Sugar and flavored creamers may take your coffee or tea up a notch, and there’s no denying the appeal of a sweet addition to your favorite hot beverage. But while a single cup of coffee or tea with creamer or plain old sugar doesn’t sound that bad, when you multiply the contents of your go-to sweeter by the number of coffees you consume each day, week, or month, the amount of sugar (and—if you use nondairy creamer—additives) really begins to add up. Beyond that, few of people know exactly what nondairy creamer is or how much sugar it contains.
Want to give up the cream(er) and sugar, but need to keep it sweet? These tips will have you adding plenty of flavor while keeping your hot beverages healthy, meaning you’ll be drinking unsweetened and creamer-free coffee and tea in no time!
The Ugly Truth About Nondairy Creamer
Many popular nondairy creamer brands hide behind the guise that their particular product is made from soy, almond, or rice milk and therefore has something to offer nutritionally. What they aren’t being transparent about is that most of these creamers are full of hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, and carrageenan (a food stabilizer that has been linked to inflammation and gastrointestinal issues). If you’re a fan of nondairy creamers because you have a lactose allergy or follow a vegan diet, you’ll also want to read labels to make sure your creamer of choice doesn’t contain sodium caseinate, which is actually a milk protein.
Sugar content can also be surprisingly high in creamers. Some brands contain up to 7 grams of sugar per serving! The good news? There are plenty of ways to sweeten your coffee or tea without having to rely on nondairy creamers.
4 Sugar-Free Ideas for Sweetening Your Coffee or Tea
1. Add cinnamon to your coffee grounds.
You’d be surprised by how much sweetness the incorporation of cinnamon into your grounds actually adds to your coffee. Instead of trying to stir a small amount of cinnamon into brewed coffee (which will just result in a frustrating clump of cinnamon floating on top of the coffee), try adding ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon per cup to your coffee grounds before turning on your coffee maker. The result? A smooth cup of coffee with a sweet hint of cinnamon.
2. Make your own creamer with coconut milk and vanilla.
If French vanilla creamer is your jam, try making your own coffee or tea creamer with a small amount of creamy coconut milk and a drop of vanilla. Use a tablespoon of coconut milk (from a can for a super-rich texture) and a drop of your best vanilla per cup of coffee or tea. For real luxury, heat a can of coconut milk over very low heat with half a vanilla bean for 10 minutes, making sure to scrape out the tiny vanilla seeds. Remove from the heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep for an hour before removing it from the coconut milk. DIY vanilla coconut milk creamer can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.
3. Discover the a-peel of orange slices.
Thinly sliced orange adds a complex flavor to coffee, espresso, and tea (particularly black teas). Rinse the uncut orange under very hot water for a minute to remove bacteria and pesticide residue before using. Add the orange slice to your mug and pour hot coffee or tea over it for best flavor.
4. Cocoa brings a ton of chocolatey flavor.
Get all the rich flavor of a mocha or hot chocolate without the sugar by adding cocoa to your next cup of coffee. In a mug, make a slurry using up to a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder whisked into a small amount of water, dairy, or nondairy milk. Pour the hot coffee into your mug and whisk vigorously with a fork, adding extra milk if desired.