Believe me when I say that I do not love Coke. I don’t even really like it.

Still, I (and my mom) have decided to, whenever in a new country, sample the local Coca-Cola. I’ve found that pretty much every country, from Taiwan to Trinidad, puts its own spin on the classic drink. There are a couple reasons for this:

  • Water. Local water from different places usually has a unique taste due to the various minerals present in the water.
  • Sweetener. Aside from diet stuff (which I stay away from), which is always sweetened with the same amount of the same compounds, Coca-Cola can be sweetened either with cane sugar (yum) or HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup, which is gross). A general rule of thumb, and this is for all sodas, is that something using cane sugar is generally a higher quality product. Also, since local tastes vary, different amounts of sweetener can be used.
  • Effervescence. Some people love carbonation, some people hate it – aside from being a personal preference, it’s also a cultural thing, so some countries put more or less fizz into their Coke.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to rank some memorable ones, from best to worst.

1. Hong Kong

With a crisp taste and a refreshing bubbliness, HK Coke is decidedly my favorite. It’s much more carbonated (and much less sweet) than its American counterpart. Just enough sugar (actual cane sugar) makes it the perfect drink, whether you’re wandering the streets of Mong Kok or standing on the second-class deck of Star Ferry.

2. Mexico

Definitely the most medicinal-tasting of all the Cokes. Has a fresh, green flavor and is moderately bubbly. Luckily, Mexican Coke is starting to become pretty popular in the US – there’s a good chance it’s available at your local taco truck.

3. USA

Perfectly tailored to American taste! In other words, excessively sweet, watered-down, and lacking in flavor. Notably, one of the few countries to use high fructose corn syrup in its Coke, and you can really tell.

4. UAE

Ick. It’s like American Coke but worse.

Coca-Cola from the Emirates is a thick, syrupy, virtually bubble-free mess. It tastes like Coke before any fizzy water is added.

I do not recommend.

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