The Intoxicologist

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coffee Liqueur Infusion: Especial Style

Kahlua Especial is a special treat indeed for the coffee liqueur lover. The Especial has a richer, deeper coffee flavor than its original counterpart and is stronger at 70 proof rather than 40 proof. At a price of only a couple of dollars more than the original Kahlua, it is well worth the upgrade in value and taste.

It is little wonder that the surge in interest of infusing liquor at home has moved on to coffee liqueur and this particular formulation of espresso liqueur. While the formula is strictly under wraps with the parent company it has not hindered experimentation. There are many recipes on the internet claiming to be a coffee liqueur infusion. However, most seem to be so generically put together that any flavor whether it be an herb, fruit or nut seems to be interchangeable in the recipe. That does not fit the quality of Kahlua Especial.

One recipe stood out from all the books, recipes, and sites I poured through trying to find an answer to one reader’s question about where to find a coffee liqueur infusion to match the richer flavor of the Especial. Although I have not experimented with this formula myself, it looks promising. A few tweaks have been made to try to ensure a better match to the Especial, but again, no promises. I will be attempting it and will post my results in a later article. However, according to the recipe the best results take three to six months.

Coffee Liqueur Infusion “Kahlua Especial fashion”

2 cups Freshly Ground Espresso Coffee Beans – Kahlua uses Arabica beans according to their website. For a deep flavor grind your beans for at least 15 to 20 seconds in a blade style grinder as close to the time you plan to use them rather than purchasing them already ground.

3 cups Boiling Filtered Water

1-1/2 cups Superfine Granulated Sugar

1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar

3 cups Pure Alcohol – This is personal choice as I could find no recommendation specifically for Kahlua. However, high quality vodka such as Belvedere seems to be a good blank canvas to start with or if you prefer rum, I recommend 10 Cane. Do not start with poor quality liquor or you will end up with a poor quality infusion. As a side note, Tia Maria, another coffee liqueur, specifies dark spiced rum for its infusion process.

1 Whole Vanilla Bean Sliced Lengthwise

1 teaspoon Liquid Glycerin


Bring water to a boil. Remove boiling water from the heat. Pour the coffee grounds into the water and set aside. Place sugars into a saucepan large enough to hold the contents of the complete recipe, but do not put everything into the sauce pan yet! Filter the water and coffee through several layers of the cheesecloth until no more coffee grounds come through. Pour the water mixture into the saucepan with the sugars. Heat until all the sugar is melted, but do not bring to a boil. This may take five minutes or more. Wait until mixture is cooled completely. Then stir in alcohol, vanilla bean, and liquid glycerin. Place mixture into a sealed glass container and store in a dark, dry, cool area. Gently shake contents once or twice a week. Filter through cheesecloth again after approximately two weeks, removing the vanilla bean. Again, return the contents to a dark, dry, cool area to age the mixture tasting periodically. This could take three to six months. Once it reaches an aged flavor of your liking, enjoy!

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