Coca-Cola with Coffee, The Taste Test…

I’ve traveled enough in the Southern areas of the United States to have encountered people who have warm Coca-Cola as a breakfast beverage. Me? Not at all my cuppa tea (or coffee, for that matter) but to each their own, right? There’s some logic to it too, given that a 12oz can of regular Coke has 34mg of caffeine and 39g sugar. Compare that to a typical 8oz cup of coffee with two teaspoons of sugar: 95mg of caffeine and 8.4mg of sugar. No real surprise, a can of coke has lots less caffeine but compensates by having a lot more sugar. In fact, 39g of sugar is the same as 9 teaspoons of sugar. No wonder it’s so sweet

This year Coca-Cola decided to test out a hybrid beverage, Coca-Cola with Coffee blended into the beverage. Here’s the can:

coca-cola with coffee - can

When I saw this at the local supermarket I knew I needed to give it a taste test. Checking its nutrition label, this slim 12oz can of Coca-Cola with Coffee Vanilla contains 69mg of caffeine and a surprisingly slim 18g of sugar. Not as much caffeine as a regular cuppa joe but a lot more than a regular can of Coke, all with a lot less sugar.

Then I looked closely at the ingredients…

coca cola with coffee vanilla label ingredients

Basically, it’s kind of the worst of all worlds, with its high fructose corn syrup and sucralose. If you don’t recognize the name, sucralose is the main ingredient in the artificial sweetener Splenda, which might or might not be safe to consume. Notice also that the coffee power “from Brazilian coffee beans” isn’t sufficient to add the caffeine boost desired so the company adds caffeine separately too. Basically, a chemical stew.

I know, I know, “whatever, dude.” and fair enough. Not everything you eat or drink needs to be perfectly healthy. So the question to me came down to taste and to ascertain that I bought a can and cracked open the pop-top…

pouring out coca-cola with coffee vanilla coke

Honestly, it looked more like a shot glass of Guinness or another nice, dark beer, than a soda, and the head is surprisingly creamy:

coca cola with coffee in glass

But, to misquote Meghan Trainor, it’s all about the taste, right? So I cleansed my palette (actually, I didn’t, but it sounds snooty) and had a sip and…

It’s not bad. It’s barely distinguishable from a regular Coca-Cola, however, and I couldn’t really taste the coffee at all, because the flavor of that darn sucralose was all I got after a single sip had hit my tongue. I don’t know if I’m unusual, but I generally can’t stand the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners and while I don’t know the last time I had sucralose, even 30min later I can still taste it on my tongue. Ugh. Could they sell a version of this beverage with regular cane sugar? Yes, and it might just be quite a bit tastier than the Splenda version.

What bothers me more is that if you go back to the original can, there’s nothing to denote that it’s artificially sweetened, which means that there might well be a subset of customers who buy it, just to have the same reaction I did. To me, the inclusion of sucralose, aspartame, and similar is a show-stopper. I’d rather have a glass of water than a beverage sweetened with one of these curious chemicals. You might have different taste buds and it’s not an issue, which is good to know. More than that, though, I expected a mashup of both Coke and coffee flavors in this beverage and was disappointed. Oh well. Try again, Coke.

How about you? Have you tried this Coca-Cola mutant beverage and what did you think of it?

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