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.





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.


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.


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.



Discuss - 16 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).

  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!

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