two glasses of cola on wooden garden table.
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Coca-Cola is one of the world's most recognized brands, and the famous drink carries a distinct flavor recognized by people from all corners of the earth. Coke is made from concentrate, which is shipped to Coca-Cola bottling companies that actually process the drink. Although some of Coke's ingredients are well-known, the exact formula for making this soft drink remains a heavily guarded trade secret.


The Coca-Cola Corporation produces and sells concentrate to independent bottlers, beverage distributors and large restaurants. This concentrate is then mixed with a paste of sugar and filtered water, prior to being carbonated to create "fizz." The Coke product is then ready to be bottled, packaged and sold as two-liter or fountain drinks.

Coca Leaf

Coca-Cola has its roots as a "medicine" that was marketed as a cure for headaches and morphine addiction. The coca plant, alongside the kola nut, served as the primary stimulants for the alleged medical qualities of the drink from its very beginning. Until 1903, one serving of Coca-Cola contained small amounts of cocaine--the natural coca leaf byproduct.

Today, Coca-Cola uses coca leaves for flavoring that have already completed the cocaine extraction process. Technology allows the removal of all traces of cocaine from the coca leaf, prior to making the Coca-Cola concentrate.

Kola Nut

The bitter-tasting kola nut supplies Coca-Cola with caffeine. The National Institutes of Health describes caffeine as a stimulant, which "makes you more alert and gives you a boost of energy." Caffeine does carry side effects, such as elevated heart rates and irritability due to withdrawal.

Coca-Cola soft drink nutrition information indicates that one can of Coca-Cola classic contains 23 milligrams of caffeine.

Sugar, Acid and Additional Flavoring

Besides water, sugar is the most heavily used ingredient in the Coke mix in terms of volume. One can of Coke contains roughly 35 grams, or 8 teaspoons, of sugar.

Coca-Cola is sweetened with pure cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, according to where the drink is actually produced. American consumers drink Coke Classic made of high-fructose corn syrup, which is cheaper to acquire and transport within temperate climates.

Phosphoric acid is an added chemical that provides "kick," or a sharp and sour taste. Coca-Cola is also made of caramel and "additional flavors," many of which remain heavily guarded components of the secret formula. Competing cola drinks are known to feature vanilla, lime and nutmeg for extra flavoring.


The actual formula for making Coke is stored within a bank vault of Sun Trust Bank in Atlanta, Georgia. Sun Trust holds the original copy, and the only written record pertaining to the drink's exact production that remains in existence. Only two Coca-Cola executives are granted access to the vault and the secret formula at any one time.