17 Best Sweeteners for Coffee
For the coffee purists, coffee should only be taken black without adding anything because any additives can ruin the taste and experience. But, for the majority of coffee drinkers, coffee is never complete without some sweetener.
However, when it comes to choosing the best coffee sweetener, everyone seems to have their specific preferences, and so there is no one universal sweetener that works for all coffee lovers.
From sugar to other natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, there are various things that you can use to make your coffee less bitter, and what you choose will depend on the specific taste you are looking for.
Here we explain what to expect from some of the most popular coffee sweeteners to help you decide which will work best for you.
Sugar is perhaps the most common and most popular sweetener for coffee and most other beverages. And for most people, nothing beats sugar when it comes to choosing the best sweetener for coffee.
Many of its users find it more convenient and inexpensive, and the taste that you get makes your coffee way more bearable as almost all the bitterness disappears.
However, as sweet as sugar might be, it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. The key among these shortcomings is that it has lots of calories given that just one 2.3-gram cube will have up to 9 calories.
Also, there are different kinds of sugar that you can use which include white, raw and brown sugar.
White is the most commonly used by coffee drinkers given that it is the most prevalent form of sugar. You can find this in granulated, powdered or cube form. And besides sweetening the coffee, it does not add any significant foreign tastes.
And if you want to keep your coffee healthier when using white sugar, you should go for something like the Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener which does not contain any carbs or calories but still delivers the sweetness of white sugar.
Raw sugar is the kind that has not gone through any processing which means it will not contain any artificial chemicals and is hence healthier. This sugar will have the molasses left intact, and it will have a courser texture and lighter flavor than others like brown sugar.
The Tea Forte Amber Rock Sugar which is made from pure sugar cane is a perfect example of good raw sugar you can use to sweeten your coffee.
When compared to white refined sugar, brown sugar will provide a heavier flavor and it will be made by adding molasses back to the sugar when it is being processed. Also, brown sugar will give the coffee a deeper and richer flavor. But, this sugar is also more prone to clumping.
If want to get the deeper and rich brown sugar flavor in your coffee, you should go for a high-quality option like Big Tree Farms Organic Brown Coconut Sugar.
Honey is a popular sweetener option for those looking for a healthier sweetener alternative thanks to its many health benefits. From its powerful antioxidants to high nutritional value, honey does more good to the body than sugar.
But while honey might be one of the best sugar substitutes for coffee, it is also worth mentioning that it contains more calories than sugar and might hence not be very ideal for those on a weight loss program.
Like sugar, honey is also available in different flavors profiles such as the bolder flavor wildflower honey, mellow and smooth tupelo honey, and the neutral flavor profile clover honey.
And while there are many brands out there that claim to have the best honey for sweetening coffee, it is always better to stick with tried and tested products like Nature Nate’s 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Honey and the Stakich Clover Honey Stix, Pure U.S. Grade A Honey.
If you have not tried out agave nectar, you are missing out on one of the most flavorful natural coffee sweeteners, and once you put some in your coffee, you will probably never use anything else. This sweetener is derived from cacti and it has a low glycemic index.
Agave is perfect for the strongest coffee as it is very effective at diluting the bitterness, and many people will also use it on their strong teas. Its taste is somewhere in between molasses and honey, and while some people might find it a little overpowering, for most it only takes some getting used to.
But because agave comes in a liquid state, it seems to work best for iced coffee and cold brews, but you can still use it effectively in all other kinds of coffee.
To get the best flavors from agave, it is vital to make sure that whatever you buy is as natural as possible with no added artificial ingredients. For this, Madhava Naturally Sweet Organic Blue Agave is a good recommendation.
While molasses is also a product of sugar production, it will not provide the same taste. Its taste is not always the best, but it should be okay once you get used to it.
Molasses is a more natural sweetener, and it is available in two main options which are blackstrap and dark, and it has some of the highest antioxidant properties which makes it relatively healthier when compared to refined sugar.
But, as you go for molasses, it will be important to note that its strong and spicy flavor will not only sweeten the coffee but can change its taste completely. Hence, you need to be very keen on the quantity that you add. Also, molasses tends to have a lingering aftertaste that is not very good.
However, the quality of the molasses that you use also determines the experience that you get, and you can be sure of a much better tasting brew if you go for something high-quality and all-natural like the Plantation Organic Blackstrap Molasses.
Stevia looks exactly like sugar, and many people might not even tell them apart when looking at them side by side. However, it is up to 300 times sweeter than regular refined sugar which means a little of it goes a long way.
