AHA: What you need to know about Coca-Cola's new sparkling water

Just weeks after launching its new energy drink, the Coca-Cola Company is going big with a brand-new (to them) product: flavored seltzer. Okay, so maybe they're a wee bit late to the party, seeing as how the LaCroix craze was in full swing by 2017 and Pepsi brought out Bubly in 2018. What Coca-Cola lacks in timeliness, however, it has more than made up for in product research and development.

The R&D team started with a list of 800 potential flavors, and through numerous consultations with grocery, drug store, and convenience store owners, they managed to narrow down the field to 50 candidates. Ultimately, eight flavors were selected for a product that these retailers hope will be "something fresh and new that can help grow the [sparkling water] category" when it launches this March.

Which AHA flavors were the winners?

All of the flavors of AHA — a product which, btw, is not named after the '80s band of "Take On Me" fame — are combos, with not a boring mono-flavor in the bunch. You'll be able to pick up a bottle of Lime + Watermelon, Strawberry + Cucumber, Orange + Grapefruit, Apple + Ginger, Blueberry + Pomegranate, Peach + Honey, Citrus + Green Tea, or Black Cherry + Coffee. All of the flavors are both calorie- and sodium-free, but the last two (the ones with tea and coffee) have an added boost of 30 milligrams caffeine per can.

So how does AHA taste?

A team from The Washington Post got a preview (or pre-taste) of the new product, and found the flavors to be somewhat "aggressive." In fact, each variety was said to resemble a type of candy such as a watermelon Jolly Rancher, a gummy peach ring, or a cherry Tootsie Pop. Some of the subtler flavor partners, such as ginger and honey, left little impression. One odd thing the taste testers did detect was something they described as a slightly viscous feel to the water, with one tester remarking, "I never felt like I needed to brush my teeth after drinking seltzer until now." On the whole, the team found the product to be "colorful and fun," but none of them preferred AHA to any of the flavored seltzers already on the market.

Still, the Coca-Cola Company certainly has the marketing expertise to compete in an already crowded field, so this "vibrant, lively, playful brand" with its "bold aroma [and] very flavor-forward profile" is predicted to be a dominant player once it hits the store shelves.