This year, a homemade holiday gift might be even more welcome than usual, and you may have a bit more time to make it a reality. Look no further. We’ve got a special boozy drink you can make yourself, package up, and gift to a coffee lover in your life.
Bob Fish, CEO of Biggby Coffee, showed us how to make a delicious coffee liqueur from scratch. He’s planning on giving bottles of this potent elixir to family and friends this year, personally packaged up with a bag of fresh coffee.
Fish spent a lot of time developing this recipe, getting all the ingredients just right, in order to have it properly duplicate – and possibly better – the popular liqueur Kahlúa. You can also find something similar, and a bit cheaper, at the store called Kamora. Fish made batch after batch of this, figuring out not just the right ingredients, but also the timing and ratios to create the perfect batch of booze.
He started with the best Biggby coffee for the job. While the Biggby Best blend made a very tasty batch, Fish found that the Living Hope blend was even better. The coffee is “roasted a little bit darker than the Biggby Best,” Fish explained. “While the Biggby Best is a little floral, and a little citrusy, and that’s not bad. But the Living Hope is a little more earthy in its application, more berry-like. And when all these ingredients get married together, this one just does a little bit of a better job.”
In addition to working perfectly in this recipe, the Living Hope coffee is purchased by Biggby directly from the farmers who grow it in Zambia. The farm grows the coffee to support their mission to provide shelter, food, education and hope to orphaned children in Zambia. Since Biggby has started supporting their efforts, the organization has added 70 new beds to their orphanage.
The recipe calls for two different parts, which then get married together to create the final product. There is a coffee simple syrup, and an infused rum to make, both simple to do, but time is needed in order to achieve the full flavor this liqueur deserves. Fish recommends using classic canning jars with lids to hold the two liquids while they age, and then transferring the final product into a decorative bottle for gifting.
Start off by making the infused rum by adding a rather incredible variety of ingredients to steep and stew over the course of a few days. All of the ingredients for the rum are “very complimentary to coffee,” Fish explained. Then, make the coffee simple syrup, which Fish has down to a science. His technique of wetting the coffee grounds first, and then adding them to the simple syrup to infuse ensures that the coffee doesn’t suffer from over extraction, which can create an unwelcome bitterness. Be sure to filter the coffee syrup twice, with the second time sending it through something like cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter in order to achieve a truly smooth product.
The two liquids then get mixed together in a 50/50 ratio, and should ideally marry together for at least seven days before serving.
This recipe has a pretty big ingredient list for the infused rum, and having tried making it, I can tell you that it is darn near perfect in mimicking the flavor of classic Kahlúa. I will also fully admit to making another pretty great version using some cheap, and already spiced, rum. The real star in this show for me is the intense coffee syrup that comes out wonderfully balanced if you use Fish’s technique. We used the liqueur to make a White Russian, which as Fish said, is “dessert in a glass”.
Fish, and his wife, Michelle, have been creating special coffee cocktails at home during the pandemic, as a way to still celebrate their longstanding “date night” tradition. The couple takes inspiration for their drinks from their travels, and from seasonal coffee specials from Biggby, adding in a bit of alcohol to create something entirely new. Fish has shared other cocktail recipes with us, including the fruity Blackberry Sage Latte, the robust Tiramisu Latte, and the boozy Bourbon Maple.
You can watch our video below, and we’ve got the complete recipe for you to recreate at home as well.
Bob Fish’s homemade coffee liqueur:
To make the coffee simple syrup:
750 mil water (3 cups)
900 mil sugar (3 3/4 cups)
900 mil freshly ground coffee (3 3/4 cups)
Bring the water to low boil. Gradually stir in the sugar, and then cook the syrup for two minutes. All of the sugar should be dissolved. Place the coffee grounds in a bowl, and add just enough water to moisten the coffee. Add the wet coffee directly to the simple syrup, bring just to a simmer and cook for four minutes. Strain the coffee mixture once with a kitchen strainer, and then again through a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Let the mixture sit out at room temperature.
To make the infused rum:
950 mil amber rum (4 cups)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tsp cocoa nibs
20 coffee beans, lightly crushed
1 tsp toasted almonds, lightly crushed
5 toasted hazelnuts, lightly crushed
1/2 of a cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
10 golden raisins
1 dried apricot, sliced
5 black peppercorns
3 whole allspice, or 1/8 tsp ground
a grate of nutmeg
1 inch fresh orange peel
Pour the rum into a glass jar that can be fitted with a lid. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and let sit for a minimum of 18 hours. Remove the orange peel. You can let the rest macerate for up to 36 hours, then strain the rum.
To make the coffee liqueur:
Combine the infused rum with the coffee simple syrup, in a 50/50 combination. Seal the jar with a lid, and let the two liquids marry for at least 7 days for maximum flavor. The liqueur can be held at room temperature until ready to use.
To find your nearest Biggby, head here.
You can order Biggby coffee online here.
More cocktails with Bob Fish:
How to make Biggby’s buzzy cocktail at home
Fruit and herbs combine in this heady cocktail
There’s a bourbon blast in this cocktail from Biggby