Notes On Making Cola

Section 2

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2. A Few Cola Syrup Recipes

Note: All of the imperial measurements are US values and not UK values (see Appendix A2). The syrup is diluted by about 1:5 with carbonated water when bottled. More information about the ingredients can be found in Section 4.


2.1. The Original

The following recipe is supposedly the original coca-cola recipe that was unearthed in an old notebook that belonged to coca-cola inventor J. S. Pemberton. This recipe was largely substantiated by a second source who had been employed by coca-cola in the USSR during the 1940's. The recipe and account of how it was found is detailed in the book For God, Country and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast (see Bibliography).


1 oz Citrate Caffeine 30 lbs. Sugar
3 oz Citric Acid 4 oz F.E. Coco*
1 oz Ext. Vanilla 2.5 gal.Water
1 Qt. Lime Juice Caramel - sufficient
2.5 oz Flavourings (see below)  

*It seems that "F.E. Coco" refers to a fluid extract from coca leaves (the original recipe has the spelling mistake).

Flavourings (7X formula):

80 Oil Orange 40 Oil Cinnamon
120 Oil Lemon 20 Oil Coriander
40 Oil Nutmeg 40 Oil Neroli
1 Qt. Alcohol  

There is no indication as to what the numbers preceding the flavour ingredients refer to. However, they may refer to the number of drops.


Mix Caffeine Acid and Lime Juice 1Qt.
Boiling water add vanilla and flavourings when cool.
Let stand for 24 hours.

Source:,,, "For God, Country and Coca-Cola" by Mark Pendergrast (see the Bibliography).

It is suspected that most, if not all of the lime juice has been replaced by lime oil and that glycerine is now added as a preservative (emulsifier). Also, phosphoric acid is now used instead of citric acid. In the USA at least, some of the sugar has probably been replaced with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

It seems that the cocaine was removed in about 1901 by Asa Candler who commissioned a company to provide decocainized coca leaf. Because of the extraction method used (mulching the leaf in 20% alcohol) there was probably never more than 8.5 mg of cocaine in a 6 oz bottle. J S Pemberton insisted that the drink derived its invigorating properties from fourteen alkaloids [6] that are found in coca leaf and not just cocaine. There is no mention of Kola nuts. The kola nuts were used for their caffeine content and it is supposed that artificially produced caffeine citrate was used from an early date.

The original recipe was for a drink that was not bottled but sold out of "soda fountains" that where situated inside chemist's shops. Therefore, the emulsion stability was not as critical as it is for drinks that are intended to be bottle and have a shelf life of several months.

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2.2. Another Supposed Original

This version is from "Big Secrets" by William Poundstone NY:Quill (1983) (see Bibliography). This recipe is described by Mark Pendergrast as "a fairly accurate guesstimate" of the modern recipe. The recipe makes 1 gallon of syrup.


2.4 kg Sugar, dissolved in the minimum of water 3.1 g Caffeine
37 g Caramel 11 g Phosphoric Acid
1.1 g Decocainized Coca Leaf 0.37 g Kola Nuts
30 g Lime Juice 19 g Glycerine (vegetarian)
1.5 g Vanilla Extract  

Flavourings (7X formula):

0.88 g (1.032 ml) Lemon Oil Trace Lavender Oil
0.47 g (0.557 ml) Orange Oil Trace Neroli Oil
0.20 g (0.190 ml) Cassia Oil 4.9 g 95% Alcohol
0.07 g (0.077 ml) Nutmeg Oil 2.7 g (2.7 ml) Water
Trace Coriander Oil  

Note: The millilitre (ml) values have been calculated from the weights in grams using the densities in Section 4.8.3 Cassia oil is also known as Chinese cinnamon oil.


Mix the sugar with just enough water to dissolve it (high fructose corn syrup can be substituted for half the sugar). Add the caramel, caffeine and phosphoric acid. Then add the lime juice (or a solution of water with citric acid and sodium citrate at lime juice strength). Soak the coca leaf and kola nuts in 22 g of 20% alcohol, strain and add the liquid to the mix.

Mix together the essential oils and add the 95% alcohol. Shake. Add the water and let the mixture stand for 24 hours at about 15 °C. A cloudy layer will separate. Take off the clear part of the liquid only and add it to the sugar syrup.

Add the glycerine and vanilla extract. Add water (treated with chlorine) to make up to 1 gallon of syrup.

Source: A copy can be found at, For God, Country and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergras (see the Bibliography).