Also, unlike sugar, this natural sweetener will not have the same effects on your blood, and so you can add it to your coffee without worrying about blood sugar spikes. This makes it ideal even for those with health issues like diabetes.
There are even some proponents of stevia that claim that its use can lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure for individuals that have high blood pressure issues. Better yet, stevia is an antioxidant and also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
When it comes to the flavor, stevia is a smooth sweetener but some users might find the aftertaste a little overpowering. And because it is calorie-free it is also one of the best coffee sweeteners for weight loss.
And while there are now several companies that make and sell stevia, it is good to stick with those that are known to use all-natural ingredients. Some good recommendations are CCnature Organic Stevia Powder Extract, Sugar in the Raw Stevia in the Raw Sweetener and the Truvia Natural Stevia Sweetener Packets.
6. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of the healthiest sweeteners for coffee as it is a naturally occurring sweetener which means it will not have any unnatural or artificial ingredients added.
Although it is typically used for pancakes, maple syrup has been gaining more popularity as a coffee sweetener over the years as more and more people prefer it for its health benefits. Maple syrup contains the same antioxidant compounds that you get on fruits like berries which are known for their anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties.
But when picking up your maple syrup, it is important to make sure that you go for something all-natural because the artificial versions will not only give your coffee a bad taste but will also not come with the health benefits.
However, you cannot go wrong with Runamok Bourbon Barrel-Aged Organic Vermont Maple Syrup as is an all-natural product that will give your coffee an amazing flavor.
Splenda is the brand name for a popular sucralose sweetener. It is an all-purpose sweetener that you can use anywhere you would use refined sugar, and so it will be useful for much more than just sweetening your coffee.
This sweetener is made from refined sugar through chlorination which is a process that involves adding sugar to chlorine molecules. Chlorination renders the sugar completely useless to the body as it will not be broken down.
And while Splenda ends up being up to 600 times sweeter than regular refined sugar, it will not contain any calories which means a little of it goes a long way, and it is also healthier.
This sweetener will be perfect for diabetics and individuals on a weight management program, and if you want to be sure that you are getting the real thing and not cheap knockoffs and counterfeits, go for the Splenda Naturals Stevia Sweetener.
8. Equal and Nutrasweet
Equal and Nutrasweet are two common brands for artificial sweeteners made from Aspartame which unlike the sucralose used to make other sweeteners is a completely artificial product.
However, despite being an artificial product, the base molecules on these sweeteners are protein molecules that you can get in many dairy and meat products.
When using Equal and Nutrasweet sweeteners, you will not need to add a lot because Aspartame is up to 200 times sweeter than refined sugar. Also, these sweeteners will not contain any calories which makes them healthier and great for weight management. However, there is still some debate on the potential health risks associated with these compounds.
9. Sweet’n Low
Sweet’n Low is an artificial sweetener that is made by mixing dextrose and saccharin, and it can be up to 500 times sweeter than regular sugar.
In this sweetener, the saccharin is the actual sweetening agent while dextrose is used for dilution. And in many instances, the sweetener will also contain other substances like cream of tartar and an anti-caking agent like calcium silicate.
Because the body cannot digest these compounds, they will not provide any calories which makes them relatively healthier than refined sugar. And while a few decades ago there was a debate on whether it causes bladder cancer, it has since been declared safe to use.
Sweet’n Low mostly comes in small packets which makes it easier to manage your portions and also makes it easier to carry around for use on the go. And although it might still not be the best tasting artificial sweetener for some coffee lovers, it is highly effective in reducing coffee bitterness.
Cinnamon is another fantastic coffee sweetener that will allow you to shave off a few calories from your brew while still enjoying some bold and highly flavorful coffee.
With cinnamon, you will make your coffee both sweet and spicy, and it will also come with several health properties such as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammations.
While in many instances cinnamon will be used to top decadent lattes, it can still work well for plain black coffee. But for maximum benefits and flavor, it is important to make sure that you buy good quality cinnamon because many stores stock the wrong type.
Also, if you prefer to use cinnamon to sweeten your coffee, you can take things a notch higher by brewing it with a stick of cinnamon to make the brew even spicier. A good example of a fantastic cinnamon coffee sweetener for coffee is the Vimerson Health True Ceylon Cinnamon Supplement.
11. Almond Milk
Almond milk is very popular with vegans as it is just the perfect milk alternative. However, you do not have to be one to enjoy it as it also makes an excellent coffee sweetener.
