Looking to get off the sugar train?
I hear you… Whether it’s because of refined sugar’s role in causing weigh gain and obesity, diabetes, tooth cavities and gum disease or anything else. It seems like more and more people are waking up to its dangers these days.
So what do you do about coffee?
How do you make your coffee tasty without putting any of that white stuff in it?
Your first option is to use other ways of making your coffee more palatable, including milk, cream or artificial sweeteners, all of which will drastically reduce your sugar intake.
Your second option, and my preferred way, is to start making better coffee. When you use freshly roasted coffee that you grind just before brewing you can produce coffee so nice that you won’t feel the need to add any sugar to it.
I drink my coffee black all the time these days, and it’s entirely because I can make it better than I used to (back when I added loads of sugar and milk FYI).
And I’m gonna show you how to do that too. Let’s get into it.
How To Make Coffee Taste Good Without Sugar
So I mentioned that replacing sugar with any number of substitutes can be a good way forward, let’s get into the nitty gritty of each one.
If the idea of using other niceties to improve your coffee is not the road you want to go down then skip to the next section…
Milk – Milk is a wonderful addition to coffee because it balances out the all-too-common bitter flavors in coffee.
The chances are, however, that if you’re using lots of sugar in your coffee then your’e also using some milk as well. So how does this help here?
Well, milk is the key ingredient for making all those wonderful drinks you get from espresso. Cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos…
Delightful tasting drinks because of the combination of espresso coffee and steamed or foamed milk. A latte, for example, is 80% milk which can offer your tastebuds a little something when you take out the sugar.
Your next bet is to replace the sugar with a milk that’s higher in fat like whole milk. A lot of folks shy away from consuming things that are high in fats but the evidence seems to be growing that it’s not quite the bugbear many think it is.
And that creaminess that you get with higher fat milk adds a nice punch to the coffee that you might feel like you lose when you take out the sugar. It also leads me on nicely to the next one…
Cream – Putting cream in your coffee is like putting in milk on steroids, it’s a rich dose of creamy goodness that really balances out the negative flavors in your brew and has the ability to make even pretty average coffee taste good.
The only downside, and it is a big one, is the high calorie content. If losing sugar is a weight loss thing for you, then this probably isn’t a great idea. At the very least, aim to limit the amount of cream you add to small quantities.
There are 773 calories in a cup of heavy whipping cream which is the same as a normal sized meal! But if you can get it down to 1/10th of a cup in your coffee then that’s less than 100 calories which is much more managable.
Artifical Sweeteners – The best zero-calorie option you’ve got is to go down the artificial sweeteners route.
This also has the added advantage of making your coffee still taste sweet rather than replacing it with something else. I’m no expert in this field but I know there are a few you can try that work fairly well and I do know people that use Stevia so that could be a good place to start.
The Biggest Surprise Most People Have About Coffee
So let’s say you want the lowest amount of calories possible or whatever…. you want to drink your coffee black! Well, the way to do that is to make your coffee taste real nice.
It comes as a surprise to many people that coffee, when made properly, is not bitter and horrible.
If I had to guess, I’d say that 90% plus of people don’t take their coffee black and the reason for that is because they don’t think it tastes good on its own. And they’re kind of right…
Making coffee taste good, so good you don’t even need to add anything requires a little more expense, a little more effort and lot more knowhow.
I’ll sum up what I think are the most important points here… if you follow all these rules, you can really revolutionize how good your coffee can taste. Perhaps so much that you start preferring it without any sugar in!
How To Make Coffee Taste So Good You Don’t Need Sugar
1. Buy freshly roasted coffee. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this. Once roasted, coffee beans stay ‘fresh’ and at peak flavor for a maximum of 15-30 days.
Past this point they become stale and lifeless. Unfortunately, most coffee sold is stale, including pretty much everything you can buy at a grocery store.
The trick is to find an independent coffee roasters or a coffee place that roasts their own coffee. If there’s a ‘roast date’ on the bag then you’re in business. Seriously, you’re going to be stunned the first time you try it.
2. Grind your coffee fresh. Running with the ‘fresh is better than stale’ theme that makes up about 60% of making good coffee, you want to be grinding your coffee fresh to get that best flavor.
You grind up the beans and after a day you’ve lost most of the flavor and aroma. The difficult is that getting a good grind consistency is important too, so using a cheap (i.e. <$50 grinder) will ruin your coffee in another way. My advice is to make the investment of a $100-150 grinder when you are ready (links here and here if you are interested in learning more) and until then just experiment with buying preground but making abrew straight after the shop grinds it for you so you can experience if you believe it's worth it for you. If you're looking to give up the sugar, then that freshness in the coffee really helps. 3. Record your variables and adjust. This one’s a little hard for people to wrap their head around so I’ll use an analogy. Making coffee is a lot like cooking a good steak.
You can’t just leave it to cook (or brew) and expect it to taste great. You over cook the steak and its charred, ashy and the flavor is gone.
Undercook it and it’s soft, raw and chewy and the fatty pieces are hard and unpleasant to eat. Coffee is similar in that small changes in variables like brew time and grind size can have a big impact on the eventual coffee.
Record how you make your coffee and adjust based on the taste. Here’s a great article that can get you started on this process and for good measure here’s a snapshot of the text document I use when recording my coffees.
(And yes, yes, I know there are people who enjoy their steak cooked ‘bleu rare’.)
Why Giving Up Sugar Might Be Easier Than You Think
A long, long time ago, when I first entered the working world and was introduced to the life-saving energy buzz you get from coffee, I always used to drink it with sugar.
I didn’t particularly like the taste of coffee, it was too bitter and unpleasant for me.
(Things have changed considerably now though, let me assure you!)
I would buy my coffee from this kind of vending machine. You put your money in and choose whether you wanted black coffee, coffee with milk or coffee with milk and sugar.
It was cheap stuff (I assume) but it got the job done and when you added the milk and sugar it was a tasty little treat that I had 3-4 times a day.
One day, disaster struck, as the option to buy coffee with milk and sugar was faded. It was sold out. I wasn’t going to give up on my vital caffeine boost so I went for the next best thing, the coffee with milk.
I tried this and found it hard to drink, it didn’t taste nice, I missed the sugar.
Sadly for me, the vending machine didn’t get stocked quickly and I had to continue buying coffee with only milk. What happened though, was I became accustomed to it, and over time began to like it.
It was just what coffee tasted like now. When the coffee with milk and sugar came back into stock, I didn’t even want it. I preferred drinking my ‘milk only’ coffee that I had gotten used to.
When I did try it just to see what I was missing, I noticed how sickly sweet it was and never got it again.
My point is… it’s easy to think you need the sugar in your coffee, but really you don’t. It’s just a mental hurdle you need to get over.
It will taste weird and bad at first because of the change, but if you persist you will get used to your new coffee habits.