Why Everyone Is Talking About Coca-Cola's New Soda

If you are the kind of person who meets your caffeine needs with both Coke and coffee because having one without the other just isn't enough, have we got news for you: Coca-Cola is launching a line of juiced-up sodas that come in 12-ounce cans and deliver 69 milligrams of caffeine. Compare that to a regular 12-ounce Coke, which has 34 milligrams, per Caffeine Informer, and it's quite a boost. Of course, it's not as caffeinated as a regular cup of joe, which clocks in at 96 milligrams, but hey, soda lovers need love, too.

Known as Coca-Cola with Coffee, the drink contains Brazilian coffee and comes in three flavors: dark, vanilla, and caramel (via People). The only bad news? It's not available nationwide until January 2021. 

Jaideep Kibe, vice president for Coca-Cola's trademark, said the new beverage occupies a new niche in Coke's line-up. "We think of this as a hybrid category. We've got an opportunity to create almost a new sub-category called refreshment coffee," he told Business Insider. "As people have been in lockdown or... working from home, there's a real opportunity to get that boost, that little pick-me-up, whether it's the slump in the afternoon or mid-morning."

This isn't the first time Coca-Cola has tried to market a soda-and-coffee drink

Unless you're a real Coke fan, chances are you wouldn't have known that the concept isn't new or that America isn't the first market to try Coca-Cola with Coffee. Coke first came up with a similar hybrid with Coca-Cola Blak back in 2006, and if you were a fan, you probably know that most folks didn't like this beverage. Roughly two years after it launched, it was discontinued.

More than a decade later, in 2019, the company rolled out the beverage that would be known as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee or Coca-Cola With Coffee, but they didn't make their way into U.S. markets. During last year's launch of Coke and coffee's offspring, Coke's Chief Technical Officer Nancy Quan told CNN Business that Coca-Cola Blak's problem was that it had been introduced to the public prematurely: "That was a trend before its time. I don't think people were ready to have a coffee portfolio within the Coca-Cola brand," she said.

Just to be clear, Coke isn't making the same thing with new packaging — Coca-Cola with Coffee will have more caffeine than its Blak predecessor did. And unlike Blak, the new Coke with coffee looks like... Coke.

Coca Cola with Coffee has been tested in different international markets

Coca-Cola with Coffee launched across more than 25 international markets, including Australia, Italy, Spain, and Thailand in 2019. Back then, the company wouldn't say whether it would bring the drink to the U.S. because, as the drink company puts it, geographic markets are usually assessed and evaluated separately — and products that work outside the U.S. don't always do well stateside. 

But with the product already out in several markets, it doesn't take much to find out how well — or how badly — it might have been received.

The drink appears to have come out to mixed reviews in Japan, where the beverage was presented as "Coca Cola Plus." The drink — which has 50 percent more caffeine, and half the number of calories — was initially only available through the country's famed vending machines. Kotaku quotes the Japanese language Shin-Shouhin as saying that the drink smelled "odd" because it neither smelled like Coke or coffee, and the publication's reviewer diplomatically pointed out, "I didn't think it tasted good, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." But that didn't keep another write from Tokyo Creative from saying that she liked the beverage which she found in a 190 ml can, because, "... you can strongly taste the coffee and the cola at the same time, and it is fizzy which I like."

Australian reviewers said Coca Cola with coffee was 'not bad'

In Australia, the drink is marketed as part of the Coca-Cola No Sugar range, and YouTube reviewer Thats Noice noted that the drink smelled like a normal Coke but with a hint of coffee, and proclaimed that it was "better than he had expected." Video critics Birdew Food Reviews (who admitted they weren't coffee drinkers) also said that the drink was "not bad," even though they picked up the overwhelming smell of coffee. The Australian critics were also quick to point out that the coffee in the fizzy drink came from instant coffee powder.

Here at home, Coca-Cola Insiders Club members get a shot at trying the new beverage before the rest of us do, and we can count on them to get on social media to tell us what they think of the new product, which is expected to come out in January 2021.