planning to make. 

He says: “If I’m making an espresso martini, I create one thing drier. This helps to stability my different candy ingredient – spiced vanilla syrup.”

Furthermore, the spirit base may very well be something from rum to tequila – it doesn’t essentially need to be vodka.

If the coffee liqueur is meant to be consumed solely as a digestif, spices like cinnamon and vanilla can be added to present it a extra advanced flavour. However, if it’s going to be added to a cocktail, Emerson says you must skip the spices.

roasted coffee beans

How does coffee high quality have an effect on the completed product?

Some coffee liqueur manufacturers (usually bigger ones) have a tendency to make use of commercial-grade or prompt coffee to provide their drinks. This is then masked by the added caramels or sugars, which give it a candy flavour and sticky mouthfeel. 

Despite this, newer merchandise which use larger high quality beans are rising. Quality is rising up the patron agenda and persons are turning into extra discerning. Mr Black, as an example, affords coffee liqueurs made with specialty-grade chilly brew and “top-grade” wheat vodka.

By utilizing higher-quality beans which have an inherently fascinating flavour profile, you’ll naturally increase the complexity of your liqueur – that means there shall be much less of a necessity so as to add sugar and synthetic flavourings.

According to Matthew, any high-quality coffee can be utilized when making your personal liqueur. Your solely consideration must be the kind of cocktail you need to use it in. 

For the recipe he shares, he tells me that he used a pure Ethiopian coffee, and mentioned its floral notes and sweetness performed “superbly” into the drink.

Emerson’s coffee liqueur recipe


  • Vodka
  • Raw sugar 
  • Cold brew
  • Water


  • Mix one half vodka, one half chilly brew, and one half caramel (see beneath) in an hermetic container. 
  • Place the container within the fridge and permit the liqueur to mature for not less than 15 days.
  • Once matured, preserve refrigerated.

Note: To make the caramel, simmer two elements sugar with one half water till brown and caramelised. Allow to chill earlier than including to the opposite substances.

homemade coffee liqueur

Matthew’s coffee liqueur recipe


  • 30g coffee
  • 175g water
  • 50g uncooked sugar
  • Vodka


  • Make a concentrated pour over utilizing any filter brewing technique. Use 30g of medium-fine floor coffee with 175g water boiled at 94C° (200F°). The brew ought to end in 90 seconds.
  • The yield must be about 100g of coffee focus. 
  • Add 50g uncooked sugar to the coffee focus.
  • Combine in equal elements with a vodka of selection. 

Sugary, thick, bitter, or candy – making your personal coffee liqueur provides you loads of choices. Whether you intend to make use of it in a cocktail or drink it over ice, you possibly can tweak it to your liking utilizing Matthew or Emerson’s base recipes.

So subsequent time you attain for the Kahlúa or the Tia Maria – suppose twice. Consider making your personal. Coffee and alcohol go completely properly collectively – and making your personal liqueur is yet one more modern use for the scrumptious beans you purchase.

Enjoyed this? Check out these DIY coffee cocktails.

Photo credit: Emerson Nascimento, Matthew Foster, Pixabay, Unsplash

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