What is Panela and its use in coffee

Panela has made its mark as an authentic and nutritious sweetener, journeying from the fields of South America to the lands of India (where it’s known as Jaggery) and Pakistan (where it’s called Gurr). This product is derived from sugarcane juice and preserves its nutrients without undergoing refinement or chemical processes.

In this article, we explore the exciting combination of Panela with coffee, examining how its unique sweetness and richness in vitamins and minerals add a special dimension to the experience of enjoying a cup of our favorite drink.

What is Panela?

Panela is a natural sweetener characterized by its distinctive flavor and artisanal production that involves sugarcane juice’s extraction, concentration, and cooking.

Unlike refined sugar, panela retains a significant portion of the nutrients present in sugarcane. Loaded with essential minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, panela becomes the most comprehensive nutritional sweetener option.

In coffee, panela adds a unique dimension of flavor and sweetness that can transform the experience of savoring this cherished beverage.

By incorporating panela into coffee, a caramelized note is added that harmonizes with the nuances of the bean, softening its flavor profile.

Furthermore, it is important to mention that due to its less processed nature than refined sugar, panela ensures that coffee maintains its authentic character while benefiting from its nutritional qualities.

How is Panela made?

The process begins with the collection of sugarcane at its optimal ripeness. Once cut, the canes undergo a juice extraction process, which is done through crushing or pressing. This juice, loaded with natural sugars and other nutrients, forms the fundamental raw material for creating panela.

After extraction, the sugarcane juice undergoes a phase of filtration and clarification. This step is important to remove impurities and solid particles in the juice. Once clarified, the juice is transferred to large vats, where the cooking begins.

The cooking is done over low heat, allowing the liquid to reduce gradually. As water evaporates, natural sugars and other components present in the juice concentrate, creating a dense and viscous mixture.

Panela in molds
Panela in molds

Once the appropriate consistency is reached, the hot panela mass is poured into molds. After cooling and solidifying, the panela is removed from the molds and transferred to drying areas, where the solidification process is completed. During this stage, panela acquires its characteristic granulated texture and distinctive color.

The origin of coffee with Panela

The tradition of adding panela to coffee has its roots in the culinary customs and cultures of various regions worldwide. For centuries, Sugarcane has been cultivated globally, from Asia to Latin America and Africa.

Communities accessing sugarcane explored different ways to process and use its sweet juice. The extraction and concentration of sugarcane juice and cooking techniques led to the development products like panela.

Coffee has always been central to everyday and social life in many cultures. People sought ways to enhance and personalize these beverages to suit their tastes.

Panela and coffee
Panela and coffee

In some regions, panela may have been easier to obtain and more economical than other sweeteners, making it a popular choice for sweetening beverages like coffee. Panela was often produced locally, making it valuable in areas with limited access to other sweeteners.

Over time, this practice evolved and became established in various cultures, enhancing the coffee experience with its unique flavors.

Benefits of Panela in coffee

Adding panela to a cup of coffee can enhance flavor, texture, and nutritional benefits. Here are some ways in which using Panela can elevate your coffee experience:

  1. Unique and Complex Flavor: Panela adds a distinctive and naturally sweet flavor to coffee. The sweetness of panela is less aggressive than refined sugar, allowing the natural flavors of coffee to shine without masking them.
  2. Texture and Body: Panela can give coffee a more substantial body, resulting in a smoother and more pleasant texture in the mouth. This can be particularly evident in lighter drinks, such as filtered coffee, where panela can provide a rounded and satisfying mouthfeel.
  3. Balance and Harmony: By adding panela to coffee, you can better balance coffee’s bitter and acidic flavors and the natural sweetness of panela. This combination can soften acidity and bitterness while highlighting the sweeter and smoother flavors present in the drink.
  4. Additional Nutrients: Using panela in your coffee adds nutritional value to your drink, contributing to a more balanced diet.

In addition, using panela in coffee can have a sustainable aspect. By choosing natural and traditional ingredients like panela, you contribute to preserving artisanal production methods and the sustainability of local farming communities.

Panela vs. refined sugars: Differences in flavor and benefits

Here’s a comparison between panela and refined sugars in terms of various aspects such as origin, processing, flavor, and nutritional benefits:

PanelaRefined sugars
Origin and processing– Obtained from sugarcane juice
– Artisanal extraction, clarification, and cooking process
– Produced from sugarcane or beets
– Refinement and purification process
Flavor and texture– Caramelized flavor
– Less intense sweetness
– Simple and neutral sweetness
– Sometimes more crispy texture
Nutritional benefits– Contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium
– Minimal processing preserves nutrients
– Generally lack nutrients
– Few nutritional contributions
Health impact– Lower glycemic index
– Nutrients may improve body function
– Can quickly raise sugar levels
– Excessive consumption linked to health issues

Caloric contribution of Panela compared to other sweeteners

It is important to consider factors such as brand and measurement method when comparing the calories in different sweeteners.

  • For example, panela typically has around 310 to 350 calories per 100 grams.
  • Sugar has an estimated caloric content of 400 calories per 100 grams.

Remember that when choosing a sweetener, it is essential to consider calories and aspects such as flavor, texture, nutrients, and how it affects blood sugar levels.


Panela and coffee form an intriguing and flavorful culinary alliance. From its roots in South America to its use in various cultures, panela brings unique sweetness and nutritional richness that enhance the coffee experience.

Its caramelized flavor complements the nuances of coffee, while its nutritional profile adds an extra touch of benefit. By exploring this combination, we find an invitation to savor the

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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