Coca-Cola ingredients: Caffeine

The name Coca-Cola comes from two psychoactive drugs in their early formulation, coca meaning cocaine and caffeine from the kola-nut.

An earlier blogpost was about Coca-Cola’s relationship with cocaine. In this blogpost, we explore the ‘cola’ element of their name; i.e. caffeine, in their original formulation from the kola nut.

Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. It’s legal and unregulated in most parts of the world, including the UK. It creates physical dependency.*

The supply of caffeine from the West Africa ‘kola’ nut is in short supply, so nearly all of the caffeine in Coca-Cola products now is processed from waste tea leaves and coffee beans, as well as other chemical processing.

(Ironically, the company have benefitted greatly from the growing market for de-caffeinated products, including their own. Caffeine is a cheap by-product of the chemical process of decaffeinating tea leaves and coffee beans.)

* The difference made between a drug being classed as ‘addictive’ or one that causes ‘physical addiction’ is that the former results in ‘compulsive consumption despite significant adverse physical or mental reaction’. Most of us, however, do not offer tea or coffee to children, recognising that these are ‘adult’ drinks. Yet many adults, including parents give Coca-Cola and other caffeine-laced food products such as chocolate in quantity to their children, perhaps because they do not understand the reasons for the social taboo on tea and coffee for kids.

[Featured image is by Lorena.]

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