I love coffee – you do too! Like you, I like my coffee light and sweet. Yes, I’m a cappuccino gal. I want a little bit of very strong coffee and the rest milk or milk-tasting.
This means I spend a lot of money on coffee creamer options. The market has no shortage of them. Trending right now is Coffee-mate’s “Natural Bliss” line with the sweet cream flavor promoted most heavily in my local supermarket. According to the ingredient list, the creamer is made with milk, cream, sugar, and “natural flavors,” and should be a convenient product – no need to add a separate sweetener.
But how does it taste and is it a good value for your money? To find out, I made two identical 3 ounce cups of ice coffee. In both I put a level ¼ teaspoon of Folgers instant coffee and 2 ounces of whole milk. In one cup I put the serving size of 1 tablespoon of the Coffee-mate creamer. In the other, 1 tablespoon of whipping cream from the local dairy which also happens to be the specified serving size. The Coffee-mate label claims this 1 tablespoon has 35 calories in it verses 45 with the whipping cream.
Stirring the two samples together, the appearance came out very different. As see in this picture, the Coffee-mate looks much darker than my whipping cream sample, even though everything else is the same. The Coffee-mate also did not blend as well with my instant coffee as my whipping cream, leaving more coffee on the bottom of the cup.
Tasting the coffee I was really surprised at the difference. There is absolutely no sugar in the whipping cream sample, so I expect it to taste much less sweet and much bitterer than the Coffee-mate version which does have sugar in it. Instead, I barely noticed a difference. Adding ¼ teaspoon of sugar to the whipping cream sample (remember, these samples are about ¼ the size of a regular cup of coffee) and the two samples were indistinguishable from each other in terms of sweetness and were within difference threshold on the overall taste.
So if you stick to the serving size of 1 tablespoon, this Coffee-mate sweetener equals about ¼ of a teaspoon of sugar to the taste of regular whipping cream. With one teaspoon of sugar equaling 16 calories, ¼ teaspoon of sugar adds 4 calories to the 45 calories for the whipping cream for a total of 49 calories compared to the 35 calories for the Coffee-mate, a savings of 30% on your calories.
Now to the real question: the cost. Everyday price on the Coffee-mate creamer is around $3.00 for 16 ounces. A half pint (8 ounces) of whipping cream runs around $1.50. This means the two options cost essentially the same.
In summary, my experiment yielded no significant difference between the sweet cream flavor of Coffee-mate’s “Natural Bliss” verses using whipping cream with a little sugar.
While there is a caloric savings, the difference of 10 calories per serving is not dramatic and is readily offset by the non-biodegradable packaging of the Coffee-mate product verses the paper carton whipping cream is typically sold in. If your community does not offer plastic recycling, you ultimately do better buying cream instead.