Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Coffee drink with cream
sf_foodphoto/Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 16 servings

Making a homemade version of Kahlua or Tia Maria is surprisingly easy. For a simple coffee liqueur recipe, all you need is a base liquor, instant coffee, a vanilla bean, sugar, and water. It's a fun project and you'll find that it's less expensive than the store-bought coffee liqueurs.

Rum or vodka are the two liquors commonly used to make coffee liqueur. The rum will produce a slightly sweeter version due to its molasses base, so it's much closer to the popular brands you may be used to.

The liqueur doesn't take much time to prepare, though it will take about 10 days for the flavor to fully develop. When it's done, your coffee liqueur can be enjoyed on its own over ice or in your favorite cocktails, including the popular white Russian.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-inch piece vanilla bean
  • 8 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 1 750ml bottle rum (or vodka)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vanilla bean, sugar, and water to create a simple syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

  3. Reduce to a simmer. When the sugar solution has been reduced by half—or after about 30 minutes—remove the pan from the heat. Stir in 8 tablespoons of quality instant coffee. Allow the mixture to cool.

  4. In a sealable glass jar or bottle, combine the flavored syrup with the rum or vodka. Shake well and let sit in a cool, dark area for 10 days. Every day or two, give the bottle a good shake.

  5. After 10 days, strain the liqueur through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove all the coffee granules and the vanilla bean. Store in a sealed liquor bottle.

  6. Enjoy the liqueur on its own or use it in coffee liqueur cocktails!


  • You can customize the flavor to your personal tastes by varying the level of coffee, sugar, or vanilla.
  • Be sure to choose a quality instant coffee as it will significantly affect the overall flavor of your liqueur. Likewise, the rum or vodka should be a brand that you wouldn't mind drinking on its own.
  • You'll find it easier to strain the solution from a jar or bottle with a wide mouth rather than a thin-necked liquor bottle.
  • As with any liquor infusion, the time needed will vary. It's best to give it a taste test every couple of days to see how the flavor is progressing.
  • Reusing the liquor bottle that your rum or vodka came in is a great way to recycle. Rinse the bottle well and remove the label. Add a new label—painter's tape is perfect for temporary labels—with the flavor and date you made it.
  • Store the liqueur as you would any other distilled spirit. If kept under a tight seal, it should retain its flavor for a few months.

Recipe Variations

  • Vanilla beans can be expensive. For a cheaper alternative, you can use about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to make the vanilla simple syrup instead.
  • If you prefer, switch from instant coffee to whole coffee beans, using 1/2 cup of your favorite roast. This may change the amount of time needed for the infusion, so it's best to taste your liqueur regularly. Once the flavor is where you like it, strain out the beans.