A few years ago, we decided to focus on handmade holiday gifts for all of our family members. It’s been fun to make the gifts and everyone on our lists has had so much fun trying to guess what we’re going to make next!
Last year, we gave all the grown-ups on our Christmas list bottles of our homemade kahlúa—AKA: coffee liqueur—and it was a HIT! The best part? No one knew that we made all the bottles in less than 30 minutes. Let us show you how to make the best holiday gifts ever.
What is kahlua?
Kahula is a sweet coffee liqueur. And it is so easy to make! If you can make a cup of strong coffee and stir, you can make coffee liqueur at home. Because you are in control, you can completely customize your homemade kahlúa to your tastes. More or less sugar, decaf or caf, bold roast or light roast, high alcohol or light—it’s all up to you!
What liquor do you use to make homemade kahlua?
Ideally, you’ll want to use grain alcohol (usually known as Everclear)—it is almost pure alcohol, so it has the cleanest flavor. That means you can let the coffee flavor shine on through.
Always treat Everclear as an unfinished ingredient—never, ever drink it undiluted. 189 or 190 proof is best, but if you can’t find that, it may be that only the less-potent 151 or 120 proof varieties are legal in your state.
You can figure out if you can get Everclear near you using this product locator.
In some states, Everclear isn’t legal at all. In that case, you can use a strong vodka, but your final kahlua will not be nearly as strong.
How strong is kahlua?
How much alcohol is in each serving of your coffee liqueur depends on what proof alcohol you mix in. While we can’t give you the exact percentage of alcohol of your kahlúa, we can give you some ballpark estimates:
|Alcohol Used||Estimated Final ABV|
|Everclear 190 proof||20%|
|Everclear 151 proof||14%|
|Everclear 120 proof||11%|
|Vodka 80 proof||7%|
Does kahlua have caffeine?
Yep! But if that’s a concern for you, you can make it decaf. Just brew up some decaf coffee, and use that to make your kahlúa.
Okay, tell me how to make homemade kahlua!
Gather up some coffee, Everclear, brown sugar, and vanilla. And here we go!
- Brew up 12 cups of strong coffee. I like to use a dark roast to get the strongest flavor, but you choose your favorite.
- Warm the coffee with the brown sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and grain alcohol.
- Pour into bottles, label, and store!
Can you drink kahlua straight?
You sure can! There is nearly four times as much coffee as Everclear in this kahlúa, plus a generous amount of brown sugar and vanilla extract, so it is plenty diluted and sweetened to be enjoyable on its own.
What can I mix with coffee liqueur?
The classic way to drink kahlua is in a white Russian—that’s a combo of cream, vodka, and kahlua! You can also use it to spike your coffee or hot chocolate.
Does homemade kahlúa need to be refrigerated?
If you’re using 190 proof grain alcohol, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated to keep, because, with an alcohol content of 20%, it inhibits microbial growth pretty darn well. If you are using any other kind of alcohol to make this, please keep it in the fridge. In fact, since you use kahlua cold in a lot of drinks, it’s a great place to store it.
Does kahlua go bad?
If you used 190 proof grain alcohol, not really. The alcohol and sugar are both excellent preservatives. If you used one of the lower-percentage alcohols, we recommend stashing it in the fridge and enjoying it within a few months. If you’re short on space or packing it up as a gift, it will be fine at room temperature for a few days.
Looking for more creative gift ideas?
- 45+ DIY Food Gifts. We have homemade edible gift ideas to fit everyone’s preferences! Giving the gift of something delicious is always a smart call.
- 37+ Gifts for Coffee Lovers. From affordable stocking stuffers, all the way up to fancy coffee equipment, we have all the ideas you need for the java fans on your list!