Did you know that only one in five coffee drinkers prefers their coffee black?
The rest of them add something to make their drink more palatable.
In most cases, that’s either sugar or cream.
But if you don’t know how much cream and sugar to put in coffee, don’t worry.
I did the research instead of you.
Today, we’ll get scientific and find out how much is enough.
Let’s dive in.
How Much Sugar and Cream Should You Add to Coffee?
There’s no such thing as the standard amount of cream or sugar to add to a cup of java.
If you were to add a whole cup of each, who am I to say that’s wrong?
Of course, adding that much sugar or cream would make coffee taste, well, nothing like coffee.
So, how much you should use depends on your own preference. It’s always best to start small and then increase the amount if you don’t achieve the desired results.
When it comes to cream, a good place to start is a single tablespoon for 8 ounces of coffee. That should alter the flavor and texture of your coffee but not overwhelm it completely.
As far as sugar goes, you can try with a teaspoon or two for an 8-ounce cup. That should make your coffee much more palatable.
How Does Cream Affect Coffee?
Before we get into details, we first need to discuss the types of cream.
In cooking, we may use different types of cream, depending on the recipe. But when it comes to coffee, we use something called sweet cream. It’s actually not sweet (since it doesn’t contain added sugar), but the name is used to differentiate it from the cooking cream.
There are different types of coffee cream, including:
- Light cream
- Heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
The main difference between the three is the amount of saturated fat.
So while half-and-half has about 12% and light cream 20-30%, heavy whipping cream has above 35% fat. And the higher the fat content, the thicker it is in consistency.
When it comes to coffee creamer, it’s worth noting that it’s usually dairy-free. It does have a flavor and consistency similar to cream, so in that way, it gives coffee a rich, sweet mouthfeel.
But in most cases, coffee creamer is made of just three basic ingredients:
So when it comes to nutrients, it’s more similar to sugar than cream.
Okay, now that we’ve covered different options, let’s see how they affect coffee.
First things first, adding cream to coffee changes its viscosity.
Plain coffee mainly consists of water, so its texture is also watery. But when you add cream, which is rich in fats, it becomes much thicker and smoother.
And just by looking at your drink, it’s obvious that cream also alters the color of your coffee.
The change in appearance seems trivial, right?
But did you know that it also affects how quickly your coffee cools down?
Dark color emits heat at a faster rate compared to light colors. So when you add the cream and lighten the coffee color by a few shades, you also slow the rate at which it cools.
Not by much, though. Coffee with cream cools down 20% slower than your regular cup.
Furthermore, adding cream to your coffee also lowers its acidity.
A pH level of 7 is considered to be neutral. Anything below is considered to be acidic, while anything above that is alkaline.
What about coffee and cream?
- Coffee – pH between 4.85 and 5.10
- Cream – pH between 6.7 and 6.9
That’s simple math. When you combine the two, you get a slightly less acidic drink.
Finally, the cream also makes coffee less bitter.
Proteins in a dairy cream bind to tannins in coffee, which is one of the compounds responsible for the bitter flavor. When that happens, the two negate each other.
DID YOU KNOW?
Tannins are also responsible for teeth yellowing. By adding a splash of dairy cream to your coffee, you can prevent tannins from interacting with your teeth and staining them.
How Does Sugar Affect Coffee?
Unlike cream, adding sugar doesn’t turn your coffee into a completely different drink. Instead, it just makes it sweeter, thus enhancing its natural flavor notes.
In most cases, people add some kind of sugar or sweetener to mask the bitterness.
But it not only masks but actually suppresses the bitter flavor of the coffee.
And there’s a pretty cool scientific explanation of why that works.
You see, caffeine (among other compounds) is responsible for bitterness.
Caffeine is hydrophobic, which means that it repels water molecules. So when you make a cup of joe, caffeine molecules clump up together to avoid connecting to water.
So what happens when you drink coffee?
Imagine it like this:
Let’s say you’re drinking tea, but a few leaves have made their way into your cup. The tea is overall slightly sweet. But if your taste buds reach those leaves, you’ll feel a slight bitterness when they pass through your throat.
