Cane sugar Coca-cola

I was reminded recently that the Coca-cola sold in Mexico is different from that sold in the US in that it’s still sweetened with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). By all reports, the Mexican variety tastes much better than the domestic version. I’m not a Coke drinker normally (or any soda, really) but I was curious to try it to see.

It took a little looking around but I finally found that the taqueria just around the corner from my house sells Coke imported from Mexico, so I picked up a couple bottles. Add a can of domestic Coke and I’m ready for a taste test.

Mexican/US Coke taste test

The taste difference is really quite remarkable. I was expecting a slight difference maybe, but nothing on this order. The Mexican Coke is much better, by a huge margin. It’s lighter, cleaner, and doesn’t have that lingering aftertaste that I can only describe as “chemically” that the American Coke has. Sarai’s findings are the same, and in fact she used the word “chemical” just as I was thinking it. I’d hesitate to call anything containing this much refined sugar “healthy”, but it’s a damn sight less unhealthy than HFCS, so you’ve got that benefit as well as the better taste.

To eliminate any bias, Sarai took the test blind. I tasted them just after she did, and before she voiced her opinion.

Mexican Coke Mexican Coke is also sold in much cooler bottles

The remainder of the Coke, after the taste test, was combined with some Cuban rum I have in order to make Cubas Libres.

Like I said, I’m not a Coke drinker normally, but I occasionally keep it on hand when having people over for drinks. From this point on, this is the only kind I’ll buy. I hear that Costco sells Mexican Coke by the case. I don’t have a Costco membership but I know people who do.

For those without access to a Costco, there’s also the option of stocking up on Passover Coke, the HFCS-free Coca-cola that’s sold around April due to corn not being kosher for Passover. Look for the yellow caps on the bottles.

HFCS-free 7-up or Sprite is proving to be more elusive. It seems to exist, but I’m having trouble finding any concrete information about it. This is the other soda I keep on hand for cocktails and would like to find a cane sugar substitute for it as well.


[...] wrote up a American/Mexican Coke taste test on my personal blog. The results are unsurprising. If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to [...]

[...] The final thing to note from the package: Reese’s Select Clusters were made in Mexico. These must be the first items coming off the lines for the American market. While it’s not a replacement for a product that we’re accustomed to from the US factories (so I can’t do a one-for-one comparison like so many folks do with American Coca-Cola & Mexican Coca-Cola). [...]

Bob says:

I am a big fan of Mexican Coca-Cola. I definitely think that it tastes different.

A more fair taste test, however, would have been to compare Mexican Coca-Cola with a bottle of U.S. bottled Coke instead of Coke in a can.

Kenn says:

Does Coke from a bottle taste different from Coke in a can? I had that can left over from a party a while back but never drink it myself so I have no idea.

Mick says:

There is a large hispanic population in my Washington D.C. area and many small hispanic grocers that carry Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Fanta, 7UP, and other ethnic brands in returnable glass bottles that often date from the 70′s. The labels indicate natural ingredients and Cane sugar-yum

Joshua says:

An excellent cane sugar substitute for 7-up/Sprite is Bubble-Up, still produced in the glass bottles and never produced with HFCS, to my knowledge. I live in the Oregon and it can usually be found in the soda section of “Market Of Choice” markets.

It’s funny to me that Coca-Cola still maintains that there is virtually no difference in taste between Coke produced with Cane Sugar and the HFCS variety. Actually, it’s strategic marketing. If Coke were to admit the difference and people started clamoring for the the real thing, they would lose a good deal of money on the more expensive Cane Sugar. It’s the curse of corporatism, folks.

Kenn says:

@Joshua: Thanks for the tip. I remember Bubble-Up from when I was a kid but haven’t seen it in years. I’m actually moving to Portland tomorrow so I’ll keep an eye out for it.