The days of sugar cubes are over when it comes to people’s preferred coffee sweeteners. Adults have been choosing more holistic options for their diets, which often means cutting out refined sugars. Healthy coffee options are thriving.
What is a good substitute for sugar in coffee? Good substitutes for sugar in coffee include natural sweeteners like honey, stevia, and maple syrup.
Sugar alternatives can be used the same way you would table sugar in your recipes at home. It’s a sweetener in your favorite cupcakes but can also add texture, color, and flavor, including in your coffee.
9 Best Coffee Sweeteners
9 Best Coffee Sweeteners
Should I skip the sugar?
Some coffee drinkers worry that skipping coffee sweeteners will lead to a bitter, off-putting cup. Thankfully, sugar alternatives are a healthier option than reaching for a pour of white sugar in your cup of joe.
What are the benefits of using a sugar substitute in coffee? The benefits of using a sugar substitute in coffee include the higher nutritional value in most other coffee sweeteners. Refined sugars, including commercial brown sugar, have been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and weight gain. Natural options may eliminate some of these health risks.
How can I sweeten my coffee without sugar? To sweeten your coffee without sugar, stir in an alternative sweetener like stevia, honey, or a dash of vanilla. How much you use will depend on the sweetener.
The draw for coffee drinkers is that artificial sweeteners are often a carbohydrate- and calorie-free alternative, but that also means they’re not adding any health benefits to your diet.
Keep in mind that you’re still adding sugar to your cup, whether it’s natural or not, and that any added sugars should be consumed in moderation. You may even discover that you don’t need to sweeten coffee after all, especially if you try a smoother, low-acid coffee option.
The 9 Best Coffee Sweeteners
When it comes to coffee, coffee sweeteners all serve the same purpose: to make your morning cup just a little bit sweeter, especially for those who don’t love the taste of coffee.
What is the difference between artificial and natural sweeteners? The difference between artificial and natural sweeteners is simple: natural sugars are naturally found in the foods we eat. Artificial sweeteners were created in the lab and chemically modified.
You likely know artificial sweeteners by brand names like Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet’N Low, or Splenda. Their chemical names aren’t as appealing: saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame are the most popular.
The 9 best natural coffee sweeteners include:
- Monk fruit
- Agave nectar
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Vanilla extract
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that comes from the carbohydrates of plants. Like stevia, it does have to be chemically altered to be used as a sweetener. That process has been around since the 1990s.
Erythritol is similar in appearance to table sugar, though slightly finer in texture. The granules can be used wherever a recipe calls for sugar, but it’s often mixed with stevia.
Erythritol contains no calories and is low in carbohydrates, and is acceptable for diabetes patients as it doesn’t alter glucose levels. No blood sugar spikes or empty calories here!
It makes the perfect wellness-friendly complement to coffee, which is why we incorporate it into our products, along with monk fruit. No extra sweeteners needed with our gold coffee!
2. Monk Fruit Extract
Monk fruit extract is growing in popularity in drinks at your favorite coffee shops, and anyone with a sweet tooth will love this super sweet sugar alternative.
The fruit’s roots are in southern China, where it’s been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. In extracting the sweetener, the seeds and skin of the fruit are removed before the fleshy parts are ground up into a pulp.
The resulting juice contains zero calories, which makes it an attractive option for anyone watching their diet. It’s also up to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. It can be substituted wherever sugar is used, but you’ll just want to use it in smaller quantities.
This is why we lightly sweeten many of our unique gold coffee flavors with monk fruit and erythritol. We care about keeping things easy on your stomach, using the best tasting sweeteners instead of using sugar.
Stevia is one of the healthiest coffee sweeteners out there. It has zero calories like most artificial sweeteners, but is still considered a natural sugar substitute. It’s a good choice then for diabetics watching their blood sugar levels or those watching their weight.
The sweetener comes from the stevia plant in South America, and its sweet properties have been used in medicines and teas throughout Brazil and Paraguay for more than 1,500 years. Chemical processing turns the plant into the stevia you see on store shelves, usually labeled as Truvia.
A little bit of stevia goes a long way. Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, so if you’re using it for your baked goods, watch your measurements. It comes in packets like artificial sweeteners or a liquid.
