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12 Days of Edible Gifts: Homemade Kahlua

The Secret to Making Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur at Home

Did you know you can make your own version of Kahlúa at home? It takes three weeks for the coffee beans to infuse the vodka and rum mixture, so you'll want to prepare this ahead of time if you plan to use or give it as a gift.

What most don't realize is that the best bartenders are busy mixing up everything from homemade Baileys to fresh grenadine. The techniques they use to make these superior mixers are easily adaptable for the home.

A few weeks ago when I decided to make this, I spoke with San Francisco star bartender Scott Baird. Although most recipes call for simply a clear spirit like vodka or light rum, Baird insists on a mixture of vodka and dark rum for a rich flavor and thick syrup-like liquid.

Homemade Kahlúa

Homemade Kahlúa

Kahlua Recipe


  1. 1 (750 ml) bottle vodka or white rum
  2. 1 1/4 cups dark rum, like Pampero
  3. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  4. 3/4 pound whole coffee beans
  5. 1 vanilla bean
  6. 1 cinnamon stick
  7. 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs, optional
  8. 1 slice of orange peel, optional


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a sealable container. Shake hard to combine.
  2. Label with the date and let sit in a cool, dark place for three weeks. Shake or stir the mixture several times of week.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a clean vessel. Use like you would Kahlua or any other coffee liquor.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
My ex made his own Absinth once. I'll never forget the stomach churning hangover. Homemade kahlua sounds cool though. I might make this for my partner.
pj-mambo pj-mambo 8 years
sorry, what is a cocoa nib?
partysugar partysugar 8 years
MaggietheCat: I am suck a dork and save bottles. Any time I have a nice olive oil that runs out, I simply wash the bottle and reuse it. The homemade grenadine was packaged in another old olive oil bottle.
MaggietheCat MaggietheCat 8 years
Where can I find an empty bottle like this?
emalove emalove 8 years
Yum...I like Kahlua.
roxyb roxyb 8 years
I am going to make this over the weekend!
wunami wunami 8 years
So it comes out kind of syrupy like commercial Kahlua? Do the beans retain their shape or do they start breaking up from sitting in liquid so long?
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 8 years
My husband and I are going to be the "favorite" relatives when we put this into the gift baskets for the family reunion gift basket exchange on New Year's Day! LOL :) I also need to start planning the contents of our goodie gift bags and baskets for next year because there are way too many wonderful ideas on this website! :)
syako syako 8 years
Ha! Didn't think so. Just wanted to make sure! ;)
Spectra Spectra 8 years
My husband made his own Kahlua once in college, but I think he did it the "frat boy" way...I think he dumped a bunch of coffee beans and sugar and a bottle of cheap vodka into a container and let it steep. He said it tasted OK, but it wasn't great. This recipe looks like it would work out a lot better, lol. I'll have to try it.
partysugar partysugar 8 years
I just used the saucepan as a mixing bowl. No heating — you don't want to boil off the alcohol!
syako syako 8 years
I'm a little confused after looking at the pics --- are you supposed to put the items in a saucepan and heat or did you just use a saucepan as a "mixing bowl"
syako syako 8 years
Very cool!
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