In Which I Try the Mirror Universe Coca Cola

More commonly known as “Coca Cola Life,” which is their reduced-calorie offering, sweetened with cane sugar and stevia. I call it Mirror Universe Coke because the label is green, rather than the more familiar red Coke branding. I’m not a fan; green Coke labels are Just Not Right. Green is for clear sodas and/or Mountain Dew and its various cognates. I was not aware I had a strong feeling about this until now, but apparently I do.

And how is Coca Cola Life? It’s fine. Apparently some people are very sensitive to the stevia aftertaste, but I don’t appear to be one of them, so that didn’t bother me. To me it tastes pretty much like Coke should, and it has a mouthfeel somewhere between regular Coke and Coke Zero. At this point, having drunk Coke Zero for as long as I have, regular Coke feels kind of syrupy, so I’m not a huge fan; Coke Life is rather less so.

That said, I don’t see myself drinking much Coke Life. It’s not any better, taste-wise, than Coke Zero, and Coke Zero has the advantage of having no calories in it, whereas Coke life has 160 calories per 20 oz. bottle. That’s less than regular Coke, but it would still add up pretty quickly for me.

Indeed, I kind of wonder who the market for Coke Life is; I think you’re either fine with regular Coke or you don’t want any calories at all. Coke tried the “reduced calorie” thing before with C2, which didn’t stick around long, in part because Coke Zero came out in the market at roughly the same time. Maybe the cane sugar/stevia mix is supposed to be a draw (C2 was corn syrup and aspartame), but outside of the hipster “Mexican Coke” crowd, I’m not sure anyone will care, and those folks already drink Mexican Coke.

So, yeah: Coke Life is all right, and I wouldn’t have a problem drinking it, but I wonder who it’s really for. I’ll stick with Coke Zero, personally.

66 thoughts on “In Which I Try the Mirror Universe Coca Cola

  1. For those of us who really like soda, but not so much sugar or corn syrup. The “I’d eat organic, but it’s too much trouble” crowd. I am most definitely NOT a hipster. Plus, I like the taste of stevia.

  2. It would be something I would drink if it was available over here.
    I like the taste of coke but it has too many calories and I can not drink Coke Zero as it gives me terrible indigestion after only a glass of it.

  3. If I still drank soda at all, I’d consider Coke Life, because I try to avoid corn in all forms and now I also try to avoid artificial sweeteners. I don’t like stevia but I’d give it a try because of the sugar blend – except I gave up all soda cold turkey over a year ago. The label color doesn’t bother me.

  4. I wish they had an all-Stevia version – I use Stevia as my coffee sweetener and in most cooking, so I’m good with it.

    If I accept I’m getting ANY calories, I’ll get Mexican Coke – besides being a Terminal Hipster, the corn syrup upsets my stomach in ways cane sugar doesn’t.

  5. Green label’s ok as long as it’s only temporary, to go next to the regular Coke for Christmas decorations, but yeah, it’s not the right color for Coke.

    I’m guessing it’s aimed at the people who don’t like “artificial stuff” but don’t want as many calories (or joules, if they’re marketing it in the rest of the world.) I think stevia tastes nasty, but not as nasty as aspartame, and maybe the sugar would cover it up. But I drink soda maybe once a month, so it’s not going to affect me much.

  6. Coke is too syrupy. Diet coke tastes bad. I mix them 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 depending on how sweet or fat I feel that day. It also gives me some control of the taste rather than just complaining about some other person’s recipe.

  7. @timeliebe, I’m with you there. I’m violently allergic to aspartame, so a caffeinated, all-stevia soda would be great ( since the only reason I drink soda is so that the caffeine will cross into the blood faster because of the carbonation). Otherwise I drink tea or take a caffeine pill.

    And do you have reactions to other corn products? I ask because my roommate is allergic to corn and she can’t tolerate corn syrup in anything, including soda.

  8. The big thing in this post for me is that I am not the only one that finds things with stevia in them disgusting. Yay, I am not alone. Now, I just need to find people that cannot handle the taste of basil.

  9. My guess would be they’re going to market it to guys who think Coke Zero is still Diet and therefore girly. Soft drink companies have spent decades trying to train men to drink diet soda, with relatively little success.

