Best Sugar Substitutes for Your Coffee

The comforting ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee dates back centuries, with millions of people across the globe taking their brew sweetened, whether it’s with traditional granulated sugar or one of the myriad alternatives that have emerged over the years. With health-conscious individuals seeking ways to reduce calories and avoid the health concerns associated with excess sugar intake, such as diabetes and obesity, it’s time to explore alternative sweeteners for your morning cup of joe.

In today’s world of diverse sweetener options, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to natural sugar alternatives like honey or maple syrup, or interested in a sugar substitute such as stevia or xylitol, the choice is yours. Embrace your curiosity and embark on a journey to discover your new favorite morning sweetener.

Key Takeaways

  • A wide variety of sugar alternatives and sweeteners are available today, catering to diverse tastes and dietary preferences.
  • Health-conscious individuals can benefit from exploring lower-calorie options and substitutes that can help control blood sugar levels.
  • Experimenting with different sweeteners can lead to discovering new ways of enjoying your coffee while maintaining a balanced diet.

17. Saccharin

Saccharin has been around since 1878, making it one of the earliest artificial sweeteners. It was initially quite popular, but gained a negative reputation due to research in the 1970s linking it to cancer in animal trials. Fortunately, this was debunked in the 1990s, with the Cancer Council stating that enormous amounts of saccharin consumption would be required for any carcinogenic effects.

What sets saccharin apart is its metallic aftertaste and sweetness level that’s 300 times higher than regular sugar. This can make it challenging to use in your coffee. However, there are many other artificial sweeteners available, such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium, with more pleasant flavors for your taste buds, so you don’t have to settle for saccharin.

16. Sucralose

Sucralose, also known as Splenda, is a popular sugar substitute due to its intense sweetness, which is nearly 600 times that of sugar, while containing zero calories. Unlike saccharin, it lacks any bitter or metallic aftertaste and remains stable under heat, making it a suitable replacement for sugar in baked and fried goods.

However, using sucralose in your coffee might result in an artificial flavor that detracts from the overall taste experience. You might prefer natural sweeteners like maple syrup or sugar that won’t introduce astringency to your beverage. To enjoy the benefits of sucralose without compromising flavor, consider using it in low-calorie baking recipes where other ingredients can help disguise any artificial taste.

15. Xylitol

Xylitol has gained recognition as a popular alternative sweetener in recent years. As a sugar alcohol, it shares similarities with both sucrose and alcohol, making it an excellent option for sugar-free treats like gum and oral-care products. More importantly, xylitol contains almost half the calories of regular sugar, making it a healthier option for many.

Derived from sources like birch trees or plant fibers like xylan, xylitol is available as a crystalline powder, which is safe for those with diabetes or other metabolic disorders. Replacing sugar with xylitol in your daily coffee is easy because of their similar sweetness levels, and you’ll enjoy it without worrying about that bitter or artificial aftertaste common in other sweeteners.

Incorporating xylitol into your diet can offer various health benefits, but it’s essential to consider that excessive consumption of sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol may cause bloating. So, remember to moderate your intake and enjoy the sweet goodness of xylitol responsibly.

14. Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol commonly found in processed foods and low-calorie treats. With around 60-80% of sucrose’s sweetness, you may need to adjust the conversion ratio to achieve your desired sweetness in your coffee. The good news is that it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste.

Similar to xylitol, erythritol is a non-caloric sugar alcohol, meaning your body can’t digest most of it. This allows it to pass through without raising your insulin or blood sugar levels like regular sugar does. As a result, erythritol can be a great choice if you have a metabolic condition or want to follow a low-calorie diet, without giving up that sweet touch in your coffee.

Furthermore, MedicineNet suggests that erythritol has a lower risk of causing digestive discomfort, contains fewer calories, and is more beneficial for people with diabetes compared to xylitol. So, next time you’re looking for a friendly sweetener option, erythritol is worth considering.

13. Stevia

As a popular sugar substitute, stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Thanks to modern science, it’s increasingly being used in soft drinks and packaged foods. However, when it comes to sweetening your coffee, stevia might not be the top choice for everyone.

The reason some people find stevia less enjoyable in beverages lies in its interaction with taste receptors on the tongue. Stevia’s active compounds affect both sweet and bitter receptors, which can result in an undesirable bitterness. To counteract this, stevia is often mixed with other sweeteners. In the future, more research is needed to isolate the sweet elements of stevia and minimize the bitter ones.

For now, if stevia’s taste isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to explore other alternative sweeteners for your coffee.

12. Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup, derived from a South American tuber called yacon, boasts a caramel-like flavor and is a rich source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). These carbohydrates contribute to efficient digestion by aiding the passage of waste throughout your system. Together with inulin, FOS supports the growth of beneficial gut microflora, thus promoting a healthy digestive process.

As a sweetener, yacon syrup is impressive with just one-third the calories of granulated sugar, and a low glycemic index. Its taste is slightly less sweet than table sugar, making it a great alternative for the health-conscious. However, be mindful of the recommended daily serving of 20 grams, as exceeding this amount may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. So, feel free to enjoy yacon syrup as an occasional addition to your coffee or other beverages for a touch of sweetness without the guilt.

