QUICK REVIEW: Coca-Cola Clear (Japan)

Coke Clr

What is Coca-Cola Clear?

I’m in Japan – the mecca of novelty junk food! Of course, I sought out some new and quirky offerings. Coca-Cola has introduced a colorless version of its signature pop – trailing a quarter of a century behind Pepsi in the clear soda arms race. Without all that pesky caramel-y cola, it’s billed as lemon-flavored and is a zero-calorie drink. It is currently only available in Japan.

How is it?

Right out of the bottle, the aroma veers away from the usual Coke. It’s milder with a low-level citrus smell.

Coke Clr 2

I was expecting something with a strong lemon taste, ala Sprite or 7Up, but this was subtler – like squeezing a lemon wedge into your already-sweet seltzer water and adding a dash of cola. Despite the lemon base, it was identifiable as a Coke derivative and had the same sweeteness level, but was lighter and brighter than regular Coca-Cola. It didn’t have the neon citrus feel of other sodas.

While not unpleasant, Coca-Cola Clear failed to establish its own flavor personality. Hence, it’s easier to describe what it ISN’T – it’s not cola, it’s not un-cola. Because of this vagueness of character, I wondered why this? Why now? Is 2018 the right time just because Coke hadn’t done it yet?

Coke Clr 3

Is there anything else you need to know?

Be prepared for the pop. The Coke products I sampled in Japan were packaged in a way that caused the initial rush of gasses out of the bottles to be downright explosive. My travel companion and I startled each other all week with the loud cracks of Coke bottles opening.

Conclusion:

Overall, an OK lightly lemon soda, but as Dr. Ian Malcolm would say – Coca-Cola scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. Try it if you’re a hardcore noveltyist, but only one bottle.

Purchased Price: 48 yen (approx. 69 cents US)
Size: 500 ml bottle (17 oz.)
Purchased at: MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya, Tokyo
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (100 ml) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, and Zesty Blood Orange

Diet Coke Feisty Cherry Ginger Lime Twisted Mango and Zesty Blood Orange

Diet soda drinkers are not exactly a fickle lot. Some people swear by Diet Pepsi without aspartame. Others with aspartame. Tab people are still kicking it like it’s 1985 and any true Texan wouldn’t be caught dead with a Mr. Pibb Zero over Diet Dr Pepper.

Which is all to say that Coke’s decision to launch a new flavored Diet Coke line is a bit of a head-scratcher.

As a diet soda drinker myself, I can understand the dividing lines of low-calorie beverages. We’re creatures of habit; obsessive compulsives; generally curmudgeonly and resistant to change. Also, we’re all going to get cancer and metabolic disorder and blah blah blah BUT STILL we’re willing to at least try a new diet soda, especially with the help of some (relatively) exotic names.

I love most orange-flavored things. However, unlike my childhood hero Kel Mitchell, I’m not crazy about the taste of orange soda, which lacks the body of a cola. Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange cures all that; the orange flavor is robust but not bitter, lingering on as a component of the aftertaste but not stripping the soda of its cola roots. Why it took Coke this long to use orange as a flavor in a bottled or canned soda, I have no idea. But I’m happy it’s finally here.

I don’t know what twisted is supposed to convey as an adjective. Perverse? Physically contorted? Changed ever-so-slightly from the original intent that the word is basically meaningless? The last one seems to be the case when it comes to the taste of Twisted Mango. Meaningless adjectives aside, this is a good soda. Crisp, fruity but not overly tropical, with a sweeter finish than traditional Diet Coke, it just works. I can see Diet Coke with Lemon fans liking this one, which has a good mix of conservative Diet Coke appeal and unique flavor.

Moving right along, Feisty Cherry seems like a weird name for a soda. A 90s pop-rock artist or Kentucky Derby horse? Okay, I can see that. But a soda? Not really. In any event, the flavor comes across as a slightly muted black cherry, but it never really overcomes the carbonation. Where there was a distinct sweetness with Zesty Blood Orange, Feisty Cherry has a more traditional Diet Coke aftertaste, which I guess can be either a good or and thing depending on your preferences. Personally, I found it a less suitable imitator to Diet Cherry Dr Pepper, which I’m allowed to say because of the two years I lived in Texas.

Ginger Lime should have been the most exotic tasting flavor, but instead of some piquant and spicy flavor, it tastes like Diet Coke watered down with a generic (read: not Canada Dry) ginger ale. Not that I’m complaining, but the lack of ginger ale crossover makes this a disappointment.

Diet soda drinkers are not exactly a fickle lot, and because of that, I’m not sure how well received the new Diet Coke flavors will be, especially when Feisty Cherry and Ginger Lime fail to deliver on their aggressive names.

