The Uncommon Ingredient In Giada De Laurentiis' Coffee Order

If you're ever out of ideas on how to shake up your morning cup of caffeine, looking at the coffee that Giada De Laurentiis sips may fuel you with renewed inspiration. An iced latte with a cube of chocolate melted in it happens to be her ideal work-from-home companion. But on a hot summer's day, a chilled espresso frizzante with a shot of espresso, sparking or tonic water, and a slice of orange does the trick for her. On sluggish days with afternoon slumps to push through, a dalgona spiked with lemon zest or sweet spices comes to the rescue! But if you were to ask De Laurentiis what her everyday coffee order looked like, the answer would be much, much simpler.

In an interview posted on her YouTube channel, the "Everyday Italian" star admitted that she usually likes her coffee black but with one additional ingredient: agave. Though this may seem like an uncommon addition to a coffee at first — especially since agave is typically associated with spirits such as tequila and mezcal — it happens to be quite the popular syrup in coffees. For one, agave has a sweeter taste than sugar, so you only need a little bit of syrup to sweeten your coffee. More importantly, though, agave will melt smoothly in your coffee thanks to its syrupy nature that dissolves better than granulated sugar, and its runny consistency that's thinner than some other liquid sweeteners such as honey.

What to know about adding agave to coffee

Agave syrup is a golden, honey-like sweetener derived from the sap of the agave plant that is native to parts of Latin America and the United States– the same plant that is also used to make agave spirits like tequila and traditional Mexican sweeteners such as miel de agave. The fact that agave dissolves more easily in coffee is one of its biggest benefits, especially in cold and icy drinks where granulated sugar crystals and thicker syrups don't always fare well. Agave's floral, fruity, and caramel tones also pair fabulously with coffee — whether it's black or flavored with chocolate, nutty syrups, or spices. As a bonus, agave is an entirely vegan natural sweetener and one that doesn't have the lingering bitterness that often follows certain alternatives (think stevia or monk fruit).

When adding agave to coffee, begin by using half the amount of sugar that you would usually use and then increase its quantity as per your taste. If its sweetness is a touch too much for your liking, there's also the option of spiking it with equal amounts of water to dilute the sweet syrup. Alternatively, you could upgrade agave by mixing it with flavored water or infusing it with spices, fruits, flowers, and extracts — think cinnamon, orange, vanilla bean or extract, or even dried hibiscus. Flavor plus sweetness is a win-win!

More sugar alternatives that will sweeten your coffee

While De Laurentiis may swear by agave in her cup of Joe, it isn't the only sugar alternative that you can use to sweeten your brew. Look at other syrups for example; there's iron-rich molasses with its warm, smoky, sweet, and caramel-like notes that can sweeten coffee and also upgrade its flavor. Packed with micronutrients and antioxidants, maple syrup is another alternative to table sugar that also happens to be delicious. Honey is an excellent option as well because its sweet earthy, floral, fruity notes tend to go well with coffee — a combination that's made even better when the beans that you're using have notes of honey in them too.

Syrups aside, there are all sorts of sugar replacements that you can add to your coffee besides agave. There are sweeteners like coconut sugar and monk fruit extract, as well as low or zero-cal sugar alternatives such as stevia, xylitol, and erythritol.

The thing about coffee though is that you don't always need a sweetener to make it taste sweeter. Take cinnamon for example: Not only does it have a naturally sweet, warm, and spicy flavor of its own, but it can also soften the bitter taste of coffee. Dropping a piece of chocolate like De Laurentiis does in her chocolate iced coffee is another brilliant idea. It will sweeten the drink while also boosting your java with the richness of chocolate — all you need is to be creative!