Sometimes, trying to work out what diets should include can be pretty confusing. When we’re trying to make sensible dietary choices, however, one option is to reduce our sugar intake.
For a time, fats were the “bad guys” but current guidance is that fats (in moderation) are an essential part of our dietary needs. Now, sugar is the “baddie“, particularly refined sugar.
If you can’t bear to drink coffee without sweetening it, what are the alternatives to sugar? Just what can you use instead of sugar? Many artificial sweeteners, like saccharin, have associated health issues, while options like stevia or monk fruit aren’t always readily available.
There is, however, a gloriously natural alternative: honey. Raw honey in particular is pretty much as nature intended. Plus you get health benefits thrown in, so it’s an ideal way to sweeten coffee without sugar.
How Honey Is Made
Don’t be deceived: whenever you see a bee merrily resting momentarily on a flower, it’s really hard at work, its long, tube-like tongue collecting as much nectar as possible. (While apian tongues are generally long, some bees have recently started to develop shorter tongues.)
Once collected, the bee stores the nectar in its extra stomach. Yes, bees have two stomachs. The crop is where nectar is stored and mixed with various enzymes, making it easier to store long-term. Back at the hive, nectar is passed from one bee to another. The partially digested nectar is then deposited in a honeycomb.
The sealed honeycomb provides a perfect winter food and energy source for bees. Of course, it isn’t only bees who find this liquid gold irresistible. In fact, until around the 16th century, it was the go-to choice for those who liked sweet drinks and food. So, although on the surface, honey and coffee might not be an obvious pairing, they’re actually well-matched.
Are There Any Benefits To Adding Honey In Coffee?
Can you put honey in coffee? Yes. Relatively speaking, it’s probably the healthiest sweetener for coffee choices. Compared to refined white sugar, honey brims with nutrition. It is still a sugar, however, even if a natural one. You’ll add around 12mg of sugars to your daily intake for every two teaspoonfuls when you add honey to your cup of coffee.
Sugar vs Honey: Higher Calories, The Better Choice?
One regular topic in the honey vs sugar debate is how many calories are in a teaspoon compared to sugar. A teaspoon of honey has around 20 calories, so two spoonfuls add around 40 calories to your coffee. Honey has more calories than sugar.
A level teaspoonful of white sugar typically has around 16 calories. Wondering about the ideal honey to sugar ratio? Add about 20% less than if you were using white sugar. Then adjust for taste, remembering the calorie count.
Both honey and sugar are carbohydrates; sugar raises your blood sugar slightly faster. Sugar is made up of fifty percent glucose and fifty percent fructose, whereas honey is around 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose.
The remainder of the honey is made up of pollen, water, and those micronutrients we mentioned, particularly magnesium and potassium. Despite the higher calorie count, you’re likely to get more benefit from a spoonful of honey in your coffee.
Other Benefits of Honey
What are the benefits of using honey, anyway? It’s been used for thousands of years, and not just as a sweetener. It’s used in medicinal and beauty preparations too. Is honey also good for you?
You might already know how effective honey is at soothing a sore throat, with a lemon and hot water added, but did you know it’s also sometimes used, very effectively, to help heal wounds? Clinical trials have shown it can effectively kill certain types of bacteria including MSSA and MRSA.
Honey raises your blood sugar more slowly, compared to refined sugar. It takes a little longer to digest too. Your body doesn’t, however, have to work quite as hard to store natural sugars compared to refined sugar.
Should You Add Honey To Your Coffee?
Apart from the health benefits, when you’re trying to decide if you should substitute honey for sugar in your cup of joe, one major consideration is the taste. Is honey good in coffee?. If you’ve ever tried honey straight from the comb, you’ll know how deep and rich the taste can be, but flavor profiles vary.
Much depends on whether you like your coffee straight-up, or whether you’re happy to taste those extra flavors when putting honey in coffee. As with so many decisions relating to coffee and honey, it all comes back to the ingredients.
Honey complements both nutty, robust coffee blends, and light, fruity coffees. Varieties made from clover and lavender pollen also offer ideal options for sweetening coffee with honey. We really love manuka honey with coffee. And of course, if you’re a tea drinker, you can also take honey with tea.
Honey is a healthier coffee sweetener than sugar, overall, but it is still sugar, so use in moderation. Official dietary guidelines are no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day in our diets or around 5% of our overall daily intake.
Honey And Heat
Heat does, however, affect honey. With already pasteurized varieties, some nutrients may have already been denatured or reduced by the heating process. If using raw honey to sweeten your coffee, the brewing temperature can affect the beneficial properties.
The optimum brewing temperature for a cup of coffee is around 212 Fahrenheit. For maximum benefits from adding sweet honey to your drink, wait for it to cool a little. Enjoying an iced honey coffee? The temperature does not affect the result, although you need to stir well.
Is This Combination Safe?
While honey has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years, there have been some recent safety concerns. While for most people, it is perfectly safe, for a small number of individuals, and some age groups, honey is not recommended.
It is certainly not advised, for example, for babies and young children as there may be a botulism risk. And it’s not entirely clear whether regular honey can provide the same level of nutrients and benefits as the raw version.
Bee Healthy And Sweeten Coffee With Honey
Would we recommend adding honey to your coffee? That’s a resounding yes. It’s one of the healthy ways to sweeten coffee. We just love sweet milk and honey coffee – the flavors complement one another perfectly. A splash of vanilla essence or sprinkle of cinnamon makes it even more divine.
After all, when one of the world’s leading “coffee compliments/complements” firms features a creamer product that also contains honey, you know you’re in pretty good company! So, why not “bee healthy” and try putting honey in your coffee?
Hi my name is Larry, a coffee aficionado from the US. I have already visited Colombia, Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica in my pursuit of finding the best-tasting coffee beans. I currently write from Bali and enjoy the relaxed life that you can only find in Canggu. Welcome to my coffee world!