Revamped Coffee Liqueur aka Homemade Kahlua

Homemade Coffee Liqueur on Get Sconed!
One of the proudest moments in the early realm of my DIY mixology was one of the very first: taking on homemade Kahlua for holiday gifts. Once upon a time, a friend had brought a bottle of her own to a party earlier in the holiday season, and I found myself so dang blown away and inspired by the flavors in that bottle. How did someone make something that good?! Why was no one else doing this?! Why would I ever buy big brand stuff again?!

Not only did I get to skip buying crap for my coworkers that year, but I had something fun to do! I quickly jumped on board and realized that Kahlua is really just a brand – it was the coffee liqueur I was beckoning. So, I brewed some Stumptown, gathered the grain alcohol and vanilla, a giant pot, some cute bottles, and got to it. The end project was much more impressive than it let on, and I was enamored.

Fast forward a few years into a late summer’s start in fruit liqueur action and homemade vanilla bourbon extract at my side, and I was ready to embark once more.

The recipe remains simple, and call it DIY Kahlua or homemade coffee liqueur with your beans’ region of origin thrown in for artisan pride, and start planning the rest of your cocktail party.

Of course, use coffee you like – the more you like your roasted beans, the better the final product. And go fair trade!

Homemade Coffee Liqueur
  • 9 cups of strongly brewed coffee, cooled
  • 3/4 liter high proof alcohol
  • 1 1/2 lbs. vegan sugar (I primarily used a mix of dark brown and coconut palm sugar)
  • 5 tablespoons of high quality vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons of finely grated blood orange peel
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • optional: pinch of cinnamon powder or extract
Whisk the sugar into the cooled coffee in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer on low for 20 minutes. Let cool, and bottle as desired. Your coffee liqueur will keep indefinitely and does not need to be refrigerated. Enjoy in cocktails, sauces and baking.

Served straight up, over ice

Homemade Coffee Liqueur on Get Sconed!

Suggested cocktails:

Coconut White Russian (makes 1)

Oh, my.
>Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3-5 ounces of vodka, 2 ounces of coffee liqueur, and top with 3 ounces of your very favorite non-dairy coffee creamer – and in this case, I’ll recommend a sweet coconut creamer. Slow stir before sipping.
You could also do canned coconut milk, but stir before using and consider adding a drop of liquid sweetener.
Note: If the thought of all that cream is a bit much, omit for a traditional Black Russian.

Watching Elf (makes 1)

A strong whiskey-based cocktail that my sister and I put together while watching the aforementioned film, that’s balanced with rich coffee and fresh blood orange. Not quite early morning appropriate.
>Shake 2 ounces of vanilla-infused whiskey (or whiskey plus a dash of vanilla extract), 1 ounce of coffee liqueur, 1/2-1 ounce of fresh blood orange juice and a dash of your favorite bitters with ice, pour into a chilled glass, and serve.

Tip: You can easily substitue non-flavored vodka for the high proof grain alcohol, such as Everclear (which is derived from corn, celiacs) in this recipe , but if you can find it, go with the latter, as it will give it a much cleaner vibe. If you do go with vodka, try to find 100 proof or above.

To read about my homemade fruit liqueur making (Zomg, included on the latest PPK 100), head this way.


  1. Oh man, I definitely need to give this a try. Love the idea of adding blood orange peel to point up the coffee flavors. This also reminded me that I had a jar of limoncello-in-processes that needed to be strained. 🙂 Yay for homemade liqueurs!

  2. Ooh, I made kalua from Vegan Food Gifts for Xmas gifts this year! And I made myself a jar. I’ve been wondering what to do with it besides mixing it into almond milk. I’ll try your cocktail recipes!

  3. i love this idea and am keen to try it. i’m wondering, is there a reason you simmer the alcohol with everything else, rather than adding it at the end (doesn’t it all evaporate in 20 minutes)?

    1. Hey Sophia –

      Because of the brief time you have everything on the stove, nothing seems to evaporate. I’m no food scientist, but it seems that the flavors really meld during this time, and the sugar cooks in.

  4. Thank you for posting this! I went to Barnivore today to look up a liqueur and {{{bam}}} right there on the front page I came across a sad fact…Kahlua is no longer considered vegan-friendly! (Bone char has raised its ugly head once again.) So jumpinjoyfuls, I found your recipe and cocktail recipes to boot! Cheers!

  5. Hello, Your recipe calls for 32/4 liter grain alcohol. How come Kahlua now states it is coffee and RUM? Should I use rum instead of grain alcohol? Also, how do you pre-sterilize bottles (do you need to?) to prevent growth of anything on long storage? Thanks

    1. Hi Rich,

      Very interesting. Perhaps they’ve changed the formula, or that has something to do with the sugar content in their production? You could certainly use rum and get a great end product, I’ve done similar with chocolate liqueur.
      I don’t pre-sterilize my bottles besides simply washing them well with dishsoap first. I’ve never had any issues with using the final product within a year or so. Good luck & enjoy!

  6. As a home distiller I will tell you that the alcohol you enjoy in your recipe are boiling off as soon as they hit 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit…long before the boiling point of water which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So while your recipe is merrily simmering on the stove you are reducing the potency of your mix with every passing second!

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