Homemade Coffee Liqueur (aka: Kahlúa™)

This Coffee Liqueur (aka: Kahlúa) is a simple recipe with only a few ingredients. There are many recipes for the liqueur on the Internet, some of made with espresso. And some with instant coffee.  Both are to die for.

This is a recipe, I have had since my college days. My roommates and I would make batches all winter long.  I have always felt this was better than what is on the market.  It can also makes a fabulous gift.  You can get some beautiful amber/brown bottles to store the liqueur in.  Then decorate the bottles with a raffia ribbon for a fabulous gift.

Kahlúa is a brand name (trademark) of a coffee liqueur on the market.  It is like saying gelatin is Jell-O.  Or, a Band-Aidis a bandage.  So, we are making coffee liqueur.

Watch the step by step process: Click Here

Step-by-step visual

Coffee liqueurs do not like UV light (sunlight).  The brown/amber bottles will help filter out the UV light.  Blue is only a medium protection from UV light.  Where brown will filter most of the UV.  Therefore you see beer and other distilled liquids, like rum, in amber bottles. Great article at https://www.glassnow.com/blog/2016/08/31/color-bottles-jars-use-light-sensitive-products/

I don’t recommend that you use a vodka like Everclear.  It proof is around 180-proof; which is too high for this recipe. Or, using a high-end vodka. Look for a 100-proof vodka. Once the coffee liqueur ages a bit the 100-proof vodka will mellow out.

What I use:


  • 4 cups water (preferably filtered or distilled) (https://amzn.to/2KYjPEy )
  • 1 ½ cups instant coffee crystals or 1/4 cup dried espresso (https://amzn.to/2Il6FQr )
  • 4 ½ cups 100 proof vodka
  • 8 cups sugar or brown sugar
  • 3-4 vanilla beans (split)
  • Brown/amber glass bottles that seals tightly (not blue), any size. Examples below
    • 3-36 ounces /1100 ml
    • 9-12 ounces /350 ml


  1. In a large Dutch oven / stock pot, mix water, sugar and coffee crystals.
  2. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until liquid is syrupy and all the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Add vodka. Stir to mix well. If any “candy” crust has formed on the sides of the pot.  Just scrap those off and mix in.  Like all candy, it should dissolve.
  5. Rinse bottles inside and out with cool water.
  6. Using a funnel, pour mixture into 6 – 12.5 oz. bottles.
  7. Cut each vanilla bean into thirds and drop the bean strand evenly across each bottle.
  8. Wipe down the opening of the bottle with a damp paper towel. And clean up the bottle of any spillage.
  9. Cap bottles and store in a dark and cool place for at least 4 weeks.
  10. Shake gently about every week.
  11. After 4 weeks, over a large bowl, strain liquid from bottle. Then remove vanilla beans
  12. Then with a funnel rebottle liquid back into the brown bottle. And store in a dark and cool place.
  13. Makes almost 3-36-ounce amber bottles. Which is about 3.18 liters.


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