We read a recipe in Imbibe Magazine (Issue 33 Sept/Oct 2011) about making your own coffee liqueur and we were itching to try it. Here is what we did, with a slight variation:
375ml of Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan 100 Proof Spiced Rum)
1/2 cup Water
6 oz Coffee, Coarsely Ground (we used a full city+ roasted Sumatran)
Peel of one Orange
Peel of half a Lemon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 cup Turbinado Sugar
You will need a jar or container with a lid that can comfortably hold all of the coffee, the booze, and the water. Since this is basically cold brewed coffee, it occurred to me that the glass decanter from my Toddy would be the perfect size to hold it all.
Combine everything except the sugar in the glass jar, cover and let steep for at least 24 hours. Giving the jar a shake whenever you think about it. I ended up letting this infuse for 48 hours because I didn’t get around to it the day before.
Next you’ll want to strain out all the bits.
I lined a canning funnel with a Chemex coffee filter and poured the liqueur through into a Mason jar, trying my best to keep as much of the coffee as I could in the jar. This took awhile, but it worked. In the future I think I will purchase some cheaper more porous filters and see if it speeds up this process any.
Now pour the stained liquid into a medium saucepan, turn the heat to medium and bring the liquid to a simmer. Be careful not to boil it or you risk losing some of the kick as well as denaturing the flavor of the coffee. Turn the heat down and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. You are looking to reduce the liquid by a quarter or so.
Remove from the heat. Add in the sugar and stir it around to completely dissolve. Let this cool to room temperature. Then strain it again into a clean mason jar. I skipped that step.
The resulting coffee liqueur will keep refrigerated for up to a month.
Now for the part where we taste it and consider what to do differently next time. This is a heady, full flavored cordial. Not as sweet as Kahlua, but still with a nice syrupy quality. The initial flavor is nicely coffee sweet with noticeable fortification from the cachaca. The peels come through mid taste contributing a refreshing, light citrus complexity. I think next time I will leave out the lemon and just use the orange peel to get a cleaner orange flavor, then we’ll see how much the lemon added. Also, I will use a split vanilla bean rather than extract. The vanilla flavor was pretty subtle, noticeable, but subtle. Not sure I really want to change that level of vanilla per se, but maybe the quality of it. I think the bean would contribute a more “authentic” vanilla flavor.
The overall flavor of the liqueur was pretty good. It was the finish that I really didn’t care for. It was too ashy and harsh, similar to the sensation of just having smoked a cigar. For common cocktail use, it got in the way and just wasn’t pleasant. Why the ashy harshness?
I have two thoughts:
A) I let the coffee steep too long. I will try to be ready to proceed after the 24 hours next time. That should help with the over-extraction issue which most likely added some bitter harshness.
B) Coffee selection. Admittedly, the Sumatran coffee is on the darker end of the spectrum. It is kind of an earthy coffee anyway and I think, with the added roast flavor, it just got ashy. So on round 2, I’ll go with something in the medium roast level. Sumatran coffee could still be a good option, but I’ll have to roast it lighter next time. I will probably use a different coffee.
C) The cachaca was a decent option. The spiced rum might have had a bit too much kick. Maybe a “regular” strength spirit would temper the alcohol heat to a less burn-your-nose-hairs level. I think I’ll try bourbon next time because I really like bourbon and in my head it seems like a natural fit. Maybe a coffee with a peachy, stone fruit quality, since bourbon and peaches go so well together… Kenya? Ooooo, this is going to be good.