When you finish brewing a fresh, hot cup of coffee, adding a little creamer can be just the thing to give you the rich, flavorful experience that you want every morning. Whether it’s pre-sweetened Coffee Mate creamer or just some half-and-half, most of us add something to our favorite beverage.
Like with anything you drink, you want to have the best creamer available. Just adding unsweetened cream or the standard French Vanilla creamer can get boring real quick. Or you want to get that full texture, but you don’t drink dairy. By understanding what types of creamer are available to you, you can make sure to have the perfect cup of coffee every time.
When you’re having a half-teaspoon of creamer per day, you have nothing to worry about, but if you usually add a little coffee to your creamer, you may not have the healthiest cup of joe. Depending on which creamer you use, how much you use, and how many cups of coffee per day you drink, you’ll have varying nutritional impact.
Most of the time when you say “coffee creamer,” you’re referring to a specific type of product. Creamers are a cream, usually heavy cream, mixed with sweeteners, flavorings, and usually preservatives. This product is specially made to give you that decadent texture and the perfect balance of sweetness.
It goes without saying that the standard coffee creamer doesn’t add any nutritional value to your cup of coffee. They’re chock full of sugar and fat, making them a poor health decision in large amounts. But they taste fantastic, so just make sure to use them in moderation. If you have just a teaspoon or two of creamer per day, you’re not having a huge impact on your health.
The Sugar-Free Alternative
If you want the rich texture and sweetness of coffee creamer but want to skip the sugar, you can opt for sugar free creamers. These are usually made the same way as standard coffee creamers, but with artificial or zero-calorie sweeteners. these can include ingredients like aspartame, sucralose, or Stevia.
If you do opt for sugar free creamers, you may have to be comfortable with chemical sweeteners. Otherwise, there’s still a high fat content, so make sure to keep using your creamer in moderation. We’ve written a guide about healthy coffee sweeteners that you can take a look at if you need an alternative.
If you want all the texture and flavor of creamer but are vegan or lactose intolerant, there are non-dairy options. The most common alternative is made from coconut milk. Since coconut milk has similar fat content to cream, it’s a great solution for making a non-dairy creamer without sacrificing that creamy texture.
It’s important to remember that “non-dairy” does not mean “healthy.” There’s still sugar and fat, so it has a similar nutritional value to standard cream. It simply provides a non-dairy option for coffee creamer. You’ll want to keep having non-dairy creamer in moderation.
The Most Tasteful Cream
If you’re trying to improve the nutritional value of your cup of coffee, you may want to skip the sugar entirely. While coffee creamer is a staple in many American households, standard dairy cream is still the most popular thing to add to your morning brew. Most of these options are lighter, and are usually sugar free, making them a great way to improve the health of each cup.
If you really want that thick, decadent texture, a splash of heavy cream is the way to go. The rich flavor of the cream is the perfect balance for the dark fullness of the coffee, making this a go-to for many coffee aficionados.
While it doesn’t have any sugar, heavy cream is packed with fats. If you’re more concerned with your fat intake, maybe consider passing the heavy cream. If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, however, heavy cream is the closest thing to coffee creamer.
Half and half
For a balance between creamy and low-fat, go for hal-and-half. It doesn’t have anywhere near the fat content of heavy cream, but it gets pretty close to the texture. It’s a little thinner, which may cause you to add more, negating the health benefits. But if you keep your half-and-half to a minimum, you’ll be able to enhance each and every cup of coffee without the health drawbacks.
Using Milk As a Substitute
Of course, the most popular thing to add to coffee is standard milk. Whether it’s steamed for a latte or added in cold, milk has a more subtle texture than cream, but the full flavor benefits.
Depending on the fat content of your milk, it has varying nutritional value. Adding whole milk will definitely be closer to coffee creamer, but will have more calories and fat. If you want more information about steamed milk for your coffee, read our article about steamed milk. Nonfat is the healthiest option, but may not taste as good to you as skim or whole milk. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to put nutrition or flavor first.
What type of milk you should use
If you’re still looking for a healthy, non-dairy substitute for creamer, you can try non-dairy milks. Almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or coconut milk are some of the most popular options, and provide a more nutritious alternative to coffee creamer. You can use them either sweetened or unsweetened.
If you’re fully prioritizing nutrition, using unsweetened non-dairy milks is the way to go. A tablespoon of unsweetened almond milk has no fat or sugar, and is only 5 calories. However, if you want it to be as close to the standard coffee creamer as possible, you can get sweetened non-dairy milks. There’s a little sugar, but otherwise, it’s still more nutritios than regular creamer.
The Best Coffee Creamer That You Can Use
When you’re picking your next coffee creamer, you’ll need to figure out what you want out of your cup of coffee. Do you want a rich and full texture? Do you want to balance the toastiness of a dark roast with a sweet creamer? Are you avoiding dairy? Once you know what you’re looking for, you can get a coffee creamer that suits your needs.
Standard creamer vs. heavy cream vs. half and half
There are a few options when it comes to getting the creamiest cup. Standard creamer is a great way to get that full texture out of your coffee. Plus, you get the delicious, sweet balance for your coffee.
Heavy cream is the creamiest option, being a subtle counter to the flavor of the coffee. You only need a splash of heavy cream in your cup, and it isn’t sweetened. If you want a more subdued, low sugar option, go for heavy cream.
Half and half or regular milk will add some creaminess to your cup, but not as much as coffee creamer or heavy cream. They’re much healthier, and may offer the creaminess you want. You’ll have to determine how important that creamy texture is to you.
Hands down, regular coffee creamer of any kind is the best way to sweeten your coffee. It’s specifically made to balance the sugar in the creamer and the bitter coffee, resulting in a delicious morning treat. Whether it’s normal coffee creamer, sugar free, or non-dairy, coffee creamer is a great way to sweeten your brew. Be sure to take a look at our article about how many calories a cup of coffee contains, if you’re concerned about the health downsides.
Sweetened non-dairy milks are a great, healthy alternative to regular creamer. If you’re trying to lower your fat intake, or just don’t like how thick the texture of creamer is, try using sweetned almond, soy, or coconut milk. You’ll be able to get some sugar in your coffee without adding all of the extra saturated fats.
What If You’re Vegetarian or Lactose Intolerant?
You can be vegan, lactose intolerant, or just trying to avoid animal products and still have options to add to your coffee. A non-dairy creamer made with coconut cream is the closest thing to coffee creamer there is. It’ll be sweet and give you that irresistible texture.
If you’re also trying to be health conscious, try non-dairy milks, either sweetened or unsweetened. They can provide a balance to the strong flavor of the coffee, thicken the texture, and don’t have nearly the health consequences of the other options. Unsweetened non-dairy is the healthiest option, but the sweetened stuff is also much better than most of the other options.
Making Every Cup of Coffee As Healthy As Possible
When you’re downing 2 or 5 cups of coffee every day, you really want to make sure that it’s not going to harm your health in the long run. Whether you add a teaspoon of vanilla coffee creamer or half a cup of sweetened soy milk, you’ll want to consider what you’re putting in your cup. Do you value health over texture? Or is flavor the only thing you’re looking for?
If you’re adding in a few teaspoons of heavy cream, you’re probably fine. However, adding lots of sweetened coffee creamer to every cup several times per day can have long term effects in the long run. By contemplating the best way to perfect your coffee without compromising your nutrition, you’ll be able to ensure a healthy relationship with your favorite drink.