  10. I’d rather not drink any Coke than drink any of the diet or other ersatz versions of it. Artificial sweeteners & all that both taste bad to me & give me really bad migraines. Then again, I’d take root beer over Coke any day…

  11. Stevia is better for my family… I hate the after taste of aspartame and sucralose, and they both give my wife migraines. But given the choice of a stevia drink or a real-sugar drink at the top of a set of stairs, I would take the real sugar (and send one of the kids to get it for me… my time is precious).

  12. Stevia tastes awful. I tried it in yogurt and it greatly affected the taste. But then so does aspartame and the horrible sacchrine. If I’m going to have something sweetened that’s processed, I accept sugar and regulate it. Coke Zero is basically slightly flavored soda water.

    I used to drink a lot of soda as a teen and then had to stop. Nowadays the only sodas I can drink are gingerale and root beer. Everything else tastes really weird. I tried a regular Coke and it tasted totally not like it used to taste. I think they did change the formula. Or I had no tastebuds as a teenager possibly.

  13. Skimming this thread, I realize how superhuman I must be, since I can drink all of these things without any negative effects whatsoever.

    Also, true hipsters don’t drink mass-produced synthetic stuff, do we? I think we’re more into the artisanal stuff, lovingly handmade in tiny batches by serious men with proper beards.

  14. Blah. Stevia? Is that still a thing? /sarcasm> Knowing that it has Stevia in it will keep me from ever trying this version of Coke, even if it was in my area. I can’t stand the horrid taste of the stuff. So far, sucralose is the only artificial sweetener that I can deal with, and I use it seldom (don’t use sugar at all if I can help it).

  15. Nothing is easier than quitting coca cola. I’ve don it a hundred times ;-). (M. Twain adapted)

    Usually i sleep and generally feel better if i don’t drink any coke at all, but it is hard to stay away when there’s crunch time on the job.

  16. Like Steve above, I mix regular and diet Coke – usually half and half, but adjusting from time to time as I please. When available, instead of corn-syrup Coke I substitute kosher-for-Passover Coke (2-liter bottles with yellow caps), which is made with cane sugar like glass-bottle Mexican Coke is.

    I tried Coke Zero – once.

  17. I’m liking stevia in my coffee. Coke Life sounds like a step in the right direction; a mix of stevia and cane sugar (cane sugar being preferable, IMO, to high fructose corn syrup, aka HFCS). But, as you say, at 160 cal/20oz. bottle, that’s still too much if I want to get my weight down to what I told the BMV when I got my driver’s license renewed. ;-)

    As for other colas, Coke Zero tastes like ass – partame (likewise other aspartame-sweetened diet sodas). Coke Classic is just flavored HFCS.

    I don’t think the label color bothers me much, but then, I haven’t bought cola on a regular basis in some time. I’m a root beer man.

  18. The label is … not *okay*, but not *actively malicious* on the bottle. However I wonder how it will be with the can? You may remember when regular Coke was in white cans two Christmases ago, and how many diet Coke drinkers were not amused. A green can would say “Sprite” to me.

  19. I certainly don’t think of myself as a hipster, but I was soooo happy a local supermarket started carrying Mexican cokes – in 12 oz and 8 oz glass bottles, no less. I drink one or two sodas a month, and prefer the taste of cane sugar to that of HFCS, so that’s a win.

    Not sure how this would taste, might try a bottle if/when it shows up here…

    (Aspartame will have me at a level 10 migraine within 20 minutes of the first sip (and I’m not one of the ones who can taste it, dammit) (being able to taste the difference between real and artificial vanilla is less useful to me (artificial tastes very metallic) *wry*). )

  20. So wait, is Coca-Cola Life like super brand new in the US? It’s been out in at least the UK and Scandinavia for a while. The cans are dark green, same design as the ordinary red ones. Looks nothing like the Sprite cans.

  21. If they tried making a coke with Xylitol I’d try it. That’s the only alternative sweetener to sugar I’ve found with an acceptable taste. (I use it in my coffee. If I make a cup with Xylitol, and a cup with regular sugar, I can only just taste the difference.)

