How To Make Coffee Liqueur At Home
Often made with other flavorings like maple syrup or citrus, coffee liqueur is surprisingly easy to make at home. All you need is coffee (we recommend ours), a neutral spirit such as vodka, and something to sweeten it with. You'll wonder how your bar cart ever existed without it. Plus, you'll save a nice chunk of money.
What Kind of Coffee Do I Need to Make Coffee Liqueur?
Above all else, you'll need great-tasting coffee. Most recipes recommend instant coffee (aka the freeze-dried stuff your grandma drinks). Red flag. If you start with lackluster coffee, you'll end up with lackluster liqueur. Not to mention, your liqueur will lack depth—there will be no floral subtleties, juicy cantaloupe undertones, or hints of chocolatey walnut. If that's not your vibe, though, no worries. We've got brews so bold your liqueur won't know what hit it. Try Octane if you're looking for a bite. If you're looking for a nightcap, consider brewing with a flavorful decaf.
Making a Basic Coffee Liqueur
- 4 cups coffee, brewed strong (we recommend French press)
- 2 cups plain white sugar*
- 2 cups unflavored vodka
- additional spices or flavors, optional
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine 4 cups strong coffee and 2 cups sugar. Stir until dissolved.
- If you'd like to jazz up your liqueur with additional spices or flavors, now's the time to add them.
- Once dissolved, remove from heat and allow your mixture to cool to room temperature. Decant into a sealable bottle.
- Add two cups of unflavored vodka to the bottle, seal tight, and let sit for a week. For better flavor, we recommend a month. If you're using more potent additives or spices, they may overwhelm the liqueur if left in too long so consider removing them after the first week.
- If you haven't done so already, strain out the undissolved ingredients (cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, etc.), and serve over ice or shaken in your favorite cocktail.
Can I Make Coffee Liqueur with Cold Brew?
Of course! Cold brew can do and be anything. Using a 1:10 ratio (1:8 if you want it strong), saturate 70g (1/2 cup) coarse-ground coffee with 700g (25oz.) cold or room-temperature water. Allow it to steep for 10 - 24 hours and use the concentrate in place of French press above. Cold brew coffee is lower in acid, smoother, and sometimes more flavorful than its hot counterpart.
What Can I Flavor My Coffee Liqueur With?
Coffee and mixology are all about experimentation, so here are some of our favorite ways to add a little extra something-something to coffee liqueur:
- chai spices: whole cloves, green cardamom, star anise, fennel, nutmeg, cinnamon
- citrus: lemon peel, orange peel, key lime peel
- other fruit: dried cherries, dried apples, dried bananas
- sweeteners: piloncillo, turbinado, light and dark brown sugar, honey, agave nectar*
- spirits: whipped cream vodka, spiced rum
* Plain sugar adds plain sweetness. Brown and natural sugars add sweetness as well as different flavor components. Liquid sweeteners like honey and agave nectar add even more flavor but keep in mind, they're much sweeter than plain sugar and adjust your recipe accordingly.