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How to make your own coffee liqueur

Coffee liqueur is used in several cocktails, from the popular Espresso Martini to a White Russian, Black Russian, Bahama Mama, Mudslide and many others. The most well-known branded coffee liqueurs are Tia Maria and Kahlua, and these work well in cocktails. But did you realise that you can make your own? We will explain how to make your own coffee liqueur in this article.

What you will need (makes approx 600ml, 20 fl oz)

  • a suitably sized (600ml, 20fl oz) glass bottle with cap (to store your liqueur in)
  • a funnel that fits your chosen bottle
  • 1 cup (240ml, 8 fl oz) good quality strong coffee (this can be freshly brewed or instant)
  • 150g sugar (or equivalent amount of sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) of vanilla essence or extract
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) vodka (unflavoured or vanilla work best)
  • filtered water

1. Preparation

Start by sterilising your funnel and glass bottle, along with a spoon. To do this, you can use sterilising fluid (if you have any) or you can simply use water which is just off the boil. Fill the glass bottle carefully with the hot water and leave to stand for a few minutes. Place the funnel, bottle cap and spoon in a jug or bowl, and cover them with the hot water too. This step is important as it will help to remove any bacteria or germs in the bottle or equipment, helping to prolong the life of your coffee liqueur. Don’t forget to dry the items with a clean towel using clean hands! It doesn’t matter if the inside of the glass bottle isn’t fully dry.

2. Make your coffee

Make your coffee in the usual way – I normally make about 300ml (one cup) of strong coffee using my bean-to-cup coffee machine, but you can use a good quality instant coffee if you prefer.

Coffee machine

3. Add the sugar

Add the sugar or sweetener to the hot coffee using the spoon and stir thoroughly to allow the granules to dissolve. I use an erythritol sweetener, as I prefer to reduce the sugar content in my drinks wherever possible.

4. Add the vanilla essence

Add the vanilla essence to the sweetened coffee and stir to combine thoroughly. Note that vanilla essence or extract is the best option here, rather than vanilla syrup or vanilla flavouring. If you are using vanilla flavoured vodka, you can reduce the amount of vanilla essence or extract, to taste.

Vanilla essence

5. Allow to cool

Allow the coffee to cool down to room temperature (about 15-20 minutes should be enough) and pour it in to your sterilised glass bottle using the clean funnel.

6. Add vodka

Add the vodka (or flavoured vodka) to the coffee mixture in the bottle, again using the funnel.

Vodka bottle

7. Add water

Top up the bottle with filtered water, cap the bottle and invert it a few times to mix the contents.

8. Enjoy!

Your coffee liqueur is ready! The liqueur is best stored it in the fridge until you need to use it – the alcohol and sugar both act as preservatives, so it should keep for at least 2-3 weeks. Use it in your favourite coffee liqueur-based cocktails or enjoy it neat on the rocks.

Espresso Martini


You can of course experiment with this recipe by trying some or all of the following:

  • Swap the vodka for a good quality dark rum
  • Add a little orange essence
  • Add some cinnamon
  • Try using brown sugar rather than refined white sugar
  • Use a flavoured syrup instead of sugar or sweetener – caramel syrup works well!

We hope you enjoy our guide on how to make your own coffee liqueur. Did you try any other flavour combinations? Which drinks did you make with your coffee liqueur? – Let us know in the comments below!

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