Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kahlua, by the Numbers

There are many recipes on the web for home-made Kahlua, a rum and coffee liqueur originally from Vera Cruz Mexico. The ratios for these recipes are all over the place, so I decided to take a more analytic approach.

First, we know from product labels that Kahlua was originally 53 proof but is currently down to 40. Further it has 11.2 grams of sugar in a 1 oz serving.  Many recipes use vodka for the alcohol but 80 proof vodka is 60% water, so after you account for the water, alcohol and sugar, you only have 0.4 grams left for the coffee. Using 100 proof vodka only gets you to 3.7 grams. Some recipes use instant coffee to offset this but neither sugar nor coffee dissolve very well in vodka.

The solution is to use 190 proof Everclear which leaves room to dissolve the sugar in fresh brewed coffee. We will use brown sugar as it contains molasses, like in rum, to give it a more authentic flavor. Finally, instead of using a vanilla bean and waiting a month or so, we will use vanilla extract. After all, vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol!

You will need four screw-top wine bottles for this recipe.

1 750 ml bottle 190 proof Everclear
2 lbs brown sugar
8 tsp vanilla extract
8 cups freshly brewed coffee, we used french roast

Divide the Everclear equally into the four empty wine bottles (a little over 6 fl oz each).
Add 2 tsp vanilla extract to each bottle.

Repeat the following for each bottle:
Put 8 oz of brown sugar into a 1 quart measuring cup and stir in brewed coffee up to the 18 fl oz line.
Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved then allow to cool below 140 degrees.
Pour the coffee/sugar mixture into the wine bottle, then cap and mix gently.

That's it! You now have 4 bottles of 47.5 proof Kahlua, at a cost of less than $7.50 per bottle.

For our first batch we made 2 bottles with light brown sugar and 2 with dark. Further, we tried almond extract as well as vanilla. Our preference was for the dark brown sugar and the vanilla.

Dark vs Light Brown Sugar
This is all you need

love and bacon,