    I went from Coke to Coke Zero when I started really trying to better manage my weight. I ended up giving up the Coke Zero too after about a year because: a) I don’t think aspartame is particularly good for you either, and b) I’d hit a plateau and dropping the Coke Zero helped me push through it.

    These days, I mostly drink water, coffee and some teas (and the occasional cider when the weather is hot.) Invest in a good water filter to make drinking water as pleasant an experience as absolutely possible. Not one of those crappy filter jugs you put in the fridge. (And for excellent coffee on the cheap: an aeropress, a hario hand grinder and fresh coffee beans.)

  22. Wow. I did not know I was a hipster. I’ve been drinking Mexican Coke since I discovered a few years ago that it’s made with cane sugar instead HFCS.

  23. I’m thinking with all the bad press artificial sweeteners get they are trying to get the people like me who can’t drink regular or Mexican Coke because of the high sugar content, but are afraid of the health hazards of diet coke. Unfortunately it’s still too many carbs. And I can’t tolerate the stevia aftertaste. Yuck. Bitter. I can’t even stand it in my tea. I’ve stopped drinking all but the occasional coke zero or diet orange. Diet root beer works too. But until they work out the potential health issues I’m down to about one diet soda a month. :-(

  24. People with diabetes or on diabetes medications such as Glucophage (metformin) should be aware that taking stevia on top of their meds can cause a dangerous blood sugar drop and avoid it. Learned this the hard way and will never touch the stuff again. Not sure if the same happens if you are on insulin.

  25. If I drank soda, it might be for me. I’m another of the “allergic to aspartame” crowd–splitting blinding horrible headaches, and some nausea. But, being a hippie kid with no real sweet tooth, and I’d really rather drink wine anyway…I’m not their target audience, I guess. :-)

  26. Heck, I don’t even know what the difference between coke zero and diet coke is. I don’t drink much soda, but when I do, I just take the calories. Sugar free soda always has a weird aftertaste, and it leaves me feeling odd. Like my body was all primed up for something it didn’t get (so then I have to eat something sugary). Maybe mirror mirror coke is for people who hate the taste and metabolic sensation of zero calorie soda the way I do, but who drink soda more frequently so saving even a few calories adds up?

    I agree that the green label seems just wrong on a cola product, though.

  27. I don’t understand why they’d have sugar AND stevia? Most Coke around the world is already made with cane sugar, so why add stevia? And the people who want an artificial sweetener aren’t going to want to drink a sugary drink anyway.

  28. I tried it at my aunt’s house and hour it was so-so. It tasted like watered-down coke. I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink it but if someone likes it, more power to them.

  29. lilacsigil, the stevia is so they can get the same level of sweetness with less calories, and the reason for the sugar is to try and get it to taste more like sugar and less like stevia.
    (also, stevia is a natural, not an artificial sweetener)

  30. I feel so normal now seeing every one here who thinks stevia tastes awful. People keep telling me how great it is. (I find all the artificial sweeteners to taste awful in different ways) I wish they would use real sugar and just less of it.

  31. My guess is that it’s intended for people who want to reduce their calorie/sugar intake but can’t stand the strong aftertaste of the zero calorie versions.

    I tried for years to switch to diet soft drinks (I was a Pepsi addict, myself) because I was literally drinking more calories than I was eating but I just couldn’t handle the aftertaste. Mind you there were no reduced calorie versions back then, so it was all or nothing.

    I finally just had to force myself to tolerate the aftertaste and, luckily, after a week or so, it just simply vanished. I cut my daily calorie intake by AT LEAST 50% and the pounds just started melting off of me. These half sugar, half artificial sweetener versions might have made that transition a lot easier and happen a lot sooner.

  32. I hate the taste of Diet Coke, and I cannot process high fructose corn syrup (I know, this sucks and cuts out an epic ton of things I used to love to eat). Sucralose/Splenda makes me sick (in ways best not mentioned). I was drinking the glass-bottle Cokes from Mexico (I’m in Texas, it’s in plentiful supply). The bottles are large, and I never finish a whole one.

