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8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed

What to Drink When You Want a Great Pick Me Up, But Need an Alternative to Sugar in Coffee

Cutting back on the sweet stuff and need an alternative to sugar in coffee? Join the crowd. It’s easy (okay – maybe not THAT easy) to turn down a slice of cheesecake after dinner or skip the extra helping of candied yams. But when you’ve gotten the same order for years, how do you pick a healthy alternative to sugar in coffee that lets you get your fix without turning your coffee into a lifeless cup of sludge? There is hope! 

On the other side of the sugar-kicking craze are a bouquet of recipes to fix your perky personality. Whether you want to do simple swaps or need a whole new flavor profile, we’ve got you covered. You’ll find several easy-to-make go-to recipes featuring a sugar substitute for coffee, standalone ideas on alternatives to sugar in coffee, a few vegan coffee recipes, and even recipes for when you don’t want a sweet taste at all!

Are Sugar Alternatives Better For You?

The world is a big place, and there are all kinds of reasons because there are all kinds of people. Some people choose to stop using refined sweeteners, and some choose to stop using all forms of sweeteners. This could be for health reasons. Cutting back on sugars for dietary needs is the most common reason, and that could be related to weight loss or gain, insulin-related issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia, or people who simply want to rewire the way their body processes food into energy.

The glycemic index is a tool to measure how quickly a food can make your blood sugar levels increase. Something like strawberries or watermelon can have a slow effect on your blood sugar, while a coffee with 5 pumps of syrup, sweetened whip cream, and a drizzle of caramel sauce is like mainlining sugar straight to your bloodstream. Spiking within minutes, and dropping to a headache-y and drowsy low soon afterward would make anyone want to find a substitute for their order; or at least an alternative to sugar in their coffee.

Let’s be clear here. There’s no such thing as “bad” food, including sugar. But too much of anything can cause a problem. The average amount of sugar in a medium-sized coffee beverage from a popular chain is around 20g of sugar in ONE drink! That’s like eating a candy bar! So for a lot of people, cutting back on coffee sweeteners makes sense, if for no other reason than to just be mindful.

So What Are We Supposed to Do Without Sweetener For Our Coffee?

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Monk FruitUsing Monkfruit as a coffee sugar alternative

First of all, no one said your coffee couldn’t still be sweet. If you are looking for a healthy substitute for sugar in coffee but still need to keep your sweet tooth happy, you have plenty of options. For example, have you ever heard of monkfruit? Monkfruit, or Swingle fruit, is a kind of gourd. The juice from this fruit is SUPER sweet, but it has no calories, no carbs, and doesn’t affect your glycemic index. Even better – it’s completely all-natural.

There are lots of alternatives for sugar to think about like Stevia, sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol, coconut sugar, agave nectar… and condensed milk. Okay, technically that last one is kind of cheating, but as long as we are taking baby steps, don’t turn your nose up at sweetener powders like sucralose or dextrose. They get a bad rap from a debunked study from 30 years ago, but if cutting back on sugar is your goal, they are fine as a stepping stone.

Maple Vanilla Latte

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Maple SyrupUsing Maple Syrup as a sugar alternative to coffee

A solid choice for switching to a healthy, natural alternative to sugar in coffee is maple syrup. Sure, you could make a basic maple syrup iced coffee by switching out the sugar granules for maple syrupor you can create a whole new order. Amaple vanilla latte sounds so much yummier! Just make a latte as you normally would, and then add your maple syrup, vanilla extract, and some good warm spices, like nutmeg or ginger, for a surprisingly bold and pleasant maple coffee flavor.

Café con Miel

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - HoneyUsing Honey as a sugar alternative in coffee

Perhaps you’ve heard of acafe con miel. No? It’s literally translated to coffee with honey, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Get your favorite tall mug, and drop a generous portion of honey at the bottom. Add vanilla extract and your espresso and stir.  Use a handheld milk frother to get your milk nice and fluffy before pouring it into your coffee mug. Top with cinnamon and enjoy!

