Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Homemade coffee liqueur in a glass with ice

The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Infusion Time: 240 hrs
Total: 241 hrs
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
225 Calories
0g Fat
38g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 37g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 4mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

"Espresso martinis will be on the agenda for most nights to come now that I have plenty of coffee liqueur on hand." —Lauryn Bodden

Homemade coffee liqueur in a large glass carafe
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 cups sugar

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise

  • 8 tablespoons instant coffee

  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle rum (or vodka)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for homemade coffee liqueur gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

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

    Sugar, water, and vanilla combined in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  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.

    Instant coffee added to the syrup mixture in the saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. In a sealable glass jar or bottle, combine the flavored syrup with 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.

    Flavored syrup with rum or vodka in a bottle

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  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.

    Straining the liqueur through a fine-mesh strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

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

    Homemade coffee liqueur in a glass with ice

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar


  • 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.