Dates Are The Sweetener You Didn't Know Your Coffee Needed

Dates beside a coffee cup
Dates beside a coffee cup - Victoria Moloman/Shutterstock

If you're looking for a sugar substitute for your coffee that doesn't leave a strange aftertaste or contain ingredients you can't pronounce, look no further than dates. Think of a date like a giant caramel-flavored raisin. Perhaps you've tried them before as a snack, semi-dehydrated in a plastic bag from a trendy health food store. (Don't be fooled, this is far from the only way to enjoy these under-appreciated gems). Fresh dates have a rich caramel-like flavor, and as moisture drops and they dry out, their sugar content becomes more potent, creating a sweeter flavor. Dates naturally tote a warm, deep brown-sugar-like taste while maintaining a low glycemic index, making them an ideal gluten-free sweetener — and it's easy to bring that sweetness to your morning cuppa joe.

For a quick and easy fix, invest in a bag of date powder, which will last in the fridge for up to a full year. Date powder is high in fiber and remains mostly unprocessed compared to most sweeteners, so its natural micronutrients remain intact. These including vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. You can bake with it, too, or stir it into yogurt or smoothies; wherever you might normally add a sweetener, date powder is a super versatile multi-use ingredient to keep on hand.

Read more: The Biggest Mistakes You're Making When Brewing Coffee At Home

Keep It Natural And Make It Yourself

People eating dates
People eating dates - Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock

There's a variety of other date sweetener products on the market, like date paste and date syrup. You can find both of these via online retailers or in person at specialty grocery stores. But, they're also fairly easy to make yourself. To whip up a batch of homemade date paste, de-pit some fresh dates, soak them in hot water, then puree them in a blender. (We recommend using Medjool dates, the biggest and softest variety.) You can add more or less water to control the desired viscosity. Transfer your date paste to a glass jar and store it in the fridge.

Thick, dark brown date syrup will taste delicious in a strong cup of coffee. Making a homemade version is similar to making date paste, except after you've blended the soaked dates, boil the puree once more into a reduction, then strain out the solid bits. In an airtight container, your date syrup will keep in the fridge for several weeks. (It's great on oatmeal and pancakes, too.)

Using dates to sweeten your coffee creates an especially nice flavor in coffee blends with existing complementary profiles. Brazilian and Colombian blends tend to tote rich, caramel-forward, chocolatey notes, which would both make a fitting match. Those sweet-syrupy dates could also add warmth to bright, acidic Ethiopian coffees. When in doubt, a sprinkle of cardamom never hurts.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.