Oh, my sweet summer child, what do you know about sweet? Of course, it exists. If you haven’t tried a naturally sweet coffee in your life, it’s time to change some of your habits. Or at least have a serious talk with your coffee supplier. And your roaster, and your barista. You don’t have to add sugar to your coffee to make it sweet. You never did have to.
What is sweet coffee?
Sweet coffee is the natural state of the coffee cherry. Sadly, people tend to call sugar sweetness the only sweet taste. Honey, maple syrup, stevia, they are all sweet things but don’t taste the same. A sweet coffee will have subtle sweet notes that will never prevail as a dominant taste. Coffee is sweet, but not “sweet” sweet. Think of it as gentler notes that mix with other flavors and aromas.
What coffee is naturally sweet?
Like (almost) every fruit, all coffee is naturally sweet. Some more, some less, but every good coffee bean can taste sweet. The thing that we call the coffee bean is the center of the coffee cherry. The green coffee bean has a lot of sugars in it:
- and other…
But this is where the problems start. If you picked a sweet cherry, why is the final product so bitter? Few factors can spoil the coffee sweetness during the journey from the coffee bush to your cup.
How do you take the sweetness out of coffee? How do you make your coffee less sweet?
This is not a guide. This is a list of reasons why your coffee isn’t sweet, although it should be. We start from harvesting the coffee and end with your cup of joe, sitting on your table.
How to pick sweet coffee
You should always pick only the red ripe coffee cherries. A perfectly ripe cherry has almost the same sugar levels as a grape. However, in most of the farms, coffee pickers are paid by quantity, not quality. Meaning, if they want to earn more, they will pick all the cherries from the bush, including underripe and overripe. Additionally, they will throw anything into the basket to make it heavier. Coffee mills fight this immoral practice with different methods, but some bad beans always find the way. But that’s not even the start.
As soon as you pick the coffee cherry from the bush, it starts to ferment. So, farms should remove the bean from the fruit the same day it is picked. If the beans are not removed, they will start ferment, too, and lose most of their sweetness. So, instead of a sweet taste, you will get a vinegar-like taste.
How to wash coffee beans to make them sweet
When you separate the coffee bean from the cherry, the bean is left surrounded by gooey stuff. That’s natural sugars for you, and they should be left on the bean. But that complicates the process, so most coffee farms soak the beans in water, so the yeast can ferment the sugars. Fermented sugars will add to the coffee’s sweetness. And now, another lesson about balance. Underfermented beans will attract fungus and mold and taste grassy. On the other hand, overwashed beans will become acidic.
After the washing process, the coffee bean still contains cca 60% water. For a quality roast, the water level should be between 9% and 12%. Almost anything can influence the drying process badly, especially the temperature extremes and the humidity levels.
How to roast sweet coffee
Roasting should be the most rewarding process in the whole chain of events. The proper roast will enhance the coffee’s natural sweetness, among other different flavor notes. Light and medium roasts are perfect for the floral and fruity coffee sweetness. Darker roasts will give you choco sweetness.
Have you ever wonder why dark roasts are the most popular? It’s because they are easy to make, and you can even mix some bad-quality beans and roast them till all you can taste is bitterness. Not every dark roast is a bad one, but when buying, be sure to properly check the bean origin.
All beans should be stored properly, on your shelf as well as in a large coffee farm warehouse. So, air, moisture, heat, and light are the sworn enemies of the coffee bean. Improperly stored or old coffee will taste flat in the best case and acidic in the worst case.
The brewing process for a sweeter coffee
And now, the final stage of the sweet coffee journey. Use fresh beans, proper clean equipment, and filtered water, and that should do it, right? Wrong. The sweet spot can be somewhat hard to find. While brewing, your coffee moves from under-extracted to over-extracted. The sweet spot is just a couple of seconds before over-extraction, so make sure you control all the variables during the process. Automated coffee makers make our life easier, we admit. But when searching for sweetness, use some of the manual coffee makers.
How do you make coffee sweet without adding sugar?
Pick a naturally sweet type of beans and roast them the right way, to enhance their taste. If the natural sweetness of the coffee isn’t enough, add some sugar to it. However, if you want your coffee to be sweet AND healthy, here are some other options you might be interested in.
It works great with coffee. Also has a lot fewer calories and more health benefits compared to sugar. Cinnamon is popular in the season coffee drinks, like Pumpkin spiced latte. If you are making a Turkish coffee, add the cinnamon during the brewing. Otherwise, add it after you poured your cup.
Nut-based and plant-based creamers
These are all great alternatives if you are vegan or lactose intolerant but still a fan of creamers. Almond milk is possibly the sweetest non-dairy creamer you can add to your cup of joe. But, all the other options have a distinctive taste. Lately, the coffee world is going crazy with oat milk. You should give it a try!
Salt will give you a sweet coffee
Adding a pinch of salt to your coffee will reduce the bitterness and emphasize the sweet taste. Just try not to overdo it, as salty coffee is something you will wish you haven’t tried.
