Do you add sugar to espresso?

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Postby bigdog002 » Dec 24, 2007, 12:13 am

I drink my capa/latte without any sweetener, I guess the milk adds a bit of sweetness. I'm curious how many of you pure espresso aficionados use sugar in your shot?

I've started drinking more pure espresso, starting the break-in of my palate. I'm assuming it will take me awhile to taste anything besides 'strong coffee'. I used to enjoy cigars, it took a long while before I stopped tasting only 'cigar' and started tasting the marvelous flavors that were present. Is it the same with espresso?


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Postby Beezer » Dec 24, 2007, 2:11 am

I never add sugar to my espresso. If you use good, fresh beans and proper technique, the flavor is not harsh or bitter at all. Adding sugar would take away from the subtle nuances of the coffee.

I don't use sugar in cappuccinos either. When the milk is properly microfoamed, it will have it's own sweetness and no further sweetening is necessary. I know some people like to add sugar to their cappas, but it makes me cringe.
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Postby jameseric » Dec 24, 2007, 11:55 am


In Italy yes, it's part of trying to emulate the culture --they sweeten as a matter of course, but a less (I draw the line at gulping the shot, getting instantly wired). In a random coffee-house here in California, maybe, because unless it's really dreadful, I'm too cheap to leave it on the table/counter. The kind I'd like to think I routinely make (shameless snigger, chortle, guffaw), no need for any manner of disguise.

For me a latte is another story entirely. From the outset, I treat these as flavored milk-drinks with coffee added.
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Postby calb » Dec 24, 2007, 12:04 pm

If the espresso is bad no amount of sugar will make it good. But I find that a touch of sugar (less than a demi tasse spoon) enhances its flavour (just like salt in food). I never tasted an espresso that wouldn't benefit from it. But I admit that it may exist...
As for cappuccino I don't add sugar. I find that milk alraedy sweetens the taste of coffee. And also significantly alters it. That's why I am not a cappuccino big fan.

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Postby Spresso_Bean » Dec 24, 2007, 12:41 pm

I've tried it before with sugar, but to me it almost gave it an artificial flavor that I didn't care for. I just added a very small amount, but I'd rather add that same amount of steamed milk than sugar. It's true that nice microfoamed milk has such a sweetness to it that goes well with espresso, even in small amounts.

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Postby Abe Carmeli » Dec 24, 2007, 1:51 pm

It is really a matter of personal preference. Purists will say no, but I consider myself one and I still add sugar to most of the espresso I drink. Whether you do or don't, the important thing here is to disregard the dogma and do what tastes better for you. I've written plenty about adding sugar as a federal crime in the U.S. so I won't bore you here with repeating it. But it is nothing more than a personal preference.

In competitions though, we never add sugar to the drinks we are served, though sugar is served at the judge's table as a matter of protocol.
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Postby HB » Dec 25, 2007, 11:24 pm

Abe Carmeli wrote:I've written plenty about adding sugar as a federal crime in the U.S. so I won't bore you here with repeating it.

If readers are curious, below are two other threads on the topic:
There was also a homepage poll on the same subject (poll archives). Of the 388 respondants, 57% rarely / never added sugar. It was my habit years ago when I drank bitter espresso thinking that was "normal", but dropped the habit when I saw the light. My wife loves to give stocking stuffers; knowing I love espresso, she added a bag of raw sugar cubes to mine. I already had sugar cubes for guests, but what the heck, I'll give the raw cubes a try tomorrow.
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Postby starry » Dec 25, 2007, 11:55 pm

In my own narrow-minded view, I see this as something like personal preference in fine chocolate. I prefer the finest dark chocolate from all parts of the world. Each has it's own special taste, fragrance, nuances etc. If I am desperate for a chocolate fix I'll even have some unsweetened baker's chocolate... (SHAME on me!) All of the fine chocolate I have tried is sweetened, but most would not argue that the sweetening takes something away from the quality of the chocolate. With espresso, I've found a few I like without sweetening, but it seems most do benefit.
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Postby Genesis » Dec 26, 2007, 1:14 am

I like a LITTLE sugar (although I usually use Equal - caloric avoidance, not a dietary restriction) - but just a touch.

If it needs a significant amount of it, the sink's the spot for the shot.

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Postby grong » Dec 26, 2007, 1:32 am

If I feel the desire to add sugar to espresso, something is wrong with the espresso, and it is time to work at making better espresso. The coffee and water alone are up to the task.

Espresso well made is already a balance of sweet and delicious, and all about tasting the coffee.