How to make homemade Kahlua

Make your own coffee liqueur at home in a few simple steps

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Perhaps best described as a "wild cousin" of your typical morning cup of joe, there is much to love about coffee liqueur.

It will come as no surprise that coffee liqueur is often used in cocktails such as a White Russian, an Espresso Martini or a Paralyzer, as well as in desserts, in addition to simply being enjoyed over ice. Kahlua is one of the most popular and well-known brands of coffee liqueur, but there are various other brands and homemade versions available as well.

The latter is what we're tackling today with this simple recipe for a homemade version of Kahlua.

DIY coffee liqueur is very easy to make—perhaps too easy to make—and chances are you've got most of the required ingredients in your pantry already.

Is homemade coffee liqueur better than Kahlua?

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While it's not necessarily better, just different (think Heinz ketchup vs. homemade ketchup), what helps set this homemade version of Kahlua apart from the iconic mass-produced liqueur is your at-home ability to incorporate -made products.

Regardless of what province you live in, it's highly likely you have access to locally-made options for instant coffee and espresso vodka. Being based in Alberta, I opted for Flash Fuel instant coffee by Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. as well as Park Distillery's espresso vodka to further deepen the coffee flavour here.

My recipe also calls for a bit of molasses as I find that it helps to bolster the caramel notes in a homemade coffee liqueur as well as adds to its viscosity.

Try out the homemade Kahlua recipe below and then sit back, sip and enjoy the fruits of your it over ice, in a Paralyzer (the "it" drink of 2024?), or otherwise!

Homemade Kahlua (i.e. homemade coffee liqueur)

1 ½ cups water

1 cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

¼ cup good quality dark roast instant coffee

2 tbsp molasses

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

2 cups espresso vodka


Place all ingredients except vodka in a medium pot, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce to low heat and let mixture simmer gently until reduced by 1/3, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in the espresso vodka.

Pour the homemade Kahlua into container or bottle of choice and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

(Note: It's best to let the coffee liqueur sit for several days to allow flavours to infuse, but it still tastes pretty good straight away!)

Approximately 750 mL of coffee liqueur
Prep Time:
5 minutes
Cook Time:
30 minutes