I've been looking for a good coffee liqueur recipe. In some places they add sugar and water before you store the liqueur for a few days or weeks, and others say to add the sugar and water after it.

The 'before' ones use instant coffee which I think it's not in the 'original' (old) recipe.

Does adding the sugar before or after make any difference in the outcome? The liqueurs I have bought usually get thicker as time goes by.

  • As an aside, hot coffee extraction is probably not the best method when making liqueur, due to more off-flavors and acidity. Look into cold-extraction. coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/machines/300676 . Look into the home-made one if you feel like making one yourself. Also, instant coffee is definately not the best method. (I'm a coffee geek, though not skill-wise)
    – Max
    Jan 16, 2012 at 18:41
  • FWIW, when I have made coffee liqueur, I have used 1 c of strong coffee (made via Aeropress), 1 c sugar, and 2 c decent vodka (you can use some rum here too). Instead of the vodka, I usually use 1 c 190-proof ethanol and make simple syrup with the sugar and 1 c of water. It definitely tastes. much better after mellowing for a few weeks
    – user5561
    Jan 23, 2012 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


I'll try to answer this.

Concerning the first recipe you linked, it doesn't matter at all whether you add it first or not, since there is no extraction going on. Theres no fresh coffee, no fresh vanilla. Just extract, which of course is already extracted, so no extended wait time is needed! There might still be room for improvement, letting flavors 'marry' and so, but I'd say a day should be enough.

The second recipe is different. It steeps fresh coffee in alcohol, and here it's going to need time. One month is however an extreme amount of time. Usually, hot water and coffee is steeped for seconds, and cold water and coffee is often steeped for 12 hours. Consider that alcohol is a stronger solvent than water. But if going for a true alcoholic extraction, pure is better / faster, so you should steep before adding water, and the sugar probably doesn't make much difference.

This said, I'm not sure you should actually let it steep in alcohol at all, and I'm not sure you should dilute it either.

If I was doing this, I would go for water cold extraction. I'd be concerned that alcohol would extract too much, the same as too long hot water steeping leads to bitter, sour, pungent coffee. I'm not sure why you would want to dilute it with alot of water either. Water adds nothing to the party. Dilute it when using it instead, this leaves you free to choose each time. Perhaps you'd like to mix it with milk instead, sometime?

Do you have a french press? Let 1 part coursely ground coffee steep in 3 parts cold water over night. Use the filter / top to filter it, and pour it into your vodka. I'm not completely sure, but I think 1 part extract to 4 parts vodka would be fine. Use the same ratio of sugar as in the recipes you linked, or after taste.


I didn't completely read the second recipe before I answered. It says to boil the vodka-mixture. Sure, the alcohol doesn't vanish in an hour, but I'd still say it's an unacceptable waste (spirits are expensive where I'm from!). Also, the effect is the inverse of destillation, so you are left with a weaker, but sweeter, drink. I'm not sure why it says to boil it. It says that it's to 'thicken the liqueur', but they could just use less water instead.

Good luck!

  • I didn't have the chance of buying vodka. But I've made cold coffee and it's delicious. I'm trying the liqueur tomorrow :)
    – doctoraw
    Jan 18, 2012 at 0:57
  • The picture
    – doctoraw
    Jan 18, 2012 at 1:05
  • @doctoraw Woah, that second picture looks delicious. Good thing you tested the coffee first, then you know how much you need for your vodka. :)
    – Max
    Jan 18, 2012 at 10:28

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