Brown Sugar In Coffee: How Good Is It?

Nov 26, 2023 • Shirnyl Dorothy Magos

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A large number of coffee drinkers enjoy giving their beverage a touch of sugar to balance out the robust and bitter flavor of the coffee. This frequently involves the usage of white sugar. But how about using brown sugar in coffee? Is adding brown sugar to a cup of coffee a good idea? 

Let's find out!

What Is Brown Sugar?

Pouring brown sugar from a bowl

Brown sugar has a distinctive color and flavor because it is made of crystalline sucrose mixed with a small amount of molasses. It is made the same way as white sugar, but its color comes from the addition of molasses, which is removed during the white sugar-making process.

What Does Brown Sugar Taste Like?

Brown sugar has a flavor resembling that of crystallized molasses or toffee. Light brown sugar has some subtle hint of molasses flavor, whereas dark brown sugar has a more intense caramel-like molasses flavor.

Brown sugar can be "light brown," containing about 3.5% molasses by weight, or "dark brown," having about 6.5 percent molasses by weight. Note that every brand of brown sugar is not the same. The percentage of molasses added to their product varies. 

Is Brown Sugar Good In Coffee?

Brown sugar in a coffee

Yes! Similar to any other coffee-related choices, it's all just a matter of taste. Thus, feel free to experiment with different types of sugar until you discover your preference. 

Unlike white sugar, brown sugar adds flavor to coffee as well as sweetness. Brown sugar's rich molasses flavor complements strong coffee wonderfully. You'll have a rich cup of coffee with a touch of caramel flavor. 

Is brown sugar in coffee a healthier substitute for white sugar?

There is an old circulating belief that brown sugar is a better substitute than white sugar. Is it true? No! Brown sugar may make your coffee taste earthy and tastier, but it does not mean it's a better option than white sugar. 

How Many Calories Are There In Brown Sugar?

In fact, the difference between brown sugar and white sugar's caloric value is not too significant. While brown sugar is somewhat lower in calories than white sugar, the difference is negligible. In comparison to white sugar, which has 16.3 calories per teaspoon, brown sugar only has 15 calories per teaspoon

How Many Calories Are In Coffee With Brown Sugar?

While a cup of black coffee will perk you up, it won't add many calories to your diet. Coffee contains very little to no calories because water is the main component in the brewing process. 

The typical additions such as sugar and milk contribute to the increase of your coffee's caloric value. Hence, a cup of black coffee with a teaspoon of brown sugar will give you 15 calories.  

A cup of Americano consisting of one shot of espresso, with 2.7 calories per 1 fl oz, will give you up to 17.7 calories with brown sugar.

What Kind of Brown Sugar Can You Add To Your Coffee?

Aside from light brown sugar and dark brown sugar, other brown sugar varieties are available in the market. These are the following types of brown sugar that you can try in your coffee:

Muscovado sugar

Muscovado sugar

Muscovado sugar is a type of unrefined form of cane sugar wherein the molasses were not extracted; it is also known as Barbados sugar. It has a rich molasses flavor and a deep brown color. Muscovado sugar has a sandy texture because the crystals are coarser and stickier than in standard brown sugar.

Turbinado sugar

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is partially processed sugar with a blond-brown color and tastes identically like typical light brown sugar. Its sugar crystals are a bit bigger compared to brown sugar. 

Piloncillo sugar

Piloncillo Sugar

This unrefined sugar, often known as Mexican brown sugar, features aromas and tastes that range from slightly burnt caramel to rum overtones. There's sometimes a smoky undertone to it as well. Since piloncillo is unrefined, it is processed by boiling the cane sugar liquid and poured into molds to cool and harden.

Also, this type of sugar production comes by different names. In Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, they call it Chancaca. In Central and Latin America, it is called Panela. 


Jaggary Sugar

Sugar cane juice or palm sap is used to create jaggery. Depending on its composition, it may have a flavor resembling that of fresh cane juice, caramel, maple syrup, or molasses. Jaggery is available in a range of colors, from pale amber to golden brown to deep brown.

Making jaggery involves boiling sugar cane juice or palm sap into a concentrated paste, then allowing it to dry without separating or removing the molasses byproduct.

How Much Brown Sugar In Coffee Should I Substitute For White Sugar?

If this is the first time you use brown sugar in coffee, start with a lesser amount. You could need less brown sugar than white sugar in your coffee, but it depends on the type of brown sugar you have. 

As a tip, if you usually add one teaspoon of white sugar or any kind of sweetener to your morning coffee, try half of a teaspoon with brown sugar. 

Adding sugar to your coffee essentially masks the coffee's natural flavor characteristics. Thus, the robust flavor profile of brown sugar may alter the usual taste of your coffee. 


Try brown sugar if you're looking for a way to change things up in your daily routine. The more molasses there is in brown sugar, the deeper its flavor. Does that imply that it has a more extraordinary flavor? That is totally up to personal taste.

It's good to know that there are many different kinds of brown sugar to choose from, and if you are concerned about the flavor of your coffee being altered too significantly, we suggest beginning with light brown sugar.

Brown sugar is an excellent alternative to white sugar that may enliven your daily coffee experience, especially when you're bored of drinking the same cup of plain sugar-sweetened coffee daily. 


Dorothy is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RND) and teaches food and nutrition at a university. She is also a freelance writer and a fitness enthusiast. As a coffee lover, she appreciates the taste of a well-pressed cup of coffee and the beautiful complexity of each brewing method.

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