You have just made what you believe to be a perfect cold brew coffee, but you haven’t really acquired the taste for black coffee yet, even if it’s cold black coffee. That’s what drove me to research and try to figure out how to sweeten cold brew coffee.

You have probably seen (or even tried) lots of sweeteners already, but my guess is you are here because you want something that works better. Well, you are going to love the ideas I have for you.

After trials upon trials, I discovered many ways to sweeten and flavor cold brew coffee, but only a few flavored my coffee and also brought out that sweet delicious taste every coffee lover cherishes. Those are the ways I will tell you about throughout this article.

After that, I’ll also answer a few pressing questions about this subject. Before we get started, though, let’s set one thing straight. Cold brew coffee isn’t the same as iced coffee. I’ll talk about that briefly before I show you how to sweeten the former.

Defining Cold Brew

Just as the name says, cold brew is brewed cold. First, you have to grind your coffee beans and then leave them to soak in either room temperature or cold water for about 12 hours. Iced coffee, on the other hand, is brewed hot, and then poured over ice.

Basically, the difference between the two lies in how they are made.

Judging by its popularity, you would think that cold brew coffee is a recently discovered beverage, but it’s not. This is an old drink that dates back to the 16th century.

People only started to consider cold coffee a delicacy early in the 19th century. The love for it has grown over the years, propelling it to become a favorite brew for coffee lovers around the world.

Even though it’s sweeter than iced coffee, you still have to sweeten your cold brew if you want it to taste better. There are a variety of ways to do it, but my first warning is not to use standard granulated sugar. Here’s why.

Why You Can’t Use Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar is not going to dissolve in your cold brew. Granulated sugar only dissolves in hot coffee because, well, it’s hot. Iced tea drinkers have a similar problem. However hard you try to stir the mixture, you will still be left with a tasteless drink if you add granulated sugar to your cold coffee.

Thankfully there’s a simple solution to this: liquid sugar, a.k.a. simple syrup.

Why You Can't Use Granulated Sugar

How to Sweeten Cold Brew Coffee Using Liquid Sugar/Simple Syrup

What You Need

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Stirring spoon
  • Saucepan or pot
  • Container with a lid

This is a simple process you can complete in only the four steps below.

Step 1:

Measure equal parts granulated sugar and water, or vary the ratio depending on how sweet you want your syrup. More sugar will result in a thicker syrup and vice versa.

Step 2:

Pour the water into the saucepan/pot, add your sugar, and then stir to mix the two over low to medium heat. Keep stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved in the water.

Step 3:

Remove the saucepan/pot from heat and allow it to cool completely. Once it’s cool, it’s okay to add flavorings such as vanilla or espresso powder, but you should know that this is more likely to shorten your syrup’s shelf life.

Step 4:

Add your liquid sugar to your cold brew coffee.

These four steps sum up how to make sweet cold brew coffee using liquid sugar, but you don’t have to do this every time you make cold brew coffee. That’s where the container with a lid comes in.

One great thing to note about liquid sugar is that you can store it in your fridge for up to 30 days. Just make sure the container you have stored it in is well sealed.

You could also use this simple syrup for other purposes besides sweetening your cold brew. It’s a versatile product!

Understandably, there’s a good number of us who prefer not to use liquid sugar for one reason or another. If that’s you, you will be happy to know there are ways to sweeten your cold brew other than sugar-based options. I’ll take a look at a few.

Other Ways to Sweeten Your Cold Brew


Honey is a good alternative to granulated sugar and will bring a subtle sweet flavor to your brew. It also has health benefits, the least of which is fixing digestive issues.

Honey should not be added straight into your brew, though, because it won’t dissolve well even though it’s already semi-liquid. Instead, make honey syrup using the same steps above for creating sugar syrup, then mix it with your cold brew coffee afterward.

If you are using honey alternatives such as maple and agave syrup, you can add them to your beverage right away because they are known to dissolve well in cold fluids.

Coconut Water

Coconut water could serve as both a sweetener and a replacement for filtered water because there are two varieties at your disposal: sweetened and unsweetened. Both options will give your brew a sweeter taste and hints of fruit. The electrolytes in coconut will also keep you refreshed, especially in the summer.

Nonetheless, I would still insist that you choose one that’s most suitable for your preferences and needs before taking the next step. Sweetened coconut water, for instance, will give you a bigger taste difference than the unsweetened version.

Once that’s done, mix the variety you have chosen with your cold drip concentrate and then pour the mixture over ice.


Molasses is another nice alternative to sugar, though they are products of the same processes. The difference between them is that sugar has a higher glycemic index rating; however, molasses’s flavor profile is relatively strong and more distinctive.

You should therefore be careful not to use too much of it so as to balance the flavors, but if you find yourself with a stronger dose than you prefer, add some milk or a dash of cream to dilute the rich caramel taste.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

This is actually the standard sweetener in Vietnam. Take three parts cold brew concentrate and mix it with one part sweetened condensed milk for a naturally sweet delicious beverage. You can even top up the mixture with ice and a bit of milk to intensify the flavor.

Taste aside, condensed milk has plenty of health benefits, some of which include higher calories and reasonable amounts of protein, vitamin D, potassium, and calcium.

Other Ways to Sweeten Your Cold Brew

Almond Milk

Almond milk is an alternative dairy product that has gained popularity for its vegan qualities, health benefits, and eco-friendliness. This will be a perfect sweetener to use if you are after a lighter delicious brew.

Almond milk won’t thicken your beverage, but you can count on it to alter the taste to your preference. You have the option to choose between unsweetened, sweetened, and vanilla almond varieties. Each can pair well with cold brew coffee; it all depends on your specific preferences.


Stevia has become very popular in recent years as a healthier alternative to granulated sugar. Not only is it a low-calorie sugar substitute, it is also sweeter. Plus, you can easily blend it with other sweeteners to create custom flavored coffee. Because of its strong flavor profile, it would be good to go easy on it as a beginner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cold brew not sweet?

Your cold brew may not be sweet for two reasons. First, you may have either used a finer grind or left your grounds to soak for more than 12 hours. Secondly, it may be due to using weak or smaller amounts of a mild sweetener.

How do you make cold coffee sweet without sugar?

You don’t have to use sugar to sweeten your cold brew coffee. If you have read this far, you have probably already noticed sugar alternatives – some even healthier – on our list. Popular natural sugar alternatives to consider include stevia, coconut, honey, maple syrup, and agave.

You can also make your cold coffee sweet by using sugar-free things that can flavor your coffee and make it delicious. Examples include coconut oil or cream, butter, cocoa powder, and cinnamon, just to name a few.

Another solution is to use coffee beans that are more flavorful. Arabica comes top on our list, and make sure it’s a medium roast. This will eliminate the need for sweeteners.

What can diabetics use to sweeten their cold coffee?

Just how do you sweeten cold brew coffee when you are diabetic? It may be tempting to opt for artificial sweeteners because of their lower calorie count, but studies show that this could end up being counterproductive.

Instead, look for sugar alternatives with a lower glycemic index rating. Examples include stevia, tagatose, monk fruit, coconut sugar, and date sugar. Keep in mind that adjusting to these products takes time.

Sweet and Simple

In a nutshell, sweetening your iced coffee is a task you can complete without professional help. All you need to do is figure out what sweetener works for you and then follow the right steps in adding it to your cold brew concentrate.

Simple syrup may be the most popular, but the other alternatives are also great at sweetening and flavoring your brew. Just make sure you are adding the right amount and be ready to familiarize yourself with the taste.