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Honey and coffee have a long-lasting relationship. As you may know, coffee would be much less plentiful without bees. Robusta, which accounts for around 40 percent of global coffee production, depends on cross-pollination to grow. 

Bees truly put the bzzz in buzz. But our yellow friends offer another treat for our coffee-drinking pleasure: honey. 

The concept is simple -some people enjoy their coffee with a hint of sweetness but are also health-conscious. Honey is typically believed to be a healthier sweetener than sugar additives.

So, when it comes to dealing with honey and coffee together, we need to answer if common positive beliefs about honey are true.

Additionally, we would like to know how honey impacts the flavor of a cup of coffee.

Are coffee and honey a match made in Heaven or a nightmarish combination?

Read on to learn more. 

Is honey a Healthier Option?

Fruits, nuts, honey, and cookies
Picture Credit: Dana Tentis on Pexels

Honey has a healthy reputation. Of course, it does. It comes from nature! It’s gorgeously golden! Winnie the Pooh practically lives off the stuff. 

But is this accurate or a myth? Well, for one thing, honey does indeed possess benefits that are vital to a healthy body. Honey contains trace amounts of several vitamins and nutrients. 

However, antioxidants are honey’s source of its reputation as a healthy alternative to other sugar sources. Antioxidants can help protect the body’s cells and lead to a decreased risk in several health risks. Flavonoids and phenolic acids are the antioxidant superstars found in honey. 

But it’s not all golden. After all, honey packs a sugary and caloric punch like the more common coffee additives. 

Let’s run the numbers: two teaspoons of honey have around 40 calories and 12 grams of sugar. Multiply this by the number of cups of coffee you drink in a day, and soon enough, your teeth will be falling out. Honey also has more calories than regular sugar. One teaspoon of honey contains around 21 calories, a tad more than a teaspoon of sugar, approximately 16 calories. 

In short, honey is a smidge healthier than the alternatives, given its nutrient and antioxidant count, but still, sugar is sugar

If health is your primary concern when drinking coffee, stick with black. But if a few dozen calories aren’t the worst thing in the world, so if you’re no fan of black coffee and are looking for a sweet and tasty addition, honey might just be your best bet.  

Honey and coffee: Pleasant for the Palette?

Table sugar and sweeteners taste neutral. That is, they simply dissolve in the substance in which they are added. Honey, on the other hand, is a bit less passive. It asserts itself and lets everyone know that it has entered the picture. It’s no surprise then that adding honey to your morning cup will indeed alter the taste of the beverage. 

Taste is, of course, a subjective matter. Whether one digs this combination or not is entirely personal. But it is worth knowing that the taste will be significantly affected by the type of honey you’re adding. Acacia, for example, is peak sweetness and is a natural companion to coffee’s bitterness. On the other hand, the buckwheat strain is quite rich and pairs less well with the drink. 

In other words, like most aspects of coffee drinking, adding honey is a matter of personal preference. To add or not to add honey is all up to you! Just know that honey has its own taste – depending on which crop the pollen originates – and is not neutral like regular old sugar, which simply tastes sweet. 

How to Add Honey to Your Coffee

Honey and coffee can make for an excellent hot or cold drink
Picture Credit: Ekrulila on Pexels

There are two recommended methods of adding honey to your coffee. The first is to use honey like any other sugar additive and add 1-2 teaspoons to a regular-sized cup of joe. Brew your coffee any way you’d like, let it cool a bit, add the thick, golden substance, and start mixing until it has dissolved

Alternatively, honey can be a more complex coffee drink component. One of my personal favorites is to add brewed coffee to a pan with a heaping of milk, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Turn up the heat, but don’t let the mixture come to a boil. Once it’s cooled down, add some vanilla extract, and voila! Pure coffee sweetness. This might suit those with an experimental streak who enjoy coffee with a whole range of flavors.    

The rule of thumb to follow when adding honey to your coffee is simple: dark with dark, light with light. If you brew a dark roast, pair it with a richer honey strain, like Buckwheat or Fireweed. Milder honey, like Wildflower or Alfalfa, mix well with medium roasts. In comparison, light roasts may call for sweeter honey, such as Acacia or Clover. 

Conclusion: There are endless flavor profiles to unlock when combining coffee and honey.

Honey can be but one sweet component of a sweet coffee drink -perfect for the winter holidays. Or it can pair with coffee all on its own to give a honeyed kick to your morning cuppa. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different coffee roasts and honey tones. Remember: always let the coffee cool before adding! 

Final thoughts: A Sweet Tool for the Coffee Lover’s Toolbox 

As the saying goes: you do you. Some folks like their coffee black, as bitter as a breakup. Others prefer a milkier beverage or a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the bitterness. Honey can be yet another tool in the coffee lover’s toolkit. Honey has some health benefits over sugar, often overlooked as a coffee sweetening option.  

Like coffee itself, honey packs in some antioxidants, key for protecting the body’s cells by removing harmful oxidants that can cause damage. Honey also contains nutrients and vitamins, which sugar does not. 

However, bear in mind that if you’re counting calories, then honey might not be your ideal solution. It contains slightly more calories per gram than sugar. 

Taste is another crucial factor to consider when weighing whether to go with honey over other coffee sweeteners. Like coffee itself, honey comes in various types. Some strains are sweeter than others; some can have hints of floral notes. 

There simply isn’t a right or wrong answer for honey in coffee. If the idea sounds interesting to you, then give it a try!


Featured image by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Alec Siegel
Despite my fintech day job, my true passion is the written word and the art of storytelling. When I'm not hammering away on a keyboard, you can find me brewing a filtered coffee or sitting at a quiet cafe with a book.
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