Is there such as thing as naturally sweet coffee?

by Ben
(Ludington, MI)

Hmmm...tempting to grind the beans and the chocolate together!

Hmmm...tempting to grind the beans and the chocolate together!


I’m on a diet and am struggling with my coffee. I always add some sugar to my coffee – but that’s not part of the diet! And I just don’t like the taste without sugar. Is there such a thing as naturally sweet coffee? I’m not talking about adding a naturally sweetener, I’m just wondering if some types of coffee are sweeter than others.

I’d appreciate your help.



Ben, hi

Great question, but a tough one to answer!

First off – no choice of beans or roasting tweaks will ever fully replace a spoonful of sugar. So you are going to have to make an adjustment there. As you alluded to, maybe you can try a natural, sugar-free sweetener, like stevia.

As for whether some coffee beans are naturally sweeter, I can’t find a definitive answer to that. If you go through what top roasters say about this, the opinions are conflicting.

But I think it is safe to say that pretty much all coffee beans, in their green state, regardless of where in the world they come from, start out with pretty much the same amount of sugar, in the form of sucrose.

However, the sense of sweetness you feel in your mouth can be impacted significantly by the way in which the beans are roasted.

With a light to medium roast you get a fruity sweetness. Maybe citrus, maybe berry, and so on. It’s a light and bright sweetness.

Once you get up into darker roasts, a lot of the simple sugars in the bean break down and become caramelized. This is where you get that fuller, caramel and chocolaty sweetness.

Go too dark, beyond the “second crack” in roasting, and that sweetness is replaced by a more ashy taste. The bean it literally turning to ash.

For myself, I prefer the chocolaty sweetness of a slightly darker roast, but not too dark. Others prefer the fruity sweetness you get with a lighter roast.

One other thing you can do is try some different roasters.

For example, Intelligensia Coffee has a thing about bringing out the sweetness in their coffees. It’s a cultural thing for the company. So maybe try some of their coffees and see if they suit you.

That’s it. Sorry I don’t have an answer that completely replaces a spoonful of sugar in your coffee!



I’m still working on finding the definitive answer here. As part of my quest I reached out to a friend of mine, Basil Jones of Basil is arguably the best and most experienced roaster of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. He knows his stuff.

In his response to my question he raised a factor that I hadn’t even included in my text above: How the processing of the green coffee beans impacts sweetness.

Here is what he says…

“There are three things that contribute to sweetness in coffee.

The first one is the region where the coffee is grown.

Coffees that are harsh or have high astringency like a Kenyan or some Coaster Rican tends to be less sweet while milder coffee like the Guatemalan or the Panama geisha which have a more floral or chocolatey taste tends to be sweeter.

The second thing that contributes to sweetness in how the coffee was processed. By allowing the coffee to ferment, after de-pulping and not washing or semi washing the coffee before drying will also enhance the sweetness. There are different schools of thought, some believe sugars from the mucilage will seep into the beans, other believe that certain chemical change will take place within the beans to make it sweeter. But what is certain is unwashed and ferment coffees are sweeter.

Thirdly to answer your first question, lighter roasted coffee taste sweeter. The darker roast will caramelize the sugars, while the higher acidity will mask the sweetness. It important not to roast your coffee to light because it will taste like cereal.

Finally, to get perfectly sweet cup of Coffee, try a light medium roasted Jamaica Blue Mountain that was fermented and not fully washed.”

Also...check out the comment from Jolly Roger below.

Comments for Is there such as thing as naturally sweet coffee?

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I've micro roasting coffee for just about 10 years.
by: Swanson Coffee

I never put sugar in my coffee. But Sometimes I add milk. Some coffees definitely offer sweeter notes.
I notice more subtleties with city or lighter roasts.

The Smell is awesome.

I had a yirgacheffe over the weekend- unsure of any information(imported to a local market) but it had sweet hints of caramel that shined through the dairy.

My Guji G2 has citrus notes it's like champaign citrus. (Some people think it's expensive. Because I don't roast 52 bags at a time I only roast between 1/2 lb or 1 lb at a time)

Costa Rican Honey- Is sweet. Honey processed method, not only originated in Costa Rica but also it comes from the world-famous Tarrazu Region.

Give specialty coffee a try.

Same issue I have too many sugars
by: Jonny

Someone once made me fresh coffee from an Ethiopian bean. He said try it without sugar and it was naturally sweet but I remember it was very expensive and had a short shelf life

To: Yes there is! by: Anonymous
by: pistachio


Brown Sugar is sugar coated with molasses. I find it rare that coffee would have such a flavor.

Recently buying coffee in the local mercado here in Peru I saw coffee beans with a very shiny, oily surface and kind of a glint to the light.

I asked and was told that to this coffee sugar was added.

So,, I ask you,, are you sure Sugar was not added to this coffee....


Yes there is!
by: Anonymous

Yes, there is.

