From the Bean to the Bottle: How to Make Kahlúa at Home

Turn that caffeine buzz into a boozy one with our homemade Kahlúa recipe. It's the only thing that makes getting out of bed worthwhile.

Updated January 19, 2024
imitation Kahlua recipe stored in a bottle

If the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning is a delicious cup of joe, you'll love finishing the day off with a sweeter version as a nightcap. Not to worry, this one won't keep you up all night long! Kahlúa is a coffee liqueur and the secret ingredient to many yummy coffee-flavored cocktails like the creamy white Russian and espresso martini. Transform your kitchen counter from a coffee shop into a bar with a ready-to-use batch of homemade Kahlúa. 

How to Make Homemade Kahlúa

Move over Baileys, Kahlúa's here to show you how it's done. Save yourself a trip to the liquor store with this easy-peasy homemade recipe. While homemade Kahlúa has a long shelf life, it's best to make smaller batches so you have the freshest taste possible. Store your homemade Kahlúa in a cool, dark place, ensuring the seal is tight, and try to use your batch within 6 months. 


  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 750mL rum
  • ¾ ounce vanilla extract


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add water, brown sugar, and instant coffee.
  2. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Lower heat to medium-low and stir until the brown sugar and instant coffee dissolve.
  4. After removing from the heat, add rum and vanilla extract.
  5. Carefully pour the mixture into resealable glass jars, bottles, or containers.
  6. After allowing it to cool completely, seal and store it in a cool, dark place.
  7. Shake daily for approximately 7-10 days.
Quick Tip

Use fresh coffee grounds or fine-ground espresso instead of instant for a stronger coffee flavor. Steep for 10 days and strain before using. 

Related: 11 Best Coffee Liqueurs for Java Lovers

5 Variations and Substitutions to Try 

You can use this homemade liqueur in espresso martinis, White Russians, Black Russians, mudslides, or even hot chocolate. Or, if you need a pick-me-up in a pinch, you can enjoy it on its own by sipping it straight or on ice without a care.

  • Try out different styles of rum, such as aged, coconut, or dark rum.
  • If rum doesn't work for you, you can swap it for vodka. 
  • Use less sugar to cut down on the sweet factor. 
  • Decrease the amount of vanilla extract you use for a less prominent vanilla profile.
  • Experiment with different flavored vodkas, treating them like syrups you'd add to your coffee. For example, hazelnut and whipped cream are popular choices. 

Kahlúa Makes Getting Out of Bed Worthwhile 

There's nothing quite like that caffeinated boozy buzz you get from a coffee liqueur. No matter what cocktail you're craving, this tasty pick-me-up will make it a transcendent sipping experience. So why not have your cocktail like you'd have your coffee — blended, straight, or with a splash of milk?  

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From the Bean to the Bottle: How to Make Kahlúa at Home