REVIEW: Coca Cola Zero Sugar & Face Off With Coke Zero!

JFG Nation, I don’t claim to be a Coke expert. I’ve drunk plenty of it, but I once worked with a guy who drank a six-pack of Diet Coke every work day. EVERY. WORK. DAY. He used to build himself a wall on his desk of empty Coke cans. HE was a Coke expert. Me? I’m just a guy with some taste buds, a website, and a home near a store that sells Coca Cola Zero Sugar. So let’s do this.

Today’s junk food: Coca Cola Zero Sugar!!

As Buzzfeed reported: In the latest sign that sugar is the new tobacco, Coca-Cola is relaunching Coke Zero as Coke Zero Sugar in the US, refining its message about the zero-calorie soda.

While the brand is now Zero Sugar, the words “zero calorie cola” also appear on the bottom of the bottle, reflecting a shift in consumers’ focus from cutting calories alone to reducing sugar intake.

Moreover: Coke Zero Sugar…is already available in Great Britain, Mexico, and more than 25 other countries, according to the company, and is doing well in those markets.

“Global volume growth for Coke Zero Sugar has stepped up over the last few years from mid-single digits [percentages] to high-single digits, and now it’s running in the teens,” said Quincey.

Basically, while people LOVE Coke Zero, Coca Cola Zero Sugar is apparently KILLING it overseas, so they are bringing it to the US. I know that many people went into panic mode, claiming they’d hoard Coke Zero like Bitcoins.

My local Harris Teeter had the new product, so I wanted to do a side by side compare. First, the ingredients:

Uh, these are EXACTLY THE SAME. So…different ratios, then?

Time for a taste. First, the “classic” Coke Zero:

Yep, good ol Coke Zero taste. Sweeter than Diet Coke with more Coke flavor, and the familiar aspartame flavor on the back end. On a hot summer day, an ice cold Coke Zero is near perfect.

Now, onto the new interloper: Coca Cola Zero Sugar!

Tiny can.

First sips.

Whoa.

WHOOOOOOOA.

GREAT. GOOGLY. MOOGLY.

DO THESE TASTE GOOD? YES! YES! WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!

WHY OR WHY NOT? Look, I said it at the beginning – I’m no Coke expert. I’m not going to be able to sit here and break down the spices, saying this has a little more cinnamon or some ish. And I’m not a constant Coke drinker, so don’t @ me with “oh this tastes WAAAY off” or “COKE ZERO FOREVER COKE ZERO SUGAR NEVER!”

Let me say this: THIS. TASTES. GREAT.

The basic reason is this: IT STILL TASTES LIKE COKE. But even better: IT TASTES MORE LIKE COCA COLA CLASSIC THAN COKE ZERO.

Hear me out: the best part of Coke Zero over Diet Coke is that the first flavor that hits your tongue is that perfectly blended Coke taste. Diet Coke has its own unique flavor which some of you worship and I don’t love, but Coke Zero approximates Coke flavor very well – for that first 2 second taste. Then as you swallow, and the soda goes down the throat and the flavor slides off the tongue, the aspartame DOES eventually hit – it always does. Even if you like the fact that you’re not drinking sugar, you can definitely tell that Coke Zero is still just a chemically matched sugar-free equivalent of Coca Cola Classic.

And what does Coca Cola Zero Sugar do? IT REDUCES THAT AFTERTASTE.

That’s what makes this better. While Coke Zero has Coke flavor for 2 seconds, and then let’s say 4 seconds of aspartame after taste, Coca Cola Zero Sugar has 4 seconds of Coke flavor and only 2 seconds of aspartame. And for me, that shift in the ratio of seconds of Coke flavor on my tongue to aspartame aftertaste is HUGE.

Again – I don’t drink Coke enough to know whether the “formula” is waaay off. All I know is that this Coca Cola Zero Sugar tastes more like Coke than Coke Zero does. Maybe I’m speaking blasphemy. You loyalists out there love to hate. But I’m telling you now: THIS. TASTES. GOOD.

I’m a fan. OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW!

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW? New and improved taste? INDEED.

PURCHASED AT: Harris Teeter, Potomac, MD.

