Why Does Brown Sugar Taste So Good In Coffee?

Why does brown sugar taste so good in coffee? While any sweetener is good, brown sugar seems to give coffee a uniquely delicious flavor. Read on to find out.

A cup of coffee sitting on top of a wooden table, with Sugar and Tea
Brown sugar makes a cup of coffee taste fantastic

What’s the deal with brown sugar?

Some people swear it makes a cup of coffee taste fantastic–even better than white sugar!

It doesn’t seem like there’d be much difference, does it? They’re both sweeteners.

However, brown sugar has a few secrets that can change your whole coffee game.

We’ll break down why it tastes so uniquely good. 

No matter what kind of sugar you prefer in your sweetened coffee, you should know how to make it taste fantastic every day.

How Sugar Is Processed

Sugar is a very refined product. It is produced from both sugar cane or sugar beets, but either way all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber are removed from it during the refining process.

Sugar beets are processed by thinly slicing and leaching out the juice they exude. Impurities are removed from the juice in a centrifuge before it’s dried into its final crystalline form.

Sugar cane is made similarly. Both are then bleached and further processed to make the pure white granulated sugar that we’re familiar with.

What is left over after this process is molasses: A thick, viscous liquid that contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other natural compounds including potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

The mineral and vitamin content in traditional molasses is what has made it a folk medicine for hundreds of years.

Types of Sugar

Regular white sugar has been completely through sugar processing to the point where it is bright white and has a uniform granular texture. All the molasses has been removed.

Best sweetener for coffee
Different types of sugar

On the other hand, what gives brown sugar its rich, complex flavor is the molasses left in the sugar crystals during processing. 

Brown sugar is made in two ways:

Natural brown sugar, sometimes called raw sugar, is made by not completely stripping the sugar pulp of its molasses content before drying it into its crystalline form. Turbinado, muscovado, and demerara sugars are all considered raw sugars.

Commercial brown sugar is made by adding a small amount of molasses into fully processed granulated sugar. The amount added will affect the color and taste of the sugar.

Generally, the darker brown sugar is, the more molasses content it contains. Muscovado sugar for example is very dark brown, while commercial light brown sugar has a much lighter hue. 

All types of processed sugar are mostly made up of sucrose, with only a small percentage of molasses: Muscovado contains around 10 percent molasses, while commercial brown sugar contains between 3 and 6 percent molasses.

Adding any kind of sugar that has molasses content to your morning cup of java will give it a richer color and a slightly heavier, earthier taste. Try using muscovado or demerara sugars for the best coffee flavor. 

This goes for espresso as well–adding brown sugar to espresso drinks can really add to the complexity of the flavors. Brown sugar lattes are a common request to baristas.

Other Natural Sweeteners

What about other types of sweeteners that aren’t made from sugar cane or beets?

Maple Syrup is boiled down from the sap of maple trees. It does have a bit of mineral content, including manganese, iron, and zinc, but it’s still high in calories with very little fiber. While it can definitely be used in coffee, it doesn’t give it that rich taste that brown sugar does.

Honey, especially when consumed raw, contains a bit more mineral content than either brown sugar or maple syrup. It contains trace amounts of vitamin B6, selenium, iron, and potassium, as well as various compounds that seem to have anti-allergy and antibacterial properties.

Honey gives coffee a brighter, sweeter taste than brown sugar does, without the rich, earthy notes.

Stevia is a natural sugar substitute made from the leaves of a South American plant related to Chrysanthemum. It contains no calories or carbohydrates so it’s popular among diabetics and dieters.

It’s is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, so a tiny amount of it will suffice. Some people find it has a bitter aftertaste.

Sugar Nutrition

Refined sugars made from both sugar cane and sugar beets look the same and pretty much contain the same nutritional composition, which, unfortunately, isn’t much. There just aren’t any health benefits to using brown sugar over white sugar. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t add them to your coffee, just be judicial about it and focus on flavor.

Brown sugar contains slightly more minerals due to the small amount of molasses added, but the effect is pretty negligible. Health-conscious coffee drinkers are advised to watch their consumption of all added sugars, but occasionally adding natural sweeteners to your morning cup of coffee is a nice treat that won’t destroy your health.

Sometimes, black coffee just doesn’t do the trick, and your local coffee shop can help you make a sweet brown sugar drink that’s exactly what you needed.

The Final Word on Why Does Brown Sugar Taste So Good?

If you’re wondering what kind of sweetener you should add to your coffee for the best flavor, brown sugar is a strong contender. Many people find its rich flavor and luscious texture a perfect complement to fresh, hot coffee.

No matter what kind of sweetener you choose, your coffee should be part of a perfect morning for you!

FAQs on Brown Sugar Coffee

Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?

The nutritional difference between white sugars and brown sugars is almost nil. Brown sugars and raw sugars contain a trace amount of minerals because of their low molasses content, but the difference is negligible.

Research has shown that they have the same effect on the human body. You’re better off choosing a sugar preference based on taste, and simply limiting the amount you consume to protect your health.

How much sugar should you have in a day?

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of about 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men of added sugar per day. If you normally avoid eating a lot of processed food, adding a small amount of sugar to your coffee in the morning should keep you under this limit.


  • AE Inman

    A E Inman is a direct response copywriter and humor blogger. When she's not poking fun at her attempts to start a writing business, she can be found in the tea aisle of her local import store, arguing with strangers over the merits of rare tea varietals. She enjoys writing copy while consuming copious amounts of coffee and gunpowder tea.