Coffee and sweeteners

If you like your coffee sweetened, you’ve probably already gone through the sugar versus artificial sweetener debate. Each type of sweetener has different benefits, and making the decision could be more difficult that it looks. Here, we run through the main advantages and disadvantages of sugar and artificial sweetener.

Artificial Sweetener

The main advantage of using an artificial sweetener is the reduction in calories, useful for people trying to lose or control weight. Sweeteners look much like sugar, and can normally be substituted on a like for like basis in cooking, but on average one level teaspoon of granular sweetener contains only two calories, compared to 16 calories for an equal amount of sugar. Many sweeteners are available in an even more concentrated tablet form, allowing you to control the serving size and reduce calories even further.

Artificial sweeteners are also used by diabetics, as they don’t trigger the same reactions that sugar does.
The main disadvantages of sweeteners is that they are not a natural products, and if taken to excess can have undesired side effects such as stomach problems. They can also have a bitter aftertaste, although this is not usually discernible in coffee.
Sugar is a wholly natural product, and contains no artificial chemicals or additives. It also boosts energy levels, and has no aftertaste. It is, though, relatively calorific, and is also detrimental to tooth enamel, causing decay and cavities.
If you’re trying to lose or control weight, it may be more helpful longterm to gradually reduce the amount of sugar you take in your coffee, eventually weaning yourself off altogether, rather than switching to a sweetener. Simply replacing sugar with sweetener will help to control calorie intake, but won’t help to reduce a ‘sweet tooth’ and sugar cravings.
As the choice is so personal, most caterers and cafés provide a choice of brown and white sugar and sweetener. For individual portions of sweetener and sugar suitable for trade use, please visit our coffee ingredients page.