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The Traveller's Magazine
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There are some tourists who travel thousands of miles, reaching the other side of the world, who head for the first McDonald’s they see, a taste of home. There are others that stay as far away from anything familiar, tucking right in to whatever’s local. Which group do you belong in?

The truth is that coke tastes good with just about everything. And if you want a local alternative, you don’t have to look far! We’re not talking about Coca-cola rip-offs here though, we’re talking about dark colas with their own distinct flavours and histories.

It’s not Always Coca-Cola…

Afri Cola – Germany

Afri Cola

Cologne, 1931: the German company F. Blumhoffer Nachfolger GmbH registered the trademark for Afri Cola, an exotic name for a drink brewed and bottled in Germany for more than 80 years. After a slump in the domestic market in the 1960s, the drink came out with a new design and slogan, “Everything is in Afri Cola…” which turned out to be a recipe for success. Today the drink is still brewed with the original recipe.

Inca Kola – Peru

Inca Kola

Sugary and yellow in colour, it doesn’t even look like cola, but it is. Created by a British immigrant, José Robinson Lindley using cedronella as the main ingredient. It boomed in the drink market immediately until the 1950s when it became the leading drink in the local market. Coca-Cola arrived and Inca Kola still remained king.

Interesting fact: Peru is the only country where Coca-Cola is not the leading drink in the domestic market.

Zam Zam – Iran

Zam zam

Another cola with its own story, Zam Zam is named after a well in Mecca where Mohammed is claimed to have quenched his thirst. After Saudi Arabia banned Coca-Cola, Zam Zam became the official drink of the Hajj and is extremely popular in the Middle East as an alternative to “capitalist Western symbols” like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Cockta – Slovenia


Another quality alternative to Coca-Cola is the Slovenian Cockta. The door to the soft drink industry was opened in Ljubljana in 1953 with a drink produced using local ingredients. The drink is a hit, with flavours of rosa canina, pomegranate and caramel. It’s a tasty alternative to the “Made in the USA” drink so popular everywhere else. Cockta was exported mainly to the former Yugoslavia and was the most popular drink until the 1980s when Western products became easier to buy and became more widespread.

Cola Turka – Turkey

Cola Turka

Cola Turka was originally inspired by an anti-American sentiment felt on the borders of Asia and Europe, right about when the war in Iraq began. Turkish cola is widely drunk across the country today, but it isn’t the first cola drink to appear in Turkey. Kristal Kola and Uludag Kola were the first but didn’t really take-off the way Cola Turka did. Today Cola Turka is also widely available in Germany, mostly to cater to the large number of Turkish immigrants there.

Ubuntu Cola – UK

Ubuntu Cola

What makes this cola special? It’s all in the name, Ubuntu, a word that refers to the African ideology which focuses on the relationship between people and the concept of loyalty. The drink is recognized by the Fairtrade Foundation. The sugars used in its production are sourced responsibly from Malawi and Zambia. The drink is sold in the UK, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Belgium in most international food shops.

The next time you’re on holidays and you’re tempted to get a Coke with your take-away meal, think again. Try one of these instead!

Know any other cola drinks to add to the list?

Imgs: Barry Kent (Wikipedia), Zalium, Jack Christian Haugen, osamukaneko, permanently scatterbrained, Iker Merodio, Julien Menichini / Flickr cc.

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