11. Beet Sugar

Beet sugar comes from a root vegetable known as the sugar beet. To obtain the sucrose, the plant is sliced thinly, and the juice is extracted, purified, and crystallized into granules. One advantage of opting for beet sugar over traditional cane sucrose is that it is guaranteed to be free from bone char processing. This makes it safe for vegans and vegetarians who avoid cane sugar due to the use of animal bones as a whitening agent.

Calorie-wise, beet sugar and cane sugar are the same. However, when adding it to your coffee, be mindful of the subtle flavor differences. Beet sugar has a slightly more oxidized, earthy taste than the blander cane sugar.

10. Discover Lucuma Powder

If you’re searching for a delightful alternative to stevia, lucuma powder could be your answer. Originating from the fruit of a South American plant, its taste varies between hints of butterscotch, caramel, and maple syrup. This powder can enhance your food (including coffee) by adding gentle flavors without altering its sweetness.

Getting your hands on lucuma powder might be a bit tricky as it’s not typically available in conventional grocery stores. However, you can find it in Latin American markets, online retailers, or health food stores. To enjoy the taste, add this sweetener to your coffee gradually until it reaches your preferred flavor. Don’t limit yourself to coffee; you can use lucuma powder in smoothies, as a sugar substitute in baking, or as a topping for oatmeal and puddings.

9. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar comes from the versatile agave plant, which gives us not only this sweetener but also tequila. Containing 80% fructose and 20% glucose, agave nectar is one of the sweetest liquid sugar alternatives available (source: Food Insight). It’s an excellent choice for sweetening beverages like coffee, as it blends smoothly without settling at the bottom.

When using agave nectar to add sweetness to your coffee, keep in mind that it’s one-and-a-half times sweeter than regular table sugar. Simply use half the amount you’d typically use of sugar, allowing you to customize your drink and achieve the perfect blend of sweetness. Enjoy the subtle, natural sweetness that agave nectar brings to your cup of coffee!

8. Delightful Monk Fruit Sweetener

Monk fruit sweetener is a delightful powdered sugar alternative that has recently gained popularity in the United States. It is derived from a small, round fruit native to China, also known as luo han guo fruit extract.

This sweetener stands out for its remarkable sweetness, which is approximately 250 times more potent than regular table sugar. To dilute its intensity, manufacturers usually combine it with dextrose and erythritol. Although slightly fruitier in taste compared to sucrose, this can be adjusted by controlling the amount of additional sugars blended in. What makes monk fruit sweetener particularly attractive is the absence of any bitter aftertaste, unlike stevia or saccharin.

Furthermore, its user-friendly nature allows you to easily incorporate it into your daily routine, for example, by directly adding it to your morning coffee without the need for any extra blending.

7. Sweetening with Date Sugar or Syrup

Date syrup is a fantastic alternative sweetener, consisting solely of dates. To make it, you just simmer Medjool dates in water, blend them into a puree, and then strain the mixture. The end result is a thick, smooth liquid with a deep hue, similar to molasses. Its consistency is denser than maple syrup, and it boasts a distinctive fruity bitterness along with a mild sweetness. Some even compare its taste to caramel mixed with hints of molasses and raisins – delicious!

The delightful date flavor is a wonderful addition when you want to sweeten your coffee. If actual dates are all you have, an easy option is to soak them in water and then blend them into a thick paste using a food processor or a high-speed blender. Enjoy your naturally sweetened beverage!

6. Molasses

Molasses is an unconventional yet delightful addition to your coffee, enhancing its richness and sweetness. To make the most of this ingredient, it’s crucial to understand the various types available.

Light molasses is a popular choice, thanks to its caramel-like sweetness. It isn’t cooked as long as other varieties, which allows it to retain a lovely, sweet flavor. For a more intense taste, you can opt for dark molasses, which lies between light and blackstrap in terms of boldness.

Blackstrap molasses is the most distinct of the three, boasting a concentrated, bitter flavor due to being boiled multiple times. If you want to experiment with this variant, start with just ½ teaspoon, as its bitterness can accentuate the earthy tones in your coffee. Since it’s only about ⅔ as sweet as table sugar, you might want to pair it with another sweetener to achieve a balanced taste.

In summary, light or dark molasses will add a touch of sweetness to your coffee, while blackstrap is perfect for those who prefer a bolder, more complex flavor. Don’t be afraid to get creative and discover how molasses can elevate your morning coffee experience.

5. The Charm of Coconut and Palm Sugar

Coconut and palm sugar, often found in blocks or cones, boast a lovely dark amber hue. These natural sugars provide a milder and less sweet taste compared to brown sugar, which means no overpowering molasses flavor. With a delightful nutty undertone, they make for a versatile sweetener in various recipes.

