How to Cut Coffee’s Bitterness Without Using Sweetener

When it came to coffee, I was a milk and “Sugar in the Raw” girl for a long time. Only one packet, or ideally half a packet—but that was the absolute bare minimum of crystals required to make it palatable. (Previously, I vacillated between Sweet ‘n Low and Splenda, two artificial sweeteners I was never fond of, both for their ease of overdosing on sweetness and for their potentially harmful health effects. Mostly, I disliked the flavour.)

Perhaps because I grew up in a Cheerios and air-popped popcorn household without a bowl of Cap’n Crunch or Twinkie, I was never entirely sold on Sugar in the Raw, despite its unbleached, tropical “rawness” claims and humble brown-paper-bag packaging. When I discovered it was no healthier than white sugar (and as a new natural sugar substitute gained popularity), I abandoned it as well.

Enter Stevia: a plant-based sweetener derived from a Chrysanthemum relative that grows wild in Paraguay and Brazil. I’m in! However, after a decade of using it in my coffee, the aftertaste began to grate on my tastebuds. Additionally, I was experiencing frequent headaches. When I noticed they were bothering me on a weekly basis, I decided to eliminate Stevia to see if they improved. Indeed, they did.

What is a person to do who enjoys a cup of coffee but isn’t a fan of drinking it black (and also despises all the sweeteners) to do?

I was sceptical when my brother-in-law told me that the fats in half and half and cream could help to neutralise the bitterness of black coffee. Seriously, can boosted milk do what sugar used to do for my coffee? He was not referring to coffee creamer, which contains processed, fancy-flavored powders and liquids that can contain up to 5g of sugar per serving. He was referring to unsweetened heavy cream or half-and-half (which contains milk and cream in equal ratios).

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