If you like coffee with milk, almond milk will be perfect for you. Besides being tasty, it will also contain less fat and also has more calcium which makes it a healthier milk alternative.
Better yet, almond milk will also be available in honey and vanilla-sweetened versions which can add even more flavor to your coffee. If almond milk just does not seem to work for you, it is also possible to use almost extract to give your java a more unique flavor.
There are tons of almond milk options in the market, but if you want something that will rarely disappoint you with its taste, try the Silk Vanilla Flavored Non-Dairy Almond Milk.
Vanilla makes everything taste better, and so it should not come as a surprise that it is one of the best natural sweeteners for coffee out there.
While adding vanilla to coffee might not make it as sweet as other sweeteners like honey and sugar would, the aroma that you get will be heavenly and the taste will also be quite elegant which will make your coffee even more refreshing.
A few drops of vanilla extract usually do the trick, and you should be careful not to add too much as this can easily ruin the coffee and make it undrinkable.
Although dates are typically used as ingredients in baking and when making sweet snacks, they can still work as a coffee sweetener thanks to their unique and strong flavor.
Dates are filled with sugars, but the good news is that they are all-natural and healthy sugars that will not cause harm to the body, and they will also contain lots of nutrients and other healthy compounds such as fiber, magnesium, and iron.
For the best flavor when using dates to sweeten coffee, you should first make a paste by blending them with water. You should then stir a little of this paste into your coffee.
Also, you can use date syrup to sweeten your coffee which you can either make at home or buy at your local store.
14. Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is another product that always makes everything taste better, and it will also give your cup of Joe a sweet and fulfilling taste.
Also, besides sweetening your coffee, it can help to spice it up depending on the type that you choose. Better yet, cocoa powder is also packed with several healthy compounds which include potassium and significant amounts of protein.
However, as sweet as cocoa powder might be, you need to use it more sparingly than most other sweeteners as it has lots of calories and contains lots of unhealthy saturated fats, and this is more so if you buy the sweetened types.
A good example of a cocoa powder that will work well for sweetening coffee without overpowering other flavors is Crio Bru Ghana Roasted & Ground Cacao Beans.
Chocolate is a perfect coffee sweetener for those with a sweet tooth. The chocolate and coffee combination also brings out an exquisite taste that you will always look forward to every morning.
Some coffee types already have some hints of chocolate notes and adding chocolate to them makes these notes shine more leaving you with a distinct chocolate taste.
With chocolate, you can use almost any kind on your coffee because it will still be effective at subduing the bitterness in coffee. However, milk, white and dark chocolate will have the most effect.
And when using chocolate, you will only need to place a couple of bars at the bottom of your mug, and then pour in the coffee to melt them before stirring them in.
16. Fresh or Frozen Fruit
Fresh or frozen fruits are some of the best sweeteners for coffee. Besides giving your brew a sweeter taste, they are also packed with several healthy compounds, and unlike many other sweeteners, they will not contain any empty calories.
You can use almost any fruit that you want, but just make sure it does not overpower the coffee with too much sweetness or annoying lumps.
Also, you will not need anything very elaborate because even oranges will work just fine. Oranges will be perfect when taking coffee in warm weather while other fruits like raspberries will provide a rich and tangy taste that goes perfectly well with the natural fruity components in coffee.
Other fruits like blueberries will provide a subtly sweet but tasty flavor while brewing your coffee with dried banana chips can give it a nice punch of sweetness.
17. Ice Cream
Ice cream provides another simple way to make some delicious coffee. And the best thing about it is that it will act as both creamer and sweetener for your coffee.
The sugar in the ice creams adds some sweetness to the coffee while the cream will thicken and give the coffee a pleasant dessert-like feel.
One scoop is often enough, but you can use less or more depending on how sweet you want your coffee, but ice cream will work best as a sweetener when using it on iced or cold brew coffee.
While there is nothing wrong with being a coffee purist that will only take coffee black, it is not for everyone as some people might find it too bitter to handle. Hence, it is always a good idea to know some of the best sweeteners for coffee you can use to make it more bearable.
The good news is that there are all kinds of sweeteners out there from regular refined sugar to natural ones like honey and artificial sweeteners such as Sweet’n Low.
And while all will be effective in sweetening or at least making your coffee less bitter, they have a different flavor which means they will be ideal for different kinds of coffee drinkers.
The best way to tell which sweetener will work best for you will be by trying as many as possible and settling for the taste you like most.
- The Best Coffee and Tea Sweeteners - The Spruce Eats
- What are Healthy Ways to Sweeten Coffee? - Livestrong