Is It a Must to Drink Specialty Coffee Without Sugar?

There are certain coffee shops you could visit, and if you were to put sugar into your specialty coffee the barista might just gasp.

There’s some debate over whether this is purism or whether it is genuine theory on the part of coffee lovers.

In this guide, we’re diving into that debate to discuss whether specialty coffee with sugar is an absolute “no-no” or if it is okay to enjoy your coffee in whatever way you see fit

The Argument Against Sugar

We’re not going to dive into the health debates in this guide. Most people have a good grasp on their sugar and calorie intake and know that sugar is going to add to their intake.

We’re just focusing on the debate when it comes to flavour. When a brand sets out to bring you specialty coffee, they are looking to serve you a drink that they see as perfect.

Lots of time and effort has gone into choosing the coffee beans, roasting the coffee beans, grinding, and preparing. Thousands of pounds worth of equipment is used.

When a barista serves you a coffee, they think of that coffee as the finished product, and if you then proceed to add sugar, they might see it as something of a negative.

Imagine going to a five-star restaurant and ordering a meal, only to ask for ketchup as soon as the meal arrives and smother your food in condiments. The chef might see this as something of an insult.

If you have an instant coffee at home, the flavour is probably something to be less precious about, and a bit of sugar to sweeten it up could be essential for some.

Baristas also use techniques such as adding milk and brewing the coffee in certain ways that reduce the chances of it being overly bitter.

For example, some coffee roasters will even choose to focus on medium roasts when roasting coffee beans as they tend to have less bitter overtones.

Specialty Coffee Beans – Sweet Enough?

Coffee beans are graded, and to be called a specialty coffee they should have a high grade, and therefore a high level of sweetness.

This is a different case when compared to instant coffee, blends, and even some of the cheaper coffee beans you might buy in the supermarket, which aren’t necessarily specialty.

Robusta beans have also grown in popularity in the US in recent years, but they tend to be more bitter than the arabica beans out there.

If you are the sort of person who likes to experiment with different beans and fully understand the flavours of coffee, it is true that sugar is going to get in the way.

You won’t be enjoying and experiencing the full flavour of the coffee, you will have altered it in some way by adding sugar.

Consider an aficionado of Scotch Whisky, they might find it bizarre if someone were to buy an expensive, single malt whisky and start adding mixers like ginger ale or cola to it.

The Argument For Sugar

The argument for having sugar in your coffee is not a very complicated one; we like what we like.

Some people find that coffee is just a little too bitter for their tastes. This means that even some of the sweeter coffees might not have the right flavour profile for you to enjoy to the max. 

If you like the taste of coffee with sugar, then go ahead. This is especially true if you are adding things like milk to the coffee anyway, which it could be argued are altering the taste.

If you are worried about not getting the full specialty coffee experience then there are a few things you can try first:

  1. Try the coffee without sugar. You don’t have to instantly put sugar in before tasting it. If you try coffee and find that it isn’t too bitter then you can enjoy your cup without sugar.
  2. Try a different milk. This may mean using milk with a higher fat content and more of a creamy consistency, or you could try alternatives like oat milks to see if you prefer the taste.

Summary – Is It a Must to Drink Specialty Coffee Without Sugar

There are certainly plenty of people in the industry who would tell you that specialty coffee should never be consumed with sugar.

If you want to become one of the most skilled coffee tasters in the world then adding sugar isn’t going to help.

However, most of us just want a drink we can enjoy, and adding a bit of sugar, syrups, or just about anything you want can make it the ideal drink for you.

Ultimately, if you enjoy it, nothing else really matters. Nobody can tell you what is right or wrong when it comes to your own coffee habits.

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