WHERE FOUND IN STORE? End cap. So random.

COST? $2.00 for a mini 6-pack.

Sincerely,

The JFG

Discuss - 34 Comments

  1. Geek Girl says:

    I’ve had a couple of Coke Zero Sugars, and quite frankly, I can’t tell much difference. I discovered Coke Zero years ago at Safeway, and had no idea what it was. I tried it on the off chance that it was finally a diet version that tasted like Coca Cola. I mean, Diet Coke is an abomination. I grew up drinking Coca Cola. My mother told me my first words were Coca Cola. In the 1980s, when I discovered I was diabetic, it occurred right round the same time that they brought out New Coke, which I found totally awful. I knew I had to give up Coke, but I decided to wait until the supply of the original was gone. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there was a local store that never ran out. In fact, when Coke Classic was released, they had both original and Coke Classic. So, I had to limit myself to one Coke per day. Then came that glorious day I bought a Coke Zero. I was amazed. A diet dink that tasted like Coca Cola. It is pretty much all I drink now. If I have to, I will drink a Pepsi Max, or some other diet drink, but only in a pinch. I was a bit concerned with they announced the change, but Coke Zero Sugar is just fine.

  2. Amarsir says:

    I’m about a 6-pack a day guy. Actually Coke Zero was my second choice after Pepsi stopped selling One. So I’m up for change.

    At a Wendy’s the other day I noticed the Coke Freesyle machine had been changed to say “Coke Zero Sugar” but that doesn’t mean the formula actually changed. If it did, I confess I couldn’t detect a taste difference at all.

  3. Christoph says:

    I’m taking my first sips of Zero Sugar right now and my first reaction is “no sir, I don’t like it.” It tastes like Coke after it has sat out for a while and had ice melt in it. It has a very “hollow” flavor. Don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like he difference between Diet Dr Pepper (bad) and Dr Pepper Ten (glorious).

    • DD says:

      I don’t like it either, why mess with something that is perfect already.

    • Rob says:

      Exactly. I had my first one this weekend, straight out of a new 2 liter bottle and my first words were holy crap, this stuff is FLAT. My next words were this stuff sucks. Everyone that tried it agreed that it had absolutely no bite whatsoever. Terrible.

  4. Joe Wallace says:

    The after taste on the coke zero is kind of overwhelming. Glad you like it. I will change my cola after more than 50 years. ?

  5. Aly says:

    Coke Zero is our household’s Coke of choice, me for caffeine-free, him for caffeinated. I am so very, very, very wary of this, even for someone that generally doesn’t drink that much soda. If it’s actually only an improvement, fingers crossed for a caffeine-free variety.

  6. Amalia says:

    I’m bummed it still has aspartame making it not much different than Coke Zero 🙁

  7. Vickie parker says:

    I really don’t know why you have to mess with something that is already perfect. I remember another time coke wanted to change the taste of the regular coke. They changed it and I think called it the new coke. Well it did not go over well so they went back to the original coke. I LOVE coke zero. And yes I have tried the new one. But to me it is not as GOOD. I mean really why do you have to mess with something so good and screw it up…..

  8. Sascha says:

    There is little to no difference between the two. Had Coke simply changed the design on cans and bottles without announcing a formula change, everyone would simply be continuing to taste that sweet, sweet nectar.

  9. Surfer Sandman says:

    Hate to sound like that guy, but I find all forms of diet soda to be awfully dreadful. I drank Coca Cola Zero when it first came out and used to drink lots of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. I switched to real sugar soda and haven’t looked back. I also drink a lot less soda that way.

    If it floats your boat though, more power to you.

  10. Cooper Harris says:

    OK – I am a Coke Classic guy except that I recognize the sugar is bad for me. So, I long ago stopped drinking Coke Classic except on rare occasions when I want a special something – maybe once a month, and then usually at a restaurant (when I am eating other stuff that is bad for me.)

    When I (almost) stopped drinking Coke Classic, I tried to switch to “Diet Coke,” and for about ten minutes I drank the stuff. However, thereafter swore off Coke. Diet Coke, in my view, is terrible.

