Should You Add Brown Sugar to Your Coffee?

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray

So many people will add sugar to their coffee, but it also opens up another debate: white sugar or brown sugar? Well, I will hopefully answer at least part of that debate but will do so by focusing on brown sugar.

Brown sugar is something you can add to coffee, and it will create a caramel, smooth taste to the coffee, which may enhance those very same flavors already existing. Don’t be surprised if it enriches the flavor, but aside from taste, it does the same thing as white sugar while also containing the same calories.

Now, I know some people see brown sugar as something you use in the kitchen when baking and that it has a very specific role. However, that’s not entirely true, and it’s about time that myth is finally busted.

espresso coffee with sugar

Which Brown Sugar Should You Use?

But before I delve deeper into why you should consider adding brown sugar to your coffee, I know people will be thinking: which brown sugar?

That’s because there are several to choose from, and each type of brown sugar would certainly offer something that’s just slightly different from anything else.

So, here are my suggestions.

Dark Brown Sugar

While you do also have light brown sugar as an option, I would tend to avoid that if you are looking for a deeper flavor to be added to your coffee. 

For that, I would always suggest you check out dark brown sugar, and for a good reason.

Light brown sugar has fewer molasses in it, lessening the flavor you get from it. Dark brown sugar has over double the number of molasses as light, and it changes everything.

This is because it’s the molasses that play a key role in the taste and flavor you get from brown sugar.

When I add dark brown sugar to my coffee, I find a real richness in the flavor. It adds even more depth to my coffee, but I know that won’t be something that appeals to everyone.

Can You Add Demerara Sugar to Coffee?

Another type of sugar you may see is Demerara, but can you add it to coffee?

I’ve added Demerara to my coffee on countless occasions, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. This raw form of sugar may not be the first choice for many. Still, it certainly manages to sweeten your coffee without too many problems.

But this sugar does create a different taste than what you would get with dark brown sugar. 

With this sugar, you do get more of a subtle molasses flavor to it compared to other options. I find it helps bring out the taste of the coffee as it only adds a slight caramel taste to the drink.

That’s why I prefer this option. I find it’s too easy to add too much dark brown sugar with a stronger caramel taste resulting in it completely changing your coffee.

This is something I’d rather avoid if possible.

What About Muscovado Sugar?

Another option to consider is Muscovado sugar, which has a stronger taste than you will get with Demerara. 

The molasses in this sugar certainly add a significantly deeper flavor, and don’t be surprised if you are hit with that caramel taste when you add this sugar to your coffee.

But here is the slightly strange part of Muscovado: it can add a sense of bitterness to your coffee rather than making it sweeter.

I know that seems to counteract why you would add it to your coffee. After all, we tend to add sugar because it makes it sweeter, but Muscovado is a bit different.

It’s because of the toffee and caramel taste it brings to your coffee. It seems to have this ability to enhance the bitter flavors that are caught up in your coffee, and it really brings them to the fore.

How Much Brown Sugar Should You Add to Your Coffee?

brown sugar to coffee

I’m not going to tell you exactly how much sugar you should add to your coffee, as it’s all down to personal preference. However, what I do know is there’s just not the same need to add quite as much brown sugar as there is with white.

Again, I know you may think differently about this point, and that’s absolutely fine. However, I find that you can often use less brown sugar than white, and it’s because of the flavor it brings to the coffee.

Thanks to brown sugar tending to have a deeper flavor and intensity to it, along with those caramel notes, it’s often the case that less of it is required to get some sense of sweetness.

But again, I’ve seen myself adding one teaspoon of brown sugar to my coffee and it being okay. However, if the coffee is too bitter for what I want at that time, then a touch more sugar may be required.

This is basically trial and error on your part. However, I would always suggest you add less than you know you will need and gradually work in more sugar.

It just stops you from messing up your coffee.

Are Certain Types of Coffee Better for Brown Sugar?

espresso coffee

I just mentioned that the amount of sugar I add to coffee depends on the coffee itself, which is a valid point.

For example, if you have a sweeter coffee, why would you add a lot of sugar to make it overly sweet?

That doesn’t make sense, and it’s certainly not a pleasant thing for your tastebuds. 

But this is what I’ve discovered when it comes to brown sugar and coffee.

For me, either a dark or medium roast coffee is best with brown sugar. I would avoid a light roast coffee as I feel it doesn’t really perform that well with brown sugar.

I see both dark and medium roast coffee as working well. This coffee tends to come with more chocolate or caramel flavors, and I just believe brown sugar helps to really enhance the flavors more than you would expect.

But there’s another reason why a lighter roast will not work well. It tends to have a more naturally sweet taste, so there’s certainly less need to add as much sugar.

Also, those more decadent flavors often do not come across too well when you have a lighter roast. At that point, I’d stick to white sugar if I wanted to add any to my coffee.

Are There Any Benefits of Adding Brown Sugar to Coffee?

So, are there any benefits from adding brown sugar to coffee? Well, there are a few I’d like to mention.

But before I tell you the benefits, I must say that brown sugar does not mean low calories. It basically has the same number of calories as white sugar, so it’s hardly a healthy alternative.

The main difference is with the taste and how it changes the flavor of the coffee. That is the real benefit and star of the show, and it’s the reason why I add brown sugar when I want to just change the coffee.

This is because brown sugar is the same as white sugar but has molasses added back to it, giving it that brown color. So, if you want to cut calories, you still need to opt for that artificial sweetener.

But it’s those molasses that make a difference, as that’s where the intense flavor comes from.

This makes sense because if that’s the only change between white and brown sugar, then it must be the source of the flavor difference.

Also, white sugar may sweeten your coffee, but it does nothing else for the actual taste and flavor. It doesn’t add anything to it from itself, so brown sugar opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Plus, brown sugar does darken the color of your coffee, and this is something that will be easy to notice. It doesn’t take a lot of sugar to do this either, and that’s why I would always tell people to start off with only half a teaspoon and see what they think.

Brown sugar will certainly enhance your coffee way more than you think or expect.

Will Brown Sugar Ever Ruin Your Coffee?

If you are all about enjoying the actual taste of the beans, then adding brown sugar is a bad idea. It will mask that flavor, and there’s less chance of you enjoying your coffee.

I see this as the only point where this may be the case. 

Will I Like Brown Sugar in Coffee?

Really, it depends on your personal preference. Coffee is so individualistic that it’s impossible to say what you will enjoy until you try it.

But I think that if you love flavor shots in your coffee, with a preference for caramel, then brown sugar is something you should certainly try. 

My Recap on Adding Brown Sugar to Your Coffee

Adding brown sugar to coffee is certainly something people should consider, and I know I’ve covered a number of points over the last few minutes.

So, here’s my recap on what I feel are the key points.

  • Brown sugar works well with coffee
  • Dark brown sugar adds intensity and a depth of flavor
  • Dark brown sugar has caramel notes that change the coffee
  • It is best used with dark or medium roast coffee
  • It has the same calories as white sugar
  • If you love caramel in your coffee, then brown sugar will be amazing
  • If you want the natural taste of the coffee, then avoid brown sugar
  • It will reduce the bitterness of the coffee

If you have never tried brown sugar in your coffee, then I suggest you give it a shot. I promise you are not going to be disappointed unless you want to focus on the natural coffee taste.

My Conclusion

I know people tend to fall into one of two camps: add sugar to coffee or don’t add sugar to the coffee. Personally, I tend to add just a touch of sugar, but it does depend on the coffee itself.

But adding brown sugar is not a problem. It will generally add intensity and perhaps even a caramel like flavor to your coffee. As long you love those flavors, there’s absolutely no reason for you not to add it to your coffee.