Well, the same goes for coffee with sugar.
You might get a few sips that are slightly more bitter, but the drink will be sweet otherwise.
Why Do We Add Milk or Cream to the Coffee?
Simply put, we add them to make coffee taste better.
But what makes it taste better?
Of course, not everyone enjoys coffee the same way. But the main reason why some people don’t like coffee is its acidity or bitterness. And what dairy products do is mask both of these sensations.
But the texture is also important. It’s one of the key elements of how people experience foods and drinks.
So when you make coffee thicker and more velvety, you make it more complex and, thus, more enjoyable.
You can add cream and sugar to any coffee drink, from instant coffee and cold brew to iced coffee. However, cream and sugar pair better with dark roast than light roast. It’s because dark roast has an intense flavor that won’t be overwhelmed by additions.
How Many Calories Are in Cream and Sugar?
Black coffee has about the same amount of calories as pure water.
But things change once you add cream or sugar.
Let’s say you add a single tablespoon of cream, which is often enough to alter your drink.
Here’s how much a tablespoon of each type of cream contains calories:
- Half-and-half – 20 calories
- Light cream – 30 calories
- Heavy whipping cream – 50 calories
- Powdered creamer – 30 calories
- Liquid creamer – 20 calories
As for the sugar, 1 teaspoon of granulated white sugar has about 16 calories. In most cases, you’ll need to add one or two teaspoons to make your drink sweet enough.
And in case you add a bit of both, the calories of a single cup of coffee can go up to 100.
Now, let’s say you drink a few cups throughout the day. When you add up the calories, it’s the same as having an extra meal.
How to Make Healthier Coffee?
Well, that’s pretty simple. You can cut down on both sugar and cream.
But I’m aware that it would also make it less palatable.
So what can you do instead?
One thing you can consider is using almond milk instead of cream. A tablespoon of almond milk has just 5 calories. You can also give your coffee a bit of texture by frothing almond milk before pouring it into the coffee.
Most coffee creams are plant-based, meaning they are made of almond, oat milk, or other types of non-dairy milk. If you want a healthy option, skip a flavored creamer and go for one without sugar or artificial sweetener.
If you want to make your coffee sweeter, try adding a pinch of cinnamon.
Cinnamon flavor blends particularly well with coffee, and it’s healthy too. It lowers blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides!
Adding cocoa is another great option. It won’t be as sweet as sugar, of course, but it will give a nice chocolatey hint to your cup of joe.
Cocoa powder has some pretty great health benefits as well – it improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar.
Finally, you can add a tiny bit of coconut oil or butter for a better mouthfeel.
You can use some healthier sugar substitutes instead of regular sugar in your coffee. Some of them are honey, agave syrup, and coconut sugar.
Still have questions regarding coffee cream or sugar? No worries. Here’s a quick FAQ that should have your answers.
Is cream better than milk in coffee?
That depends on what you’re looking for. The cream will create a sweeter drink with a richer mouthfeel. But if you want a healthier drink, then milk is the way to go. Not only does it have fewer calories and cholesterol, but milk also has more vitamins.
Is heavy cream healthy in coffee?
A single cup of coffee with a bit of heavy cream is not going to increase your daily calorie intake by much. But if you’re the type to drink gallons of coffee throughout the day, you should go easy on heavy cream.
When did people start putting cream and sugar in their coffee?
When coffee was first brought to Europe in the 16th century, it was considered a luxury. However, the bean quality was rather low, so the coffee was bitter. For that reason, they started adding sugar and cream to balance the flavor.
To Sum Things Up
Both sugar and cream are added to coffee to balance out the flavor.
A tablespoon of cream or a teaspoon of sugar usually does the trick.
Of course, you can add however you want, depending on your preference. But keep in mind that both add calories to your drink, so moderation is the key.
Need a recommendation on a good coffee creamer? Here’s our list of the best products you can find on the market today.
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