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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Dissolve Sugar In Cold Drinks

Sugar dissolves slowly in cold liquids. Photo by K.G. Toh | CSP


As most people have discovered, table sugar is slow to dissolve in cold drinks. Whether you’re sweetening iced coffee and iced tea or making a sweet cocktail, there are better products to use than conventional granulated sugar.

Superfine Sugar

Pick up some superfine sugar, or make your own.

Superfine sugar is simply table sugar that is ground into smaller grains, which dissolve quickly. You can make it in the food processor by pulsing table sugar until it’s very fine. Keep superfine sugar in a separate sugar bowl to bring out when you’re serving iced coffee and tea.

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is typically used by bartenders to sweeten drinks. It’s a mixture of half sugar and half water, stirred over medium-low heat until it dissolves. Cooled to room temperature, it’s a quick sweetener.

You can buy it or make a batch, keep it in the fridge in a tightly-capped jar and use as needed. Here’s the simple syrup recipe.

There’s also a sugar-free simple syrup made with stevia.


Agave Nectar

The healthiest alternative is to use no sugar. Refined white sugar makes no positive contribution to our nutrition and has a downside everyone is familiar with.

A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54. (Here’s more information on agave.)


It’s simple chemistry: Substances dissolve faster in hot water. Hot water molecules have more entropy (move faster) than cold water molecules, enabling hot water to more quickly break down the sugar molecules in the solution.

How many types of sugar are there? Check out our Sugar Glossary.



Don’t Dilute The Iced Coffee/Iced Tea

We’ve been to delis where iced coffee (or tea) is made by pouring the hot stuff over ice. They probably figure that with the added sugar and milk, people won’t notice how dilute the coffee is.

At home, you can:

  • Brew it ahead of time. If you’re a big consumer of iced coffee or iced tea, it’s also very inexpensive.
  • Save leftovers. When we have leftover brewed coffee or tea, we add it to a bottle in the fridge.
  • Turn leftovers into ice cubes. You can use them to chill down room-temperature coffee or tea, or to make already-chilled beverages extra-cold. Check out all the ways you can make and use “specialty” ice cubes.
  • Use coffee concentrate. We always have a supply of Java Juice packets on hand (certified kosher). You can also carry them and add them to your water bottle throughout the day.

    Iced tea pitcher and photo from


    Try Flavoring Ice Coffee & Iced Tea

  • Make Summer Flavors. Use flavored extracts—coconut, orange and vanilla, for example, Add ¼ teaspoon per cup/glass of coffee or tea.
  • Fancy Flavors.Check out Gevalia Coffee’s recipes for Caramel Iced Coffee, Chocolate-Hazelnut Iced Coffee, Lemon-Ginger Iced Coffee and Mint-Mocha Iced Coffee. There’s also the Whipaccino: cold coffee and vanilla ice cream whipped in the blender.


    Here are more iced coffee tips and recipes.

    Try this recipe for ultra-rich vanilla iced coffee with shaved chocolate.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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