In Progress Projects: Vanilla Coffee Liqueur

vanilla bean coffeeMy friend and client, Brande, author of the very excellent blog, Tomato Envy, recently turned me on to Food in Jars, a fabulous small batch canning blog (and book). Marisa posted a recipe for vanilla coffee liqueur that I simply could not resist, given that my hubster, Leo, loves it when my brother-in-law sneaks him a glass of his own homemade Kahlua. It is now in progress in my pantry. Here’s how I made mine…

coffee vanilla liqueur with instant espresso and vanilla bean

Vanilla Coffee Liqueur IN PROGRESS!

  1. Buy insanely giant jar at Container Store.
  2. Order vanilla beans from eBay.
  3. Order Instant Espresso Coffee from Amazon (be sure to buy enough so that you can make espresso for yourself!)
  4. Become distracted and completely obsessed with espresso, Cuban coffee, and finding a stovetop espresso maker.
  5. Buy giant bottle of vodka at Costco, ensuring that entire Costco staff thinks I’m a total alcoholic.
  6. Worry about Costco reputation.
  7. Wait for eBay and Amazon orders to arrive.
  8. Wait some more when Amazon espresso arrives, but eBay takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get my vanilla beans here (in real people terms, my “forever” means, “about 5 days”).
  9. Consider drinking espresso, but opt not to do so.
  10. FINALLY, when all ingredients arrive, pretty much throw everything into the insanely giant jar from Container Store (following instructions).
  11. Wait.

I’m currently on Step 11, of what has, ironically, become a 12-step program. But why should you have to wait, just because I’m waiting, too?

What I noticed in the making:

  • A 2-ounce jar of espresso contains just enough for you to make your booze plus a little left over for about 2-3 cups of espresso for you to enjoy, which I did whilst making this recipe.
  • Vanilla beans are a pain to scrape. You can chop them in 1/2″ lengths horizontally instead and get the same results.
  • Costco doesn’t really notice what I buy, but if they did, they would definitely judge me. I don’t care—I get my 2% back.
  • Patience might be a virtue, but it’s not one that I possess, despite being quite capable of making concoctions that require a substantial waiting time.

Vanilla Coffee Liqueur

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: One giant jar of vanilla coffee liqueur.


  • 3 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 3/4 cups instant espresso
  • 4 vanilla beans, chopped horizontally in 1/2" lengths
  • 3 cups cheap vodka
  • Giant glass jar


  1. Combine sugar and water in a pot, heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add espresso.
  3. When espresso grains have dissolved, remove pot from heat.
  4. Pour espresso mixture into giant glass jar.
  5. Split vanilla beans horizontally and throw 'em into the jar.
  6. Pour vodka into jar and mix.
  7. Let mixture "marinate" 4-6 weeks before rebottling and giving as gifts (or drinking).


Infusion time: 4-6 weeks


Susan Baroncini-Moe

Susan Baroncini-Moe is a Guinness World Records® titleholder, author of Business In Blue Jeans: How To Have A Successful Business On Your Own Terms, In Your Own Style , and a business & marketing coach and consultant. When she's not counseling her clients on how to market their businesses, she's making jams, jellies, crafty things, and booze or hanging out with her husband and their delightfully wicked guinea pig, Ginger.

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