The great cola taste test

The black stuff. It's everywhere. We asked Mike Rampton to blind test five cola brands to see if he could tell the difference

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The kind one

Karma Cola (fair trade, proceeds go to charity)

"It definitely smells like Cola," says Mike astutely. "The first sip..." he winces, "quite potent. It tastes like cola bottle sweets, a bit artificial... but that raises the existential question of what is authentic tasting cola? We just don't know." Mikes takes a hearty gulp. "It's got an almost spicy tang. Right at the start. The briefest split second of a suggestion of depth of flavour."

The great cola taste test

The cheapo one

Euro Shopper Cola

"Well," announces Mike after one sip. "This is a lot fizzier. It's there and then, in an instant, it's gone. Is this the really cheap one? It tastes cheap. There's very little there. A drink to placate a moaning 10 year-old." Mike holds his glass up like a soft drink Sherlock. "And look! It's darker than the last one. And yet somehow it feels thinner in the mouth." That's what she said!

The great cola taste test 1

The cool one

Dalston Cola

Mike sniffs his glass coyly. "Whoa.Whoa. This almost smells like it has booze in it. Interesting." He tastes a bit of it. "It sort of tastes like there's real fruit in it. And it's nowhere near as fizzy as the last one. It might be a bit of an acquired taste though. If you used this as a mixer with JD or something you'd probably think it had expired. It's its own drink. It tastes natural." Mike pauses, as if to reflect. "Tasty. I like it."

The great cola taste test 2

The generic one


Our man goes right in with a big gulp. "That's very fizzy." And then, as sure as eggs is eggs: "This is regular Coke, isn't it? You don't need to tell me," he adds smugly, "I know it is. There's a familiarity to it. It's quite inoffensive. Not delicious or anything. You can understand why it's the most popular drink in the world." Reign it in Macolm Gladwell, you're here to taste colas, not ruminate about the human race.

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The artisanal one

Fentimans Curiosity Cola

Mike holds the glass up in wonderment. "This is totally opaque," he declares. "That looks bullet-proof." The flavour? "A curious taste. A pleasant taste. Not that fizzy. It's quite a posh flavour, isn't it? Like someone's made it in their DIY cola brewery. A craft cola, if you will. It's still staggeringly sweet though. They're all so incredibly sweet. You taste them with your teeth first."

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