• Mar 11, 2016
  • by Nick Rose

Cafe Patron, Cafe XO, that sweet coffee tequila stuff. Whatever you want to call it, it's delicious and makes any cocktail that calls for coffee liqueur better.

But how much do you end up paying for it and do you really know what's in the pretty bottle?

The simple truth is that any big commercial coffee liqueur like Café XO Patron or Khalua makes this product in part to sell alcohol that isn't their best product. Sure the marketing and stickers on the bottle talk about "the finest quality tequila" and "natural coffee" but do you see an ingredients list? In Australia there currently isn't any regulation requiring ingredients other than allergens to be shown on alcohol packaging.

It's not a particularly difficult list either;

  1. Tequila that's not good enough for the cheapest bottle a distillery sells
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup, also known as cheaper than sugar and far worse for you
  3. Coffee Essences or synthetic coffee-like flavours
  4. Other Essences such as synthetic vanilla
  5. Glycerine
  6. Stabilisers and preservatives

Sad but true, these liqueurs have never seen a real coffee bean, vanilla pod or spirit base that doesn't need glycerine and corn syrup to cover up the nasty bits. It doesn't mean they are bad products, just that they are made in the most cost effective way.

Finding a liqueur that still uses natural ingredients and genuine sugar is nearly impossible. When you're paying $60-$80 for a 700mL bottle you'd be forgiven for wanting some actual coffee in your drink. Heck just wanting it to be the same tequila they put in the rest of their bottles is reasonable right?

Here's what grinds my gears; it's actually cheaper and easier to make your own premium coffee liqueur at home than it is to find and buy a bottle of Patron XO Café. You need 3 pantry ingredients, some good tequila and an empty bottle or jar... that's it.


Making Your Own Café Tequila:


Method 1: Quickfire and Bulletproof

This is the simplest and quickest way to make it at home.

What you need:

300mL Arette Blanco

200mL Water

110mL Simple Sugar Syrup (dissolve 100g of sugar in 100mL of water)

90mL (3 shots) of Cold Espresso

1tsp Vanilla Extract

An empty bottle or jar

What you do:

Combine everything bar 50mL of sugar in your empty bottle or jar and shake vigorously until it has all combined. Taste it to see if it is sweet enough. If not then add more sugar and repeat until it is as sweet as you desire.

Feel free to add more sugar than the recipe states if you have a sweeter tooth than I do or even try substituting stevia for the sugar if you want a diet option. You may have to shake the bottle every time you want to pour it but that's because it's all natural and not artificially stabilised. For a real kick forget the water and just use 200mL of espresso.


Method 2: I want the best and I've Got Some Time

This is the best method for maximising the flavour in your liqueur and it will keep the ABV much higher but it needs a bit of babying and tasting along the way.

What you need:better_than_cafe_patron_xo

600mL Arette Reposado

100g Fresh Ground Coffee

100mL Simple Sugar Syrup

1 Vanilla Bean

2 empty jars or bottles

What you do:

Split the vanilla bean and add it to the tequila in the bottle/jar and leave to steep for at least 48hrs shaking twice a day (I usually leave it for a week or more). Be sure to taste a little bit each day, you're looking for lots of vanilla flavour but no vegetal flavours or tannins.

Once you have enough vanilla add the coffee and shake to combine before placing in the freezer to continue steeping for another 72hrs.

Taste it, if there's not enough coffee flavour it's back to the freezer overnight. Repeat until you're getting hit in the face with coffee flavour. The reason I use a freezer is to reduce the bitter flavours the alcohol will extract.

Pour through a coffee filter into your second jar or bottle.

Add the sugar syrup and shake vigorously.

Taste and add more sugar syrup as needed until you have your desired sweet-strong flavour balance.


For a real kick add a sliced jalapeño and a few sticks of cinnamon during the vanilla infusion step.


Method 3: Hunter Gatherer

This is a great method if you live in a city with a decent hipster population like Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne Australia.

What you do:

Find out where the local trendy street markets are happening (usually around suburbs like Newtown, Glebe, Brunswick or Northcote). Wander around until you spot a man-bun/topknot that accompanies an overly-styled beard or moustache standing behind a counter rather than in front.

Procure 300mL of cold drip Guatemalan or Rwandan bourbon variety coffee from this lumberjack-samurai lovechild.

Just kidding, you don't need hipsters to make awesome liqueur from cold drip coffee.

Instead just head over to our mates at Fist Press Coffee and buy the Brazil Big Boy (500ml)


Pour 300ml into a blender, add 100g of caster sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 400ml of Arette Reposado tequila. If you have a low setting then start the blender on low and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Pour into an empty 750ml bottle and you've got instant Café tequila liqueur that's so much better than anything famous you've bought at a liquor store and definitely cheaper.