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Can You Use Honey to Sweeten Your Coffee?

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For those of us who like our coffee a bit sweet, it can get tiresome to turn to simple white sugar day after day. Luckily, there are a handful of other options out there – and some of these offer health and taste benefits. Honey is one of these wonderful alternatives.

The good news is: yes, you can absolutely use honey to sweeten your coffee!

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Is Honey A Healthier Choice Than Sugar?

When considering the health effects of coffee sweeteners, there are two important factors: the amount of sugar that you’re putting into your body, and what your body can do with those sugars.

The first part of this question is a little complicated. You can measure the total amount of sugar you’re consuming by thinking about calories, which are units used to measure energy in foods. A comparison shows that honey actually does have more sugars. A teaspoon of white sugar contains 16 calories, while the same quantity of honey contains 23 calories.

spoon of honey

Image credit: ponce_photography, Pixabay

At first glance, it may seem confusing to think that honey contains more sugar than sugar does… after all, isn’t sugar just straight sugar?

We commonly use refined white sugar, and this delicious compound is made up of disaccharides. When we talk about sugar scientifically, we talk about glucose and fructose – not these more complex disaccharides. It’s actually disaccharides that are broken down into real sugar.

So when you eat common white sugar (or drink it in your coffee), you’re actually ingesting something your body can then break down into sugar.

Honey is made up mostly of glucose and fructose, so it’s chock-full of the most basic sugars.

This is why when we compare the same quantity of honey and white sugar, it looks like the white sugar is the healthier option. But this isn’t the most useful of comparisons.

Because honey is made up of more basic sugars (fructose and glucose), it actually tastes much sweeter than white sugar. To achieve the same sweetening effect in coffee, you need only add about 2/3 the amount of sugar. This is why you may notice tea drinkers dumping in three or four sugar packets at a café, but other tea drinkers only taking a tiny bit of honey on a spoon to swirl in – those different amounts of sweetener have the same effect.

honey dip with cinnamon

Image credit: ExplorerBob, Pixabay

This difference in sweetness means you’ll be able to use less honey than you would sugar – so much less, in fact, that you’ll be actually consuming fewer calories.

Honey also provides natural antioxidants, and it has antibacterial properties. These types of compounds are quite important to your health, and if you regularly consume them naturally – say, through honey – you shouldn’t need to take artificial dietary supplements.

How Does Honey Affect the Taste of Coffee?

Of course, health concerns aren’t everything. We all also want coffee that tastes great.

This is one of those situations where everyone will have a slightly different opinion. While white sugar simply adds some sweetness to your coffee, honey can add some other flavors – some of which you may like, and some of which may make your coffee taste a bit strange.

honey and coffee spread

Image credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

In much the same way that different coffee beans grown in different regions carry subtly different taste profiles, so too do different honeys. It’s all about the specific bees, and, more importantly, the flowers the bees fed on. This is why, for example, clover honey tastes so different from tupelo honey.

It’s worth experimenting a bit. You may find that adding honey to your favorite coffee leads to a strange taste combination, but try mixing up your coffee or exploring new types of honey.

You just may find a new way to enjoy your coffee, and it’ll be great to know that you’re choosing the healthier option.


Featured image credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay