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Do you know what’s in your Cola?

Have you ever given a second thought to what’s in your Cola? Did you know that phosphoric acid (commonly used as an industrial rust remover) is a key ingredient in big brand colas?

Health and ethics have a significant role to play in today’s soft drinks category as emerging trends and anecdotal research tells us that our customers are drinking less and drinking better, they want plant-based, they don’t want weird chemicals and they are running a mile from artificial sweeteners.   

Our Organic Real Cola is an unashamedly premium take on the world’s best selling sparkling soft drink and our colas use real African cola nut from the rainforest of East Africa. Cola nut, actually a tree seed rather than nut, is a potent source of Theobromine, literally translated as ‘Food of the Gods’ it’s used ceremonially in East Africa and throughout the Caribbean.

Cola nut also stimulates, it’s a bronchial dilator, so helps one breathe.  Theobromine is also the active element in cacao (Latin name Theobroma Cacao) and it provides that sense of wellbeing and euphoria that you can get after eating a few squares of dark chocolate  – it’s also the compound that can kill dogs – theobromine in humans has a half life of around 3 hours before its excreted, in dogs its half-life is 18 hours.  The half-life fact is why Cola nut gives such a nice buzz without taking you to the shakey up all night caffeine dark side.



Synthetic caffeine or ‘methylated theophylline’ is found in a host of cola beverages and energy drinks and is an ingredient with a less romantic story: Ammonia is converted to urea which is then processed in to theophylline, methyl chloride is then added to create methylated theophylline, a process originally synthesised by the Nazis in 1942 and was then picked up by Monsanto and Pfizer in the 1950’s in the US.  

The majority of global synthetic caffeine is now produced in China. The caffeine isolate in synthetic caffeine will give you an intense caffeine hit with a jittery crash at the end.  Rather spookily raw synthetic caffeine often glows a bluish phosphorescence.  

At Gusto Organic we would never use phosphoric acid, which gives that familiar cola bite or tang’ – it helps mask the extreme sweetness of cola and balances out the sharp, sweet flavour.  Too much phosphoric acid, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006, can lead to reduced bone mass – you wee out your calcium. 

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations also rise following diet cola consumption. The job of this hormone is to increase blood calcium so when it starts to get too low, it stimulates bone breakdown. As a result, calcium is removed from bone and passed in your urine.


We use organic lemon juice in place of phosphoric acid (conversely lemon juice helps support the uptake of calcium). 

It is difficult to see how phosphoric acid, also used industrially as rust remover, has any place in the food chain. 

At Gusto, we have a delicious and award winning range of three colas: Naturally Slim ColaReal Cherry Cola and Real Cola that are free from phosphoric acid, chemical caffeine, artificial sweeteners and refined sugar.  We sweeten the range with organic Fairtrade agave from an incredible project in Jalisco Mexico and we use an organic and Fairtrade Madagascan vanilla to add that unique depth of premium flavor to our cola drinks. Cola like no other!

When formulating our colas, choosing between the Food of the Gods and a glowing petrochemical by-product was not a difficult decision….

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