Turkish Coffee 

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Turkish CoffeeMonkfruit as a sugar alternative in Turkish Coffee

You could always go for an exotic flavor like a Turkish coffee. And while booking a flight to the Middle East sounds great, it might be easier to make this one at home. It uses simple ingredients you probably already have, and it takes about five minutes to make. The trick here is to make a switch from regular sugar to monkfruit.  For each cup, bring ¼ cup of water and 1T of monkfruit to a rolling boil. Cut your heat and add 2T of coffee and 1T of cardamom powder. Reheat to foaming, then let the coffee cool a bit. Repeat several times then pour into an espresso cup. Sip slowly because this tiny cup of Turkish coffee awesomeness packs a perky punch! If you find that it’s a bit too sweet for you, cut your monkfruit to sugar ratio in half.

But What if You Don’t JUST Want to Change Your Coffee Sweetener?

Natural Alternative to Sugar Recipe for Condensed Milk (Vegan coffee sweetener)

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Vietnamese CoffeeCondensed Milk or Vegan Condensed Milk

Some coffees are just made to be sweet, so finding the right alternative to sugar in coffee isn’t always so simple. Condensed milk is such a great flavor for coffee, and Vietnamese coffee is incredibly easy to make BUT did you know you can make a vegan condensed milk as an alternative to sugar in coffee? It’s actually pretty easy. Use your favorite non-dairy milk (insider tip: coconut milk works best for this because of its natural creaminess) and your favorite sweetener. We like coconut sugar or agave nectar for this. Simply boil it low and slow, constantly stirring to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Eventually, the water will cook off, allowing the sweet milk remains to thicken. Add this vegan coffee sweetener to your beverage to make it sing. Voila!

Honey Almond Latte

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Honey Almond LatteAlmond Syrup - like in this Honey Almond Latte

Another great option is the Honey Almond Latte which uses a sugar alcohol-based almond flavored syrup. Sugar alcohols have a very low glycemic index, and are available in just about any flavoring product you can think of, making it the perfect alternative to sugar in coffee. To make this sweet nutty beverage, brew your usual latte, mixing in your sugar-free almond syrup, then drizzle honey down the inside of your mug before pouring in your caffeinated concoction. Make it fancy with a little latte art of cinnamon or nutmeg on top.

Don’t Want a Sweet Coffee at All?

Hey, we don’t judge! We get it! The natural bitterness of coffee is the appeal for many people and most popular coffee drinks cover it up with milk, sweeteners, and extracts. 

Bulletproof Coffee

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Bulletproof CoffeeHow to use Butter in coffee - like in this Bulletproof Coffee

You can add fats as an alternative to sugar in coffee because fat carries its own flavor. Bulletproof Coffee is a popular coffee beverage that isn’t sweet at all. It has several variations that usually include some combination of butter, coconut oil, and/or MCT oil. Purists will say that the butter must be from grass-fed cows and that there is a perfect ratio that makes this make sense. However, the reason this drink was invented was to add fat to the daily diet of those who are eating extremely low amounts of carbs and needing fast fuel sources. Others just like the taste. Whatever your reasoning, give this a try and if you are so inclined, don’t be afraid to throw a packet of sweetener in. 

Coffee Tonic (Vegan coffee recipe)

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - Coffee TonicTonic Water in Coffee works as a fantastic alternative to sugar

If you are looking for something a little more fun, the coffee tonic is a popular option. It’s something like a cocktail, but the alcohol is optional. Fill a tall glass with ice and pour tonic water over the top, about ¾ of the way. Pour an ounce of espresso over the top and garnish with a brightly-colored citrus fruit. The acidic bright flavors of the quinine in the tonic bring out the natural sweetness of the coffee making it an ideal alternative to sugar in coffee. Add gin to give this bev a bit of a wink. Most brands of gin are vegan, and quinine is made from tree bark. So enjoy this vegan coffee treat at lunch or at brunch.

Salt in Coffee

EspressoWorks Blog - 8 Sugar Alternatives for Coffee You Didn’t Know Existed - SaltSalt! A surprising but interesting and quick sugar alternative for coffee

If you want your coffee to be quick, easy, and not-at-all sweet, sprinkle just a bit of salt. It’s another clever way of bringing out coffee’s natural sweet essence. 

All-in-all, enjoying healthy alternatives to sugar in coffee doesn’t mean you have to choose boredom over flavor.