Honey in Coffee: Should it “Bee” Your Sweetener of Choice?
Raw honey is a popular sweet addition to tea, and its mildly floral flavor and health properties make it an excellent substitute for sugar in your daily coffee, too. Learn more about why you should drop a spoonful in and drink up!
Many of us are pretty particular about the way that we drink our coffee in the morning. Have you ever been given the wrong coffee in a drive-thru? If you’re used to black and get a double-double, or vice versa, it can be undrinkable.
Can you put honey in coffee?
If you’re one of the many coffee enjoyers that like a bit of sweetness in your coffee, we think you’ll love honey in coffee instead of sugar! It gives your cup of joe a sweeter taste, a rich flavor, and may help boost your health, too.
Learn how honey affects the taste of your coffee, which varieties are best, and the added honey in coffee benefits you can reap in our full guide below.
Is honey good in coffee?
If you think you may want to replace sugar with honey in your coffee, you’ll want to keep in mind that raw honey has a very distinct taste. If you love honey, the chances are good that you’ll enjoy the subtle floral sweetness that comes through in your cup.
Sugar has a very mild, neutral flavor beyond its sweetness. The flavor of honey varies greatly, as the different pollen bees collect affect the overall taste. For example, clover honey is mild, while buckwheat or manuka have more robust flavors.
Even the mildest honey flavors will affect the aftertaste in your coffee cup - if you’re not a fan of the tastes of honey, using honey instead of sugar might be the wrong choice for you.
Honey vs. sugar: which is a healthier choice?
Is honey better than sugar?
From a caloric perspective, honey has almost double the calories of sugar - 1 teaspoon of honey contains 21 calories, while a white sugar cube has just 12. But honey also tastes sweeter than sugar, so you’ll likely use less of it, making the difference negligible.
The sugar structure is a little different too, which affects how they react within your body.
Honey contains mainly glucose, a basic sugar, and fructose, which burns more slowly in the body. White sugar contains disaccharides, which break down more slowly than those in honey. The slowly processed sugars in white sugar make them more likely to be converted into fat and stored within your body.
Honey has a lower impact on blood sugar with a GI score of 58, while white sugar scores a 60.
Honey will spike your blood sugar levels less than white sugar, making it a slightly better option. However, both honey and sugar can cause blood sugar spikes, especially when consumed in large portions.
For optimal body health, limit your intake of added sugar and honey to a maximum of 5% of your daily caloric intake.
If you’re dealing with blood sugar regulation issues, like diabetics, it’s likely best to skip the sugar in your coffee altogether and consult with your doctor about best care practices.
If you’re looking for a sugar-free sweetener alternative, try stevia or monk fruit.
There are a few other sweet benefits that may make honey a healthy alternative to sugar in coffee.
Health benefits of putting honey in coffee
Pasteurized vs. raw honey
When it comes to honey, they don’t all offer the same health benefits. Raw, unpasteurized honey comes directly from the beehive and contains a load of nutrients.
Many manufacturers don’t sell honey in its raw form. Instead, they heat it to high temperatures to remove any potential yeasts, extend its shelf life, and smooth out its texture. This heating process also destroys a lot of the nutrients in the honey - wherever you can, choose raw honey instead.
Is it bad to put honey in hot drinks?
As we know that heat destroys the helpful enzymes and nutrients in raw honey, it’s best to wait a few minutes before you stir it into your mug to retain as many of them as possible. That said, putting honey into your boiling hot coffee won’t harm the honey in any way or make it toxic to consume; it just may remove some of the healthy benefits of drinking honey and coffee.
Benefit #1: Trace nutrients
Honey contains some essential vitamins and minerals to help boost your daily intake:
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin C
Benefit #2: Antioxidants
Honey contains ascorbic acid, flavonoids, and phytochemicals - three well-known antioxidants that can promote better overall health.
Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in the body by removing free radicals. Oxidative stress is associated with many chronic health issues and cellular damage and may age the body prematurely.
Benefit #3: Antibacterial properties
Raw honey contains pollen, and consuming local honey from local pollen sources may help to reduce allergies and boost the immune system.
Honey varieties: choosing a healthier alternative to sugar
There is a broad range of honey varieties available on the market, and they all taste a little bit different. So if you’ve tried some honey in your coffee and didn’t enjoy it, don’t give up yet - you may enjoy the taste of a milder variety.
Here are the main types of honey you’ll see on the market:
- Acacia - The sweetest option.
- Alfalfa - Sweet option that can promote healthy gut bacteria
- Avocado - Sweet and rich, buttery flavor.
- Blackberry - Dense, rich, and fruity.
- Blue Gum - Dense and robust.
- Buckwheat - Rich, potent, and potentially too strong for your coffee.
- Chestnut - Italian honey that has some bitter notes.
- Clover - mild, sweet, and slightly floral.
- Fireweed - Smooth, buttery, and sweet.
- Wildflower - Rich yet light and fruity
How to sweeten coffee without sugar - make coffee with honey at home
How much honey should you put in coffee?
If you’re interested in adding honey to your coffee, it’s best to start with just a tiny spoon of mild honey, like clover, and taste test. If you enjoy the taste or would like to add more, adjust as needed to find your perfect blend of coffee with honey.
You can also try this simple recipe below to add honey to your coffee, along with a few delicious spices. It only takes 10 minutes to whip it up, and it serves 4, so you can enjoy it with friends or save a cup for later to put on ice.
Total Time: 10 mins
- 2 cups hot strong brewed coffee
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/4 c. raw honey
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- Dash ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan, combine the brewed coffee, milk, raw honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook while stirring until heated throughout, but not boiling.
- Remove the coffee saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the drinks into mugs and serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature and serve over ice.
Raw honey in coffee - nutrition facts
Per ½ c. serving
Calories: 86 kcal; Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 4 mg; Sodium: 18 mg; Carbohydrates: 19 g; Sugar: 18 g; Protein: 1 g.
Final notes: healthy sweetener for coffee
Whether you’re enjoying a light, subtle cup of pour-over coffee with some mild clover honey, or a bold shot of French press with some sweet acacia, adding honey to your coffee can offer some sweetness along with a whole different flavor experience!
Bottom’s up with a sweet cup of honey coffee!
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