Licor Café (Coffee Liqueur)

Coffee liqueur is immensely popular in Galicia. It’s consumed at every Galician celebration. Officially known as “licor de café de Galicia,” but colloquially referred to as licor café or simply “licorca.”

Coffee liqueur is consumed in various countries and varies in composition. In Mexico, it’s made with tequila. Those who’ve had coffee liqueur in the Netherlands likely think of a very sweet and low-alcohol drink. Licor Café de Galicia is different. It’s a stronger liquor made from orujo (the Galician variant of Grappa), sugar, and coffee beans. This mixture results in a strong liquor, both in alcohol content and flavor.

What does Licor Café de Galicia taste like?

Licor Café is a pitch-black drink. Soft and syrupy like a liqueur, it slides from the glass into your mouth. Due to the sugar, it has a sweet taste, but the finish is strong like a good espresso.

When do you drink it?

Licor café is consumed at various times in Galicia. At any celebration, a bottle will eventually appear, often mysteriously. Many parties also speak of the time before and after licor café. You understand, the coffee liqueur only comes out when people are already somewhat warmed up, after which the party will fully erupt. It’s also enjoyed after dinner. When dining at a restaurant in Galicia, licor café is often offered with coffee. Cheers!

Making coffee liqueur at home

Coffee liqueur is widely available in Galicia but is also often homemade. Therefore, there are many different recipes for making it. The Galician coffee liqueur typically consists of orujo (aguardiente), coffee beans, and sugar. Then, different ingredients are added to each recipe, often lemon or orange peel, cinnamon, and dark chocolate.

For this method, we use the following ingredients:

  • 1 liter of strong alcohol.
  • Oruja, aguardiente, but you can also use vodka
  • 1/4 kilo ground coffee
  • 1/2 kilo sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange

The preparation is as follows:

  1. Pour the alcoholic drink into a large, sealable pot.
  2. Place a saucepan on the stove with the sugar and add 100ml of water. Bring to a boil to create a syrup. Let it cool and add it to the alcohol.
  3. Finely peel the lemon and orange and add the peels to the mixture.
  4. Finally, add the ground coffee and stir everything together.
  5. Let it stand sealed for at least 8 days.
  6. Strain the drink and pour it into a bottle.

You’re now ready. Store the drink in the freezer or refrigerator and serve ice-cold. Cheers!

Buying Coffee Liqueur

As mentioned, you can buy licor café in many places in Galicia. Think of supermarkets. But there are also alternative places where you can buy authentic coffee liqueur. Once, I was in Santiago de Compostela and wanted to bring back a tasty “licorca” to the Netherlands. A Galician friend of mine advised me to bring an empty cola bottle and go to a bar within a 10-minute walk from la zona vieja, the old historic center. Once inside, I obviously stood out with my Dutch appearance. The elderly barwoman pretended not to understand me when I asked for coffee liqueur and showed her my cola bottle. She neatly placed a glass in front of me and poured some in. Of course, I didn’t refuse. After insisting again and telling her that I had come on the advice of a Galician friend, the old woman finally accepted my bottle. She turned to the kitchen and filled my bottle with homemade clandestine coffee liqueur. Strong, syrupy, and pitch-black, how I enjoyed that in the Netherlands!

An Ode to Licor Café
“Licorca” is very popular in nightlife. In cities like Santiago, you can hear the drink being sung about by drunken students at night. They always sing the same song, once created by the Galician band Lamatumba.

The chorus goes as follows:
Licor do negro café
Que me tumbas que me matas
Licor do negro café
Fasme andar a catro patas

Sing along! From experience, I can say it sings easily after consuming a licor café!