Bolivian Coca Colla Is The Real Thing — Coca Leaf Included

Back in the late 19th century, Coca-Cola hooked customers with a narcotic hit drawn from its namesake coca leaf. These days, Coke is cocaine-free, and may or may not still have coca-leaf flavoring, depending on who you speak to. But a new drink from Bolivia, Coca Colla, isn’t shy about its ingredients, even sporting a bright green coca leaf on its label.

The energy drink, produced by a small Bolivian company that develops legitimate uses for coca leaves, uses coca-leaf flour as a key ingredient. It apparently lacks the cocaine that made early Coca-Cola popular, but is gaining cult status since being served at President Evo Morales’ inauguration. Morales is no fan of the leading American cola, and the Bolivian government may help its own drink build some buzz:

The beverage is named after both the coca leaf, a plant that is virtually the national symbol of Bolivia, and the local population. The word “colla” is a local term referring to the descendants of the indigenous Aymara people, a heritage Mr. Morales shares. Mr. Morales has also headed a union of coca farmers.

Although the Bolivian government is still studying Coca Colla and hasn’t provided any financing, Mr. Morales is no fan of the other Coca-Cola. He has criticized the soft drink, and referred to Coke in a recent speech as “the liquid that plumbers use to unblock the toilets.”

The American company isn’t currently planning any legal action against the Bolivian startup — though we hear Coke may be investigating the local plumbing industry.

Global Marketing: Bolivian Coca Colla Is No Coke [Advertising Age]