Natural sweetness is seen as being an extremely desirable component of high quality coffees. The amount of sugar present in a coffee depends on the species, varietal, and altitude at which the coffee plant grew, as well as the processing method used.

Coffees grown at higher altitudes tend to have more sugars because they ripen more slowly due to generally cooler temperatures. Honey and natural processed coffees tend to have more sweetness, due to the longer contact time between the bean and the sugars in the fruit flesh during drying. Natural sweetness in coffee may not be directly perceived, but even so, it is essential to balance acidity for the perfect cup.