Healthy Coffee Sweeteners

Photo Credit: Marco Verch

We all know that coffee and something sweet is a nearly perfect match. Whether it is a couple of tablespoons of sugar or a delicious pastry on the side, we cannot get enough. White sugar, brown sugar, and even cane sugar are all forms of refined sugars. Consuming too many refined sugars, particularly in large quantities, is known to lead to major health problems. How can we minimize our sugar intake without giving up such a beloved flavor combo?

Thankfully, there are awesome and natural healthy coffee sweeteners out there. They offer both the sweetness we adore and the nutritional benefits we need to live a full healthy life. Let’s discover how to better your health and your morning coffee at the same time!

Simple Additions:
Raw honey
Photo credit: Paul Stein

We probably all have honey somewhere in our cabinets. Honey is a quick way to sweeten coffee. It dissolves quickly in liquids. It is best to use raw honey, as it is the purest honey available on the market. Raw honey is unpasteurized, meaning it retains more nutritional value. Sadly, many regular kinds of honey on the market are not pure and often have hidden additives, like refined sugars. Raw honey possesses more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. You can also experiment with honey types that have different intensities. To keep it simple, use a honey variety with a mild flavor profile like clover or wildflower. 

Adding honey to coffee:

  • Brew your coffee as desired
  • Measure full teaspoon of honey
  • Once the coffee has slightly cooled, place teaspoon directly into a cup
  • Enjoy!
Agave nectar

Agave is a great and easy coffee sweetner alternative that is naturally a bit sweeter than regular sugar. It’s thinner consistency makes it a little more accessible than honey. Agave comes from the agave plant, the same plant that produces both tequila and mezcal. Agave nectar is low on the glycemic index, meaning its low levels of glucose allow it to digest slowly in the body. That means the nectar does not spike your blood sugar. 

Add agave to your coffee in the same method you would regular sugar. Remember: it is best to use half the amount of regular sugar usually added.

Coconut Palm Sugar

This trendy sweetener lives up to its hype. This different type of granulated sugar is sourced from coconut palm sap. Yes, think idyllic palm trees! As romantic as it sounds, this sugar is a healthy alternative to refined white or brown sugar. Coconut sugar contains minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium. It also contains antioxidants and inulin. Not to be confused with insulin, inulin is a beneficial soluble fiber that aids digestion.  

You may add coconut sugar to your coffee as you would regular sugar. Coconut sugar’s health benefits are reaped best when consumed in moderation. It is just as caloric as table sugar. But, it is raw and minimally processed, leaving you with more nutritional gain.


Stevia continues to be a solid option for boosting your coffee’s sweetness. It is derived from the stevia plant and is naturally calorie-free. It comes in both powder and liquid form. Make sure you add it carefully to your coffee, as stevia is 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, depending on its form. Make sure you select a stevia product that is pure, with no additives!

Adding stevia to coffee:

  • Add ¼ teaspoon to 8 ounces of black coffee or a double shot of espresso
  • Stir and adjust sweetness to taste
  • Enjoy!
With Natural Flavoring:
Maple Syrup

Maple syrup remains a kitchen staple for a reason. It is a truly reliable sweetener for coffee. Its classic caramel and burnt brown sugar flavor make it a delicious alternative. Also, it is abundant in many antioxidants and minerals, particularly zinc which is known to boost cardiovascular health!

There are also a few types of maple syrup to choose from. Most are labeled ‘Grade A,’ but with different categories. If you prefer more mild flavors, golden or amber maple syrup is a reliable choice. Dark or very dark maple syrup is a better choice if you prefer more robust and rich flavors. The great news is that maple syrup dissolves very quickly in hot liquids, making it a versatile addition to nearly all coffee types.

Add maple syrup as you would sugar. Adjust to taste/desired sweetness as you go!

Blackstrap Molasses
Photo credit: Chris Waits

This old school staple is reviving its sweet role in the kitchen. Molasses is a sweetener popularly used prior to white sugar’s pantry debut in the early 20th century. Blackstrap molasses is from raw sugar cane. It is the byproduct once all the sugar is crystallized and extracted. This makes it very thick and minimally processed compared to refined sugars. Blackstrap molasses is also incredibly rich in nutrients. It contains high levels of vitamin B12 and potassium.

