Taste Test: What Does 'Green' Coke Made From Stevia Leaves Taste Like?

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.

See also: How To Make Coke 'Fancy': Three Expert Recipes | Can A $39.95 Coke Glass Really Improve The Taste? | Taste-Test: 'Ice Up' Self-Freezing Coke Bottles

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.

Steviol Glycosides: a new type of sweetener.

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.

Verdict: 8/10

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Comments

    Oooo gotta find some of this. Did you try it in the Reidel coke glass to see if it made a difference?

    So it contains a third less sugar and tastes "less sweet."

    The question is (and I'm not sure we'll ever know the answer to this) how sweet is this compared to how a regular Coke would taste if you removed a third of the sugar without substituting anything else?

      watered down coke is so much better than straight up to me, I might actually buy bottled coke again if this is any good!

    Did you know that sucrose and sucralose are chemically very similar. They differ by replacing 3 hydroxy groups with 3 chlorine groups at the 4, 1' and 6, position.

      Is that the same way that NaOH and NaCl are similar?

        Not really, no :P

        Good one beaker.

      While that's largely marketing drivel from the friendly sucralose folk to make it sound more natural (the fact is if you take a "natural" molecule and modify it even that much, you've created something with substantially different chemical properties, and no guarantee it is any safer than any of the more "artificial" artificial sweeteners), it certainly seems from the evidence available so far that sucralose is very safe and, in my opinion, the best tasting artificial sweetener currently available.

      I just wish there were more soft drinks around that used sucralose as their sole sweetener. I can only drink so many sugar free V's per day :)

        Sugar free V is the worst thing i've possibly ever tasted. The problem seems more like why you feel you constantly need sugary beverages all day, while not performing enough exercise to expend the rather easily burned sugars.

    The stevia does taste different. I had a soft drink the other day and thought it tasted really interesting - sort or minty, but not exactly and not as sweet as usual - so I checked the ingredients - stevia rather than sugar and last on the list of ingredients. Much more pleasant, in my opinion. (I didn't have any inkling this was not a "normal" soft drink before I checked the label.)

    wow, its still a bottle of NOPE
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphoric_acid
    some of those other uses of phosphoric acid should concern consumers of coke.

      Will it still get my copper pennies nice and shiny? It's significantly cheaper than Brasso!

        it surely will.

        Last edited 01/10/14 2:23 pm

        You know what contains and naturally produces an even stronger acid?

        (Hint: your stomach.)

      Coca-Cola can also be used to clear a gastric phytobezoar essentially its a mass of indigestible plant matter that blocks the stomach and for the love of all that is holy do NOT google image search it, Coca-Cola mimics gastric juices and it dissolves. enough to allow it to clear naturally.

      Coca-Cola, is there anything it can't do?

      Hmmm... "Other uses" is not a valid reason not to consume something. There are plenty of things that are perfectly safe to consume that have seemingly scary "other uses". Regardless of "other uses", it is either safe to consume or it isn't. All the evidence is that phosphoric acid is safe to consume (in reasonable amounts, of course).

        i wouldnt say safe to consume. coke is shite for your body. as are most soft drinks. and if something is bad for you in large quantities, it probably means that its doing the same thing to you at a slower rate when taken in smaller quantities.
        i know people who have had liver damage from consuming too much coke. so whats to say that 10 years from now a moderate drinker wont get the same issue.

          It's all about the dose.
          water in high doses is lethal, and I'm not talking about drowning.
          Yes. it's an acid, what's wrong with that? Lemon is an acid, vinegar too. stomach makes it's own.

          if something is bad for you in large quantities, it probably means that its doing the same thing to you at a slower rate when taken in smaller quantities

          Actually no, it doesn't work that way. There are lots of things that are harmless or even beneficial with small quantities, even over a lifetime, but will kill you with large quantities over a shorter timespan.

        Did you know that they use water in the production of Nuclear Energy!?! AND WE DRINK THAT STUFF? HOW CAN IT BE SAFE!!!!!!111!!!!oNE

    I was in the UK recently and tried this too - can't say I thought much of it. The flavour reminded me of cheap home brand cola and didn't have the recognisable Coca-cola taste at all. I think Coke Zero is a far better alternative if you're looking to avoid the calories.

      Coke Zero contains aspartame, which is poison.
      Nuff said!

    Don't do it, Walter White will know how to get you!

    Actually use Stevia now - it's ridiculously sweet so you use a tiny little scoop. And the brand we use is totally organic. So it's as good as it possibly can be.

    It does have a slightly different taste especially the after-taste. So it can take some getting used to.

    When first checking it out we found that it's currently used heavily in Japan and is slowly replacing cane sugar and other sweeteners across the board over there.

    Hopefully it works out better than Pepsi Next, after trying it I experienced some mad headaches.

    No issues drinking the regular stuff though (apart from a sugar and caffeine dependency)

    Coke are a little late to the party on this one. Pepsi Next has been available for quite some time now.

    Great, so COKE has finally done what Pepsi did ages ago with Pepsi Next! .... little too late on the bandwagon I think ... at least now it might gain better traction...

    For what ever reason Stevia sachets turned up at work on time. I tried them twice as a hot drink sugar replacement and both times I had heart palpitations within an hour.
    Thus, my short relationship with Stevia was over.

    pheonix honey cola is awesome
    http://www.phoenixorganics.co.nz/what-we-do/browse/organic-honey-carbonates.aspx

    Ugh, ptui, yuck, ickypoo, disgusting, nasty, where can I get a refund?

    I bought some today. I was very Leary.... I love it. I have been a diet coke fanatic for years so I was shocked I actually loved it!!

    I actually have Some of these! They are so good. Still tastes like come.

    Have tried it and it tastes thin in comparison with the real thing (pun intended). Life lacks the fullness of mouth feel and body. This is obvioulsy something developed by super-tasters, to explain the blandness.

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