The Pros and Cons of Sweetening Coffee with Honey

Can You Add Honey as a Sweetener to Coffee?

By 04/24/2016Coffee cademy, Tasting

Sugar is the most popular sweetener used in coffee, but it’s hardly the only one. People use a number of different types of sweeteners in their coffee, including both artificial and natural ones. One alternative sweetener that’s sometimes mentioned, especially by tea drinkers and those looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, is honey. Of course, you can put honey in coffee, but should you? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of using honey instead of sugar in coffee.

Honey Has More Calories — But Is the Better Choice

Honey technically has more calories than sugar. A teaspoon of honey has about 21 calories, while one of white sugar contains around 16 calories. Whether you’ll consume more calories by using honey or sugar, however, isn’t as clear-cut as this comparison might make it seem.

There are other considerations to take into account that arise from the molecular differences between honey and sugar.

  • Honey consists mostly both glucose and fructose. Glucose, in particular, is a basic sugar that’s easy to burn. Fructose doesn’t burn quite as quickly and is more likely to be turned into fat, but it still can be used fairly readily by the body.
  • White table sugar contains disaccharides, which are more complex sugars. Although the disaccharides in sugar are broken down into glucose and fructose by the body, they take longer to process and aren’t as immediately burned.

These molecular differences have three significant effects that impact how many calories stay in your body when using honey or white sugar:

  • The sugars in honey taste sweeter than those in white sugar, so you may use less honey than sugar when sweetening your coffee.
  • Because the sugars in honey are processed faster, they’re less likely to be converted into fats and stored in your body.
  • The sugars in honey have a lower glycemic index than those in white sugar, which means honey will have less of an effect on blood-glucose levels.

In short, although honey has more calories than table sugar, the sugars in honey are preferable to those in table sugar.

Honey Has Other Benefits

Because honey is less processed than white sugar, it has other trace nutrients that have additional health benefits. For instance, honey often contains:

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Antioxidants
  • Minerals (including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, sodium chlorine and sulphur)
  • Vitamins (including vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C)

Table sugar has none of these additional benefits.

(Many honeys also have a high concentration of pesticides, according to an article in Shape. You can get honey with less pesticide residue by using organic honey.)

Honey Affects the Taste of Coffee

If you’re only concerned with health, honey is the better coffee sweetener. Its sugars are easier to process, and it provides you with other important nutrients.

Health, however, isn’t the only concern for coffee drinkers. After all, if it was the only consideration, you’d drink your coffee black — or you might drink water instead of coffee. Taste also is a major consideration.

When it comes to taste, sugar has a clear advantage over honey — and that’s why most people use sugar instead of honey to sweeten their coffee. Honey has a strong flavor that doesn’t always go well with coffee. While a few people like the taste of honey in their coffee, many find that honey’s flavors clash with coffee’s.

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to processed sugar, try sweetening your coffee with honey. In fact, try a few different honeys in a few different coffees. Maybe there will be a combination you like. Likely, you’ll come back to table sugar or search for a different way to sweeten your coffee. You’ll never know until you try honey, though.

Let Us Know How You Sweeten Your Coffee

Do you have a favorite coffee sweetener? If so, let us know on Twitter. We’re always excited to hear how our customers are enjoying the coffees we roast.

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • iTeCnus

    Wait so the only con is the taste? Ive tried this and I like the taste better than sugar

    • UnitedStatesOfAmericunts

      Me too

      • atomikcomik


  • Sys Admin

    Better than Sugar for me.

  • Sam Sells

    Just tried honey and I will use it from now on instead of sugar. It is fantastic!

  • Sinan Ferit Tüzer

    doesn’t mix in

    • Luis Hernandez

      Then it’s real honey with real nutritional and antiviral benefits; you just got to stir it a little more longer because fake honey mixes into water easily and quickly. Real also smells like hydrogen peroxide; you know cause of the antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal effect. Bees and honey are good!

  • John von Shepard

    i’m trying this out.

  • Kasmin

    I have never tried honey with coffee. I am off sugar and following keto . Was looking for an alternative to sugar for coffee when I came across this article

  • Sokpoue Kuch

    What if we use palm sugar instead of table sugar?

  • Joseph Morales

    Good Morning my friends, At the moment I am drinking 2 cup coffee cup black coffee with a heaping spoon of honey. Let me tell you, it does have a different taste than the flavor sugar creamer I used to add.. Black coffee and honey does not taste to bad and furthermore, I feel great knowing it is healthier. I am trying to eliminate my salt and sugar intake. Have blessed day. Smile big

    • San12345678

      Let’s f&ck.

  • Geraldine Lim

    Honey is amazing with coffee. I have been using honey in my coffee ever since I start drinking coffee without milk.

  • Megan

    While honey may be better for you, you should try to buy NATURAL LOCALLY PRODUCED honey as most generic honey you buy on store shelves are actually a mix of honey and fake sugar/syrup substitutes that China uses as “fillers”. US banned imports of honey from China because of this, but unfortunately they sell it to other countries which we import from as well. Because bees are dying off rapidly, honey supply is decreasing and that’s mainly why they add the filler. Big corporations also rip the queen bee wings off in order to keep the hive in place.

    Supporting local bee farmers helps them produce all natural honey, safely and sustainably without harming the bees! :) Its also super great because they are then able to keep educating us on all things bees and environmental protection. Check out your local farmers market!

  • Emmanuel Disla

    Interesting, I’ll do some testing/tasting.

  • Tara Atkinson

    I’m a honey girl, tea or coffee. Although I do understand, sometimes a slightly metallic taste in the coffee even though I use organic honey and sometimes organic coffee. My next research topic is does honey lose it’s benefits when you pour boiling or super hot water onto it.

  • Nika Parra

    thanks for this article! whenever my friends and I have coffee we all just stick to sugar. Never have I heard them ask for honey. so I’d stick to regular sugar. But at HOME I always have Honey. I thought I was the only person in the world to do this…now I don’t feel like such A Weirdo…now that i’ve found all of you! haha
    I dont know… I like it both ways. honey does add its own taste. even though it was peculiar before, I ended up loving it. and because Honey is said to have other health benefits (though, I don’t know how…lol) I thought, why not. (if it does, it does and if not sugar is sugar ‘cept honey tastes better)
    there are times however that I want a strong uninterrupted coffee taste… so I use Azucar.

  • Bala Murugan

    i like the taste better then coffee.. so no problem for me

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