Kahlua is a fabulous coffee-flavored liqueur that is very expensive to buy, but can be very easily be made at home using commonly available ingredients: coffee, sugar, vanilla and vodka.
You can use brewed real coffee or instant coffee granules and many variations for sweetness including white sugar, molasses, brown sugar and Karo syrup. You can also use a variety of liquor types such as brandy, vodka, rum - including100 proof types if you dare.
This article discusses how to make homemade Kahlua including how to keep costs down and the various ingredient options for customizing the flavors. Homemade Kahlua, like homemade Baileys Irish Cream ( see: Baileys Irish Cream Recipe ), make great gifts and can be used for various desserts as well as making delightful drinks.
Vanilla - You can reduce the cost pure vanilla extract, or vanilla beans, by using an imitation vanilla. You can taste the difference but the imitation varieties are acceptable. A fun thing to do for a gift is to put a whole vanilla bean into the bottle. This will intensify the vanilla flavor with storage time.
Vodka - Vodka has very little taste and so the budget Vodkas can be a good budget option. Make your Kahlua in bulk and store it for several weeks or months before using it. This will smooth out the rough edges of the cheap Vodka. You can compromise by mixing different quality Vodkas.
Coffee - Again this is a trade-off between quality and price, both for instant and brewed coffee. The cost of the coffee is much less that the Vodka. Better coffee produces better tasting Kahlua, and brewed real coffee is better than instant. So compromise by using a medium to high quality coffee brewed from freshly ground beans. You can make a highly concentrated strong brew by simply using a small quantity of water in a filter or a small volume coffee option on your an espresso machine (or even Turkish Coffee).
There are several different ways to make homemade Kahlua including a variety of ingredients. Some recipes require the mixture to steep for several weeks. Most can be made quickly and can be used immediately, but are best stored for several weeks before drinking. You can make a Kahlua drink that is ready to go or a concentrated syrup. For the syrup it is important to simmer the sugar, coffee, and water mixture for at least 1-2 hours. You can lessen the time by using very concentrated coffee. The simmering of the sugar caramelizes it and adds flavor. The simmering mixture thickens as the water evaporates making a thin syrup.
Dissolve the brown sugar in the hot coffee, and then let it completely cool. Add the vodka and the vanilla. Serve over ice, and add to various mixed drinks.
Bring coffee to a boil in large pot. Slowly dissolve the light brown sugar in it, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature by immersing the pot in ice. When cool, add the vanilla and 190 proof alcohol and its ready to serve.
Simmer the ground coffee in water, covered, for about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature and strain. Add extra water to make about 7 cups of liquid. Strain thoroughly. Dissolved the sugar in 2 quarts (2 litre) of water while heating in a saucepan,the cool to room temperature. All the liquid must be cooled before adding the alcohol. Mix the coffee and dissolved sugar liquids with the vanilla and Everclear. Store in sealed glass bottles, in a dark place for several months.
In a saucepan set over medium heat, combine the hot coffee, sugar and vanilla beans, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Heat the mixture until it just boils and then cool. Add the Vodka and store in clean glass bottles for a month or so.
Make fresh espresso coffee or strong coffee of a similar type. Add the sugar and dissolve thoroughly. Cool to room temperature add the vodka and the vanilla bean. Transfer to a bottle and leave in a dark place for 2 to 4 weeks, remove the vanilla bean and strain into a new bottle.
Combine all ingredients in a quart (litre) bottle, adding sugar to taste. Cap securely and store away from light at cool room temperature. After 1 week, sip a little to see if the coffee flavor suits your taste; leave beans to infuse up to 1 week longer, until desired strength is reached.
Then strain liqueur into a decanter with cover.
Bring 2 cups of water to the boil and dissolve the sugar in it. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, cool slightly and then add the instant coffee and dissolve. Cool and add the brandy. Pour into storage jars. Insert the vanilla bean halves with a string around them so that they can be removed. Seal the jars with the string protruding and store in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. Then remove the vanilla beans and the Kahlua is ready to use.
Using a large pot, dissolve the sugar into the hot water. Add the coffee granules and begin simmering the mixture. Keep simmering for about 2 hours to reduce the volume (stir every 15 minutes of so). Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Add the vanilla and cool for a further 20 - 30 minutes. Add the vodka (this will dissolve any crystals that form). The mixture gets smoother with age and so leave for several weeks of months before drinking. To use as gifts, transfer to attractive small bottles and add a vanilla bean to each bottle.
A really good use for your homemade Kahlua and Irish Cream is to make Frozen Mudslides
Blend all ingredients and garnish before serving.