How To Make Kahlúa at Home

Ask people what is in Kahlúa and you'll get a variety of answers. (True story: one of my friends said, "it has chocolate in it, right?") All anyone knows is that you use Kahlúa in White Russians and Mudslides, and if you happen to have a bottle in your liquor cabinet, it never gets used up. We're going to fix both those issues right now with a DIY Kahlúa that showcases the best of this handy liqueur and a few ways you should absolutely be using it.

Kahlúa is a coffee liqueur made in Veracruz, Mexico. It's been around since 1936; imports to the United States started in 1940. The liqueur infuses Mexican-grown arabica coffee beans, vanilla beans and sugar in rum for a buzzy, sweet drink. According to the Kahlúa website, it takes seven years to make one bottle, counting the time it takes to grow the coffee.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait seven years to make your own coffee liqueur. This recipe will have you using your own homemade Kahlúa in no time. It also makes a great gift or a fun last-minute addition to any party menu.

DIY Kahlúa Recipe

Making coffee liqueur is incredibly easy and quick. It's just a few ingredients, so make sure they are all good quality. This recipe is also fairly easy to scale and to customize. Start off with equal proportions and then you can adjust based on your personal tastes.

You need:

  • 2 cups good brewed coffee (a stronger brew is better for more coffee flavor)
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of white rum (you can use vodka in a pinch)

Make the coffee simple syrup by combining the coffee and sugar in a saucepan and bringing the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to a simmer, stir until the sugar dissolves and then let the mixture reduce for about 10 minutes or until the liquid looks a little bit like a syrup. Let the syrup cool completely.

To the cooled coffee syrup, add the vanilla and rum, then pour the finished mixture into one large bottle or several smaller ones. Make sure the bottles are completely clean and have an airtight top. If you keep it stored in a cool, dark place, your homemade Kahlúa will stay good for a few years.

How to use coffee liqueur



The Dude requires that the first cocktail in any Kahlúa list is the White Russian: coffee liqueur, vodka, and cream. You can also make a Black Russian, which is just coffee liqueur and vodka.

For a fun shot, the B-52 is a classic layered shot with Kahlúa, Irish cream and Grand Marnier, or you can swap strawberry in for the orange with the T52 Shooter, which uses Tequila Rose strawberry cream liqueur. If a martini is more your thing, try an espresso martini.

Add some more buzz to your hot chocolate or coffee drinks (definitely try it with a mocha).

Coffee liqueur is great with desserts. Served over ice cream or add a grown-up touch to any milkshake. You can also add it to your favorite brownie recipe or use it to make fudge.

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