Coffee Liqueur: The Results

Over the weekend, I concluded the results of my coffee liqueur experiment. And what delicious results they were!

DIY Coffee Liqueur Recipe Taste Off

As previously mentioned, I split a recipe for DIY coffee liqueur, making half with cold brewed coffee, according to the recipe (mostly…ish) and making the other half backwards – steeping the grounds in high proof liquor instead of water.  This “infusion” method, where the botanical is steeped directly in alcohol, is how I traditionally create my own liqueurs and bitters, and I was surprised coffee liqueur wasn’t made the same way. So I just had to try it to see how the two approaches compared.

Filtering the coffee liqueur
Filtering the coffee liqueur

After giving the blends enough time to steep (full recipes below, FYI), I strained and sampled. Yes, I used a Chemex® coffee maker and filter to strain my coffee liqueur. Ironic, right?

The coffee liqueur results, compared
The coffee liqueur results, compared

Here is a picture of the final products, side by side. It’s very clear (by how not-clear it is) which jar contains the “infusion” method (vodka-steeped) grounds. The vodka drew out more color from the coffee grounds than the water.

Coffee liqueurs, sampled
Coffee liqueurs, sampled

The “infusion” method liqueur also had an unmistakably stronger coffee flavor than the liqueur where coffee was cold brewed.

To summarize the results: the “cold brew” version reminds me of commercially available coffee liqueurs. As you sip, you notice first the sweet, then coffee then alcohol. The “infusion” method by contrast tastes first of coffee, then alcohol and finally sweet. In fact, the infusion version was much less sweet than the cold brew version, despite the same amount of sugar being used in each. (At some point, I’ll learn fancy-flavor-describing terms, and I’ll update this post to sound more clever at that point!)

Here are the two versions of the coffee liqueur, as I actually made them.

Cold Brew Version

This version of the recipe has a sweeter, milder flavor which is more similar to commercially available coffee liqueurs. 

1/8 c ground coffee beans
5/8 c cold water
1/2 vanilla bean, chopped
1/2 c demerara sugar
1/2 c additional water
3/4 c high proof vodka

Add the coffee grounds to the water, shake, and steep in the refrigerator for 24 hours or so. Strain the grounds, and add the chopped vanilla bean to the cold brewed coffee.  Warm the remaining water with the sugar, stirring gently until the sugar fully melts. Once it has cooled, add the demerara syrup, vodka, and chopped vanilla bean to the cold brewed coffee and allow to steep for five days. Strain out the vanilla bean and bottle.

Infusion Method

Definitely my favorite method

1/8 c ground coffee beans
1/2 vanilla bean, chopped
1/2 c demerara sugar
1 1/8 c water
3/4 c high proof vodka

Add the coffee grounds to the vodka, shake and steep for 24 hours or so. Strain the grounds, and add chopped vanilla bean. Allow to steep for five days.  Strain out the  Warm water with the sugar, stirring gently until the sugar fully melts. [Yes, this is a weaker syrup, but the extra water matches the quantity of water in the other half.] Once it has cooled, add the demerara syrup to the coffee-vanilla infusion and bottle.

Coffee Liqueur

I have decided I need Coffee Liqueur in my life. I don’t know why, I just know I need some, and I want to make sure it doesn’t have corn syrup (shudder) in it.

However, the recipes I found online baffle me. They universally call for brewing the coffee in water, and then adding the requisite additional ingredients.  Why? Why wouldn’t you steep the coffee grounds directly in the high proof alcohol, like you would any other liqueur or bitter or other boozy homemade concoction?

Experiment time! I decided to riff on this recipe – half the ingredients to follow the recipe exactly (ish) and the other half to try the grounds directly in the booze.

Full disclosure: I also substituted high proof vodka for the light rum.  Friends, as much as I love rum, it does not return the sentiment.

Coffee Liqueur in Progress
Coffee Liqueur in Progress

Can you tell the difference between the two jars? (Without peeking at my scrawl notes on the lids, that is!)

More importantly, after the samples are done, will we be able to taste a difference? Stay tuned!

Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold

Bulletproof Coffee’s Boozy Cousin

Fool's Gold - A delicious coffee-based cocktail
Fool’s Gold – A delicious coffee-based cocktail

6 oz Coffee
1 Tbs Grassfed Butter
2 oz Coconut Rum
1/2 oz Homemade Crême de Cacao

Brew coffee to taste. Add butter – reheat if necessary (i.e., if the butter has been in the refrigerator it will cool off the coffee substantially). Add the Rum and Crême de Cacao, and mixing carefully with a handheld frother.

Mixologist notes: This drink is like a liquid, alcoholic Almond Joy. If you prefer sweeter flavors, consider using commercial chocolate liqueur or adding Stevia to taste.

Want to make your own homemade Crême de Cacao? Try this recipe.