Creative Aussie coffee liqueur cocktails

Ladies hand holding a stemmed glass of coffee liqueur cocktail

There’s a whole world of caffeinated cocktail creativity beyond espresso martinis and coffee negronis. We put three home-grown Aussie coffee liqueurs through their paces

Photography Gary Smith


Coffee cocktails have come a long way in recent years, and now the Espresso Martini has earned a regular slot on mainstream cocktail lists across the country.

Fortunately, the days of being forced to use uninspiring liqueurs such as Tia Maria or Kalhúa are behind us, and now there are some really interesting coffee liqueurs on the market. Some of these are being made by people who appreciate the subtleties of specialty coffee, and they often use cold-brew coffee as the base.

Perhaps the best-known brand on the market is Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur which is roasted and distilled on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Founder and CEO Tom Baker explains that they blend beans from Brazil and Colombia for the classic coffee flavour, adding PNG for some citrus notes, and the fruity acidic burst of an Ethiopian. Together they deliver bittersweet dark chocolate coffee hit with a hint of vanilla.

Darren Barber of Wolf Lane Distillery in Cairns, says that their multiple gold medal-winning ‘The Barista’ Coffee Liqueur is a truly Aussie production.

First, they take a ‘hot-press’ Australian coffee extract sourced from their Far North Queensland neighbours at Jaques Coffee and combine it with fresh vanilla beans from the Daintree and their own vanilla bean vodka. Darren says that the end result is more about the coffee flavour and “not so much a sugary liqueur”. 

The LIQQ is a brand-new player on the coffee-vodka landscape from a Sydney micro-roaster. “It’s a 16 per cent proof alcohol that is designed to be an aperitif, a digestif or the base and bulk of an espresso martini,” say The LIQQ Lab.

“We use a single-estate Colombian coffee brewed using three different methods. This is triple filtered before being blended with our own in-house vodka, distilled from scratch, and an exotic liqueur.” They were pretty cagey about their secret liqueur’s ingredients.

To put these liqueurs through their paces, we have created a series of fairly simple cocktails that will add a delicious caffeine kick to any drinks list. One thing to consider is that these liqueurs often lose much of the acidity and lighter notes that are so popular in modern coffees, so it’s worth experimenting with citrus twists or even sharp berries to introduce these notes to the final drink.

To discover the fantastic cocktail creations you’ll need to get yourself the latest copy of Caffeine Australia.

This feature appears in issue 06 of Caffeine magazine Australia

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