Want to spruce up your coffee but trying to steer away from sugar? A cup of black coffee isn’t your only option. Far from it. There are a variety of alternative coffee sweeteners that aren’t sugar that can lend an added boost of sweetness to your bean brew. Let’s explore a few!
Artificial Sugar Substitutes for Coffee
Even the best artificial sweeteners sometimes get a bad reputation, but science—and the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association—have all concluded they can contribute toward reducing weight loss and reduce risk associated with too much sugar consumption if consumed in tandem with a balanced diet and in moderation.
With that in mind, these are the easiest, most surefire ways to sweeten your coffee without sugar.
- Sucralose. Commercially known as Splenda, this sweetener takes sugar and uses a chlorination process to strip it of calories. As a result, it’s a whopping 600 times sweeter than sugar and can be tricky to find just the right amount to sprinkle into a cup of coffee. It contains no calories.
- Saccharin. This sweetener combination of saccharin and dextrose, known commercially as Sweet’N Low, is also immensely sweeter than sugar but is not digested by the body. It’s another non-caloric option.
- Aspartame. By comparison, one of the most popularly consumed artificial sweeteners, aspartame, is only—relatively speaking—200 times sweeter than sugar and nearly non-caloric. It’s chemically referred to as L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester.
Sugar Substitutes for Coffee: Natural Alternatives
In addition to the sweeteners that have been produced by science, there are also a number of natural alternatives as sugar substitutes. The question of what is the healthiest sweetener is ultimately still up for debate by science, but below are several natural sweeteners for coffee that come with their own pros and cons. Here are a few more ways to sweeten your coffee without sugar.
- Honey. It’s seamless to sweeten coffee with honey; it blends as easily as a simple syrup would. Honey is broken down in the body in a way that is similar to sugar but comes with the benefit of anti-inflammatory effects and is healthier for the heart. It’s also uniquely delicious.
- Maple syrup. Similar to honey, maple syrup won’t prevent a spike in glucose levels, but maple syrup in coffee instead of sugar comes with the benefit of being packed with antioxidants. Try adding a teaspoon to complement coffees that have a naturally nutty, toffee, or chocolate flavor.
- Molasses. The third of the antioxidant-packed sugar substitutes, molasses in coffee has a spicy flavor to it that requires very little to spruce up a cup. Try pairing it with cinnamon.
- Stevia. Derived from the rebaudioside A plant, this sugar alternative—popularly packaged as Truvia—isn’t actually artificial and has no known effect on blood sugar. It’s also non-caloric. It’s sometimes mixed with the sugar alcohol Erythritol, which is, too, derived from nature, is virtually non-caloric and has a limited effect on blood sugar. Both are sweeter than sugar, so be mindful of how much you add to your coffee. Try Stevia coffee syrup to better blend with coffee and portion.
- Coconut sugar. Another natural sweetener, coconut sugar can be used just like white sugar. The trade-off is that, even though it won’t have the same profound effect on blood sugar, it will pack about the same number of calories.
In addition to the more obvious sugar substitutes and coffee sweeteners—from the artificial to the bee-produced—here is a selection of more clever ways to approach making your coffee sweeter. Some are even healthy ways to sweeten your cup of joe!
- Almond milk. Almond milks can add a creaminess to your coffee that complements the natural nuttiness of some brews. Beyond that, almond milk brands are increasingly offering naturally flavored varieties with spices like vanilla without adding sugar, making them a sort of sugar-free version of a creamer.
- Cinnamon. A stick or a few sprinkles of the grounds can enhance a medium-roast coffee. To boot, cinnamon is naturally known to fend off hunger. Consider it an extra perk beyond the perk-up.
- Coconut cream. A small amount of coconut cream can go a long way toward making your cup of coffee more indulgent while also offering up a serving of healthy fats that make for a healthy sweetener for coffee. Just be sure not to overdo it with the pour.
- Dark chocolate. Without all the added ingredients and sugar, dark chocolate of a high cocoa percentage offers up plenty of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. Though it does contain some sugar by nature, a small amount melted in coffee is a perfectly reasonable alternative to the usual spoonful of sugar or dessert-like coffee creamer.
- Brown sugar. Use brown sugar in coffee much as you would molasses — for flavor. It goes especially well with darker roasts and espresso. Brown sugar doesn’t differ much from refined sugar, but will lend a richer flavor to your coffee while using less of it.
If you’re the type of coffee drinker who prefers a little sweetness with their morning (or any time of day) cup but are exploring healthier options, we hope this list of sugar alternatives fits your bill!