However, maybe that’s the point.

Since Diet Coke drinkers default back to the standby of Diet Coke, the generally non-offensive flavors probably won’t turn anyone off. That said, at least with the exception of Blood Orange, I doubt they’ll turn anyone on.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 160 milligrams of potassium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.68
Size: 12-pack (12 oz. cans)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Blood Orange)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Ginger Lime)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Feisty Cherry)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Twisted Mango)
Pros: Blood Orange has a crisp, sweet finish that tastes like a natural addition to traditional Diet Coke. Twisted Mango brings a tropical flavor to cola without overdoing it. Varied spectrum of flavors for those who don’t have access to a Coke Freestyle machine.
Cons: Aside from Blood Orange, flavors don’t necessarily wow you. Feisty Cherry tastes mostly like Diet Coke with Cherry. Ginger Lime fails to deliver the long-expected ginger ale-cola hybrid. Curmudgeonly Diet Coke drinkers.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Coffee Plus (Japan)

Coca Cola Coffee Plus

Coffee and Coke sounds like the morning ritual of an 80’s Wall Street banker. It’s also the combination found in a new beverage in Japan that’s exclusively available at vending machines — Coca-Cola Coffee Plus.

For those of you who were in diapers a decade ago, Coke did offer a coffee-flavored cola called Coke Blãk. If you’re wondering if it was Coke Blech, I thought it was pretty good. But the rest of America didn’t think so because it wasn’t around for very long.

Since being discontinued, I could’ve easily and cheaply make a Coke Blãk-like beverage by combining the Coke and coffee already in my kitchen. But, nope, I did it the hard way by purchasing a can of Coca-Cola Coffee Plus from eBay for a ridiculous price plus international shipping from a seller in Japan, which would take two weeks to arrive.

But the thing about Coca-Cola Coffee Plus is that it’s not made by combining two liquids. It gets it coffee in the form of an extract powder. The cola and coffee combo gives the can’s contents 34 milligrams of caffeine, which is not a lot in this day of caffeine-filled espressos and energy drinks. But, granted, the can is a wee one. It holds about 6.5 ounces, which makes spending about $15 for a can a bit silly.

The beverage’s aroma is a bit weird. At times, it smells like coffee. Other times it’s coffee with cola spices. But that’s not why its weird. That’s expected. What’s odd is that sometimes, while finding out if my nose could pick out the coffee and cola, there were moments when I thought I smelled Japanese curry.

Coca Cola Coffee Plus 2

As for its flavor, it tastes better than what I remember Coke Blãk was like. The coffee flavor hits my tongue first. It’s not bold, like drinking black coffee. It’s mild and goes well with the cola spices. From what I can taste, it doesn’t seem to have artificial sweeteners like Coke Blãk did, which is why I enjoy it more. It’s tasty enough that I’m sad it didn’t come in a larger can or bottle. Also, that would’ve meant more sweet, sweet caffeine.

So is Coca-Cola Coffee Plus worth picking up? If you’re in Japan and in front of a vending machine that offers it, then absocoffeely. If you’re a former 80’s Wall Street banker with lots of money because you quit cocaine early in your career, then go ahead and burn some cash.

But if you’re a normal person in front of your computer’s monitor looking at an online Japanese snack store or eBay seller that offers it for 10 times its regular price with shipping, then NOke-NOla. As much as I like it, its can size alone makes it not worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 22 kcal, 0 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.02 grams of sodium.)

Purchased Price: $5.49 + $9.99 shipping
Size: 190 ml can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant combination of coffee and cola spices. Worth a try if you’re standing in front of a Japanese vending machine that offers it. Coffee and Coke.
Cons: Not worth $15. Wish it came in a larger can or bottle. Spending $15 to get a 6.5-ounce beverage from Japan. At times, it smells like Japanese curry.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

For most of my life I’ve thought of ginger as more of a medicine than an ingredient.

When I felt nauseous playing DOOM, I sucked on ginger candy. When I felt something funny in my tummy while watching someone play DOOM, I drank ginger ale. And when it felt like the room was spinning around every time I closed my eyes after playing DOOM, I hung out next to the toilet.

While ginger ale is quite possibly the most popular beverage with ginger, more drinks are being offered with it, like ginger beers, ginger kombucha, and, last year, Pepsi put some into their wonderful 1893 Ginger Cola.

Because of my love for Pepsi’s craft ginger cola, the first thing I sought out during my Japan trip was the new Coca-Cola Plus Ginger.

While Pepsi Japan comes out annually with limited edition soda flavors you’ve never seen in a PETE plastic soda bottle, Coca-Cola Japan keeps it simple by just adding a bit of flavor to the standard Coke and does it at an Olympics-like frequency. About three years ago, Coca-Cola Japan sold a delicious orange-flavored Coke.

