Should You Put Brown Sugar In Coffee? (Facts & Tips)

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brown sugar in coffee

Have you ever tried brown sugar in coffee? Jump into our guide and find out if adding brown sugar to coffee is a good idea and how to do it properly.

There seem to be as many ways to sweeten coffee as there are to make coffee.

One of those ways could potentially be brown sugar in coffee.

If you ask me, you should absolutely try it. But you should think about how brown sugar is made and if there’s any benefit to using it over white sugar.

I’ve tried just about every way to sweeten my coffee, so I have a lot of thoughts on brown sugar, and I will tell you everything about it.

Let’s begin!

Can You Put Brown Sugar In Coffee?

coffee with brown sugar
Brown sugar is actually a phenomenal sweetener for your cup of joe

You can totally put brown sugar in coffee. Not only is it acceptable, but it’s also actually a phenomenal sweetener for your cup of joe.

We’ll take a deep dive into the world of brown sugar and coffee. But for now, you should know that brown sugar is a great alternative to other sweeteners or flavoring syrups.

And it doesn’t take a lot of brown sugar to make a difference in your coffee.

What Does Brown Sugar In Coffee Taste Like?

The biggest question about brown sugar and coffee is what it tastes like. And that’s a very fair question. 

The truth is that it tastes really good. You’ll get hints of caramel and toffee. And, of course, a lot of molasses.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “But I don’t like the taste of molasses!” Okay, sure, but do you like the taste of brown sugar? As we’ll find out, brown sugar is made with molasses, so if you like the taste of brown sugar, chances are you’ll like the taste of it in your coffee.

Think of it like this: brown sugar has a richer and deeper flavor than white sugar. Brown sugar will add a more robust flavor to your coffee than standard white table sugar.

But just how much brown sugar should you add to your coffee?

How To Put Brown Sugar In Coffee

Adding brown sugar to your morning cup of coffee is very simple.

Here’s an easy recipe:

  1. Brew your favorite cup of coffee. This can be pour-over, drip, AeroPress, or even instant coffee. Just as long as you like the coffee.
  2. Add 1 tsp of brown sugar. Yes, start with only 1 tsp. Brown sugar adds a ton of flavor, so start small and work up.
  3. Stir and taste. Give your cup a sip after adding a teaspoon. If that’s a good flavor for you, enjoy! But if not…
  4. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get your desired sweetness. Everyone is different, so there isn’t one answer for how much brown sugar you should add. Play around and find out what you like the most!
  5. Add milk or other toppings (optional). Brown sugar pairs well with milk (especially plant-based ones, such as oat milk), so you can add a splash if you like.

Instead of brown sugar, you can add brown sugar simple syrup to your coffee (you can easily make it at home). It’s a great way to sweeten up your iced coffee or cold brew because it easily melts in cold water. Plus, brown sugar syrup will add a deep caramel flavor to your drink.

Brown Sugar: What You Should Know

First of all, what exactly is brown sugar?

Brown sugar is the counterpart to white sugar. It’s a little different from white sugar and is commonly used in baking as it produces different outcomes from white sugar.

But that’s just the beginning. Brown sugar is most often just plain white sugar with molasses added back into it. That’s a bit confusing, so let’s start by talking about how sugar gets refined.

How Brown Sugar Is Made 

White sugar is completely refined to take away any impurities.

Raw sugar, which you can buy and which is also a great sweetener for coffee, has a brownish color but isn’t technically brown sugar. 

Sugarcane is boiled down to separate the pure sugars. The sugar crystallizes and leaves behind a viscous syrup known as molasses. sugar crystals are the granulated sugar we know of and use as white sugar.

To make brown sugar, that molasses is then reintroduced to the white sugar so that anywhere from 5-10% of the mixture is molasses. The extra moisture in molasses is what makes brown sugar feel a little bit like wet sand. And when that moisture evaporates, your brown sugar hardens.

The different percentages dictate what kind of brown sugar is made, i.e. dark or light brown sugar. The less molasses is added, the lighter the brown sugar.

Different Types Of Brown Sugar

brown sugar
There are other kinds of brown sugars out there

There are a few different types of brown sugar out there.

I already mentioned light and dark, those are the two main types of brown sugar.

Light brown sugar has a molasses content closer to 5%. Dark brown sugar has a molasses content closer to 10%.

But there are other kinds of brown sugars out there.

A few common ones are:

  • Turbinado. This is a less-refined sugar, which means it has less moisture and molasses content and is actually closer to raw sugar. It also has less moisture.
  • Demerara. This is similar to turbinado sugar but with a bit more molasses. Both demerara and turbinado sugars are most often used as finishing or covering sugars rather than baking sugars.
  • Muscovado. This is the darkest of the brown sugars. It has the most molasses and the most moisture. It will have the biggest and deepest flavors.

In all honesty, any of these sugars will taste great in your coffee. After all, sugars dissolve in coffee, so it doesn’t matter if you use a finishing sugar (I won’t tell anyone!).

I recommend starting with a common light or dark brown sugar that you can find in any grocery store. They are the cheapest option to figure out if you actually like the taste of brown sugar in your coffee.

Benefits Of Brown Sugar

Do you get any extra benefits if you use brown sugar instead of white sugar?

The short answer is kind of, but not really.

The biggest difference between white and brown sugar in your coffee is the taste. White sugar will provide your coffee with a general, unspecific sweetness. Brown sugar will add a more rounded, caramel and molasses type of sweetness instead.

But because of the molasses content of brown sugar, there are some differences in the nutritional value of brown sugar. Molasses contains nutrients like iron, calcium, and potassium. Those are essential nutrients.

The only caveat is that those nutrients aren’t in high enough quantities to make a big difference in your diet. It’s best not to rely on brown sugar for those essential nutrients.

Is Brown Sugar Better Than White Sugar?

There are two different questions here, so let’s answer the easier one first.

Is Brown Sugar Healthier Than White Sugar?

No, brown sugar is any healthier or unhealthier than white sugar. That’s because brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses added back in small amounts.

Brown sugar might have more essential nutrients like iron and calcium. But there isn’t enough of them to make brown sugar healthier.

Does Brown Sugar Taste Better Than White Sugar?

This is a matter of personal preference.

Brown sugar will add more toffee and molasses flavor to your coffee. But white sugar won’t mask the flavor profile of your coffee as much.

In my opinion, adding brown sugar to your coffee is a great way to add a new dimension to the flavors. But adding white sugar is great if you also add cream.

My Final Thoughts

You can totally add brown sugar to your morning coffee. In fact, it’s a great way to add new flavors to your morning brew.

I’d even go so far as to recommend you try it at least once yourself before making a final decision.

And remember, there isn’t much difference between white and brown sugar in terms of health. But there is a difference in taste.

Brown sugar adds a more robust sweetness, while white sugar adds a general sweetness.

If you do decide to try brown sugar in your coffee, start with one teaspoon and add more from there!

Wondering how else to sweeten your coffee? Check out our article on how to use coffee syrups!

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.