Mexican Coke

Modern_coca_cola_bottleAs some of you may already know, I spent some time in Mexico during the late 1980s (it’s scary (frightening, surprising) for me to think that that was more than 20 years ago!). As a young man in my 20s, I participated in my share of (several) games of Dominoes, which was very popular in Mexico in those days (and perhaps still is?).  Part of the ritual (specific actions done in a certain order whenever this particular activity occurs) was to drink some Bacardi rum (a type of alcohol) and Coca-Cola, a drink known as a Cuba Libre (literally, “Free Cuba”).  Needless to say, I had the chance to drink a lot of Coca-Cola during the games, although I always limited my intake (the amount of something you drink or “take in”) of the rum.  I soon discovered that the Coca-Cola made in Mexico tastes different than the Coca-Cola made in the United States.  (Similarly, the Bacardi dark rum made in Mexico tastes different than the rum from Puerto Rico, which is what is sold in the United States.)

When I returned to the United States, I began to notice even more this difference between the taste of Coke in Mexico and in the U.S.  In fact, sometimes I would go down to the local Mexican market back in St. Paul, Minnesota (and yes, there are Mexican markets in St. Paul) and I would buy some of the bottles of Coke from Mexico.  Coke in Mexico was and still is sold in glass bottles, unlike the cans and plastic bottles that are used in the U.S.

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about Mexican Coke.  I discovered that, in fact, although Coca-Cola is an international product with the same recipe or formula, the ingredients used in different countries may vary (may be different).  This is the case for Mexican Coke, which is made from sugar in order to make it sweet, and different from U.S. Coke, which is made from something called high-fructose corn syrup.  Fructose is another word for sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup is a special kind of sugar made, well, from corn.  These different ingredients definitely have different tastes, and many people who have tried both Mexican Coke and American Coke find the Mexican variety (type) tastes a lot better.  Certainly that was my experience.  Others think the difference in taste is due to (because of) the glass bottle, which may also be part of the reason.

Having reached a point in my life where I can no longer drink or eat what I want without getting fat, I rarely drink regular Coke anymore (although I do sometimes drink Diet Coke, which has artificial sweeteners (a sweetening substance made without real sugar or corn syrup)).  But reading this article reminded me of those days drinking rum and Coke and spending Friday evenings playing Dominoes with friends.

If you’ve traveled to the U.S. or to other countries, have you noticed a difference in the taste of the Coke?  Are there other “international” foods that taste different to you from one country to another?  Do McDonald’s hamburgers taste better in Berlin than in Boston, for example?


This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Mexican Coke

  1. Julio says:

    It is absolutely certain. According to the country the taste of Coke may be different. For example, Moroco’s Coke is sweeter than Spain’s Coke, whereas, in my oppinion, France’s, Italy’s, United Kingdom’s or America’s taste is more similar to Spain’s. I think is a very wise measure that the multinational company made in the past to adapt to each one of the different markets by learning previously the consumer preferences.
    This is one among several items for which such a company endures so long on the top rank, making a very good profits, due to the fact that every people consider the drink as their own drink.
    By the way, I neither drink much alcohol anymore, except some beers on the weekend, but I have to admit that the ‘Cuba libre’ is very good, as well as another version by mixing Gin and Coke. I also remeber another drink, curiously named after ‘Lumumba’ in honor of the first President of Congo, by mixing Cognac and a chocolat shake. And the worldly famous ‘Gin Tonic’, a widespread English drink that has been exported to many countries.
    Well, My post seems an advertisment of alcohol!
    Really, drinking in a moderate way is not that bad! As long as you don’t have to drive.
    Thank you very much, Dr. Jeff.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).-

  2. emiliano says:

    I have listened always that Coca-cola has different tastes depending of the country where it was made. Here in Spain we use to say
    that it was incredible good because Madrid has one of the best waters of the world, funny of course, but we live in Madrid and
    a majority of us were born also here, so our Coca-cola was the best one of nearly everywhere.

    I don´t know nothing about this matter, as you know it very well Jeff, but what is incredible well done is “the glass bottle” and should
    be good to know the person who designed it so many years ago.
    I think it´s one of the best designs of the history and it should be in a museum as a piece of something unique that everybody
    round the world knows perfectly well.
    Do you know Jeff who was the person that give that shape to the bottle?.
    And even so strong glass and nice to grasp it as drinking the cold liquid who revive so strongly if you are tired.

