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Make Your Own Kahlua

Make Your Own Kahlua or Tia Maria - Coffee Liqueur

Kahlua is an excellent and popular liqueur, but also very expensive. But the low end substitutes are awful. But you can make your that's very good quality for much, much less than the Mexican brands or knock-offs. It's easy and takes only 10 minutes to make (not counting the time for the sugar water to cool).  And it tastes GREAT!  I doubt most people could tell the difference. You can use decaf to knock out the caffeine so it is a good  bedtime drink Here's how to make it:

Yield: about 1.75 liter

Ingredients:Amaretto ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) water, quality filtered water.
  • 2 cup (500 ml) granulated sugar; honey won't work well,
    but if you want to reduce calories, you could use Stevia or Splenda.
  • 1.5 cups (750 ml) of instant coffee dry crystals  - Get the best tasting brand you like.  You can use decaf to knock out the caffeine so it is a good  bedtime drink
  • 4 tablespoons (2 fl ounce, 60 ml)  pure vanilla extract - Get REAL, not imitation extract
  • 3 cups (720 ml) Vodka, Rum or Brandy.  I prefer brandy,
    but in either case, don't  go cheap on the brandy, you want a good quality smooth brandy. 
    I've found E&J or Christian Brothers VS are very good for this. For vodka, use Stolichnaya, Absolute, Finlandia, etc.



  • Large glass jar (quart jars or 1/2 gallon) with sealable lid
  • Pot, spoons, measuring cup



Step 1 - Dissolve the sugar

In a heavy-bottomed pot (to avoid burning) heat the water and white sugar over medium heat and stir until the sugars is dissolved.Amaretto pot with water and sugars (5 - 10 minutes)


Step 2 - Add the instant coffee 

Stir in the instant coffee and dissolve it.


Step 3 - Cool to warm

Remove the sugar-coffee solution from heat, and allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes so it it is warm but not how (say 90 - 110 F, 35 - 40 C). This is to avoid causing the extract to breakdown and the alcohol to boil off.









Step 4 - Add the vanilla extract and alcoholKahlua - Vanilla extracts and alcohol

Add the vanilla extracts and the brandy, rum or vodka. Stir well.

Step 5 - Pour into jars

I save old Amaretto jars, but you can use any clean, glass jar that can be sealed, like mason canning jars..

Step 6 - Final aging

Now let the mix age for at least a day or two. Basically, the longer, the better. Or so they say.  It gets consumed before too  long in my house.




Cost comparison

  • water - free
  • 2 cup granulated sugar - $.50
  • 1.5 cups instant coffee - $3.00
  • 4 tablespoons pure vanilla extract - (from Costco / Sam's, about $12 per 16 fl ounces (236 ml) = $1.00
  • 3 cups (720 ml) Vodka or Brandy.  I prefer brandy, from Costco or Sam's Club, $22 for 1.75 liter.  = $9.00.

Total cost: $14 per 1.75 liter


Kahlua generally costs about $30 for 1.75 liter plus tax  (2020, Atlanta, GA retail)


So, the homemade is about 1/2 the price, even using good brandy! 




Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book