Adding Brown Sugar In Coffee – On Taste And Sugar Varieties

If you’re looking to add something to your morning coffee to make it even more enjoyable, then brown sugar would be a great idea. I for one am a big fan, and there really is no going back to white sugar afterwards. Let me explain.

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So can you add brown sugar to coffee ?

Yes, you can add brown sugar to coffee and it may taste even better than white sugar. Brown sugar still has some molasses in it, which bring a caramel flavor into the coffee.

At any rate, it’s the molasses that gives brown and raw sugar that wonderful taste. It’s not just sweet. It’s caramel in a crystal.

There are a few health benefits of switching from brown sugar to white, and we’ll get into those in a moment. But for now let’s settle the whole white vs brown vs raw sugar argument.

There are different types of brown sugar

You’ve probably got some white sugar lying around the house right now. Virtually everyone does. And we do need a bit of sugar here and there. But there is a difference between white sugar and brown.

Both of them come from the same plant: the sugar cane plant. That plant is cut down and processed until the molasses in the cane start to separate from the fibers in the plant. That’s when the sugar begins to form as we know it.

The sugar with the most molasses, and still a bit of fibers and minerals in its composition is raw cane sugar. It’s usually moist, acting a lot like wet sand, and is easily compacted into a container or other. It’s not necessarily the sweetest, but it’s the closest you can get to pure caramel.

If we take the processing a bit further, we then start to remove the molasses from the sugar crystals. This means the sugar will lose its color and become lighter and lighter, until it becomes transparent (or white in large clumps). That is the final stage.

Many types of brown sugar are actually white sugar, with some molasses added back into it. So it was removed, but a part of it was added back. This gives it back some of its original taste.

So, you can judge your sugar by its color. The dark brown, raw sugar has very small crystals and is fairly moist. It’s actually my personal favorite though I can’t always find it.

Then, the lighter the sugar goes, the less molasses it will have, and the ‘fainter’ it will taste. It’s sweet, it always will be, but the flavor is mostly gone.

Oddly enough, although the raw sugar needs less processing, it’s also the most expensive version of sugar. A simple brown sugar (not raw, just brown) is double the price of white sugar, usually.

Is coffee with brown sugar healthier than white ?

So you now know that brown and raw sugar have some fibers and minerals kept (or added). But does that make coffee with brown sugar a healthier version than coffee with white sugar ?

Well, technically, yes. Brown sugar is a healthier alternative by virtue of still retaining some properties of the plant it was made from. That being said, the benefits are slim at best, since the minerals and fibers are in a very small amount. It’s still processed, even if less.

Brown sugar is still sugar. The health concerns of sugar apply to raw sugar as well, even it seems to be the healthier option.

The healthiest option, if you want to go that way, is to not add sugar or any other sweeteners at all to your drinks. This keeps your carb intake at a minimum, since many foods and drinks aside from your coffee will contain sugar (at least a bit).

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A few alternatives to brown sugar in coffee

Leaving the health benefits aside, taste does come into play when choosing something to sweeten you coffee with. So if you’re after a sweetener that’s going to do the rick, and also provide depth of flavor, brown or raw sugar are great.

If, for some reason you can’t get brown or raw sugar, here are a couple of alternatives.


This is basically what gives brown and raw sugar its great taste. Do not get sugar beet molasses, since that is a bitter and sometimes smelly syrup.

Try and look for cane syrup or cane molasses, which are derived from sugar cane. They’ll have a much darker and deeper taste, might be slightly bitter in some cases, but they are still sweet.

Do keep in mind that molasses is thick, and spooning it out to the amount you want is going to be a bit complicated. I suggest trying with a honey spoon, since they’re almost the same texture.

Maple syrup

Another alternative, and I have to agree that it’s a fainter taste than brown or raw sugar, not to mention molasses.

Still, if you’re looking for a deep, nutty sweetener than maple syrup is going to do just fine for your coffee.

You might not feel the maple unless you add a generous amount, but it can do in a pinch when you’re out of brown sugar. Or just feeling adventurous.

Keep in mind that both molasses and maple syrup are more expensive than brown sugar, so they might be more of a fancy than anything else. Still, they’re worth a shot. Both can also be used in cooking if you’re so inclined.

It’s a matter of personal taste

In the end, whether you choose to add brown or raw sugar to your coffee is completely up to you. The taste of a coffee with brown sugar is very different from one with white sugar. Same coffee, same amount of sugar. Just one is white, one is brown.

The white sugar, if you’ve always had white sugar and nothing else, will sweeten your coffee. But the brown sugar will give it an additional depth. I know, it sounds like you’d want to roll your eyes at it until you’ve actually tried it.

Once you have a few brown sugar coffees, you’ll notice the difference when drinking with white sugar.

As you can probably guess, I’m a big brown and raw sugar enthusiast. I always had white sugar, and it was the only sugar I knew of. Until in my early twenties, when I discovered a bag of brown sugar in the kitchen cupboard I was working at.

You know how in the kitchen/rest are people bring some things to make their life more comfortable, like a favorite tea to sip at work, or some fruits. Well, someone had brown sugar.

So I stole a teaspoon of it (sorry !) and tried it in my coffee. Oh man. Back then I used more sugar than I do now, so the taste was very pronounced. Still, I figured out enough from that one cup. That same day I went out to look for brown sugar in every supermarket I could think of.

I haven’t gone back to white sugar since then, and it’s all we use. Just a word of warning though, since brown and raw sugar are… well, brown. If you’re trying to judge the color of anything, keep in mind that brown or raw sugar will color your food or drink brown.

I made a pastry last Christmas, was meant to be all white. I used brown sugar, and Bourbon vanilla pudding with brown sugar added. It came out light cream rather than white. But it was better tasting, I’ll tell you.

Final thoughts

I hope I managed to help you out a bit here. I know it’s not always easy to get good info on a topic or another, but sometimes it just happens. I hope this article was that info you were looking for.

If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?