Every time we take a cup of coffee we are faced with a personal choice: sugar yes or sugar no? Is it correct to demonize the sugar in this drink? Is it always wrong to sweeten your coffee?
In this article we explore the use of sugar in coffee, broadening the context and adopting a neutral and non-judgmental approach.
The truth is that sugar is already present in coffee! Perhaps not everyone knows it, but the most common varieties of coffee, such as Arabica and Robusta, naturally contain a certain amount of sugar . During the roasting process, the beans change color due to the caramelization of the sugars found within them. However, the amount of sugar in ready-to-drink coffee is so minimal that it is a low-calorie drink.
So, what's the problem with adding sugar to coffee? In the context of high quality coffee, each stage of production aims to enhance and preserve the unique characteristics of the drink. The flavors and aromas of coffee depend on the variety of coffee, the soil in which it is grown, the processing techniques, the grinding (link to grind coffee) and many other factors . For experts, coffee is perfect as it is, and the addition of sugar alters its taste profile, covering some subtle nuances and modifying the balance of flavours.
But what is the opinion of consumers? Why do we tend to add sugar to coffee? The answer lies in personal taste. Coffee, like so many other aspects of life, is a matter of individual preference. Some love sugar-free coffee, appreciating its natural flavours, while others prefer a sweeter taste and find that sugar enhances the drinking experience. Not everyone has the same understanding of coffee and its details, and this affects personal choices.
The question of sugar in coffee is also a cultural question. Historically, adding sugar to coffee has been used to mask the bitterness of dark or lower quality coffees. Biologically, we are predisposed to avoid bitter tastes, as they are often associated with negative feelings. Our brain associates sweetness with pleasure and reward, producing dopamine, the "happiness hormone". This mechanism drives us to crave sweets and sugary drinks.
However, over time, our palate can adapt and develop a greater sensitivity to the different flavors of coffee, allowing us to reduce or eliminate the need to add sugar. Sweeteners such as brown sugar, aspartame, honey or stevia can alter the taste of the coffee, adding flavor notes that can affect the overall experience. Some consumers, on the other hand, argue that the moderate addition of sugar can improve the perception of the different flavours, balancing the acidity and contrasting the bitterness.
In conclusion, we must never forget that coffee is a matter of personal taste. While some believe that adding sugar irreparably alters the intrinsic flavor of the coffee, others see it as a choice that allows them to enjoy the drink more comfortably. As consumers, we may try to enjoy coffee without sugar to appreciate its original flavours, but it is important to respect the individual preferences of others. Finding a balance between different opinions can help us create an inclusive environment and satisfy everyone's tastes.