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Spice Up Holiday Coffee - Homemade Kahlua


Melissa lives in Downtown Albuquerque. She loves sharing her local discoveries with fellow travelers and explorers.

Photo courtesy of miccala.

Photo courtesy of miccala.

Make Your Own Kahlua Instead of Buying It

There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of home brewing a liqueur or alcohol based drink and then inviting your friends over for a tasting.

Kahlua is a nice addition to your morning coffee but can also be added to a cola, ginger ale or club soda for a different type of refreshing taste. A little milk added to the kahlua and cola and you have another tasty afternoon or happy hour treat.

My Kahlua History

My summers during my college years and through my twenties were spent pool and beach side hanging out with friends and family. Every summer my friends and I would choose a summer drink of choice and that is what we drank all summer.

I barely recall a rather dangerous summer drinking Black Russians (kahlua and vodka) and another drinking Black Cows (kahlua, cola, half and half) which extended every night through the next morning when we would drop the cola and add the kahlua and half and half to our morning coffee.

But the best summers came when we learned to brew our own kahlua. A process that takes anywhere from a week to a month. But if I remember correctly the best tasting stuff is brewed longer.

The Tools You Need

  • measuring cups and spoons
  • cooking pots - 2 quart or larger
  • a glass bottle with a cap - a gallon size or larger

Find a gallon sized glass bottle to use for storing and aging the kahlua. Plastic or metal won't do--the alcohol can leach into the plastic and the metal can give the kahlua a funny taste. You will need something that holds a gallon of liquid.

TIP for better results:

Buy a dozen or more glass bottles wholesale if you're planning on using your homemade Kahlua make as gifts. You'll spend less is you've got a lot of people on your gift list.

Recipe - Making Kahlua with Bourbon


  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 ounces of instant expresson coffee (antiqua is good)
  • fifth of bourbon
  • vanilla bean (just a single vanilla bean, not paste and not powder)


  1. Place the water and the sugar into a pot and bring to a boil on the stove
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool (about 30 minutes)
  4. Pour the mixture into a gallon sized glass bottle
  5. Add a fifth of bourbon (Yes the whole fifth) and a single vanilla bean to the bottled mixture
  6. Cap the bottle and let it sit for a month in a dark cabinet or corner of the kitchen

Find Vanilla Beans

photo courtesy of weloo

photo courtesy of weloo

Recipe - Make the Kahlua with Vodka

The poor mans kahlua!


  • 1 quart of water
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of instant coffee (espresso will add a stronger flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of vodka


  • Bring water, sugar and coffee to a boil
  • Turn down the heat and barely simmer the mixture for 3 hours
  • remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature
  • Place the mixture into a glass container and add the vanilla extract and the vodka and cap
  • Refrigerate for one week

You can see how different this recipe is. It is quicker to make. It doesn't need to be blended for very long and you are really left to add your own flavoring through the choice of coffee you use.

Give Homemade Kahlua as a Gift

Kahlua makes a great gift during the holidays.

Always make a recipe and taste it for yourself first before giving it to anyone as a gift. Because kahlua takes a while to make, you will need to get started early if you plan on giving it for a December or early January gift.

Try using a smaller, decorative bottle with a ribbon or other item wrapped at the bottle's throat. Giving a gallon of kahlua is fine but splitting the gallon up and giving it to friends in small batches may make the kahlua seem more special.


Cork may need to be sealed with wax to prevent it from leaking duirng the gift giving process.

Try a decorative glass bottle stopper instead of a cork or screw on cap.

Have You Ever Made Kahlua?

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on November 18, 2011:

I probably will now. lol :)

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