Updated: August 15, 2023
We’ve read the stories. Coffee is good for us, and there’s plenty of evidence. Coffee is packed with health benefits, ranging from potential Alzheimer’s prevention to a possible inverse relationship with Type 2 Diabetes.
That’s why we think of coffee as a healthy beverage. It can be. Coffee comes from the ground, after all—all we do is roast it and brew it. But the more we add to it, the further coffee gets from the health drink so many people enjoy.
What’s the main enemy? Sugar.
WHY TRY NO SUGAR COLD BREW?
Sugar has a way of slowly creeping up on us. It doesn’t look dangerous at first.
On average, a coffee drinker adds about three teaspoons of sugar to their coffee every day. But that’s already one-third of the recommended daily intake from the American Heart Association, which amounts to about one 12-ounce can of soda.
You’d be doing pretty good if you had nothing else remotely sweet that day. But any sugar intake adds up, creating a host of health risks:
- Higher blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Fatty liver disease
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
The result? Even one syrup-soaked, mega-sugar, cookies-and-cream cold brew from your favorite beverage chain is about as far removed from a healthy coffee beverage as a chocolate donut is from a cocoa bean. And it could put you well over your daily allotment of sugar, even if some part of you hopes that it’s healthier than a can of soda.
Cold brew coffee is tasty. It’s often more convenient than hot coffee. It’s perfect for getting your morning boost on the go. It’s just not worth trading your health over. Fortunately, you might not have to.
WHAT ABOUT COLD BREW WITH ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER?
The easy solution is switching to a cold brew that doesn’t come from a drive-thru. When you take possession of the cold brew, you get to choose your own additives.
One possible alternative is using an artificial sweetener. Artificial sweeteners sweeten up cold brew coffee without the calories of sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic citing the National Cancer Institute:
“There's no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or other serious health problems. Numerous studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities, even for pregnant women.”
You can also enjoy 100% organic cold brew without anything in it, and discover just how tasty it can be. In other words, you can have your sweet cold brew and drink it, too.
BUT IS “NO SUGAR ADDED” COLD BREW BITTER?
Nope. It’s not any more bitter than regular coffee. In fact, it might be less so—thanks to the fact that it uses cold water.
Consider this your mini science lesson: When it comes to hot water versus cold water, hot is far better at extracting oils and acids from the coffee grounds. That makes for strong coffee, but it also leads to that bitterness that can bite you in the tongue. That effect is far more muted with cold brew coffee.
Find a high-quality no sugar or low sugar cold brew and you can expect a smooth and pleasant taste without all the sugars, syrups, and sprinkles.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST NO SUGAR COLD BREW
The food and beverage industry is no stranger to sneaky tactics like disguising sugars with different names (high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose…the list quite literally goes on and on).
So on your quest for the best low sugar cold brew (or one that contains no sugar at all), you’ll want to pay attention to:
Ingredient list: When it comes to these lists, shorter is usually better—especially when you’re watching sugars. The ingredients in a delicious cold brew don’t need to look like they came out of a chemistry textbook. Our own cold brews only have two or three ingredients (and filtered water and organic coffee are two of them). If you see an ingredient ending in “ose” (like glucose, maltose, and fructose), it’s an added sugar.
- Nutrition information: The nutrition label on your cold brew should list the sugar content—both the total sugars in a serving and the amount of added sugars. In a no sugar cold brew, the number for both should be “0.”
If you’re known for your sweet tooth, finding the best no sugar cold brew might also involve experimenting with other natural flavors. Our flavored cold brews like vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, mocha, and dirty vanilla chai give you some flavor and sweetness without the heaps and heaps of sugar.v
While the cold brew you get through a drive-thru window is likely to be all sweet and no substance, not all cold brews are riddled with sugar. Plenty of delicious low sugar cold brews and no sugar cold brews do exist—it just helps if you’re the one controlling what goes in them.