March 25, 2014

Pepsi Next with Stevia ~ a taste test

Almost a year after Coca Cola introduced a Stevia sweetened drink to Argentina, Pepsico Canada has introduced Pepsi Next. In fact, it is being rolled out across the country this month, from its starting point in the Pepsi stronghold of Quebec.

In Argentina, Coca Cola Life reduces the sugar content by 60 percent. In Canada and Australia, Pepsi Next will only manage a 30% reduction, with the difference made up by sugar. The Stevia input means a significant reduction in calories, sodium and carbohydrates. Oddly, Pepsi Next in the Excited States will continue to contain artificial sweeteners.

For my self-directed taste test, I followed the ideal-soft-drink-tasting-method as described by a friend of my family when I was growing up. He was a local bottler of Coca Cola at a time when there actually were independent bottlers across the country in each province, unlike the monolithic corporate soft drink makers of today.

The soft drink should be chilled and poured into glass filled with ice. One should note the effervescence, the aroma and finally the taste. Just like wine, the nose is all important to providing that first hint of flavour and taste. Savour the initial taste. Linger. Enjoy.

Well, that was then and this is now. Nobody has time for all that stuff and there isn't any ice in the house anyway. I unscrewed the cap and took a generous gulp from the bottle and then finished it off.

Impressions? Well, I grew up a Coca Cola drinker and it isn't easy to shake that taste standard, if one can have a standard for coloured, sweetened water. I now find regular Coke and Pepsi a bit too sweet for my liking. I like Coke Zero but not the Pepsi equivalent. That being said, I have always liked the taste of Pepsi and its added hint of cinnamon. However, this is not a regular Pepsi.

Pepsi Next was okay, but not great. It's not as flavourful as regular Pepsi and there was a tiny aftertaste I didn't like at all, not that I gave much time for the aftertaste. It wasn't as sweet as I might have expected; probably a good thing. I don't particularly like the colour of the blue on the bottle's label either; it doesn't seem a natural looking blue for a drink boasting about its naturalness. This might be a tough sell.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.