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Is espresso with honey good?

Espresso is a popular and beloved drink for many people around the world. Some enjoy their espresso straight, while others like to add a little something to enhance the flavor. One interesting addition that some people opt for is a bit of honey. But is espresso with honey actually good?

The potential benefits of adding honey to espresso

There are a few potential reasons why someone may want to add a bit of honey to their espresso:

  • Sweetness – Honey can add a touch of natural sweetness to counter the bitterness of espresso.
  • Flavor – The floral notes of high quality honey can complement and enhance the flavor of the espresso.
  • Texture – Honey helps give the espresso a thicker, smoother mouthfeel.
  • Health – Raw, unprocessed honey contains antioxidants, enzymes, minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as trace amounts of vitamins like vitamin C, niacin, and folate. Adding it to espresso could provide some of these micronutrients.

So potentially, a bit of honey can make for a tastier, healthier cup of espresso if added thoughtfully.

Potential downsides of adding honey to espresso

However, there are also some potential downsides to consider when adding honey to espresso:

  • Dilution of flavor – Too much honey may overwhelm the flavor of the espresso beans.
  • Masking of nuances – The sweetness and thickness from honey can hide some of the subtle tasting notes in a quality espresso.
  • Too much sweetness – For those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, honey may make the drink unpalatably sweet.
  • Improper dissolving – Honey can clump up and not properly dissolve when added directly to hot espresso, leading to a compromised texture.

So if not done thoughtfully, honey may negatively impact the espresso drinking experience.

Best practices for adding honey to espresso

If you do want to experiment with adding honey to your espresso, here are some tips for doing it right:

  • Use a high quality, raw honey – This will provide better flavor and maximum health benefits.
  • Use honey sparingly – Start with just a teaspoon or less per shot of espresso so as not to overpower flavor.
  • Stir honey first – Dissolve honey in a bit of hot water before adding to espresso to prevent clumping.
  • Consider texture – Lighter, less viscous honeys like acacia may work better than thick, sticky honeys like manuka.
  • Sweeten to taste – Add honey slowly and taste as you go to find desired sweetness level.
  • Complement the beans – Opt for honeys like orange blossom or wildflower that won’t clash with your espresso’s tasting notes.

How professional baristas use honey in espresso drinks

At high-end cafes, professionally trained baristas occasionally use honey thoughtfully in select espresso and milk-based coffee drinks. Here are a few examples:

  • Honey latte – A small amount of honey is dissolved into steamed milk before the milk is combined with a shot of espresso for a lightly sweetened latte.
  • Honey macchiato – A dash of honey is drizzled over a macchiato’s foam layer to provide flavor and visual appeal.
  • Bee sting latte – Equal parts strong espresso and honey are mixed together before hot milk is added.
  • Honey cinnamon mocha – Honey and cinnamon are added to the mocha sauce for a special seasonal drink.

When used sparingly in select drinks like this, honey can provide a delicate sweetness and flavor enhancement. But more often than not, baristas don’t add it directly to plain espresso shots.

Potential health impacts of adding honey to coffee

There are a few potential health considerations when it comes to adding honey to espresso as well:

  • Blood sugar – Honey has a high glycemic index. The carbohydrates in it can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Calories – Honey is high in calories and natural sugar. Adding it to coffee can increase the calorie count of your drink.
  • Tooth health – Honey is high in simple sugars which can contribute to tooth decay, especially when consumed frequently.
  • Botulism risk – Raw honey poses a small risk of infant botulism for children under 1 year old. Adults are much less susceptible.

So while honey does contain some beneficial nutrients and compounds, there are some potential downsides to consider from a health perspective.

Expert opinions on adding honey to espresso

Here is what coffee experts and aficionados have to say about the practice of adding honey to espresso:

Expert Opinion
Barista trainer “I usually don’t recommend adding honey to plain espresso. Honey can overpower the flavor subtlety that high quality coffee aims for. But in milky espresso-based drinks like lattes, it can work nicely for those looking for some extra sweetness and flavor.”
Coffee shop owner “We offer honey as an alternative sweetener option along with sugar and stevia. I don’t push it as an espresso additive unless customers request it, but some do enjoy the flavor and texture it provides.”
Coffee blogger “I tried out adding a bit of honey to my morning espresso at home. It wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think I’ll make a habit of it. I prefer to keep my espresso preparation simple and focus on enhancing its flavor through quality beans and the brewing process.”

As we can see, most coffee experts don’t view honey as an essential espresso additive, but some acknowledge it can work well for those who enjoy the sweetness and flavor when used judiciously.

Should you add honey to your espresso?

Based on all the considerations around taste, preparation, health effects, and opinions in the coffee world, here are some final recommendations on whether to add honey to your espresso:

  • Try it sparingly – If intrigued, try adding a small amount of honey to espresso once in awhile to see if you enjoy it.
  • Stick to espresso drinks – Consider using honey more often in lattes, mochas, and other milk-based espresso drinks rather than straight espresso shots.
  • Use high quality honey – Seek out raw, ideally local honey for the best flavor and health benefits.
  • Don’t overdo it – Limit honey espresso drinks to an occasional treat to prevent any potential health downsides.
  • Enjoy it if you love it – If you really love the sweetness and flavor, don’t let coffee “rules” stop you from adding a dash of honey to your espresso now and then.

Overall, while honey in espresso may not be common practice, it’s perfectly fine to give it a try, especially if you have a preference for sweet flavors. Let your tastebuds be the judge.


Adding a bit of honey to espresso can provide added sweetness, enhance the flavor, and give a pleasant texture. However, it’s important to use high quality honey sparingly and stir it properly to prevent clumping. Most coffee experts view honey as an optional additive that some may enjoy, rather than an essential part of espresso preparation. Given the potential health downsides of added sugars, honey espresso drinks are likely best kept to an occasional treat. Those who already enjoy honey in their coffee and espresso-based drinks can feel free to continue using it in moderation as a way to personalize their beverage experience.