Okay, so although I’m not a habitual drinker of sweet drinks, I think all you guys know I like the occasional cola with a veggie burger or pizza. I don’t drink Coke or Pepsi because they are…well…Coke and Pepsi. I don’t need to patronise you by explaining the dangers of the GMO high fructose corn syrup and aspartame that sweetens most sweet tasting drinks on the market, but in case you need reminding why its so dangerous, or if this is news to you entirely, just have a quick read of my article from last summer on Alternative Natural Sodas.
I know a cola addiction is a real problem for a lot of people. Even for some people who know enough to know better. You already know they’re not great for your body and health. The colas on the market aren’t organic, so they’re not great for the planet. And they’re not fair trade, so they’re not great for the people producing the raw ingredients. Until now. The folks over at Karma Cola have made the first fair trade (real) cola in the UK and they were nice enough to send me over a selection of their fair trade, organic sodas to try out.
I want to say at this point, that 99% of the time you should JUST DRINK WATER. Yes I am reviewing a soft drink today, but that does not change my view that sodas are meant to be a treat. And I think the people at Karma Cola get that, which is why each of their drinks is quite special – in taste and packaging – and they feel special to drink.
So here’s what I thought of what they sent me:
My 5 minute review in the video below pretty much sums up my views on this drink. But to recap, this cola has a satisfying mouth feel because its made with real cane sugar and it has the right amount of carbonation. There are distinct spicy and botanical notes that come from the nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lime and orange oils used in it (and presumably the cola nuts themselves…though I have no idea what a cola nut tastes like). There is also a clear citrusy-ness to it that reminds you of when you order a Coke while holidaying in Europe and it comes with a slice of lemon in it. But this is nicer because the flavour comes from the Sicilian lemons they use. In short, I like it. I think its the best tasting natural cola on the market.
Okay, first off, isn’t the bottle adorable?
Who can resist the charms of a nonchalant lemon?
But lets talk about the taste. I hate to be London-centric, but if you are a Londoner, maybe you’re familiar with a chain of restaurants here called Franco Manca. They just do sourdough pizzas. That’s it. Pizzas, organic wine, fantastic coffees and a homemade sparkling lemonade they bottle themselves. I order it every time I go there. And that is what Lemony Lemonade tastes like to me. Its those big old lumpy Sicilian lemons that do it. They have a heady, floral quality to them. But there was something else there…a slight but pleasant bitterness. What was it…what was it….ah…yes, a hint of Fresca. Lemony Lemonade has a trick up its sleeve…grapefruit! So, Karma Cola had another win with me. But could they get top marks for 3 out of 3 flavours?
This is where Karma Cola could lose me. I’m kind of funny about ginger beers, ginger ales, etc. I just don’t like the aftertaste. Up until now, its been the bottle I’ve left in the fridge and I’ve not tasted it. So here it goes, as I write this. (I take a sip.) Okay, my first thought is that I think it would be better over ice with some pineapple juice, Brugal and a small paper umbrella stuck in the glass…served poolside. But…as far as ginger drinks go its pretty good. If you like fiery Jamaican ginger beers, its a bit like one of those, but not as cloyingly sweet. It does have lemon in it, but if I were designing the perfect ginger ale or ginger beer to suit my own tastes, it would have more lemon in it. As it is, its like a lightly carbonated honey and ginger tea. Definitely natural tasting and less carbonated than the other two flavours I tried.
So, this was fun. Thanks to Karma Cola for the drinks. And thanks to you for reading what I’ve had to say about them. And if you’re after any of these fair trade organic sodas, I believe they’re available at Waitrose in the UK.