It’s funny that the Pepsi Japan flavors are like ideas from a cocaine binge (cucumber, baobab, cherry blossom), while the cola that once had actual cocaine in it ends up being tame.

Much like the amount of orange flavoring in the last limited edition Japanese Coke I had, this soda had the right amount of ginger flavor. You can’t miss it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the cola. To be honest, it tastes right at home with the cola spices. Also, it didn’t burn, like it does with ginger beer. Coca-Cola Plus Ginger is such a great tasting soda that I bought two more bottles at the end of my trip.

If you enjoyed Pepsi’s ginger cola, you’ll like this, if you get your hands on it. It’s only available in Japan for a limited time (it was available in Australia in 2016) or from an online Japanese snack seller. If you think you’ll be able to replicate it by mixing Coca-Cola with Seagram’s Ginger Ale, you won’t because I tried using various ratios and none of them tasted anything close.

I really hope Coca-Cola Plus Ginger ends up in the United States, or at least be an option on a Coke Freestyle machine.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 44 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sodium, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 130 Japanese Yen
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: Lawson Station
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you’re a fan of Pepsi’s 1893 Ginger Cola, you’ll like this. Right amount of ginger flavor. Ginger complements the cola spices. Doesn’t have ginger burn.
Cons: Not available in the U.S., but might be available through online Japanese snack sellers. The nauseous feeling I got when playing DOOM.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Blãk

Let me tell you, this bottle of Coca-Cola Blãk sucks.

No, no, no. Not the coffee and cola fused Coca-Cola Blãk inside, just the bottle itself sucks.

Why does it suck?

Because I can’t use it in a bar fight.

What good is a glass bottle if I can’t break it and use it as a shiv to stab some guy messing with my woman? Also, forget about christening a ship with it.

I made a little video to show you how strong these bottles are. Check out the video here.

Come on, when you got to stab someone with a broken glass bottle, it needs to shatter on the first whack on the edge of the bar, maybe two whacks at the most.

Because if it doesn’t, you’re in danger and you can expect the following things to happen to you: someone stabs you with their own broken glass bottle shiv; someone hits you from behind with a barstool; or your body gets dragged across the bar, clearing everything off of it.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Couldn’t he just take someone else’s bottle?” I don’t want to take someone else bottle and shatter it, just to stab someone, because that’s just plain rude, especially if they just opened it. That’s a total waste of alcohol, unless it’s a light beer, then that’s a totally different story, because they may not realize it, but I’m doing a favor for that person I took the light beer bottle from.

The reason why the Coca-Cola Blãk bottle won’t shatter is because there’s this wrapper around it, which has all the fancy graphics and the nutritional information. Coca-Cola could’ve just put a sticker with the fancy graphics on the bottle like every beer does, because beer companies know that beer bottles make great shivs.

Also, you don’t really need nutritional information, because there really isn’t much nutrition in Coca-Cola Blãk. There’s 45 calories, zero grams of fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbs, 12 grams of sugar, and zero grams of protein per eight ounce bottle.

That’s another problem with the Coca-Cola Blãk bottle, it’s too damn small. I wish it came in a bigger bottle, because that means more Coca-Cola Blãk and a bigger shiv, unless it shatters and all you have left is the bottleneck, then it doesn’t really matter.

As for the Coca-Cola Blãk itself, it was surprisingly really good. When I opened the bottle there was pleasant spicy and coffee scent, which really grabbed me and punched me in the nose. If I was able to shatter the bottle and stab some guy in the face with it, he would definitely notice that pleasant spicy and coffee scent.

After drinking it, I was surprised by the fact that the coffee taste didn’t overcome the cola. After all, coffee is strong enough to overcome drug sniffing dogs when trying to smuggle cocaine into the country. Also, I was surprised by the lack of the typical coffee bitterness.

Overall, Coca-Cola Blãk definitely creates a very delicious fusion of coffee and cola.

But the bottle still sucks.

(Editor’s Note: The Impulsive Buy will not be responsible if you attempt to shatter the Coca-Cola Blãk bottle and injure yourself due to the bottle shattering or any other accident. The editor of The Impulsive Buy was stupid to try to shatter a glass bottle, so please don’t be stupid.)

Item: Coca-Cola Blãk
Price: 50 cents (8-ounces) (it was definitely on sale)
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly really good. Nice fusion of coffee and cola. Nice spicy and coffee scent. Zero grams of fat. Low calorie. Glass bottles that break on the first whack.
Cons: Small 8-ounce bottle. Glass bottle won’t break, so it can’t be used as a shiv. Quasi-product review blog editors who try to shatter glass bottles. Light beer. Bar fights.