Using coconut or palm sugar is a breeze because it has a comparable sweetness level to refined sugar, allowing for a straightforward one-to-one substitution. Ideal for enhancing coffee flavors, try mixing it with hazelnut, French vanilla, or pecan notes. By choosing coconut or palm sugar, you can give your morning beverage a uniquely pleasant taste without straying too far from familiarity.


4. Honey

Honey, a popular sweetener, is often enjoyed in tea as well as other hot beverages like coffee and hot cocoa. Not only does it add a delightful flavor, but consuming honey, particularly raw honey, can provide several health benefits. These may include increased feelings of fullness, improved immune system function, and lower blood pressure. Additionally, a study from the Primary Care Respiratory Journal discovered that a combination of honey and coffee could help alleviate lingering coughs after respiratory illnesses.

However, when adding honey to your hot beverages, it’s essential to be cautious. Heating honey above 104°F (40°C) may produce a potentially harmful compound called 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). To avoid the release of this chemical, let your drink cool below the temperature threshold before stirring in a spoonful of honey. This way, you can safely enjoy honey’s delicious taste and its health-promoting properties!

3. Simple Syrup

Imagine no more undissolved sugar at the bottom of your iced coffee – that’s the magic of simple syrup. This homemade solution is created by combining equal parts sugar and water, either through heating or shaking vigorously until they blend together. Conveniently, it can be stored in your fridge for up to two weeks, making it perfect for enhancing cocktails, teas, and coffee. Get creative and infuse your simple syrup with delightful flavors such as allspice or cinnamon.

For coffee lovers, the basic recipe ensures no separation issues, maintaining a thin consistency similar to water. If you observe your syrup thickening in the fridge after a few days, simply add a bit more water to thin it out. As an alternative to sugar alcohol, this sugar substitute is ideal for those who enjoy the traditional sweetness of sucrose and the versatility of using it in both hot and cold beverages. So, give simple syrup a try and elevate your beverage experience.

2. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is known for its distinct flavor, thanks to the molasses it contains. This syrupy ingredient gives it an earthy and less artificial sweetness compared to white sugar, making it a unique addition to your coffee.

You’ll find various brown sugar options on the shelves, each offering different levels of sweetness. Light brown sugar has 3.5% molasses content, while dark brown sugar holds 6.5%. For those new to brown sugar in their coffee, the light brown version is a good starting point.

In addition to traditional brown sugar, natural brown sugars like muscovado, turbinado, and demerara are available. These less refined alternatives keep the molasses intact within the sugar crystals, as opposed to being removed and added back later. Consequently, some of these sugars have a drier, coarser texture and offer a subtler molasses flavor.

Besides its distinct taste, brown sugar also provides trace amounts of nutrients such as potassium and iron due to the presence of molasses. Enjoy the unique taste and added benefits brown sugar brings to your coffee experience.

1. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a fantastic sugar alternative for your coffee. It boasts a rich, earthy flavor, dissolves easily in cold beverages, and provides some essential trace minerals. With each spoonful, you’ll benefit from antioxidants and minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Try adding a touch of maple syrup to your hot latte for a delightful fall treat.

Granulated maple syrup is a good option if you prefer not to store a jug at home. Another choice is maple cream, which is maple syrup that has been boiled then cooled until it forms a thick paste. Ultimately, there’s no wrong way to explore the goodness of maple syrup in your coffee.

Iced coffee in glasses with milk and straws on board over rustic wooden table

The Best 5 Sweeteners For Coffee

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 3 votes


  • CCnature Stevia Powder Extract Sugar Substitute
  • Nature Nate's 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Honey
  • Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup
  • MADHAVA Organic Amber Agave
  • Jordan's Skinny Syrups Vanilla


Select your option.
Use in or with your favorite recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Healthiest Way to Sweeten Coffee?

  • Stevia: A plant-based, zero-calorie option.
  • Erythritol: A sugar alcohol with minimal calories.
  • Xylitol: Another sugar alcohol, good for oral health.
  • Yacon syrup: Low glycemic index and prebiotic properties.
  • Monk fruit: A natural, zero-calorie sweetener.

Best Natural Sweeteners for Coffee

  • Honey: Adds a distinct flavor and some antioxidants.
  • Maple syrup: A natural option with trace minerals.
  • Coconut sugar: Adds a slight caramel-like taste.

Top Low-Carb Choices for Keto Coffee

  • Stevia: Zero-calorie and carb-free.
  • Erythritol: Low calorie and 0.2g carbs per teaspoon.
  • Monk fruit: A zero-calorie, keto-friendly option.

Ideal Sugar Alternatives for Coffee and Tea

  • Stevia: Works well in both coffee and tea.
  • Xylitol: Dissolves well in hot liquids.
  • Honey: A versatile natural sweetener.

Most Popular Coffee Sweetener Brands

  • Truvia: Made from stevia and erythritol.
  • Splenda: Sucralose-based sweetener.
  • Sweet’N Low: Saccharin-based option.

Picking a Sugar Substitute with Little Aftertaste

  • Experiment with different sweeteners to find your preference.
  • Stevia and erythritol blends often have less aftertaste.
  • Try adjusting the amount used to lessen aftertaste.
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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