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How To Sweeten Coffee

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Just about everyone probably knows the jingle about a spoonful of sugar. It’s this sweetness that makes most things taste lovely. And for some reason, coffee with a little sugar heightens the whole experience of drinking it.

Well, it does for many people. The point is, a sweetener is great stuff, but what if we run out of it? What do we do? This is where ingenuity and a knack for experimentation come in super handy, and naturally, (thankfully, too), we humans are just that; creative geniuses. 

How else would we know that there are many substitutes for sugar when it comes to sweetening coffee?

So, what sweeteners can we use in place of sugar?

There are, as mentioned above, a range of different sweetening agents, though a natural sweetener is likely to be better for us, and give our brew something extra, something distinctive and unique.

As for which natural sweeteners we recommend for your coffee; just read on and discover the magical world of natural sugary goodness.


Honey is one of nature’s best natural sweeteners and in the United States, the most common type of honey is clover. The flavor is mild in comparison to honey such as manuka. The flavors of different kinds of honey vary as a result of the types of flowers or plants that the nectar is collected from.

With that said, if you opt for honey as your sweetener, just keep in mind that due to having its own distinctive flavor/s, it will bring this to your cup of joe. This means that it will indeed alter the flavor of your coffee, and many people find this a pleasant experience. To start though, perhaps choosing mild-tasting honey (such as clover), will help you incorporate this natural sugar into your coffee routine.

Maple Syrup

If you’re having pancakes for breakfast, you might enjoy a drizzle of maple syrup in your morning joe too. Wait, what? That’s not a typo. Maple syrup is a delectable substitute for sugar, and it’s naturally derived. While maple syrup is a natural sugar, just be sure to buy the real stuff, instead of the artificial maple-flavored products.

As with honey, we recommend that you start slow if you’re switching to a less processed way of sweetening your coffee; just a teaspoon at a time and, since maple has quite a robust, unique flavor, it’ll imbue your coffee with that essence too. Delicious!


Hailing from the South American continent, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana), colloquially known as candyleaf or sugarleaf, is far, far sweeter than most other sweeteners. However, stevia does not add extra calories, apparently, even being as sweet as it is. Now, due to its sweetness, it’s highly recommended that you start quite modestly. A half a teaspoon to start should sweeten your coffee perfectly.


Okay, look, this is typically something that’s added to gingerbread or gingerbread cookies during the holiday season, but did you know that you can also add it to your coffee? A byproduct of sugar processing and production, dark and blackstrap molasses provide a robust, sugary backdrop that can complement your coffee. Molasses’ strong flavor will more than likely change how your coffee tastes, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s new and different and these can be very good things indeed!

Monk Fruit Sugar/Sweetener

Derived from, well, monk fruit, this sugar is 1) natural and 2) a healthier alternative to processed sugar. Like stevia, it is many times sweeter than regular sugar, without all the added extra calories. It often comes in liquid form so when sweetening your cuppa with this sugar, be frugal at first (a couple of drops to start). You can always add a little more, one drop at a time until your coffee has reached the desired level of ‘sweet and tasty’.

Erythritol Sugar or Liquid

This sweetener is found naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables. It goes through a fermentation process that eventually results in its final form. It’s a low-calorie alternative to processed sugar, so you can sweeten your brew with some of this stuff.

Natural sugars provide the sweetness we’re looking for, and they come complete with their own flavor profiles. They lend themselves uniquely to things, especially coffee, which is itself, a flavor complex like none other! But we can’t leave the ‘basics’ or rather, the most well-known sugars off the list.

So, here we go the three runners up…

Raw sugar

Cane and turbinado sugars are raw sugars and while a more natural form, their larger, coarser crystals mean that you’ll probably have to stir a tad longer to make sure it completely dissolves into your coffee before drinking it. Otherwise, you’ll get to the last sip and find yourself with a mouthful of extremely sweet and viscous coffee. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not the most delectable thing, so it’s better just to stir well and make sure every last raw crystal is completely incorporated from the start.

Brown sugar

Due to the presence of molasses in brown sugar, using it as a sweetener in coffee is a great option. The complexity of flavors creates a multi-dimensional cup of coffee that has tastes ranging from sweet and smoky, to salty and musky. It adds depth, texture, and a wonderful hue to your brew.

White sugar

Derived from sugar cane or sugar beets, this is the most common form of sugar available for anything, but especially to sweeten coffee. It’s known as table sugar or granulated sugar, and the difference in flavors between white and brown sugars is that the former has a more neutral taste. It sweetens without bringing anything distinctive to the coffee, so if you’re just looking for sweetness without a host of flavor profiles, then this is possibly the sugar for you.

Since we’ve covered the natural sugars out there, we can use in coffee, it’s important to cover the artificial stuff too; just so you can make your coffee-sweetening decisions armed with a little extra info.

Next up, saccharine

Saccharine is one of the oldest artificial sweeteners and has been used to sweeten beverages for ages now. It’s used as a sugar substitute and is calorie-free. Even in light of this, it’s much, much sweeter than regular sugar, so a minuscule amount is necessary to achieve similar sweetness that a much larger amount of regular sugar, provides.


Aspartame is comprised of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are both naturally occurring amino acids. This sweetener is one of the most popular on the market and though it’s used primarily in diet soda, it can be used in many other drinks and dishes too.


This sweetener can be as much as 1,000 times sweeter than sucrose, it’s often an option for coffee and other foods and beverages as it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste that many popular sweeteners are associated with.


By mass, advantame is about 20,000 times sweeter than sugar. Wow! It’s calorie-free and inexpensive to produce, which makes it consumer-friendly. Advantame is ideal for sweetening your cuppa, as it doesn’t have a funky flavor, or bad after taste, like some of the artificial sweeteners. So, since it doesn’t bring anything to the flavor table, so to speak, except for sweetness, it might be a good choice for people who again, just want sweetness; not sweetness and flavor.

Are Sweeteners in Coffee Bad for You?

The short answer is that many reputable agencies have rigorously tested and researched the products and deemed them safe for human consumption. These low calorie or calorie-free sweeteners are found in many different products on store shelves such as convenience meals, chewing gum, and toothpaste, for example.

With the testing protocols in place for artificial sweeteners, they can be useful tools for people wanting to watch their caloric or sugar intake, but ultimately your primary care manager’s advice is the only advice you should take when considering switching to a sugar substitute.

Whether you’re looking to go ‘au naturel’ (as they say in France) or opting for an artificial sweetener, this easy guide gives you the options that exist out there. How you choose to prepare and sweeten your coffee is an expression of yourself. How awesome is it, that something as seemingly benign as sweetening a cup of joe, can be a total illustration of ourselves?

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