Coca-Cola Life is a new "mid calorie" soft drink for health-conscious cola fans who don't like the taste of Diet Coke. It's hero ingredient is Steviol Glycosides, a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant and mixed with sugar. In addition to containing fewer kilojoules, the end product also has a unique flavour that's quite unlike any artificial sweetener I've tasted. Read on for the full Lifehacker verdict.
Last week, Lifehacker traveled to London for the launch of BlackBerry's new Passport smartphone and OS update. While taking in the sights and sounds of the West End, I stumbled across this green-labelled curiosity. Despite being extremely leery of diet soft drinks, I knew I owed it to my readers to give it a try. But first, here's some background on the product.
Coke Life is being billed by the company as a "natural" soft drink. It eschews synthetic sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame for a plant-based alternative derived from the stevia plant. The result is a semi-diet cola that contains a third less sugar than a standard Coke. (This works out to around 560 kilojoules and 34 grams of sugar per 500ml bottle.)
In the words of the company, Coke Life was developed in response to strong consumer demand for sweetened drinks that contain ingredients from natural origins, as well as fewer calories. It's essentially Coca-Cola's answer to Pepsi Next, which contains a similar mix of sugar and stevia.
For the non-horticulturists among you, stevia (or stevia rebaudiana to give it its full name) is a South American plant that belongs to the chrysanthemum family. It is known for its intense sweetness, with extracts containing approximately 200 times the sweetness of regular table sugar.
Despite this, the additive contains no calories. The below video goes into a bit more detail about Coke Life and its chief ingredient:
The new beverage is currently being trialed in the UK, Sweden, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and parts of the US, with other regions set to follow. Presumably, this will eventually include Australia which remains one of Coke's most lucrative markets.
Upon first sip, it was obvious this wasn't your typical diet cola. That saccharine, vaguely chemical flavour that dieters have come to accept has been replaced with something much smoother.
While it doesn't taste exactly like regular Coca-Cola, the differences are subtle and not unpleasant. It's not as sweet as the other Coke varieties, but I think this actually works in its favour. Unlike the full-flavoured version, it doesn't overpower what you're eating and the stevia has a much cleaner aftertaste that is vaguely reminiscent of mint.
Admittedly, part of my enthusiasm for the brand might be psychosomatic (i.e. -- a plant extract just seems more palatable than synthetic sweeteners.) Nevertheless, this is a worthy addition to the Coca-Cola fold that I'm keen to try again. It should suit anyone who wants a slightly healthier Coke without the fake sugary taste.
With any luck, Coke Life should be launching in Australia in the months to come. We'll let you know as soon as it becomes officially available.