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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

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe 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.

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39 comments on “Homemade Coffee Liqueur

  1. Very cool recipe. Curious, what's the yield? Also, do you think I could get away with doubling it in the gallon jug? Or just make more than one as the recipe states?

  2. @Melissa Yea.. should have mentioned that. It makes about 1.5 liters I would guess… just because I basically filled up 2 wine bottles.

    If you were going to double it, I THINK you could do it all on one jug but it'd be a pretty tight fit.

  3. Nice Nick! I have done this recipe, and I have a few notes for anyone out there as well:

    1) I like to leave the empty bean inside the bottle. It gives it that almost – tequila worm feel.

    2) I like to use espresso beans. We have nice Italian coffee up here in Montreal, so that is what I use.

    3) If you can part with it, home made coffee liquor makes a really good gift. That is, if you can part with it. LOL

    Good post Nick!

  4. Dear Nick:

    great just in time for holidays. Always wanted to try it thanks for an easy looking pictorial recipe

    now that my limencello recipe got a thumbs up I'm ready for this one

    maybe gansie can get me a farmers Market special V bean too

    To all: Have a safe and fun ( of course cooking one too)

    turkey day holiday

  5. Hey,

    don't know if you use alot of vanilla, or if you have a costco membership, but they have 10 vanilla beans for $13, I almost fell over when I saw them!

    They come 5 to an airtight tube.

  6. Yum- this is a Mexican favorite, not to mention one of my favorites. I love the slippery deep sweetness of Kahlua. Barbara Hansen has a lovely recipe in her 'Mexican Cookery'.

  7. Wondrous! There are so many Dude quotes that fit ("You want some Kahlua? I can get you some Kahlua, believe me," or, "That's a great plan, Walter…"), but they're all scattered with enough curses that I'm hesitant to pollute your family-friendly blog.

  8. Mr. Shah… I ground it pretty rough actually just so it would be easier to filter. Since you shake it up and let it steep for so long, it has plenty of time to get all coffee-flavored.

  9. $5 per bean? If only there were a Penzeys inside DC…

    But this looks awesome, especially that last photo with the ice. Usually I drink coffee in the morning, but I'll probably switch.

  10. Imbibe merrily, but be sure not to spill any on the rug. That rug really ties the room together.

  11. Hi,

    If you like vanilla, then you really need to get friendly with this website. Ive ordered from them many times and have been very satisfied. Half pound of beans and 32oz organic vanilla extract. Twice. Very satisfied.

    Sterling

  12. I made this Coffee Liqueur, but I used dark rum as I didn't have any vodka on hand. I am filtering my batch as I write this, but I am using paper towels instead of coffee filters as my coffee was pretty fine ground(something I will change next time),and I also had to first filter it through my tea basket, but the flavor is Awesome!!!

    I will make this again and again.

    Will be great gifts if I can part with it. You do become a wee bit attached after all that shaking and checking(I used a gallon glass jar)and time.

    Karen

    Karen

  13. Hey guys. Gansie was listening to my chanukka wish list… I got a glass contanier vodka and vanilla beans

    wow can't wait to make it. Will get some good beans

    Happy and Healthy New Year

  14. I have made this twice now – it all went as gifts. But, I enjoyed making it!

    I used a glass gallon jar and the second time I made it I used a Melita V shaped filter and I put the coffee in that, folded the top over really well and stapled itclosed. The filtering was so much easier and it still came out awesome.

  15. Here's a twist I tried for Christmas gifts: Instead of regular old vodka I used 360 Double Chocolate Vodka . . . Makes a yummy mocha flavored drink!!!

  16. I am making a batch right now using chicory coffee. Question; Can I let it steep for the 3 weeks inside of the fridge or is that too cold? Thank you.

  17. Awesome! Loving it!! I’m going to try this recipe and give as a gift. Quick question…has anyone tried this with a Carmel flavored coffee??

  18. Thank you for an easy recipe to follow. I am going to make this for Christmas presents this year. Of course I have to try it out first…I wouldn’t want to poison anyone…lol

  19. I clicked random this morning, found this recipe, and can’ t wait to make it. I see that you mentioned this keeps for a long time, but would you be able to provide a more specific timeframe?

    1. Well, it’s hard to say but because it’s basically an infused vodka I think it would last as long as vodka lasts… which is a very long time.

      Mine didn’t last longer than a few weeks though. :)

  20. You can get vanilla beans on ebay for freakin pennies. They sell them in lots of 10, 20, up to a hundred and they are premium grade. Just to save you some moola on future booze-based projects.. Thanks for the recipe, gonna try it out alongside my usual sloe gin and limoncello cheap-ass Xmas gifts.

  21. Thanks for the recipe.. But, I will substitute the vodka for rum to make it more authentic to Kahlua.. most definitely. :) Not only thanks for the recipe, but also saving me a load of money.. Kahlua is EXPENSIVE here, for the amount you get.

  22. GREAT recipe! I Just made my second batch….Mmm! Other recipes used instant coffee. I think that’s sac-religious isn’t it!? I usually mix “Kahlua” with Coke/Pepsi. This turned out so smooth I like sipping it over ice .

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