There are many recipes for homemade Kahlua on the Internet. Some are simple and can be made very quickly using instant coffee and others require more time to make. I decided to make Kahlua (coffee liqueur) and tried a few of the available recipes. I discovered in a very short time that in order to make a good quality coffee liqueur I would have to figure out how to add the coffee flavor without the coffee becoming bitter or without the liqueur becoming too watery. These were the first obstacles to overcome.
The finished liqueur must be of a certain viscosity and alcohol content. If coffee is brewed in water, then the liqueur will be watery and will have a low alcohol content. You can get around this problem by using instant coffee. I tried several different instant coffees – some freeze dried and others heat dried – and I found that all instant coffee is bitter. There is just no way around it.
I had the idea that I could simply infuse ground coffee directly into spirit – totally cold – and that was the breakthrough. It worked. By infusing ground coffee directly into the spirits I was able to use any commercially available coffee. Real Kahlua is made from 100% gourmet Arabica coffee beans. I felt that it was necessary to use 100% gourmet Arabica coffee in my recipe as well so I found an online source at Dr. Soda.
Real Kahlua also has a unique aroma that comes from cane spirit, which is a cousin of rum. You don’t find cane spirit in too many liquor stores, but Bacardi rum is widely available. I found that Bacardi Superior rum does impart an aroma and flavor that is very close to real Kahlua so that is my first choice for the spirit used to make this liqueur.
Real Kahlua is also made with some caramel so my recipe uses standard caramel syrup along with some standard sugar syrup. Real Kahlua is a fairly viscous liqueur so it is necessary to boil down the standard sugar syrup to 90% of its original volume to obtain the desired viscosity. If you use too much caramel, the liqueur will have an undesirable, lingering aftertaste. This recipe calls for the making of a blending stock with the right combination of caramel and sugar syrups to obtain a smooth tasting finished product.
- 4 cups rum (Bacardi Superior Light Rum is best but a cheaper brand may also work)
- 1 cup Farmer Bros. Medium Roast 100% Gourmet Arabica Coffee
- Combine rum and coffee in a 2 qt. Mason jar. Shake vigorously to thoroughly mix ingredients.
- Macerate for 4 weeks then strain and filter the contents with a metal coffee filter. Let settle for about 3 to 4 weeks then rack off the clarified part and filter the remainder with paper coffee filters to clarify the infused spirits.
Blending Instructions (sweeten and blend the liqueur):
- Make a blending stock using the following proportions:
- 5 oz standard caramel syrup
- 10 oz standard sugar syrup boiled down to 9 oz. (90% of original volume)
- Add blending stock and vanilla extract to the infused spirits according to the following proportions:
- 4 oz infused spirit
- 6 oz blending stock
- 1/4 oz (1 1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
- Medium Roast Gourmet Arabica coffee available online from Dr. Soda.
Part I – Infusing the Coffee
Shown below is a shot of the ingredients and 2 Qt. Mason jar. Bacardi rum will impart a better aroma (shown below: back row, middle), but you can use a cheaper brand of rum (e.g. Ron Caballero – shown below: back row, right).
Measure and add the coffee to the jar, then measure and add the rum.
Here is a shot of all the ingredients shaken up and ready to set aside for maceration. The ratio of rum to coffee is 4 to 1. In this case I added 5 cups rum and 1 1/4 cups of coffee.