Remembering a couple of fluids and nectars I was forced to take as medicine in my childhood, I must speak of a great divide between medicine and pleasure. Yet, one could otherwise claim that there is no divide at all and precisely for this reason, in the end, medicine transcends into pleasure. This has been the case with tea, coffee and liqueur.
Towards the end of the thirteenth century the idea of infusing herbal plants to subtract their active ingredients reached European soil. The intention was to heal, for which reason only apothecaries and monasteries were responsible for this new science and only alchemists had access to the needed information. It was with the colonial age that sugar came into the picture and with it new possibilities, so that towards the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the use of liqueurs was pretty much established for their pleasure value, appreciated for their aroma or their effect. Its importance as remedy diminished in society. Then came coffee, and dozens of firms developed their own coffee liqueur recipes.
Famous and successful companies like Bénédictine (1510), Bols (1575), Danzig Goldwasser (1598), Chartreuse (1605), De Kuyper (1695) and Marie Brizard (1755) contributed to the genesis of this industry. Modernism, technology and industrialization have not amortized the driving forces behind experimentation and the curiosity conducing to further and more complex spirits based on hundreds of fruits, vegetables and spices.
Liqueur comes from the Latin term ‚liquefacere‘, meaning ‘to melt’, ‘to release’. I call it composing with high percentages.
There are basically four ways of making liqueur and each can produce a very different taste spectrum from the same ingredients.
Maceration – the raw product is immersed in a bath of raw alcohol until the alcohol has absorbed the aroma of the other ingredient(s). With this process the ‘tincture’ is obtained which will function as the base for the end product.
Infusion is a similar procedure, but the alcohol is heated.
Percolation could be achieved through heat or coldness. Only the fumes of the alcohol come in contact with the aroma ingredients. This is similar to the way a coffee percolator operates. The result is an extract.
Distillery divides the substances. A system which is especially effective for stronger, more concentrated products. The aroma becomes extracted repeatedly through heat, until the desired level of intensity is achieved.
I am mostly interested in the maceration idea, in order to minimize the loss that might result through heat. However, the goal is the relevance in deciding whichever method to use.
Here is a partial list of international Coffee Liqueur brands.
- Allen’s Coffee Brandy (USA)
- Aruba Arehucas (Spain)
- Bahia Coffee Liqueur (Brazil)
- Bols Coffee Liqueur (Netherlands)
- Café Aztec (Mexico)
- Café Britt Coffee Liqueur (Costa Rica)
- Café Oriental (Germany)
- Café Marakesh (Netherlands)
- Café Rica (Costa Rica)
- Caffè Borghetti (Italy)
- Cofia Hazelnut Espresso Vodka
- Coloma (Colombia)
- Copa De Oro (Mexico)
- Deco Coffee Rum (Portland, Oregon)
- Duchalet Café Liqueur (Switzerland)
- Dwersteg’s Organic Coffee Liqueur (Germany)
- Elemental (Vanilla Espresso) Vodka (Portland, Oregon)
- The Evil Monk (USA)
- FAIR. Café Liqueur (France)
- Galliano Ristretto (Italy)
Illy Espresso Liqueur (Italy)
- Illyquore (Italy)
- Kahlúa (Mexico)
- Kahlúa Especial (Mexico)
- Kaloré Licor de Café (Mexico)
- Kamok (France)
- Kamora (Mexico)
- Kapali (Mexico)
- Keuck Türkisch Mokka (Germany)
- Kona Gold (USA)
- Kosaken Kaffee (Germany)
- De Kuyper Crème de Café (Netherlands)
- Lauterer Luft (Germany)
- Leroux Coffee-Flavored Brandy
- Lua Licor de Café (Spain)
- Mokatika (Italy)
- McMenamins Coffee Liqueur (Portland Oregon)
- Mr. Boston Coffee-Flavored Brandy (USA)
- Patron XO Café (Mexico)
- Piccala (Mexico)
- Sabroso (Mexico)
- Sheridan’s (Ireland)
- Starbucks Coffee Liqueur (USA)
- Tía Maria (Jamaica)
- Toussaint Coffee Liqueur (UK)
- Vibe Robusta Coffee Liqueur (UK)
- Vok Coffee Liqueur (Australia)
- Walders Scotch and Coffee Creamy Liqueur (Scotland)
- Wenneker Café Liqueur (Netherlands)