    Coke Life is excellent; it tastes like Coke, and it doesn’t upset my digestion. Perhaps the market is for people with digestive tracks unable to process artificial sweeteners–and don’t want to overdo it on the sugar.

  33. Another person with issues with aspartame. I’ve tried Coke zero a couple of times and was reminded with blinding headaches.

    Coke Lite’s olive green bottle is supposed to invoke a healthy feeling, but it’s still a little weird. The taste reminds me more of Coke Zero than Coke and I think that might be the point. There are no Coke products that are stevia only and this seems to be a combination of test and being able to say that the overall portfolio is lower calorie.

  34. Yeah, I think this is for people who are sensitive/allergic to artificial sweeteners or don’t like the taste of the ones in Diet Coke (blech) or Coke Zero (I <3 aspartame, but my husband reacts poorly to it). And people who don't like the weird syrupy feel of corn syrup sodas. It didn't bother me until I switched to diet (and now I pretty much only drink the zeros if it's coke anyway), now if I have a corn syrup soda, it tastes fine, but the after-feel of my mouth is gross.

    I can see a market for this, though I don't know that it is big enough to support this line. I wish they'd make cherry coke zero caffeine free, I'd support that market by myself :)

    As for the green label, it looks really weird, but I bet I would get used to it pretty quick.

  35. That is an unattractive shade of green. (I avoid all caffeine, so I can’t comment on the product, or its family.)

  36. I tried it shortly after it was released. In a word, meh. I do get a little of the Stevia aftertaste thing, so that was a turn off. Also, I think it needs a green bottlecap instead of a grey one to remain aesthetically pleasing.

  37. They’re trying to stick their toes into the “Real sugar, not the poisonous high-fructose-corn-syrup” movement and the “let’s try this new fad artificial sweetner” thing at the same time and fail horribly.
    They just need to dump HFCS and call it a day.

  38. P.S. To Gynocrat.. those mexican cokes are really only the size of a can. Deceptively thick glass or slimmer bottle.. I thought it was the traditional 16. Had to do that metrics-conversion thing to figure it out.

  39. Beats me why, but “mirror universe” got me thinking of inverting the image. The negative of that image looks like something I’d try. – Tasteful black lettering with a clear refreshing-looking beverage.
    Drink mix sweetened with unequal or stevia always tasted “thin” to me, so sometimes I’d add some glycerine for the right mouth feel.

  40. I must take exception to your Mexican Coke “hipster” reference: here in Texas, we’ve known to seek out the superior Mexican Coke for as long as I can remember, and I’m the same age as you are.

  41. I stopped drinking fizzy drinks years ago. Except for beer, because beer.

    I used to get a can of Dr Pepper in the morning at work. And another one at lunch. And another in the afternoon. And maybe one or two more if I felt the need.

    Over the years, the price kept going up. 50 cents, 55 cents, 65 cents. Then they replaced the cans with 16-oz bottles and jacked the price to $1. Then $1.25. And after I drank one, I felt really bloated.

    One day I realized that I was spending over $50 a month on fizzy sugar water, and decided to stop.

    It was HARD. I’d be sitting at my desk, and suddenly think “A Dr Pepper would be REALLY GOOD right now” and fall off the wagon

    I finally had to start leaving any change or bills that would work in the machines at home to keep myself from giving in to temptation.

    The cravings faded after about two weeks. By then I didn’t want to break my streak, and that made it easier to stay away.

    I lost 10 pounds almost immediately.

  42. FWIW, folks in the comments, stevia isn’t a brand name, therefore not a proper noun, therefore you don’t need to capitalize it unless you are using the plant’s full species name: Stevia rebaudiana.

  43. Joe D: Were you drinking Dr Pepper on the schedule that used to be specified on the glass bottles, then (i.e., 10, 2, and 4)? I’m just barely old enough to remember seeing those bottles.

  44. Just to help people get this part, though it’s been said a few times to no avail:

    Stevia is a plant, not an artificial sweetener.
    Stevia is a plant, not an artificial sweetener.
    Stevia is a plant, not an artificial sweetener.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

    Some people are super-tasters, and tend to not like things like watercress, cucumber skin, kale… perhaps these same people also don’t like stevia?