    In my opinion the bottle design has overmuch to do with the exit of Coca-cola all over the world. But the “glass”, now that they are plastic made is different, despite it has the same shape but in fact different to all meanings.

    McDonals? I don´t know any difference despite I have been in Paris, Prague, Rome. Lisbon, some other European cities.
    But thinking about the theme I have to confess that we never have been in Madrid´s MacDonald, it´s funny but true.
    We like to go MacDonald´s out Spain because we have few money and it was always very easy and fast to eat something being out
    home, and you know what to ask for. In Paris was more expensive but they gave you a little maps that were really very useful.
    Cuca likes to drink a big cold coke at MacDonald that gives her new forces to walk more and more. It was the magic drink for her
    I remember one that was close to the Louvre Museum and we need very much to recover our forces ones we were out of the
    big, very big museum after hours of seeing so many art.

    Thank you Jeff, it is nice to know that in Mexico people like to play Dominoes, here some years ago also we like to play very often
    dominoes and there were experts playing it.

  3. gregorex says:

    I think there is some mystical connection between us 😉 This in one of many coincidence when we have similar thoughts. Few hours ago I’ve decided to have some rum and cola. Problem is that I cannot find that specific taste that rum had 10-15 years ago. Now it’s taste more like vodka. The same with Cola. I think there must be something about ingredients. When Poland was socialistic we were using probably more Cuban sugar witch is made with cane and gives different taste.
    PS. As far as I know rum is made by fermenting cane, but maybe now they cheat 😉

  4. gregorex says:

    One more thing. Do you know that old joke, why there is no more glass, twisted bottles? Because that guy who was twisting them has died.
    OK I know, it’s lame, but it comes from the same era 😉

  5. Peter says:

    Score Jeff,

    In all honesty ,I have always used the term my share of,but I had no clue what it meant . I used it as I had heard it . I looked it up many times ,yet I never found a clear-cut definition for it. Today, you broke it down in the simplest yet clearest way. You are amazing man.All hat off to you. You know what ,I have been in this business long enough to realize that English language has a steep learning curve. But,amazingly enough ,you and Lucy somehow have turned the curve into a very smooth ,Streight lane.

    I have learnt English the hard way ,thanks that you have made it so damn easy, God bless you sir.

  6. Peter says:

    No comment the soda part

    I never drink soda drinks due to the amount of suger intake . They are like sugar are better off restraining your-self from drinking it

  7. Pedro says:

    I agree with you Jeff, the coca-cola tastes different in USA, I live in Mexico and I have to say that the soda made in Mexico tastes better than the coca cola from Usa, I have visited USA and when Im there my brothers ever say me “please bring us soda from Mexico” and I say them “Ok I will, but Why you want mexico’s soda? and they say because it tastes different, and my sister every time say that she doesnt like coke in cans, I think she is adictted to soda haha! I want to say you that im a student, im studying to be an accountant public at UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE SAN LUIS POTOSI and your podcast help me a lot to understand and to improve my english, I know that I have a lot of English to learn but im very interested to learn this language and I want to say Thank You so Much!!!

  8. magda says:

    Yes, the USA Coke is different from Brazil Coke . The coke from Brazil is sweeter than USA . coke . Nowadays we have only cans and plastic bottles in ours sodas. But I can tell you that – Foods in MacDonald´s used to being similar in all countries.

  9. Micheli says:

    I think that Coca Cola tastes different,and I missing the beverages from Brazil.They are all made from sugar and I can remember
    my childhood when I drink.Sooo fun!
    Thanks a lot.

  10. Ilya says:

    I remember drinking Kinley tonic in Hungary back in 2005. It’s the most delicious tonic I’ve ever drunk. Here in Russia it had been selling between 2002 and 2004. I have to say it was disgusting. May be that’s why they stopped selling it in Russia. But in Hungary it was marvellous. I wish I had it with me now…
    Also I once tried hamburger in Israel. Not only the taste was different from what I knew in Moscow, but the logo of McDonald’s was green. This is because all food in Israeli McDonald’s is kosher. This could also explain the difference between the testes.
    To sum up, I find all food in different countries dissimilar. Sausages and bread in Germany are so good you can’t stop eating it and in Russia they are unpalatable. The same apply for pasta in Italy and fish in Norway. I guess it always better where you don’t live )))

  11. Nima says:

    Nice testing sense Jeff, you should be proud!

