It was the classic evil trick of pricing. Picking up the essentials of life at the office (coffee and milk), I spotted bottle upon bottle of Coca-cola life, the new stevia and sugar sweetened creation. Being cola curious I of course wanted to try it. So I headed for the half litre bottles, which were of course right next to and stupidly close in price ot the one and a half litre ones. Which were, in turn and of course, significantly cheaper to buy in threes.
An excuse was clearly needed.
So I set up a blind test of cola for the afternoon coffee break. Coca-cola classic, Zero and Life in identical glasses, and a random assortment of coworkers who were around and felt like a soft drink. I said all three were Coca-cola variants, asking them to guess which was which. I did not mention Coca-cola life at all, so none of the testers even considered it when guessing.
- Everyone, no matter their reflexive comments about surely being unable to even guess right, picked out the Classic.
- Everyone thought the Zero tasted most artificial. Most also seemed to think it tasted worst.
- Life was generally considered much closer to Classic in taste, and most preferred it to the Zero.
- Nobody, as far as I recall, would place another option before the Classic.
- As I write, I realize that the most frequent (not a high bar) drinker of sugarfree cola was away. I wonder if that person would have picked out the Zero with ease. None of the tasters were into sugarfree and as I recall it most of them guessed that the Zero was Coca-cola light (as we call it around here). Given that everyone could clearly tell the difference between the three, I wish I had included Light as well. I suspect people would taste the difference, but perhaps still not know which of Zero and Light tastes which way.
Me? I would have liked to taste blind myself, but someone has to do the science too. I thought Coca-cola life tasted nice enough, but I am not sure my life needs a slightly less tasty Classic which still contains plenty of sugar. To me, the most plausible reason Life exists is to benefit from interest stevia. I see before me how they started out with a cola purely sweetened with stevia, then added sugar until it started tasting good enough. After all, they could hardly use any of the more common sweeteners, that would dilute the message of this being a more natural diet-ish cola!