Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two of the most well-known and popular soft drinks in the world. No matter what country you are in, chances are you’ve encountered cans, bottles, and advertisements of each type of soda brand. Both carbonated beverages come in a variety of flavors and millions of people around the world tend to subscribe to one brand or the other. But we’re not here to name a better beverage. Instead, let’s explore what gives each soft drink its distinct flavor.
If you look at the nutritional facts and ingredients of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, you will see a lot of the same ingredients listed for each. You’ll see that both colas are made with carbonated water, sweeteners, caffeine, natural flavors, and coloring. While they may appear to be very similar at first glance, there is one key ingredient that sets each apart from the competition and gives them their distinctive tastes.
One ingredient that changes the flavor of Coca-Cola and Pepsi is the amount of citric acid each contains. Citric acid is a common ingredient in many carbonated sodas because it helps to enhance the flavor and balance the sweetness. But the amount that is used varies between brands of cola, which is why each tends to have a slightly different taste.
Coca-Cola contains no citric acid compared to Pepsi, which gives it a smoother, more mellow flavor. This is due to the fact that Coca-Cola uses phosphoric acid instead of citric acid to provide acidity to the drink. Phosphoric acid is less tart and acidic than citric acid, which gives Coca-Cola a less sharp taste. This is why Coca-Cola is described as having more of a vanilla flavor.
Pepsi, on the other hand, has a higher amount of citric acid than Coca-Cola which gives it more of a citrusy and tart flavor. This is why some people describe Pepsi as having a more lemony and fruity flavor. The higher concentration of citric acid in Pepsi also gives it a more refreshing taste as the tartness helps to cut through the sweetness of the drink.
While both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are each beloved soft drinks, their differing amounts of citric acid give them their distinct flavors. Ultimately, which drink you prefer will depend on your personal preferences. But, at least you will understand the subtle shift in their taste.