If you have a fresh vanilla bean, add it to your cup of joe. Otherwise, use vanilla extract. You know, the cake thing. As vanilla extract has a strong impact on the taste, start with just a few drops.
This magical ingredient will not just sweeten your coffee. It will also add a ton of antioxidants to it and make your daily dose superhealthy. For even better results, try raw honey!
Stevia is a sweet plant. Its leaves are 10 to 15 times sweeter than white sugar and have almost zero calories. Stevia extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. The most common form is stevia drops. They are affordable and easy to use.
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Everybody loves chocolate. As a matter of fact, it’s how the Mocha latte was invented. However, chocolate shreddings and syrup might be overcrowded with sugar. So, opt for unsweetened cocoa powder.
Try bulletproof coffee
Bulletproof coffee is one of the latest trends in the coffee world. In your kitchen blender, mix a cup of coffee with butter and coconut oil. You will get a sweet, healthy concoction that will boost your energy without any side effects.
Try Nitro coffee
Nitro coffee is your usual cold brew, enriched with the nitro bubbles, and served on tap, just like beer. The nitrogen gas transforms your usual cold brew into a frothy, sweet, and milky substance, without adding any creamers or sweeteners. Nitro coffee is the latest hit in the coffee world and a thing you need to try!
What roast of coffee is the sweetest?
All coffee roasts will provide you with sweetness. But the origin of the bean is a much more important factor. Roasts can only enhance the sweetness if the bean had enough sugar in it. So, light and medium roasts will give you light sweetness. Depending on the bean source, it can be floral, fruity, citric, or some other sweet taste. But, when you switch to darker roasts, things change a little bit. Higher temperatures lead to breaking down the simple sugars and caramelizing. So the darker roasts will be sweet, but with the sweetness of chocolate and caramel. But, if you go further, beyond the second crack, there will be no sugar left. Only burnt, ash-like taste.
Does caffeine work better with sugar?
Generally speaking, sugar needs cca 30 seconds to reach your brain. Caffeine, on the other hand, needs 30 minutes to do so. Both of these ingredients stimulate the brain, but in a different way. Sugar will increase your blood glucose level sky-high and will crash quickly. Caffeine will stay in your organism for around 6 hours. In short, sugar acts almost similar to your brain as caffeine but works quicker and shorter. So, sugar will satisfy your momentary craving while caffeine starts to work.
If possible, leave the sugar out of your coffee. It adds to the calorie count and can ruin the taste of a nice cup of joe. If you need the sweetness, opt for artificial sweeteners, raw honey, maple syrup, or coffee spices.
What happens if you add sugar to your coffee?
Your barista will slightly judge you
First thing: your barista will give you an evil eye. Especially if you reached for the sugar without even tasting the coffee. One of the postulates of a barista’s job is to provide every customer with a perfect cup of joe that doesn’t need any additives. However, there are a few reasons why people automatically add sugar to their coffee:
- They are used to lousy coffee from some gas stations, large offices, or just shady coffee-houses. Sugar saves the taste of terrible coffee, making it slightly less terrible.
- Modern people tend to eat too much sugar every day. Your usual 12-oz of soda has around 9 teaspoons of sugar. Your regular burger will have 2-3 tsp of sugar. So, you are addicted to sugar.
- People who haven’t tried top-quality coffee types think all black coffee should taste hard, bitter, and depressing.
Your body will judge you
One teaspoon (four grams) of sugar contains 16 calories. Not much, right? Well, FDA recommends limiting your daily sugar intake to 50 grams. And the WHO (World Health Organisation) is even more strict and recommends 25 grams of sugar daily. To point out, it’s not a recommended dose of sugar in your coffee, but the whole daily sugar intake!
Let’s say you drink two coffees per day, and you put two tablespoons of sugar in each. Aaaaaaand… you ingested 16 grams of sugar, that’s almost one-third of the quantity recommended by the FDA. Not to mention your favorite afternoon candy bar or a burger.
Adding sugar to your coffee will increase your body weight and might damage your dental health. Adding too much sugar will lead to obesity, heart issues, and diabetes. Stay safe, stay healthy. If you can’t remove the sugar from your diet, try taking less of it, or switch to more healthy substitutes.
What is the sweetest type of coffee at Starbucks?
Of course, you can go ahead and try every single Starbucks sweet coffee. But, to save your wallet, teeth, and wardrobe, we have done some research for you. And the winner for this year is Java Chip Frappuccino® Blended Beverage in a Venti cup. Try saying this three times in a row fast. With 87 grams of sugar, it will be enough for a day and a half of your recommended sugar intake. Without adding any sugar, of course. Frappuccinos are the sweetest coffees in Starbucks, so we advise you to be careful when ordering one.
There is nothing wrong with adding a pinch of sugar to your coffee every now and then. Just try not to make a habit out of it. And try naturally sweet coffee, if you haven’t already. It will change your whole perspective on the coffee sweetness, we promise.