Cola… everyone has their favorites. There are Pepsi people, Coke people… even RC people. So, before I review this new take on cola (I say “new,” but I really should say “old”) let’s figure out what cola is. According to WiseGeek:
Cola brands over the years have differed in flavorings, and if one looks at a bottle of cola, one will see “artificial and natural flavors” listed as ingredients. Examining the original recipes for cola can give us some idea of the current flavors of cola.
Most everyone who drinks Coca Cola® knows that early additives to Coke included cocaine, hence the name. But cocaine does not add a strong flavor. By the mid 20th century, the cocaine had been dropped, and instead caffeine was added to give the drink the jolt that consumers had become adjusted to.
Recipes from the Good Housekeeping cookbook series in the 19th century include Kola nuts. Modern cola is rarely flavored with these bitter, caffeine-rich nuts, which grow in South America. A few small brands like Blue Sky, and Harboe still hold to original recipes, and the result is a sharper tasting cola.
Coca Leaf (Coca) + Kola (Cola) = Coca-Cola… makes sense to me! So let’s check out what is under the hood of the more popular colas:
Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Sugar, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors
Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine
Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Natural Flavors, Gum Acacia, Citric Acid
Okay, well those are a bit different than what they were probably cooking up back in the 1800’s, so what other options do you have? Turns out Red Bull (who’s standard product I hate with a passion) has decided to make a “natural” cola for everyone who wants just the basics. So how “natural” is it? Let’s check the ingredients:
Water, Sugar, Carbon Dioxide, Natural Flavor (Caramel), Natural Flavors from Plant Extracts (Galangal, Vanilla, Mustard Seed, Lime, Kola Nut, Cacao, Licorice, Cinnamon, Lemon, Ginger, Coca Leaf, Orange, Corn Mint, Pine, Cardamom, Mace, Clove), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Caffeine from Coffee Beans
Wow… now I could picture an old school pharmacist with beakers and such cooking up a concoction like this. So, the most important thing, how does it taste?
To be honest I think it is very good… it doesn’t have the “syrupy” sweet taste that most other colas seem to have. It is very crisp and coming from someone who used to dislike cola, very refreshing. It isn’t really sour or bitter or overly sweet… it’s a very light crisp flavor. I’ve heard others refer to it as “watery,” but I don’t get that at all. Another thing to note is that this is not an energy drink, as it has just 45mg of Caffeine in it’s largest (12oz) size (for comparison, Coke has 34mg of Caffeine).
Nutrition-wise, just like other sodas, it’s all carbs (empty calories, yadda yadda), but it had less than other Colas.
8 oz Cans
Red Bull – 90 calories
Coca Cola – 100 calories
Pepsi Cola – 100 calories
RC Cola – 110 calories
Red Bull – 130 calories
Coca Cola – 140 calories
Pepsi Cola – 150 calories
RC Cola – 160 calories
So what’s my conclusion? Well, I’m not going to tell you run out and start buying a ton of soda, but if you’re someone like me who usually drinks water (or seltzer) and you want to try a more light and natural tasting cola, I’d say go for it. One last note… it tends to be pricier than your average cola, but to be honest I think it is completely worth it.
What are your opinions? Have you tried it, and if so, do you agree or do you prefer your standard brand?