    I can’t stand the taste of products which are canned or come in plastic bottles, specially milk and bear.

    I wonder why it’s not a big issue for many people.. may be they like the added taste

    I remember when I first tasted a canned Bavaria’s bear, I thought the new taste is because of it’s cool brand and quality!

  12. Peter says:

    Sorry Jeff,

    I don’t eat fast foods like Mcdonald’s Either.They are not nutritious.I am not a health nut,but I draw the line at sods and junk foods.They are not beneficiary at all.They just get you out of shape.To top it off, they are greatly addictive, particularly coke .

    I know the fact that sometimes one yearns for all these malnutrition meals.That I can understand. There is a solution to it. You can quench the yen by having a small amount. I admit that I sometimes lust for a sweet ,month-watering,creamy donuts with a mug of coffee. You know what I do when I am tempted like that;I just get the smallest portion of them, a small coffee and a timbit( a very small round doughnut). Interestingly enough, that hit the spot.

  13. Peter says:


    I m off to get some coffe., the crave is building up inside me. good thing is I never crave for coke ,or Mcdonald

  14. Peter says:

    Dear gregorex,

    Believe me or not, at some level we are all conected. for one thing ,we are here with one mutual goal,that is-learning Ehnglish while enjoying ourselves to the fullest.

  15. elcomandant says:

    I have to confess that I must be a weird human being, because I never drink Coke. I don’t like much. I only drink Coke when I’m in my grandchildren’s birthday party or something like that. It is true too that I don’t like any soft drink.

    I know that mostly people drink Coke, whether it be just Coke or mixed with another drink wherever they are. I have seen a lot of times in American Movies (even in my home. My children do it) eating a Pizza with Coke. Oh my God! What a big mistake!.

    Pizza is the best informal (please, don’t get me wrong. I use the word “informal” in the best of meanings) food you can eat. However, It’s still tastier with a glass of wine, red or white, depending of what sort of Pizza you are eating.

    However I can speak about one international food or rather, an international dish typical of my country “La Paella”. This international typical Valencian dish, is diferent in my own country depending on which restaurant has cooked. Needless to say, how “la Paella” can be if it’s cooked in another foreign country. I know that very well.


  16. Paulo Lopes Ferreira says:

    My doughter love coca-cola ( it´s name by coke here in Brazil) is the most popular drink in this country, everybody like this one.
    Well, i think taste coke today is differente of 20s late, it is more sweeter.

    Hug for all

    Paulo Lopes – Rio de Janeiro. Brazil

  17. Eduardo says:

    Of course there’s difference between sugar and fructose taste but I do think glass bottle gives coke a special flavor. Don’t know the reason, though.

  18. peter says:

    Perhaps, I should do an about face and make a habit of it

  19. Tanita says:

    I wanna agree with Peter about addicting of coke and fastfood… Some time ago I wass addicted by cheesburgers…although I don’t like fastfood and especially hamburgers… The only thing I like in McDonald’s is french fries… But it’s too unhealthy… And while I was working in USA couple years ago I was fond of Sonic’s mozarella sticks… As to coke, I’ve never liked that one 🙂 I prefer to drink juices and wine 🙂
    Same food in different countries really has different taste and national peculiarity… And McDonald’s in Russia is way cheaper than the same in other countries… 🙂

  20. roberto says:

    I have read in a newspaper that Coca-Cola enterprise decides the taste of Coke depend on the country (more or less sugar mainly according the preferences of the country). Another reason for the different taste of Coke is, of course, its presentation in glass or plastic. I think every drink tastes better in glass, well I prefer it so. The topic of Mc Donalds is a lost battle for parents like me: the children like everything related with Mc Donalds (hamburger, Coke…).
    This my first message and I expect to go on…

    Best regards for all, especially for our favourite host and script-writer…

  21. Peter says:

    Dear Nima,

    I am with you on that . I don’t like additives such as artificial flavours , preserving stuff , sugar variations and all that.They are all harmful ,and damage you internally for life. And ,some of these incurred damaged are irreversible.Accordingly, we will be better off staying clear of all this factory processed products.

  22. Rolf says:

    Why consume “international food” ? that more or less tastes the same everywhere ? Being abroad, I recommend to eat and drink what the locals do, if you want to get the real feeling for a foreign country. They certainly know best. And never try the food and beverages that you think are from home. It’ll never match the original and you’ll be disappointed.

