Delicious Ways to Enjoy Coffee without Sugar
People around the world love coffee for many reasons. For me, my morning coffee or afternoon latte isn't about the caffeine kick (I drink decaf). I honestly totally enjoy the luxury of the first sip of a well-made coffee. Yet, drinking coffee can be a minefield for anyone trying to eliminate adding sugar, and it can be challenging to determine how to balance taste and enjoyment while avoiding triggers that can take us off-track.
One of the best ways to enhance the taste of coffee without adding sugar is to turn a simple cup of coffee into a creamy indulgence with frothed milk. By enhancing the mouthfeel and richness of your coffee, frothed milk serves as a delightful way to bring out the flavor of coffee while staying away from added sugar.
That being said, trying to mimic the lattes and cappuccinos you get at a coffee shop can feel impossible. But I'm here to tell you that while your barista might have a few professional tools and tricks, a simple manual milk frother can make your morning or afternoon brew just as delicious and luxurious.
Before I get into the details of what types of milk create frothy coffee creations, how to use your frother and some tips if you want to add a little sweetener to your coffee, I will start by briefly explaining what frothed milk actually is and some of the benefits to topping drinks with a frothed milk of choice.
What is Frothed Milk?
Milk frothing is essentially the process of introducing air into milk and thus creating a creamy, foamy texture. Scientifically, milk froths when it is aerated and the proteins in the milk are denatured, which creates a foam of tiny air bubbles that gives it a lighter body and creamier mouthfeel.
The terms steamed milk and frothed milk are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Steamed milk is also aerated, but the method is different from frothing and the bubbles are much smaller. The result is the smooth microfoam essential for lattes and latte art. Steamed milk is created using a steam wand, which injects a powerful stream of steam into the milk. As you add steam, the heat breaks down the fat in the milk and creates tiny air bubbles.
Frothed milk is like steamed milk in that you are adding air to change the milk’s texture, but that’s where the similarities end. The air bubbles in frothed milk versus steamed milk are much larger, with a larger volume and much lighter feel.
The biggest difference for making coffee creations at home is that frothed milk can be created using various methods and you don’t need to own an espresso machine with a steam wand which makes milk frothing much easier for home baristas.
All you need is a milk frother and there are several types ranging from more expensive electric models that do all the work for you to budget friendly handheld frothers (which are essentially small battery-powered whisks) and manual frothers which operate with a plunger very similar to that of a French press.
The type of frother you choose to add to your kitchen comes down to personal preference. Some things to consider when purchasing one include ease of use, power source, working speed, foam quality, and cost.
The Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Milk Frother
My favorite is the manual style Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Milk Frother.
The Ninja milk frother includes a glass carafe with a lid and a plunger which operates as a French press. The carafe features a spout for comfortable pouring and the plunger passes through a small hole in the lid to aerate the milk.
To create froth in the Ninja Easy frother, you just add the milk, then move the plunger rapidly up and down. This introduces air into the milk, gradually turning it from a liquid to a foam. The longer you do it, the more air is added and the frothier it becomes. It typically takes around 10-20 presses to pump air into the milk, double its volume, and generate froth. The glass is both sturdy and heat-resistant so that, if desired, it can be used in a microwave for heating the milk prior to performing the plunging. I often keep the milk cold, even for hot drinks, and enjoy the contrast of the creamy cold foam over the hot coffee.
The other things I love about the Ninja Frother is that it is easy to use, it does not take up a lot of space, the French Press design is stylish if you want to display it on a shelf, no electricity is required so it can be used anywhere, and most importantly the results are consistently creamy using different types of milk. It is also really easy to clean. After using, add some soapy solution and hot water into the glass and make some presses as if making a froth. Then rinse thoroughly.
Benefits of Adding Froth to your Coffee (or Tea)
Beyond its ability to create creamy visuals, frothed milk brings a host of benefits that can support your sugar-free lifestyle. While we are focusing on coffee in this article, all of these benefits can also apply to adding a touch of foam to hot or cold tea drinks. Some of these benefits include:
Satiety without Sugar. Adding milk foam to a coffee creates added texture and a creamy mouthfeel that regular milk won’t provide. The combination of aeration and heating can also make the milk taste sweeter without sugar introducing a satiety and creaminess that can mimic the fullness often associated with sugar-laden drinks. The velvety texture of frothed milk delivers a touch of decadence, making each sip feel indulgent without the need for sweet additives.
NO need to go into a Starbucks or other coffee shop where the pastries and sugary drinks are calling your name. For me, part of staying sugar free is avoiding both food and situations that are triggering for me. I have learned that just going into places where I used to "enjoy" seeking refuge with coffee, flour and sugar gets my brain going into sweet mode, and I spend the rest of the day consciously or unconsciously white knuckling it to avoid eating a cookie or something else not good for me. Being able to make delicious coffee drinks at home is a real game changer for me.