  45. Around here it’s unsweetened iced tea FTW. Honey as required in the hot beverages. We are gamers, and used to go through a lot of regular soda, until DH got diagnosed as pre-diabetic. We went cold turkey on carbonated beverages after that; we’ll still indulge occasionally, but to the tune of maybe 1 or 2 monthly between us.

  46. Hear hear, TheMadLibrarian! We sweeten stuff with honey (or agave syrup). Even our coffee. It’s quite good. We generally don’t drink any sodas, excepting occasions where there’s no other options (e.g. my parents’ holiday party yesterday, where the tap water is chlorine-y and soda was all they had).

    Once we quit sugar and sodas, sweet things just became too sweet for us, so we mostly don’t crave them anymore.

  47. I’m lucky. Have managed to kick Coke habit, even after we found the Mexican coke in glass bottles at Costco. Have also managed to get off most of the energy drink fix (Sobè Power helped get away from Coke) and now I’m mostly just 1 cup coffee in morning (black, with 4 oz milk) and water during the day, except for 2 glasses of ON AMIN.O Pre-Workout stuff. It’s mostly essential amino acids plus green tea extract, green coffee bean extract and 10 cal of sweet flavor (sucralose). The grape just tastes so good and that 2 pm slump in energy just calls out for it.

  48. They’re trying to stick their toes into the “Real sugar, not the poisonous high-fructose-corn-syrup” movement and the “let’s try this new fad artificial sweetner” thing at the same time and fail horribly.
    They just need to dump HFCS and call it a day.

    To the best of my knowledge there is some evidence that fructose is much worse for you than glucose. The problem is that we don’t eat much stuff sweetened only with glucose, except perhaps Crunchy Frog. Table sugar and HFCS both contain fairly similar levels of fructose. HFCS is called that because it has more fructose than regular corn syrup, not because it has more fructose than anything else. If you want to avoid fructose, then cane sugar, HFCS, honey, agave nectar, and fruit juice should all be off the menu.

    I’ve never tried stevia in anything other than coffee, where I found it to be perfectly fine, but I will concede that the coffee may mask many taste sins.

  49. AAaaaaaahhhhh…. NNoooooo!!!! I’m a “hipster”!!!! Who knew??
    I actually kinda prefer the mexican Coca Cola… although Zero or the regular stuff is fine…
    But… well….
    If I admit I actually have a preference for Dr Pepper, to what sub-strata of Hell am I consigned?

  50. Probably invented by the guy who tricked us all into calling Republican states red and Democrat state blue, the opposite of what God intended!

  51. Honestly, they’re trying to grab people like me who love soda but eat healthy. Right now, I’m pretty much drinking Blue Sky and Zevia only, which are both stevia brand sodas, and with hypoglycemia in the family, stevia’s natural sugar-balancing properties mean I can enjoy my soda without worry. They might be too late though. I gave up on name brand sodas having healthy options (without dyes, sugar, etc.) years ago and never would have known they put out a soda I might be able to drink if I hadn’t bumped into this post.

    Also, stevia having a bitter aftertaste means someone used too much or in something that absorbs flavor, like yogurt. It’s great in tea and it works fine in foods with a strong flavor of their own so long as you don’t overdose the poor recipe.

    For no bitter aftertaste and a natural sweetener, go with xylitol. It’s also better for baking.

  52. 160 calories in a drink is alot. I stick mostly with water and I still yo-yo diet. Lets say you have 1 of these/day on days that you work.

    160 calories * 250 days = 40,000 calories
    3500 calories in a pound. that is almost 13 pounds/year.

    Water has 0 calories.

  53. It looks like a Saudi drink – which is cool(I was hoping it was some weird desert melon Coke or somesuch), but nothing at all like a Coke. Ah well, Coke Zero tastes better, and much more diabetic friendly:)

  54. C2 was corn syrup and aspartame

    That’s only half correct. C2 was sweetened with corn syrup, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. It was Coke’s “kitchen sink approach” to soft drink sweetening.

  55. Another caveat to the xylitol recommendation: it can definitely cause digestive disturbances. I could be more specific but…why spoil a lovely conversation.

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