  23. peter says:

    Jeff and Lucy,

    GO CATCH 2012 . The BEST MOVIE EVER. WaY Better than independenc day ,or the day after tomorrow. I give it 5 out 5 , and 4 thumbs up.I will rewach it , that is for sure. A break through ,actin pack,eventful movie with incredible special is Very suspensfull . I was on the edge of my sit the entire of RUN TIME( the length of the movie)

    How long is the run time? The runtime is 2hours and 40 minutes but it feels like 5 minutes.

    Jeff and Lucy ,i know You are very intelectuall and huger ups, all the same( neverthless) it will get u the adrenalin rush.I bet my life on it

    It worth every peny.

  24. Peter says:

    Dear jeff,

    I always try my best to end up where I intended ,but instead , I always end up where I am meant. Is this the case for you as well. Happiness is a choice my friend , let’s make it the choice of our life.

    Let your net be cast forever , in the pond you least expected , you will find the fish. The thing is all the ponds have run out of fish.

  25. Peter says:

    By the way, as the movie was unfolding, I spotted a bunch of the terms and expressions I picked up from you guys.God save your soul that you made my life way more meaningfull. I watched the movie with two friends of mine ( foreign-speakers). They happened to ask me to clarify those aforementined spotted terms, so they could follow the flow of the movie. I explained them ,and the feeling was great. You know,like one of thoes moments that you feel superiority but feign humility. It was like that smack-dab.

    I bet Lucy and Jeff had the same feeling while answering our questions.I give it to you guys, it is a grate feeling.

    Thanks for make it possible for me to keep my hands in. You know what I mean

  26. Tania says:

    Hi ! Difficult to pronounce “soap opera” and interesting significance . We can watch a lot of South American soap operas and the American “Young and Restless”.
    We have ninety-nine cents stores , too . But I have not known their psychological reason . I feel a disappointment when in fact it is the same price .
    Nice the negotiating salary lesson with the difference between salary and wages.

    All the best for you all ,


  27. emiliano says:

    I like Coca-cola, and it´s nice drinking it when you are a little tired or have some lack of sleep. I know that some drivers needs a bottle or two when they feel sleepy, but I never have to do such a thing because I don´t ever feel sleepy when I was driving. May be I did not
    use to drive at night. It was always one of my lacks in the past because It cost me a lot to drive a car at night, I don´t like it.
    About tastes, I have never have the opportunity of compare them but for sure that our Coca make in Madrid is really good.

    Years ago I like wine, the best, also some cognac or Oporto wine. A whisky now and then too of course, but always little and at home or in the restaurants. I never like to go to the bar and if I went with Cuca or friends I always asked for a cold beer. In Spain´s summers is
    the best.
    Now I always drink good water, but not for my choice, as I don´t change my mind about good wines but my health does allow me other options, what is really a pity.
    Some times when I see people tasting a good wine I feel envy, but I don´t allow me even a drop, that was what my doctor told me and I am a good boy.
    May be I want to live for ever and it requires some sacrifice…..

  28. Paulo says:

    I’ve noticed coke taste is a few diferent when it is sold on bottle glass, I live in Brazil and here there are both coke in bottle glass as bottle plastic beyond cans, but I’ve noticed bottle glass coke has a better taste than the bottle plastic, but I don’t sure if is a impression personel or is true fact. There are others people that already told me the same impression. Perhaps I never will discover whether that is truth or no! It’s a question that can stay without answer, maybe will be done a poll about it, I would like to know the outcome, for incredible that seems this matter living on mind’s population! Is a common chat about it! The most interesting is that we are so far and the doubt are the same, don’t think?

  29. joyce says:

    Paulo, i thougth you are right. same status in China. the bottle glass taste better than cans and bottle plastic.

  30. christian says:


    The water in Madrid is one of the best in Spain, but is in fact very bad quality. I am British and live in Madrid. The tap water here tastes awful, but it’s much better than in say, Barcelona. It’s a local myth that you have great water here, but a very popular one with madrileños.

    The worst tap water in Britain is in London, but it’s still significantly better than Madrid’s.

    Strangely, though. I prefer Spanish Coke to British Coke. So this must be something to with the local formula.

Comments are closed.