Mexican Coke

I notice in my neighborhood convenience stores (which often cater to hispanics) and trendy coffee shops carry Coke that was bottled in Mexico. Aesthetically, it has an old style feel with the returnable bottles. I have heard the main difference is that the Mexican coke has more sweetener. Maybe even cane sugar instead of corn sweetener.

It does seem a bit unusual, there is a Coca Cola bottling plant about 2 miles away, yet there is a sizable niche demand for Coke bottled in Mexico.

What’s the deal?

Well, your neighborhood happens to be my neighborhood, and I suppose the sizable immigrant population from Mexico in our neighborhood might like to see something familiar from the homeland at the grocery store. There are quite a few Mexican foodstuffs available.

Brasil, in spite of the exotic name, is a funky upscale coffee shop. They sell it there. I know many non immigrants who prefer it as well.

The difference is, as you suspected, the sweetener. Mexican coke still uses cane sugar; US coke uses corn syrup.

Yep it’s the sweetener. It’s a point of contention of the free trade agreement. The Mexican soft drink bottlers also have large holdings of sugar cane and have lobbied hard to keep the corn sryup out. The government levied a 20% tax on soft drinks made with fructose or any sweetener other than cane sugar.

Does anyone know what they’re using for sugar in UK Coke (and all soft drinks)? Poison, maybe? Ugh.

Read the list of ingredients closely and you will find that most Mexican soft drink suppliers have switched to high fructose corn sweetner. Two years ago this was not the case. Now, it is difficult to find any Mexican sodas that are made with sugar.

Strangely enough, I was scrutinising the label on my Coke can yesterday, as I had noticed that in the US it says “sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup”. Well, over here it just says sugar. Make of that what you will.

I’d like to see a cite for that Zen. There’s a bottle of Coke on the kitchen counter that has azúcar listed in the ingredients.

I know in 2002 corn syrup had replaced around 30% of the sugar used in soft drinks here. I think it’s a stretch to say in a year’s time it is now the only sweetener used.

Mexican Sprite is wonderful too. It has a more limey taste. I love it, I get it whenever I can.

I looked at the bottles of Coke in the Mexican food section of the local supermarket. IIRC, the ingredients said “corn syrup”…in English, even.

So, is there a difference between corn syrup-sweetened Mexican Coke and corn syrup-sweetened US Coke? It does come in large glass bottles rather than small glass bottles, plastic bottles, or cans, but is there any other difference?

Please tell me where exactly in HOuston I can get this. I’ll be making a trip there soon. Also what do I ask for “mexican coke”?


I’d think it’d have something to do with not being Mexican Coke or not, but where in Mexico it was bottled. Here in USA, there are Coke bottling plants spread throughout the country. They pretty-much service thier local areas. It’s cheaper than shipping everything from Atlanta to the whole world. I don’t know, but I have to assume Mexico’s in a similar situation. I’d ask Vicente Fox, but I heard he’s left Coca Cola and got some government job somewhere.

What I also don’t know is whether the bottling plants strictly mix syrup with carbonated water, or if they’re the places where the sweetener is also introduced. If so, then it’s perfectly likely that some Mexican plants use cane sugar and others use corn syrup. It may also explain why some beverages here say “and/or.”

I’d always liked the Coke in Mexico, but I never paid attention to the ingredients. It may be that the plastic, non-returnable bottles are a different composition than the glass, returnable bottles. I’m positive the stuff in the glass bottles is made with sugar, and tastes so much better than the plastic bottle stuff, which to me tastes pretty much like the Coke here in Michigan. On that note, since the glass bottles are returnable, I’d have to assume there’s a bottling plant somewhere reasonably close to Leon which’d be a different bottling plant reasonably close to Houston on the Mexican side of the border.

(I’m in a big sugar beet state, and my wife from Mexico can’t get past the fact that we have perfectly good sugar from a yucky beet.)

The Coke in my kitchen has azúcares listed in the plural. I don’t think sugar is presently defined anywhere in Mexican law as an exclusive denomination of cane product; the ill-fated excise tax on nonsugar-sweetened soft drinks mentioned by CBEscapee was fairly specific in its wording. Which leads me to believe that in the plural it refers to sugar and/or corn syrup.

My understanding has been that all returnables (glass or plastic) traditionally use sugar and all disposables (glass, plastic or aluminum) use corn syrup.

El Mariachi Loco mentioned what I should have been more precise about as I yabbered about “plastic” and “glass.” I’ve never seen “no retornable” glass bottles, so I’ll still assume that all glass are returnable. But there are several styles of plastic bottles. There are USA style 2.0L and 0.5L bottles (and other assorted sizes) which all seem to be non-returnable. Then there are European style plastic bottles that do seem to be returnable. I say European style because that’s all I saw in Germany and have never seen them in the USA/Canada.

So, that which El Mariachi Loco said is my new choice of words :).

Balthisar, Coke is selling smallish, maybe 350 mL nonreturnable glass bottles, reminiscient of Coke’s original curvy bottle design with pop-off metal caps.

Also, FYI, within the last couple of months all Coke bottlers seem to have discontinued the 2-liter size in favor of 2.5 L without changing price (12 pesos for returnable plastic, 14 for NR plastic), and now other brands are following suit.

Nearly generic, borderline Dr. Pepper-tasting “Big Cola” still wins at 2.6 L returnable for 10 pesos.


Looks like you hit the nail on the head ML. Here is the official definition of azúcares as an ingredient in food and drink.

*3.3 Azúcares

Todos los monosacáridos y disacáridos presentes en un alimento o bebida no alcohólica.

Es el nombre químico o científico que se le da a los azúcares presentes en el alimento o bebida no alcohólica. Por ejemplo, los edulcorantes no sintéticos que se emplean para endulzar o que contribuyen a mejorar la textura de un producto, tales como el azúcar refinada, jarabe de maíz, jarabe de alta fructosa y jarabe de almidón, entre otros.*
The Coke I mentioned was bottled in Tecoman, Colima and has azucar in the singular. I read the label on an off brand cola bottled in Arandas, Jalisco and it was also in the singular. I have no idea if this makes any difference.

OK, I was at the supermarket today, and I looked at the bottle of Mexican Coke again (just says “Hecho en Mexico”–no bottler’s name). The ingredients are in English and on a sticker stuck to the bottle (500mL, glass, shaped like traditional Coke bottle, non-returnable (in that store, at least)). For sweetener, it says “high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose” This is the same wording used on the American Coke ingredient list.

It’s at least twice as expensive as American Coke, or else I might have bought one. It doesn’t seem like it would be any different, though.

I just did a little research of my own, going into a convenience store on Richmond that is in the same strip center as a laundromat and Tapatia Taqueria. I assumed that Mexican Coke is sweeter. Since the bulk of the calories in Coke is in the sweetener, the Mexican Coke should have more per serving. The U.S. Coke had 100 calories per 8 ounce serving. The Mexican Coke, which was in an ordinary shaped bottle (not even the nut shape), had a sticker on it with the USDA percentages of stuff on it. Calories per 8 ounce serving? 95! The Mexican Coke had a little less.

Although I don’t know for sure, I would suspect that it is (or was) actual sugar… In 1987 my family went on holiday to the USA and both my brother and I agreed that US coke was horrible. At the time we thought it was some kind of fancy coke, because it was called “Coke Classic” which we’d never heard of.