Some stevia users say it can add some bitterness to your coffee depending on the coffee roast, so you may not even need the whole packet if it’s your chosen sweetener.
4. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar came onto the sweetener scene in the 1990s from Mexico. The nectar, or syrup, comes from the blue agave plant, the base for another Mexican import: tequila.
The sweetener is similar in consistency to honey, with a lower glycemic index. That means it’s better for those watching their blood glucose, like diabetics. It should still be consumed in moderation, though, because it’s high in fructose.
It has even more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup, by the way, although it’s not as detrimental to your health because it’s coming from natural sources.
The mild caramel taste of agave nectar can help mask the bitterness in coffee, especially in something full-bodied like an espresso. That makes agave nectar a frontrunner for many when choosing a sweetener.
The boost of antioxidants in honey already makes it a popular sweetener at tea time, but it’s growing in popularity in coffee, as well.
Since ancient times, honey has been used in alternative medicine to fight infection, treat gastrointestinal diseases, and even lower blood pressure. That spoonful of sweetness comes with added vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium.
While it does boast nutritional properties, honey has more calories than sugar, so enjoying it in moderation is key. A little squeeze from that honey bottle goes a long way.
6. Maple Syrup
Save a drizzle from that plate of pancakes for your cup of coffee because maple syrup has long since arrived as a natural coffee sweetener.
The thick sweetener has a deep local history, used by Native Americans as their preferred sweetener since before European settlers arrived on the East Coast. Today, there are a variety of flavors available, from more robust syrups to fruity options.
For an antioxidant boost, choose darker, all-natural syrups. Maple syrup will also give you a bit of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Maple syrup is not a low-calorie sweetener, though, so pour it into your coffee in moderation.
Molasses was the sweetener of choice throughout the United States until after World War I, when refined sugar dropped in price and replaced molasses in Americans’ coffee, tea, and baked goods.
Today, dark and syrupy molasses is still found at eateries throughout the South and in gingerbread recipes, but it can also be used in a cup of dark roast coffee.
Molasses comes from the same processes as raw sugar. As sugar is being refined, the sugar cane or sugar beets are crushed into a juice. A double boil creates the syrupy product known as molasses.
The resulting antioxidants are higher in dark and blackstrap molasses than in any other sugar alternative.
The flavoring is strong, and the aftertaste can taste bitter to some, so if you’re looking to mask the flavor of bitter coffee, molasses won’t cut it.
8. Coconut Sugar
As with most coconut products, coconut sugar is having a moment right now, despite its centuries-long history in southern Asia.
Fans of coconut sugar love that you can say you’re getting a little of a lot of different vitamins and minerals with a sprinkle. That includes calcium, magnesium, and inulin, a starchy fiber that’s good for your gut health.
That good stuff comes in trace amounts, though, with a similar amount of fructose as table sugar. The taste of coconut sugar is slightly nutty. Depending on the brand, most will be able to taste some coconut in their coffee, which can be welcome or not depending on your preference.
9. Vanilla Extract
A dash of vanilla in your latte or iced coffee can give your coffee a flavor boost on top of making it just a touch sweeter. That makes vanilla extract an easy, accessible option among coffee sweeteners.
If you’d like to play around with flavors over coffee sweeteners, try a dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder in your coffee. You’ll find many coffee shops are already on the sweet and spicy train when it comes to adding unique flavors to coffee and their coffee beans.
Flavorful Coffee Without The Burn
Choosing a coffee sweetener is even easier when you’re drinking a delicious gold coffee that doesn’t even need added sweetness.
If the reason you’re sweetening things up is the bitterness in your cup, it may be time for a change. Try gold coffee from Golden Ratio, an alternative with a smoother taste than your regular brew.
It’s a low-acid option that retains all the benefits of coffee, including the energy boost you crave, while being gentle on your stomach first thing in the morning. You may find yourself ditching the sweeteners and creamer altogether.
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- Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research
- Antioxidant activity, inhibition of nitric oxide overproduction, and in vitro antiproliferative effect of maple sap and syrup from Acer saccharum
- Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar
- The fructose mystery: how bad or good is it?
- Erythritol as sweetener-wherefrom and whereto?
- In search for an alternative to sugar to reduce obesity
- Coconut ( Cocos nucifera L.) sap as a potential source of sugar: Antioxidant and nutritional properties