    Then I discovered Coke Zero. It is pretty good! Not, Coke Classic, mind you, which I really prefer, but not bad at all. So I drank Coke Zero pretty regularly. Then I heard of the new Coke Sugar free. I thought, “well, sense it replaces Coke Zero, they will now either turn against them, or embrace the new stuff with enthusiasm.

    So today, just a half hour ago, I gave it a try. I purchased 12 cans, and to be fair, refrigerated them before giving it a try. The verdict? It is “better” that Coke Zero. I can’t say quite how, but t is better. To those who say Coke Zero and Coke Sugar free taste the same, I disagree.

    However! Does it taste as good as Coke Classic? Well, to be honest it is hard to say. I should have bought some Coke Classic so I could compare them, but I didn’t. But, based on my memory of Coke Classic, it either states “as good” or it is really close.

    I’d say to everyone – give it a shot.

  11. Elisa says:

    Coke Zero and Coke Cherry Zero are among the two that I like to drink.

    Not too long ago, Coca Cola bought back a few of its drinks in 24 oz. sized bottles including Coke Zero.

  12. Sascha says:

    I wonder what Coke will do with their other Zero lines. The word Diet had really left their products, other than on Diet Coke. Well they now rebrand and make Sprite zero sugar, Fanta zero sugar, Mello Yello zero sugar, etc.?

  13. Andi says:

    Coke Zero makes me want to go into a rage at someone for giving me full sugar Coke, but before the words can come out of my mouth, I’m hit with the aspartame after taste and I know I have the right stuff. Coke Zero Sugar tastes like an improved Diet Coke and would not make me want to rage against someone for giving me regular Coke. Now it wasn’t bad… But I’m addicted to the taste of Coke Zero after taste and all. I don’t like the change, but I’m happy that the change is acceptable.

  14. ArugulaZ says:

    You’re absolutely right, Mr. Guy. I drank Coke Zero for years, and I’m a big fan. I was apprehensive about a change in the formula, but Coke Zero Sugar is the Coke Zero experience, fully realized. I think others have made this observation, but Coke Zero Sugar makes Coke Zero taste like Diet Coke. The flavor is more fully developed, with the familiar spice of Coke Classic pushed to the forefront. It’s definitely an improvement, and it’s going to be an easy transition to the new formula.

  15. Carla W Gray says:

    VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE TASTE OF COKE ZERO SUGAR. PLEASE BRING BACK COKE ZERO, my favorite for years! The zero sugar version tastes like a cross between Diet Coke (awful) and Original Coke (which I like less than Zero). PLEASE PUT COKE ZERO BACK ON GROCERY SHELVES, give us a choice!

    • Lindsay B says:

      I just had some last night…thumbs down! It reminded me of Tab from back in the day. Overall, too sweet. Why not get rid of Diet Coke, that stuff is the worst!

  16. Colleen says:

    What is wrong with everyone? Coke zero sugar tastes nothing like Coke zero. It is too sweet and not in a regular coke sort of way. Coke zero has been my favorite go ever. Good by coke, never liked diet Coke as much as Coke zero either.

  17. ruckus says:

    I bought a couple of cans of Coke Zero Sugar today. One went to my dad, who is a Diet Coke staple guy. He didn’t like it at all, said it tasted like a generic diet soda. I tried it and it tasted … well if you took diet coke and coke zero and mixed it up, thats Coke Zero Sugar to me. It isn’t my cup of tea (soda). 🙂

  18. Martha says:

    For some reason all I could taste was a nutmeg flavor. Strong. That was the primary difference from my beloved Coke Zero. Not a fan of the change.

  19. Colette says:

    My husband and I are long time Coke Zero drinkers. We had the new Coke Zero Sugar at a restaurant today and both disliked it. To me it is almost completely tasteless. You might as well drink soda water. Since we bought a carton of it last night at the grocery store I compared the two formulas side-by-side when I got home. Same result — to us the new formula is flat and tasteless. I don’t taste the increased “sweetness” others have mentioned at all. Oh well, to each his own I guess. We won’t be buying the new formula going forward.

  20. Pam says:

    It tastes sweeter than Coke Zero to me and leaves and after taste. I firmly DO NOT like it.

