What is the best sugar for your coffee?

If you thought the list of questions that surround the “sugar in coffee” equation extended to “one lump or two”, then you have been living under a rock… or perhaps a sugar lump… for one too many years.

The range of solutions when it comes to sweetening your coffee is, it would seem, a Byzantine range of choices surrounding colour, artificiality, and taste. 

Yes, there is one simple choice between white sugar or brown sugar but that is only the very tip of this particular sugar lump. 

Dig a little deeper into this metaphorical sugar bowl and you may have experienced demerara sugar, raw sugar, unrefined sugar and cane sugar. 

Run out of those in your kitchen cupboard and you may have found yourself reaching for the caster sugar. 

If you’ve been feeling in need of a health kick, you may be forgoing sugar completely, for one of the many artificial sweeteners. 

Elsewhere in this brave new world, you may have come across coconut sugar, or honey sugar. 

If you are at the most experimental end of the sugar world you might even have tried stevia sugar, truvia sugar or even the turbinado varietal.

There’s even an organic, gluten-free sugar that is also kosher, should that be a driver in your decision as to what you drop in your humble mug.   

However, despite all this choice, there is one point that nutrition experts agree on, and it’s something you might yourself want to consider (perhaps over a coffee, when you can impress your friends). 

Nutritionists will tell you that in actual fact there is not a huge amount of difference between many of these kinds of sugar.   

One type isn’t necessarily any healthier than any other, or nutritionally more beneficial, whatever its flavour or colour.   

Equally, all sugars will convert in the same way - and all are a source of glucose, fructose or a combination of the two - which will consequently either be absorbed into the bloodstream in the case of glucose, or processed by the liver in the case of fructose. 

And that remains true whether it’s white or brown; raw or refined. 

All that being said, the choice is really yours, and down to considerations such as taste rather than health. 

Certainly brown and natural sugar have a bit more dimension when it comes to flavour, while white sugar might feel too artificial. 

Then again, each might be lost, in any case, by the taste of the coffee itself.  And some more exotic styles, such as truvia and stevia, might look good to serve, but can leave an aftertaste. 

Other things should also be a consideration, for instance, grain size.  Refined white sugar tends to be smaller and therefore easier to dissolve, whereas brown sugars can be chunkier and therefore slower.  

Some baristas choose to use sweetened milk, or yoghurt, with the sweetener already worked in, which can also carry nutritional elements, while negating the need for the sugar stage completely.

The issue is really less to do with style and more to do with quantity. 

In other words, it doesn’t really matter which one of these you choose, if you’re going to put 17 spoons of it in your coffee.  

In reality, sugar should only account for between 5-10% of your calorie intake each day, so bear in mind one single teaspoon of sugar is likely to contain 16 calories, or 68 kilojoules. 

Instead, try to cut back in quantity and experiment to see what works best for you.