Although many coffee lovers prefer to drink their coffee black, a lot of people enjoy coffee with a dash of sugar to slightly offset the bitter taste.
One preferred sweetener is brown sugar – so that begs the question: how is brown sugar in coffee?
Brown sugar in coffee: a quick overview
You can absolutely use brown sugar in coffee instead of white sugar(there are other sweeteners too, like maple syrup and honey). Brown sugar comes in may types(detailed below) but generally, brown sugar has a more earthy, molasses-y flavor that some may find complements the flavors of coffee better than white sugar, which is just straight up sweet.
When you add sugar to coffee, I strongly suggest that you add as little as possible – only enough to offset the bitterness. If you add too much sugar(brown or otherwise), you’ll just end up tasting the sugar and nothing else. Good coffee is enjoyed with the vast medley of flavors you find in it.
That said, I am also a strong believer in the fact that coffee should be authentic but not to the point of being a stickler. After all, you’re supposed to enjoy the beverage, and if you have to pinch your nose and gulp it down in the name of authenticity, what’s the point?
Is brown sugar in coffee healthy?
A cup of coffee is just one to two calories, which is incredible when you think about it. You can have a rich, flavorful beverage at the cost of virtually no calories at all. Overall, coffee is pretty healthy to have, as long as you don’t overdo the caffeine.
Once you start adding things, however, the calorie count starts ticking up.
One teaspoon(4 grams) of white sugar contains about 16 calories.
One teaspoon(4 grams) of brown sugar contains about 17 calories.
As you can see, every spoon of sugar you add will start stacking on the calories.
Note: It’s still better than sugary sodas, which can contain up to 30 grams of sugar per 300ml. That’s nearly 140 calories.
There’s also 2 mg of sodium, which is 1/1000th of the daily recommendation of 2300 mg of sodium intake per day. You’re not going to be hitting any sodium limits with sugar 🙂
What is brown sugar and how is it made?
Sugar primarily comes from two sources: sugar cane and sugar beets. Both have a high enough content of sucrose to be used for commercial sugar production.
Whether you’re using beets or cane, they’re first pressed to extract the juice, which is then boiled to reduce it, and put in to a centrifuge to crystallize the sugars.
The sugar crystals originally are sucrose and molasses combined, and the existence or non-existence of molasses determines whether it’s brown sugar or white sugar.
The initial combination of sugar and molasses is what is known as raw sugar.
Raw sugar is not just sweet, it’s actually a lot of flavors together – which is one of the reasons raw sugar imparts such a nice flavor to certain goodies like chocolate chip cookies.
Other types of sugar include:
Light brown sugar
Light brown sugar is raw sugar which has been refined into white sugar and a little bit of molasses has been added back to it for some flavor.
You may be wondering why manufacturers would go through the trouble of refining sugar only to add the molasses back, but it’s actually so they have more control over exactly how much goes in, as well as the grain size of the sugar. It also ensures that it’s only molasses in the sugar and none of the other minerals.
Dark brown sugar
Dark brown sugar is almost the same as light brown sugar except there is a little bit more molasses added back to it than light brown sugar.
Demerara is a semi-refined sugar. It is actually one of the best brown sugars to complement coffee, because the flavors are quite deep, earthy, and similar to those naturally found in coffee.
As far as sweeteners go, I would certainly prefer using natural sweeteners to artificial ones. Unless you are diabetic and absolutely can’t have sugar, go for using brown sugar in coffee. If you’re health conscious, just add a tiny bit of sugar, just enough to get the bitterness under control.
If you’re watching your weight and trying to cut back every calorie possible, you need to do some math and make some tough choices. One teaspoon of sugar is 17 calories – if you want to have sweet coffee, you’ll need to cut back the 17 calories somewhere else.