Is Honey a good Sweetener for Coffee?

If you like your coffee sweet, then you probably use sugar (either white or brown) to get the job done. But if you want to cut back on sugar or just looking for a healthier alternative, then you may want to consider honey as a sweetener for coffee.

Is Honey a good Sweetener for Coffee?

Is honey a good sweetener for coffee though? Is it really healthy? What about the taste itself? Well, let’s get some answers, shall we?

What makes Honey a Good Coffee Sweetener?

Honey is readily available in almost every household. It offers nutritional value as it contains vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds.

Honey also contains basic sugars that are easier for your body to burn. It’s sweeter, so you’ll probably add less honey compared to sugar.

Moreover, honey offers antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, which serve as extra protection for your body against oxidative stress and mild diseases.

Is Honey Better than Sugar?

To give a comprehensive answer to this frequently asked question, it’s a good idea to go through the pros and cons of using honey instead of sugar as a sweetener for coffee – Do cream and sugar in coffee neutralize caffeine?


  • Higher nutritional value – table sugar is, well, just sugar. If you use table sugar to sweeten your coffee, you won’t be getting any good out of it except for the sweeter taste.
    But if you use honey, you’ll be having so much more than a sweeter coffee. Honey typically contains vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, B1, and B6), minerals (including iron, potassium, and calcium), as well as other health-boosting compounds.
  • Honey contains sugars that are easier for your body to burn. Such quick processing greatly reduces the chances of honey being turned into fat, unlike table sugar that takes longer to burn off.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned perks, honey has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. This means that it won’t have a significant effect on the body’s blood glucose levels.


  • High-calorie content – a spoonful of honey contains more calories that one of table sugar. This can be pretty bad if you use a whole lot of honey.
    However, since honey tastes sweeter, you’re likely to use less of it and end up counteracting the high-calorie content issue.
  • Changes flavor of coffee – this is the only real argument against using honey as a sweetener for coffee. Although it mainly depends on the type, the fact remains that honey will affect the way your coffee tastes. Some can roll with it, while others find it offensive.
Sweeten your coffee with honey

What Health Benefits does Honey have?

We’ve all heard it at some point in our lives: honey is good for your health. But if you’re wondering how exactly is this statement true, here are some health benefits that honey offers:

Contains Nutrients

Unlike table sugar, honey contains nutrients that could be beneficial for you, including:

  • Vitamins: A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.
  • Minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, and zinc.

Contains Antioxidants

Honey contains many antioxidant compounds that can provide protection against oxidative stress in humans.

According to a 2003 study, substituting traditional sweeteners with honey can increase the antioxidant activity of plasma, which boosts the antioxidant defense system in healthy people.

Has Antimicrobial Activity

According to a 2004 study, honey demonstrates bactericidal effects for P. aeruginosa and bacteriostatic effects for S. aureus. Also, the local application of honey on infected wounds reduced swelling, redness, and pus discharge.

Does Honey affect the Flavor of your Coffee?

Unfortunately, yes. Like we said before, changing the taste of coffee is the only solid argument one can use against using honey to sweeten coffee.

If your main concern is finding a healthier alternative to table sugar, honey is definitely the answer. It contains sugars that are easier to burn and nutrients that are beneficial to your body.

However, if you’re a dedicated coffee lover, then you’re probably just as equally concerned about the taste of your coffee.

This is where sugar pulls ahead of honey. When you use sugar to sweeten your coffee, the taste of the coffee doesn’t change. Of course, it becomes sweeter, but the coffee itself retains its distinct flavor.

On the other hand, honey possesses a strong flavor that’s bound to alter the taste of your coffee and it may not totally complement it either. Some people don’t mind the taste of honey in their coffee, but many people think that both flavors clash with one another.

Does Honey have more calories than Sugar?

Technically speaking, honey does have more calories than sugar. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, while sugar has 49 calories per tablespoon.

That being said, it may seem like sugar has an obvious advantage over honey, but it’s not that simple. You may be thinking that by using honey you’ll be consuming more calories, however, you should consider the following points:

  • Table sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while honey contains 30% glucose, 40% fructose, and the rest is water plus other nutrients.
    Glucose is a simple form of sugar that’s particularly easy to burn off. On the other hand, fructose, which is also a basic sugar, doesn’t burn as quickly. Although fructose can still be somewhat readily used by the body, it’s more likely to be turned into fat.
  • The sugars in table salt are present as disaccharides, namely sucrose. These are complex sugars that the body breaks down into glucose and fructose.
    This means that table sugar isn’t as immediately burned as honey, so it takes a longer time to process in comparison.

So how do these molecular differences affect your coffee experience and body?

Well, since honey contains a higher percentage of easy-to-burn sugars, your body can process it faster and more efficiently than table sugar. Honey is also less likely to be converted into fats because it burns off so easily.

Moreover, honey delivers a sweeter taste than table sugar (white or brown), so you’ll need to use a smaller amount of honey than sugar when sweetening your coffee.

Is sugar better than honey to sweeten your coffee

Does it matter which kind of Honey you use?

The kind of honey you’re planning to use as a sweetener for your coffee does make a difference, but mainly in the flavor profile of your coffee and not so much in the degree of sweetness it can offer.

The flavor of any type of honey depends on the pollen it was made from. Clover honey, for example, has a light color and very mild taste. It’s the most common variety of honey in the United States.

Other types of honey include:

  • Alfalfa: similar to clove honey, with a very light color and mild flavor.
  • Orange blossom: light in color with a hint of citrus flavor
  • Buckwheat: full-bodied and dark honey with a strong taste.
  • Manuka: very strong taste and dark color.
  • Basswood: stronger than clover and alfalfa honey, but not as much as buckwheat or manuka.
  • Tupelo: light in color but with a heavy and unique flavor.

Can you sweeten Cold Brewed Coffee with Honey?

Oh yeah! You can sweeten cold-brewed coffee with honey. It’s not just that you can, sometimes it’s actually preferred to use honey in colder coffee than a hot cup.

You see, heat does affect honey, and not in a good way. It doesn’t turn it toxic or anything, but it takes away from the nutritional value of honey.

If you’re using pasteurized honey, it’s possible that some nutrients have already been denatured so they’re not beneficial anymore. But if you’re using raw honey, heating it will change its makeup with a high chance of destroying the existing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other nutrients.

So, when you heat up honey by adding it to your hot coffee as a sweetener, it won’t poison you or give a disease (this is a common myth!). You simply won’t be getting the full beneficial effect of the honey.

This means that not only can you sweeten cold-brewed coffee with honey, but it’s even better that way if you’re using raw honey.

Can you sweeten Instant Coffee with Honey?

Yes, you sure can use honey to sweeten instant coffee. The problem with instant coffee, besides the chalky consistency, is its bitter, borderline sour taste.

However, being easy and quick to make, many people choose such coffee for its convenience and affordability. But they do add some twists to make it better, including sweeteners other than sugar.

As we already mentioned, table sugar is a neutral-tasting sweetener, which means it won’t change the flavor of instant coffee, just make it sweeter. This is fine if you just want to deal with the bitterness of instant coffee.

But if you want to throw more complex flavors to the mix, then you’re better off using honey. This way, you get a 2-in-1 deal; sweetness along with flavor.

Final Thoughts

Is honey a good sweetener for coffee? I’d say yes! Honey is a healthier substitute for table sugar, it’s easier to burn, and it contains beneficial nutrients for the body.

However, honey can change the flavor of your coffee, which makes it an acquired taste for many people. So, why not give it a try yourself?

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