There are a lot of options out there when it comes to sweeteners, but can you mix coffee with honey?
For those who are looking for a different flavor and potentially some health benefits, adding honey to coffee instead of sugar can seem like an adventurous choice. But before you drizzle a little liquid gold into your cup of coffee, there are a few things to consider.
Let’s dive into whether or not honey in coffee is a good idea.
Can You Put Honey In Coffee?
The short answer is: yes, you can absolutely put honey in coffee.
For the most part, it’s perfectly safe, and very few people will stop you if you decide to use the nectar of the hive to sweeten your favourite type of brew. In fact, many people around the world prefer honey in their coffee.
This is especially true in places where honey is cheaper and coffee is still beloved.
Keep in mind, though: honey has its own flavor, where white sugar just tastes sweet. Adding honey to your coffee does mean you’re not just adding sweetness but also the distinct flavor of whatever kind of honey you decide to use.
In the milder cases, that can mean adding floral notes to your coffee. But if you use darker honey, it can be a more pronounced change in taste for your coffee.
It’s also important to understand that honey isn’t necessarily the best alternative sweetener if you’re trying to lose weight or otherwise manage blood sugar.
Honey naturally has higher calories, and it tends to be higher in sugars per weight, as well. If your goal is less sugar in your coffee, it’s better to try cinnamon or nutmeg to get a sweet taste without the calories.
Putting Honey In Coffee: The History
There was a time when sugar wasn’t readily available to most, and in fact: there are still many places on the planet where the refined sweetener is a luxury for the wealthy rather than a staple of everyday cuisine.
So in truth, adding honey to coffee is probably as old as the beverage itself. People have been using honey since long before the discovery of coffee.
Coffee first arrived in Europe in the late 15th century, brought by those who’d traveled to the Arabian peninsula where it had already become a valuable trade item.
Coffee started to become popular in the 1600s, at a period when the white stuff was just starting to become more readily available due to plantations around the world. Coffee, like refined sweets, was still a luxury item.
It’s possible that a lot of European coffee lovers used honey to sweeten their cup of coffee since it was more readily available. There was also a widespread knowledge of the potential health benefits associated with honey.
Over the years, however, as sugar became cheaper and cheaper, most coffee drinkers turned to the sweet crystals to cut the bitterness of their coffee, and honey got sidelined.
More recently, as many a coffee lover has turned to what they consider more natural forms of sweetness in their diets, honey has made something of a comeback all around.
Many people view honey as a healthier alternative to sugar, especially for coffee, which is somewhat true. As more coffee lovers reject refined sweetener, more curiosity about using honey has arisen.
Honey vs Sugar
One of the determining factors for adding honey to coffee are the differences between honey and sugar.
While both have a sweet taste, there are definitely distinguishing factors, and not all of them have to do with taste. So what are the differences between the two other than flavor? And how do they come into play in coffee?
First, it’s essential to understand that honey has higher calories than sugar. Honey is basically a very concentrated syrup, and water can hold a lot of sugar in it: simple syrup can be up to two parts sugar to one part water!
As a result, servings of honey are usually a different size compared to other sweetening products in order to maintain consistent calories.
Another key difference between the two is the fact the types of carbohydrates that make up both honey and sugar.
While both honey and sugar have simple carbohydrates like glucose and fructose in them, honey tends to have a higher proportion of fructose, which isn’t processed by the body in the same way.
Honey tastes sweeter because there’s a higher amount of carbohydrates and also because of the types of carbohydrates that make it up. So if you are trying to fight weight gain or achieve weight loss, it may not necessarily be your best choice for sweetening coffee.
On the other hand, honey has some benefits that other sweeteners simply don’t. Bees don’t just bring the nectar to the hive: they also carry pollen and other natural substances, which are high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants & Vitamins
As a result, honey is a good source of nutrients called antioxidants. These components also help to give honey the complex flavor and delicious taste known to all.
Honey is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Regardless of the variety, honey contains plenty of nutrients like vitamins B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and certain amino acids. Some types of honey are also rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Honey contains a solid amount of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, too.
Some people also feel that regularly consuming wildflower honey may help to decrease their seasonal allergies. While no study has yet conclusively proven this, clover honey or other types of honey can’t make your allergies worse–and you might feel a boost in your body beyond the caffeine in your morning coffee.
Sugar and honey are both tricky for people with blood sugar sensitivity since they are both composed of sugars. While neither one is better or worse, it’s important for those who need to manage their blood sugar to discuss the best options with a doctor.
Ultimately, the decision to add honey to your coffee should be based on what works for your body, as well as the taste you want to experience.
Putting Honey In Coffee
If you want to add honey to your coffee recipe, there are few things simpler.
Honey works like just about everything else sweet, and it has the benefit of dissolving in cold liquids about as well as it does hot beverages. If you like tea, you probably already know all about the flavor it can bring.
If you want a lighter honey taste or to make its sweetness easier to dissolve in your coffee beverage of choice, you can also make honey syrup.
Gently heat up one part of honey (say, one cup) to one part (one cup) of water. It will keep for about a month, though you’ll probably use it all well before then.
How Much Honey To Put In Coffee
One of the many positives to putting honey in your coffee is that it typically doesn’t take as much honey to get the sweetness you desire compared to white sugar.
Honey is extra sweet, thanks to the proportions of glucose and fructose in it, so it typically takes half as much honey to get a sweet taste, sometimes less than a teaspoon.
We recommend starting with a half-teaspoon to one teaspoon of honey in your cup of coffee to start with.
Because honey tastes more strongly than sugar, you want to balance the sweetness you like while not overpowering the coffee flavor. More than a teaspoon of honey does risk adding more flavor than sweetness.
However, if you find that the minimal amount of honey isn’t enough to sweeten your cup, you can always add more to your taste.
Just be careful to add gradually by the half-teaspoon, tasting until you reach the point where you’re satisfied with the flavor.
Coffee with honey can be a treat, and there’s no denying that it’s an easy way to enjoy the potential benefits that come along with honey from the pollen and some other components honey contains.
While honey does have beneficial properties, and there are benefits associated to regularly consuming it, there are also risks to consider. Honey has higher calories than other methods you can use to sweeten your cup of coffee, and it’s not universally good for your health.
There’s also the issue that honey’s intense flavor may somewhat undercut the flavor of the coffee beans, especially if you use too much of it.
If you want sweetness without any calories, consider cinnamon or ground nutmeg in your cup of coffee. But honey does represent a healthier alternative to sugar for many people. Honey contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like vitamin c, and it can be delicious in coffee, too!