  21. Tiffany Phillips says:

    I’ve been drinking coke zero for many years too. It’s the only thing that quenched my thirst for real. This new crap just doesn’t do it for me. If I wanted a more syrupy taste, I would drink regular coke or diet coke. The new zero sugar coke just doesn’t have that fresh taste that coke zero had. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Looks like I’m going to have to find something else to drink… Sigh, any suggestions. At this point, I’m about to buy the Check Zeros. haha.

  22. Jason Bowen says:

    The new zero sugar is no where near as good as Coke zero. Some of us drink Coke zero because it DOESN’T taste like regular Coke. Should of used the new one to replace diet Coke which sucks anyway, it would of been a big improvement. But Coke zero is way better than the new version. Good job Coke. Reminds me of the 80’s when you made another collosal mistake.

  23. jim says:

    I vote for the original zero it seemed to have a taste of its own it seemed to have a bite after taking a drink

    The new zero sugar leaves you tasting sugar after taking a drink

  24. Noelle says:

    I love Coke Zero, but really don’t care for the new Coke Zero Sugar. It tastes overly sweet, like most diet sodas. It has a flat taste, doesn’t have the “zip” of Coke Zero and seems to be missing a tangy citrus note or something similar. It also leaves a lingering nasty sweet taste in my mouth. Not pleasant. I have been trying to avoid buying Coke Zero (and other diet sodas, but Coke Zero was pretty much the only one I was buying) because I think artificial sweeteners are unsafe, but I was having a really hard time resisting the Coke Zero. If they don’t change the formula back, I guess it will be pretty easy for me to avoid artificially sweetened sodas from now on.

  25. James says:

    I just tasted this for the first time yesterday, 9-1-2017, and I was blown away by how much this actually tastes like Coke Classic.

    Prior to this, if I ordered a diet Coke or even Coke Zero and they accidentally gave me Coke Classic at a restaurant, I would know at the first sip that a mistake had been made.

    If they start serving this at restaurants, 9 out of 10 people would not be able to tell the difference especially if they aren’t really paying attention.

    I can see this actually becoming an issue where restaurants might choose not to serve it to avoid lawsuits where a diabetic was accidentally served Coke Classic and could not tell the difference and has negative health issues as a result.
    In order continue to sell it in restaurants they may need to come up with a little paper test strip that changes color in the presence of sugar or something like that.

    In my opinion it tastes that much like Coke Classic!

    Just a speculation but if it comes true you heard it here first!

    I will make another prediction. This will become a bigger seller than Coke Classic as more people realize that Coke Zero Sugar tastes just as good. Many who have tried to switch to Diet but couldn’t stand the taste will be won over by the taste of this.

  26. L says:

    Sure tastes just like coke zero, if you had opened a bottle let it go flat and left it in a 100% car for a month. Not to mention I drank this new montrosity, 45mins ago and the after taste hasn’t left my mouth. I’m a Coke Zero addict, this stuff sucks, I don’t think I can drink it again.

  27. Changing to the Dew says:

    For those who have no taste buds it us the same. But it taste nasty! I will quit drinking them when I run out of the last of my old coke zero!

  28. Paul Collins says:

    Been drinking Coke since I was a kid. I am now 70 years old. We bought a case of the new Coke Zero Sugar today but didn’t notice the new branding. Thought we were buying Coke Zero. Opened a can and took a sip, I said to my wife, “WHAT is wrong with this coke”? Then we looked closer and discovered we got the new Coke Zero Sugar. Man this stuff sucks! Anyone who thinks this is better , definitely don’t know a thing about taste!! Coke better bring back Coke Zero or they will loose a lot of loyal Coke drinkers. I will “NEVER” buy this again!

  29. Pat Waugh says:

    I brought the coke zero (sugar) and it is awful. I really taste the aspartame. The original Coke Zero had that real old school coke burn and fizzes. This falls flat and is too sugary. I despise Pepsi, but my boyfriend brought the new one and I tried it and it taste pretty good. It is now better than this new coke. I want my coke zero back. Stop messing with success.

  30. Christina says:

    New coke zero sugar tastes flat with nasty diet Coke after taste. Being diabetic Coke Zero was the only diet soda I liked. Now I have nothing.

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