Well, it’s been nearly a month since we last tasted a lineup of new Coke flavors, and let me tell ya—I was starting to get antsy. But never fear; the world’s biggest soft drink manufacturer has provided once again. We have two brand new flavors to review: Coca-Cola Georgia Peach and Coca-Cola California Raspberry.
Unlike our last tasting, which was focused on the new spate of Diet Coke flavors—”Twisted Mango” was the unexpected standout—these two new flavors are built on top of the classic Coke formula. That immediately implies a few things: Full sugar, full sweetness, full-tilt flavors. And yeah, that’s pretty much what they deliver here.
Curiously, these new versions of Coke are being sold only in throwback glass bottles—singly and in four-packs—so you can probably expect to pay a premium over typical Coke prices in order to try them. They also happen to be made with real cane sugar, rather than high-fructose corn syrup, if that’s the kind of thing you care about. Now, let’s get to reviewing.
In honor of Coke’s invention in Paste’s hometown of Atlanta, we naturally had to sample the Georgia peach-flavored Coke first. On the nose, it immediately hits hugely with syrupy, fuzzy peach aromatics—nearly overwhelming, the first time you put your nose in the glass, but then receding a bit over time. Peach is present big-time on the palate as well, although it’s not quite as all-encompassing as the nose might make you expect. Big, sweet, syrupy flavors of peach, vanilla, brown sugar and spice combine to form something along the lines of “vanilla peach pie.” With that said, I must admit that the end result is actually fair well-balanced between the character of classic Coke (the vanilla has always been its signature) and the new peach flavors—they work together in a way that is nicely symbiotic, if a tad desserty. But in general, as long as you can deal with the sugar here, Coca-Cola Georgia Peach is pretty damn tasty. If you’ve been on Diet Coke for a long time, it may seem like a punch in the face, but if you split the bottle with someone? Hell, we’d buy it again. It’s a gimmick, but it works.
First of all—I get “Georgia” peach, but is California really associated with raspberries in anyone’s mind? I’ve seen plenty of cherry farms in California. I’ve seen garlic farms in California. I’ve seen wineries a’plenty there. I’ve yet to run across a raspberry farm. Presumably they’re present, but it still feels like they were forced to insert a state name here to match “Georgia.”
Anyway. As far as flavors go, raspberry is a little bit more obvious than peach, sharing some commonalities with cherry, which has officially been done-to-death as far as Coke is concerned. On the nose, it’s not quite as punchy and clear as the peach, but it’s most definitely there, with a slightly medicinal “raspberry hard candy” impression. On the palate, this is also quite sweet, same as the Georgia Peach flavor—a combination of vanilla, fruit and spice that reminds me a bit of raspberry cream soda. On both entries, a seemingly lower level of carbonation only enhances the fullness of the mouthfeel and its syrupy texture, making both of these Cokes rather on the heavy side. The raspberry here doesn’t clash with the Coke profile, but it also doesn’t work with it in a way as naturally complementary as the peach … which simultaneously draws more attention to the excessive sugariness.
Ultimately, there’s nothing much wrong with California Raspberry, but it suffers in comparison with the more inspired peach flavor.
Do either of these new Coke flavors have what it takes to move the needle in terms of sales? Coke is by their own admission hoping that these flavors—and the “genuine” nature of the glass bottles they come in—will help them compete in a rising market for craft and indie sodas, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would ever go from purposely seeking out a locally made product to supplant it with a new flavor of Coke. Personally, I think the new peach flavor has some applications—it might make for a dynamite cocktail ingredient if you could cut the sweetness with some other ingredient—but it’s hard for me to imagine myself ever drinking an entire can.
Perhaps Coca-Cola should consider putting out sodas like this in their little mini-size, 7.5 fl oz cans? At least that way, drinking a single container won’t feel like a massive overindulgence.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident Taster of Things. You can follow him on Twitter.