How to Make Coffee Shochu (コーヒー焼酎): A unique coffee-infused Japanese spirit beverage that you can easily make at home
The title of this article might have made you wonder, "Coffee & alcohol, really?" However, if you think about it, coffee and alcohol are quite a popular combination that has been loved worldwide for decades – think Irish coffee, Espresso Martini, Kahlua, to name a few. The newest member in this category, creating quite a buzz in the coffee world, is this delicious beverage – Coffee Shochu.
Before we get into the details, let us give you a quick introduction to what Shochu is so that its cultural connection to Japan can be appreciated along with the deliciousness of the drink. Shochu（焼酎）is a Japanese spirit with about 25% alcohol content, made by distillation from ingredients such as rice, sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, etc. It is the most popular spirit in Japan and is usually served on rocks, diluted with water (Mizu-wari 水割り) or soda (soda-wari ソーダ割り).
As Shochu is distilled most commonly from starch sources rather than fruits, its flavor tends to be earthy rather than fruity. This allows Shochu to be the perfect base where the original flavors of unique coffee beans can shine to their full potential. Now that we know why Shochu is so special and why coffee works so well with Shochu let us disclose the secret of what Coffee Shochu really is!
What is Coffee Shochu?
Coffee Shochu is made by infusing coffee beans inside a bottle or a jar of Shochu for several days. Soaking the coffee beans in the Shochu makes the flavor of the coffee dissolve into the Shochu and also changes the color of the Shochu from colorless to different shades of golden brown depending on how long the coffee beans are soaked. This creates a Shochu that has subtle notes of unique flavors and a gorgeous appearance taking your Shochu-drinking experience to a whole new level.
Whereas common alcoholic beverages with coffee are created as cocktails with sugary-sweet tastes, Coffee Shochu keeps things minimalistic. It celebrates the taste of the coffee and the Shochu themselves without any unnecessary frills. As a result, coffee Shochu is the ultimate grown-up drink – strong, pure, and unpretentious.
That being said, Coffee Shochu allows you liberty in how you enjoy it. So it can be enjoyed straight on rocks or made into cocktails or mixed with water, soda, milk, etc. You can use Coffee Shochu to create any drink you wish, depending on your personal taste and preference.
At this point, you might be already craving freshly poured Coffee Shochu on a chilled glass with ice, and you might be wondering whether you have to travel all the way to Japan to have the experience. But wait, did we tell you the best thing about Coffee Shochu? The best thing about Coffee Shochu is that it can be easily made at home! Everything tastes so much better when you make it with your own hands, right? So without further ado, let’s see how you can make your own Coffee Shochu right away.
How to Make you Own Coffee Shochu at home – A simple and easy recipe
10g of coffee beans for 100ml of Shochu. So if you are using 30g of coffee beans, then add it to 300ml of Shochu, 50g of coffee beans in 500ml of Shochu, and so on.
What you will need:
- Roasted Coffee beans
- Japanese Shochu
- Airtight glass container (for example, Mason Jar)
- Take a clean, dry, and preferably sterilized airtight container made of glass.
- Put the coffee beans inside the container.
- Gently pour the Shochu into the container and close the lid of the container tightly.
- Store it in a cool, dry place with minimal temperature variations for three days to 1 week or longer.
- Take out the coffee beans after one week. (The amount of time the coffee beans are soaked can be varied and experimented with according to your preferences).
- Your Coffee Shochu is ready to be enjoyed!
As you can see, making your Coffee Shochu at home is extremely simple, and you can even do it while reading this article. However, you might have some more questions about Coffee Shochu, so we have put together some insider tips below that might come in handy to make your Coffee Shochu taste better.
Type of Coffee beans to use:
You can use any kind of coffee beans; play around and have fun trying out different types of roasts, origins, and blends. However, if you want to enjoy the inherent flavor of the beans, then it is better to use fruity and floral beans that are light to medium roasted. If you want a strong 'coffee taste' – smokiness, intense bitterness, etc., then you might want to try a darker roast with chocolaty notes. Finally, if you want plain and clean flavors, you can try using beans with earthy flavors.
My personal favorite is using European Premium Mild Signature Blend Coffee (Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, Indonesia) The bold taste of the coffee really matched with Shochu. I also enjoyed Decaf Premium coffee so that I can use less caffeine in alcoholic drinks.
Type of Shochu:
As you might already know, Shochu can be made from different ingredients, and depending on what it is distilled from, the taste and flavor of Shochu vary. The ingredients can be things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, barley, buckwheat, etc. “Honkaku Shochu," or best quality Shochu, is single-distilled and retains the characteristics of the original ingredient. So this is another opportunity for you to experiment and customize your Coffee Shochu by choosing what kind of Shochu you use.
Sometimes, you might come across recipes of Coffee Shochu that suggest adding several Japanese rock sugars (こんぺいとう) into the jar and let them dissolve completely. This will add sweetness to your Coffee Shochu, and although it is not necessary, it might be an exciting way to tweak your Coffee Shochu, especially if you like your beverages to be sweet.
To keep the original taste and to preserve it safely, once you take out the coffee beans, it is recommended to store the jar of your Coffee Shochu in the refrigerator.
What are some of the Best Ways to Enjoy Your Coffee Shochu?
Now that you have a big jar of Coffee Shochu all to yourself, you might be wondering how to enjoy it in the best possible way. The answer is that the possibilities are endless – you can make it into anything you want, whether it be cocktails, an original hot drink, or just as it is. We will share some of the ways we thought it tastes best.
On the rocks
What better way than to enjoy your Coffee Shochu in the timeless, classic style, right? We would recommend you to pour your Coffee Shochu on some ice cubes in a chilled glass and take a moment to enjoy the flavors, the beauty, and the taste of your homemade Coffee Shochu.
Coffee Shochu Latte
It is so good it is even on the UCC’s official page as a recommended coffee cocktail drink, and it is made simply by adding fresh milk, sugar syrup, and Coffee Shochu in a tall glass of ice.
Coffee Shochu Mojito
This is a Coffee Shochu cocktail with a refreshing twist. All you have to do is to pour in 60ml of Coffee Shochu into a glass followed by fresh mint leaves and lime wedges or slices. Next, add some sugar syrup or skip if you want it to be sugar-free. Then add some crushed ice and pour some fizzy soda water on top to complete the drink.