Several years ago, while on a mission trip to El Salvador, I tried El Salvador Coffee. To my suprise, their coffee was sweet, as if brown sugar was already mixed in the coffee!! At the time, I drank my coffee with lots of sugar and cream. But their coffee was so sweet by itself, I didn't have to add sugar, that would have been an over kill! I can still vividly recall the brown sugar like sweetness in El Salvador coffee, miss very much!

I figured it out...
by: Alan Boitz

I made naturally sweet coffee in a medium blend. I haven't started a company yet because I am still trying to find a market yet. I think I will call it "shock roasting" as the proprietary method of making it. Look me up and I would be thrilled to send you a sample :)

Cold brew
by: Mason

I recommend that you try cold brewing. If you cold brew there isn't enough heat to draw out the most bitter acids in the coffee. It is generally much sweeter than hot brewed, but it has more coffee flavor, and much more caffeine because it makes a concentrate. Depending on your taste you may want to add sugar, but I just dilute it about 2/3 coffee concentrate and 1/3 water, and it is hardly bitter at all. It is also super easy to make, you can find recipes and methods anywhere online. I recommend a french press, fresh coarsely ground arabica beans, and brew it in either a refrigerator or room temperature.

Aren't fresh-roasted coffee beans naturally sweet?
by: Anonymous

Several years ago, there was a demo on a show like Rachael Ray(? I think) where a guest brought fresh coffee beans, put them into an oven to roast, ground the "I just roasted this other tray of fresh beans", and made coffee...and it was reportedlt sweet.

The guest said that, when the grinding occurs, oils are released which tend to make the sweet carmelized sugars sour/go acidic over the distance in time from grinding to brewing is the essential problem with why so many restaurant coffees are so horrible (price point considerations aside; & maybe Gulf & Western wanted coffees bitter so as to further enhance their market for C6H12O6?

Any truth to the guest's claims?

Sugar Sensitivity
by: pistachio

ok, I understand that your diet no longer includes sugar. Also that you are used to having coffee with sugar and without it you don't like it so much and that your taste is looking for sweetness.

ok, first, suppose you found a sweet coffee that suited you without additional sugar. Doesn't that mean that the natural sweetness afforded by That coffee is sweet because it has the Sugar that you really don't want in your diet. The only exception is that you are not adding it!

Still, that is not my point and it will take some explaining to get my idea across to you so bear with me.

I remember my father putting Three or Four [yikes!]teaspoons of sugar in his coffee. I was totally taken aback, later he broke that habit.

I remember once weaning myself off sugar reducing two teaspoons to about now 1/2 tsp. Yet, at this level the coffee still tastes perfectly sweet.

I think it has to do with you personal ACQUIRED sugar taste sensitivity. Right now for you there is a sweet spot [ ha! a pun! ] where you add the sugar amount that it takes for you to experience what is just sweet enough;
any more,, too sweet
any less, you want to add more sugar.
This is the level of sweetness your palate is set at. If you were to say cut your sugar amount by 1/3 you would suffer a 'not sweet enough' coffee experience for about a week to 10 days. At around the 10 day you would begin to taste the sugar because you have lowered your sugar or sweetness sensitivity. At that point you would realize that you tongue has been enabled to feel the sweetness at the reduced level. I understand that you have to go through the 10 days of ' withdrawal ' but at the end you would be experience happily sweet coffee.
You could make further reductions and probably go to 1/3 and you taste Would Find The Sweetness.
I think the problem is here and not with the Coffee. I drink coffee with sugar but when I have espresso I use None and I am fine with it....
A good cup of coffee is good with or without milk, cream or sugar......
I don't mean to impose my thinking upon yours just offering an alternate point of view.

Just saying, I once came upon a woman who had been working in her yard. She was covered with dirt from the gardening, hair askew, sweaty in plain clothes and no makeup what so ever. I thought she was gorgeous and magnificent and the first thing she said to me was don't look, I am a mess. Wow! It is all about Perception.

by: AnonymousKen

I've found the Ethiopian coffees to have a sweet taste. Sometimes it is too much if you aren't in the mood.

Yes please Jolly Roger
by: Nick (The Coffee Detective)

Absolutely - contact me through the contact page on Coffee Detective and we'll get this happening. I would love to try and write about your coffees!


Sweetness is available in many coffees!
by: Jolly Roger Roasting Company

There is even more to it than that! You are right on roast level. The more you roast the more you caramelize the sugars, eventually turning them to ash. But also bean origin makes a huge difference.

Ethiopian and other African beans will have stronger sweetness and fruit flavors. But even within that, specific single origins will vary even between Ethiopians, for example. I have two different Yirgacheffe Ethiopian coffees right now, both from the same region. And between the two, one of them has a bright blueberry sweetness, while the other has a richer dried fruit sweetness.

There are many great options for a naturally sweet coffee. Will it taste like adding two spoonfuls of sugar? No. But after a few sips, you won't miss that sugar when you start tasting all those naturally sweet fruit flavors.

Check out our website, and send me a message, I will would love to send you a free "sweet coffee sampler" of several of my sweetest coffees so you can get an idea of the different flavor profiles available in naturally sweet coffees.

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