Honey in Coffee: Everything You Need to Know

By Caleb Dueck (Director of Operations at Sperry Honey) | March 8, 2024

In this article, we dive deep into the wonderful art of putting honey in coffee. In an effort to cut back on sugar, I've been putting honey in my coffee for years, and it tastes amazing! That said, you might be wondering how much honey is the right amount, or if putting honey in coffee is toxic, and my goal with this article is to answer all of those questions. Make sure to leave your two cents in the comments if this article helped, or if you still want an answer to a question, and I'll do my best to help answer.

A latte on top of a book. This cup of coffee might have honey in it.

Can You Put Honey in Coffee?

Let's get straight to the point. Yes, you can put honey in coffee. Honey is a natural sweetener that can add a unique flavor to your coffee. It's a popular alternative to sugar because it has more nutrients than pure, refined sugar, and less of the health drawbacks of artificial sweeteners. Also, despite what many people think, it's not toxic to heat up honey within the cup of coffee.

Some honey being poured into a small bowl, getting ready to be poured into coffee.

How Does Honey in Coffee Taste?

The taste of honey in coffee depends on the what honey and what coffee you use. Generally, honey adds a sweet, floral, and sometimes slightly fruity flavor to the coffee, which is different and usually stronger than the more neutral sweetness of white sugar. The specific flavor notes will depend on the variety of honey — for example, clover honey (the most popular honey in the US) is milder and might not overpower the coffee's natural flavors, while something like wildflower or buckwheat honey has a stronger, more distinct taste that can significantly change the flavor profile of your coffee. You'll want to buy from your local beekeeper anyway to make sure you're getting 100% pure honey, so I would reach out to them and see what they have available and recommend.

A jar of honey with milk in the background.

How Much Honey Should I Put in Coffee?

It depends (sorry, I know that answer is annoying), but it's also pretty easy to test. Start by putting one teaspoon of honey into your cup of coffee, stir it around, and then slowly add one teaspoon at a time until it's just right. If you're watching your calorie intake, here's a honey calorie chart to help:

  • 1 teaspoon of honey = 21 calories
  • 2 teaspoons = 42 calories
  • 3 teaspoons = 63 calories
  • 4 teaspoons = 84 calories
  • 5 teaspoons = 105 calories

I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and since I know honey is generally better for you than cane sugar, I have a tendency to just pour part of my jar in, making my cup of coffee way too sweet. Don't be like me. Put on your lab coat, and perform a bit of "research" to figure out your perfect amount of honey so your pre-coffee brain can doesn't have to think about how much to put in every morning. When it comes to your mornings, the less pre-coffee thinking, the better.

Foam being poured into a hot latte.

Is Honey in Coffee Toxic?

It's understandable to be concerned, but don't worry: There's no concrete evidence that adding honey to coffee is toxic. That idea is based on misconceptions and false claims, such as misinterpreted Ayurvedic principles. Time to put on the lab coat again .

Scientifically, while heating honey can alter its chemical makeup (a Maillard Reaction) and increase levels of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), the levels produced when honey is added to hot coffee are generally well below harmful amounts. If you'd like to do more research, make sure to check out this study done by some researchers from Government Ayurveda Medical College in Mysore, India.

All that to say, for most people, drinking coffee with a typical amount of honey isn't toxic.

Honey and sugar laying next to each other.

Is Honey in Coffee Better Than Sugar?

From a health perspective, yes, choosing honey over sugar in coffee is generally better for you. Honey offers nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which you won't find in refined white sugar. Additionally, honey has a slightly lower glycemic index, potentially leading to less immediate spikes in blood sugar levels compared to regular sugar. Honey has a bit more calories than sugar (64 per tablespoon in honey vs. 49 calories in sugar), but since honey is sweeter, you'll generally be using less of it than sugar anyway.

Pouring milk into coffee.

Can You Put Honey in Coffee with Milk?

Yes, you can put honey in coffee with milk. Adding honey to milky coffee can sweeten it while also giving it that creamy, smooth texture. Honey's natural sweetness mixed with milk's richness create a comforting cup of joe. Just like adding honey to straight black coffee, start with a small amount of honey and adjust according to your taste preferences. Ensure to stir the coffee well to help the honey dissolve completely, especially if the coffee or milk is not very hot, as honey is thicker and takes longer to dissolve than granulated sugar. This obviously works well in lattes and cappuccinos, where milk is pretty key.

Side note: Make sure to checkout our list of over 200+ honey recipes (we've got a few latte recipes, as well as some copycat Starbucks drinks)

The Full List of Honey Recipes →
Honey being drizzled onto a spoon with a black background.

Is Honey in Coffee Good For Sore Throats?

Yes and no. Here's why: honey itself can serve as a soothing remedy for sore throats, but caffeine can cause dehydration and irritation to the throat when already sore. Due to honey's natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it's great to help alleviate throat irritation and coughing. It's best to stick with decaf or tea, because without the caffeine, the combination of honey and hot liquid can make you feel better in the short term. Keep hydrated though, and remember it might be good to talk to your doctor if you feel anything abnormal or extra sore (or if the pain persists).

People standing in line at a cafe.

Do People Often Put Honey In Coffee?

Honey in coffee is a growing trend, but it's not as common as using sugar or other sweeteners. It's growing in popularity though, especially as people are realizing the negative health effects of excess amounts of cane sugar. Added sugar is everywhere in American food and drinks, so minimizing sugar intake wherever possible can help your health in many ways.

A honey stick with some honey on a white background.

Recap: Honey in Coffee Benefits

Here are some key reasons to put honey in your coffee:

  • Honey is generally healthier than sugar.
  • Honey tastes great, in cold and hot coffee drinks.
  • Despite popular belief, it's not toxic.
  • It can help with sore throats (if your coffee is decaf).
A bowl of hot honey.

What About Hot Honey in Coffee?

Now we're talking 😊🌶️ You can definitely add hot honey to add some kick to your coffee. If you don't want to buy hot honey in a bottle, here's a quick recipe you can make with your own local honey.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the honey, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, and salt.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before using as desired.

The Dark Secret About Grocery Store Honey 🤫

Many people don't know this, but imported grocery store honey often contains high fructose corn syrup and other additives, as overseas honey sellers try to reduce costs and increase profits.

Translation: Just because the label says it's pure honey doesn't mean it is. If you want an educational but entertaining overview, then Netflix's documentary "Rotten" (S1:E1: "Lawyers, Guns & Honey") is a good place to start. The best way to ensure the honey you're buying is real is to buy from your local beekeeper or apiary.

Where to Find Local Honey

  • A banner that says "Find Local Honey Near You (over 900 apiaries)"

    Our Local Honey Tool

    To find honey sellers in your area, make sure to check out our directory of over 900 beekeepers and apiaries. You'll start by selecting your state, and then use your zip code to find the beekeepers nearest to you. Each listing includes contact information so you can call ahead and confirm any details about the honey's source with your particular beekeeper.

    Find Local Honey 
  • Mark and Becca Sperry holding gluten free honey.

    Try Sperry Honey

    Of course, we're biased, but our honey is great too! Our clover honey is a great option if you want tasty, pure honey shipped straight to your door (without having to talk to anyone 😊). We're an apiary located in rural North Dakota, and we've been selling honey to our neighbors since the 1960's. But don't take our word for it, see what our customers have to say!

    Our Clover Honey Reviews 

Comment Below!

Are you planning on trying coffee in honey anytime soon? We'd love to hear about your experience in the comment section below!