Blackstrap molasses’ spicy and slightly smoky character pairs well with coffee. It makes it bolder and an awesome healthy coffee sweetener. This makes it an exceptional match for cream or frothed milk. These flavor combinations and health benefits make blackstrap molasses a popular natural method to alleviate pain and stress!

How to make a delicious molasses coffee:

  • Heat choice of milk in small saucepan or milk frother
  • Pour in a cup and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Blackstrap molasses 
  • Stir until well combined
  • Add espresso or moka pot brewed coffee
  • Sip away!

Photo credit: Sunny Mama

Dates are super fruits. Like molasses, they were commonly used as a sweetener years ago. Dates are very sweet and chock full of nutrients. They are plentiful in antioxidants and potassium, which keep our bodies strong and less inflamed. Dates also have high fiber content, easing digestion and sugar absorption. That means no strange blood sugar spikes!

In coffee, dates shine. Their natural caramel flavor is undeniably delicious. You can use any kind of date; medjool dates are great and an easy find in grocery stores.

Dates can be added to your coffee in a couple of ways:

Date Paste:

This is the quickest way to add dates to your coffee. It can be made in larger batches and stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.

For one cup of coffee:

  • Place 3-4 dates in water and let soak for at least 30 minutes (or overnight!)
  • Blend dates and most of the water until smooth
  • Prepare coffee as desired
  • Stir date paste into hot coffee
  • Enjoy!

Date Syrup:

This sweetener method can be prepared in advance and stored for a few weeks in the fridge. You can also find it premade in grocery stores as well.

For roughly 2 cups of syrup:

  • Roughly chop 1 pound of pitted dates
  • Place dates in a pot and cover with water
  • Bring dates to a simmer for 30 minutes
  • Let cool for at least 45 minutes
  • Once cooled, blend dates and water until you reach a very smooth consistency
  • Use a mesh strainer and mason jar (if you have one) to strain the newly formed syrup
  • Now, taste and texture test! See if the syrup is sweet and/or thick enough for you
  • If it is not, reduce the syrup in a saucepan to desired sweetness and consistency
  • Store in an airtight container in fridge once the syrup is cooled
Dark Chocolate
Photo credit: Theo Cazzolera

This is as simple and yummy as it sounds. Dark chocolate is maybe the most fun sweetener substitute out there (if you are a chocolate fan that is!) It is versatile and full of nutritional value. Dark chocolate is plentiful in antioxidants and iron.  It is best to purchase dark chocolate that is at least 72% cacao, with minimally added sugars. There are many options out there that have no refined sugar added at all, making your coffee just a little more guilt-free.

Dark chocolate does contain small amounts of caffeine. Be wise with how much you add to your coffee, especially if you are susceptible to the caffeine jitters!

How to add dark chocolate to coffee:

  • Brew coffee as desired
  • Place a couple of dark chocolate squares in the base of your cup
  • Pour fresh coffee to cover the squares; stir until smooth
  • Fill the cup with coffee as desired
  • Enjoy!
Vanilla coconut cream

This is the pina colada of the healthy coffee sweeteners. Coconut cream will make your coffee luscious and creamy. It also adds nourishment to your cup. Coconut cream and milk are high in lauric acid, which converts into an antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial actor in the body! This amazing health benefit tastes incredibly delicious when combined with vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Combining coconut cream enhances the natural sweetness of the cream. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan option that will surely please anyone!

Vanilla Coconut Cream Coffee:

Serving: 1

  • Combine two tablespoons of coconut cream, a tablespoon of  water or coconut milk, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract in a small bowl
  • Whisk together until smooth; taste to adjust the flavor to your liking

Next, choose your style: top fresh coffee with cream as desired (great with espresso!) OR blend with 8 ounces of hot coffee or cold brew for a milkshake-like treat!

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