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The Drink

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

by Nick

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Big Lebowski. I went through a phase where I watched it at least once a week. Most of the time I watched it with my college roommates with a few White Russians (the choice drink of The Dude.) If I had a dollar for every bottle of Kahlua I’ve seen polished off while watching this movie…

If I only knew then what I know now. Turns out you can pretty easily make homemade coffee liqueur that tastes surprising like the brand name stuff!

Thanks to my good friend Donna who gave me this recipe which has apparently been in her family for a good long while. Nice of her to share it.

Yield
Makes 10 cups.
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups water
  • 4 Cups sugar
  • 2-3 Cups vodka (depending on how potent you want the stuff. Oh... and no need to use Grey Goose for this stuff.)
  • 1/2 Cup dark roast ground coffee (freshly ground is best)
  • 1 whole vanilla bean

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Measure out vodka and add it to a clean gallon jug.

2) Slice the vanilla bean it open lengthwise and then slide your knife down the inside of the bean. You could also use a spoon to do this. There will be a bunch of tiny crystals that you can scrape out of the bean. Scrape them all into the gallon jug with the vodka! You can also chop up the bean itself into 3 pieces and throw into the jug. No reason wasting a $5 bean.

3) Grind up some coffee. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, it would be worth it to get some fresh ground coffee from the store for this recipe. Since it’s steeping for so long, it’s important to have flavorful and quality coffee.

4) Add the coffee to the jug. Give it a good shake and you’ll have a very dark brew.

5) In a large pot, add water and sugar together and heat it up. Stir it every once in awhile. Once all the sugar is dissolved, let it cool for a few minutes and then add syrupy mixture to the jug!

6) Seal up the jug and let it sit in a cool dark spot for about 3 weeks. It’s a good idea to give it a shake every day or two just to make sure that all the flavors are getting infused.

7) Three weeks later………slowly pour mixture through a colander with a coffee filter inside. Work slowly, it will take some time for the liquid to all filter through and you may need to change your filter a few times as all the grounds accumulate. You can use the same jug or use clean wine bottles.

8) Add a bit of the liqueur to a glass with some ice and a touch of half and half or cream.


To kick off this recipe you need some vodka and a clean gallon jug. I used a plastic water jug that I cleaned out well. It’s very important that it has a lid also because this stuff needs to steep for 3 weeks.

Measure out your vodka and add it to your jug. I went with 3 cups of vodka because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Biggest shot ever.

Biggest shot ever.

The flavors

The flavors for this are very simple. There are only two: coffee and vanilla. So it’s really important that you use high quality stuff. This unfortunately means that you need to splurge on real vanilla beans which cost almost more than the vodka. These two beans cost me $10. Don’t worry though, there is a ton of flavor in these guys.

One expensive bean.

One expensive bean.

To extract all the flavor out of the bean, slice it open lengthwise and then slide your knife down the inside of the bean. You could also use a spoon to do this. There will be a bunch of tiny crystals that you can scrape out of the bean. These are packed with flavor. Scrape them all into the gallon jug with the vodka!

Cool stuff.

Cool stuff.

Just for good measure, I also chopped up the bean itself into 3 pieces and threw it into the jug. No reason wasting a $5 bean.

Next, grind up some coffee. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, it would be worth it to get some fresh ground coffee from the store for this recipe. Since it’s steeping for so long, it’s important to have flavorful and quality coffee.

Fresh ground coffee.

Fresh ground coffee.

Add the coffee to your jug. Give it a good shake and you’ll have a very dark brew.

Vodka and flavor.

Vodka and flavor.

Making the Simple Syrup

Meanwhile, in a large pot, add your water and sugar together and heat it up. Stir it every once in awhile. Once all the sugar is dissolved, let it cool for a few minutes and then add your syrupy mixture to the jug!

Note that this recipe makes for a fairly sweet final product. I actually think that if I made it again, I might reduce the sugar to 3 1/2 cups.

Add the simple syrup.

Add the simple syrup.

The hard part – Waiting

Seal up your jug and let it sit in a cool dark spot for about 3 weeks. It’s a good idea to give it a shake every day or two just to make sure that all the flavors are getting infused.

Filtering the stuff

When you’re ready to finish off your Kah- I mean coffee liqueur, get out a colander with a coffee filter and slowly pour your liqueur through the filter. Work slowly, it will take some time for the liquid to all filter through and you may need to change your filter a few times as all the grounds accumulate.

Three weeks later...

Three weeks later…

I did my filtering in a few batches, each one taking a few minutes, and resulting in this beautiful richly colored liquid.

Liquid gold!

Liquid gold!

You could of course store your coffee liqueur in the same plastic jug you used to steep it, but I washed out a few wine bottles and stored it in those. Keeps like a charm for a very long time.

When you’re ready for a nightcap or feel the need for a Big Lebowski session, just add a bit of the liqueur to a glass with some ice and a touch of half and half or cream.

The Dude abides.

So good.

So good.

I actually found that mine was best after the ice melted a bit, which I think means that my mix was a bit sweet for my tastes. It’s all relative though and the drink gets less sweet as the ice melts so I would rather have it be too sweet than not sweet enough.

This was a really fun project and took no time at all to actually make, but I will say that the waiting was rather painful. It was like waiting for Christmas.