Fix it any way you want. You can control the ingredients as well as the amount and type of milk. If desired, add a touch of sugar free sweetness. A few drops of Sweet Leaf Vanilla or Chocolate Stevia Drops (in the little glass bottles) taste great and contain no Erythritol. For those who want to avoid dairy, a milk frother can make non-dairy milk alternatives.
Types of Milks for Frothing
You can use many different types of milk to create froth for coffee, including cow’s milk, almond, oat, or soy milk. Milk doesn’t need to have dairy or lactose to be frothable. The type of milk, including the amount of fat and protein in the milk will affect how easily it froths and the texture of the resulting foam.
Choosing between skim milk, 1% milk, whole milk, half-and-half or a non-dairy option depends on your personal preference and the desired outcome for the beverage. Experimenting with any of the milk types below can help you find the perfect balance for your taste and coffee experience.
Skim Milk: Oddly enough skim milk froths very easily and creates lots of airy foam. Due to its lack of fat, it will have a cleaner more neutral taste, making it a preferred choice for those who don’t want their drink to feel too heavy.
1% Milk: If the froth from skim milk is too airy for you, 1% milk produces a froth that's still light in texture while adding a slightly creamier texture to the froth than skim milk.
2% Milk: For those looking for a creamy texture without the amount of fat in whole milk, 2% milk is ideal. It froths beautifully, with a less airy foam and has some fat for a richer flavor than skim milk or 1% milk.
Whole Milk Froths easily and creates a creamy, velvety froth due to its higher fat content. The fats in whole milk also bring out a fuller flavor, making the froth taste richer and more robust.
Half and Half: As expected from its high fat content, half-and-half produces an ultra-creamy and denser foam. Italians even had a traditional drink made with frothed half and half called the cappuccino breve. It’s pretty indulgent, so you might not want one every day, but it’s undeniably delicious.
Oat Milk: Oat milk has gained popularity for its creamy consistency and natural sweetness. Frothed oat milk creates a dense and smooth froth that can lend a subtle oat-y flavor to your coffee. Oat milk froths best when you choose a specific barista blend that is designed to create better foam. The Barista blend available from Califia Farms or the barista edition from Oatly are both good choices for frothing. If you do not want added sugar, choose the unsweetened option.
Almond Milk: Another dairy-free alternative, almond milk provides a nutty undertone to your coffee. When frothing unsweetened almond milk, be sure to use high-quality almond milk that is specifically labelled as barista almond milk or frothing almond milk. These types of almond milk are formulated to produce a more stable foam. Don’t be tempted to save money with a cheaper brand with a high-water content which will not work well for creating foam. As with Oat Milk, if you are avoiding added sugar, choose an unsweetened option.
How to Add a Touch of Sweetness
If you're looking to eliminate Added Sugar, but still want a little bit of sweetness in your coffee, there are several alternatives available. In the end, the decision to add sweet taste or go without depends upon your biochemistry, health goals and taste preferences.
1. Sweet Leaf Flavored Liquid Stevia:
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia plant. Sweet Leaf's flavored liquid version offers a variety of flavors like hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate that add a subtle and enjoyable twist to your daily cup of coffee. Just a few drops can impart a delicious sweetness to your coffee without blood sugar or insulin spikes.
2. Monk Fruit:
Another natural sweetener, monk fruit has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It's derived from a small green melon native to southern China and Thailand. Extracted from the monk fruit's pulp, this natural sweetener contains compounds called mogrosides, which provide sweetness without the glycemic impact of sugar. Monk fruit sweeteners can be found in liquid, granulated, and powder forms, giving you flexibility in how you sweeten your coffee.
3. Vanilla Flavoring:
Vanilla, with its warm and inviting aroma, can transform your coffee into a luxurious treat. Whether you opt for pure vanilla extract or vanilla-flavored stevia drops, adding a drop or two of vanilla extract adds quite a bit of flavor without the bump in sugar.
Precaution: Read labels carefully if you want to add vanilla to your pantry. Avoid brands of Vanilla Extract containing added sugars or alcohol.
4. Cinnamon: Spice Up Your Sip
A pinch of ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick adds a touch of warmth and a hint of sweetness to your brew. Cinnamon not only complements the natural flavors of coffee but also brings potential health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties and blood sugar regulation. Sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon on top of your coffee before adding the foam or stir with a cinnamon stick for an infusion of flavor.
Deprivation is not a good recipe for long term success. Adding a little luxury to your day can make a sugar free lifestyle both enjoyable and sustainable. Remember to Enjoy life. Avoid thinking about foods as good or bad. Once in a while if you feel like relaxing with a cup of decadent coffee or tea (as long as it is not a trigger food for you), savor the experience. Listen to your body. Let your inner wisdom guide you when making food choices that nourish your body, mind and spirit.