Mark Pendergrast adds that this recipe tallies closely with a testimony by a coca-cola chemist at a Delaware court case in 1991: the differences are in the amounts - 13.2 g phosphoric acid (not 11 g), 1.86 g vanilla extract (not 1.5 g) and 91.99 g of single strength commercial caramel (not 37 g). This final difference may be due to a concentrated caramel being used, such products are widely marketed to the drinks industry.

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2.3. The Supposed Pepsi-Cola Recipe

This is supposedly the original Pepsi-Cola recipe. It was submitted to a court in the USA when Pepsi-Cola filed for bankruptcy in 1923.


7500 lbs. Sugar - standard confectioners 12 gal. Caramel - burnt sugar colour
Up to 1200 gallons Water 12 gal. Lime Juice
58 lbs. Phosphoric Acid - S.G. 1.750  


½ gal. Alcohol 4 fl oz Cinnamon Oil
6 fl oz. Lemon Oil 2 fl oz Nutmeg Oil
5 fl oz Orange Oil 2 fl oz Coriander Oil
1 fl oz Petit Grain *  

*Note: Petit Grain is an essential oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon tree.

Pepsi-cola originally contained pepsin, an enzyme that aids digestion. Like coca-cola, pepsi-cola was first sold at soda fountains and it now probably contains gum Arabic as an emulsifier.


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2.4. OpenSource Cola

The people who thought of open source software in the 1970's released this recipe.


2 tsp. 7X Formula (see below) 2.36 kg Sugar - plain granulated
3.50 tsp. 75% Phosphoric Acid or Citric Acid 0.50 tsp. Caffeine (optional)
2.28 l Water 30 ml Caramel  

Flavourings (7X formula):

3.50 ml Orange Oil 0.25 ml Neroli Oil
1.00 ml Lemon Oil 2.75 ml Lime Oil
1.00 ml Nutmeg Oil 0.25 ml Lavender Oil
1.25 ml Cassia Oil 10 g Gum Arabic
0.25 ml Coriander Oil 3 ml Water

Directions (quoted directly from the original source):

"Mix oils together in a cup. Add gum Arabic, mix with a spoon. Add water and mix well. I used my trusty Braun mixer for this step, mixing for 4-5 minutes. You can also transfer to a blender for this step. Can be kept in a sealed glass jar in the fridge or at room temperature. Please note that this mixture will separate. The Gum Arabic is essential to this part of the recipe, as you are mixing oil and water."

Note: no mention is made as to what you do once the mixture separates.

"In a one gallon container (I used the Rubbermaid Servin' Saver Dry Food Keeper, 1.3 US Gal/4.92 l), take 5 mls of the 7X formula, add the 75% phosphoric or citric acid. Add the water, then the sugar. While mixing, add the caffeine, if desired. Make sure the caffeine is completely dissolved. Then add the caramel color. Mix thoroughly."


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2.5. Stevia Natural Sweetener Sugar Free Cola

This recipe is credited to Dr. Udo Kienle. It uses a sugar substitute but gives more details about the mixing process.

Ingredients (makes 1 litre of syrup):

0.07 kg/ l Stevia Natural Sweetener 6.0 ml/l Salt Solution
108.5 ml/l Cola Flavor Base (see below) 5.0 ml/l Citric Acid Solution, 50%
8.5 ml/l Phosphoric Acid, 85% 872.0 ml/l Processed Water
0.007 kg/l Caramel, acid proof  

Flavour Base (makes 1 litre of flavour base):

1.32 g/l Vanilla Extract* 21.94 g/l Caffeine
4.29 g/l Solid Extract Kola nuts* 25.00 g/l Lime oil extract
41.74 g/l Cola Flavour Emulsion (see below) 75.56 g/l Phosphoric Acid, 85%
158.52 g/l Caramel, acid proof 671.63 g/l Processed water

* A separate recipe is required for the extracts.

Cola Flavour Emulsion (makes 1 litre of flavour emulsion):

119.94 g/l Orange Oil Emulsion (see below) 2.64 g/l Oil of Lime, distilled
89.82 g/l Arabic Gum 2.64 g/l Oil of Orange, cold pressed
13.21 g/l Oil of Cinnamon 1.32 g/l Oil of Coriander
6.60 g/l Oil of Lemon, cold pressed 763.83 g/l Processed Water


  1. Combine the essential oils (except the orange oil), add magnesium carbonate and filter.
  2. Prepare orange oil emulsion and Arabic gum by heating the orange oil up to 60 °C for ½ hour. Remove the oil from the heat and slowly add the Arabic gum. Stir for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the essential oils to the orange oil mixture, then add the water and keep agitating for another 15 minutes.
  4. Homogenize the mixture at 211 kg/cm2.

Notes: There is no mention in the ingredients of magnesium carbonate. It probably refers to using very fine magnesium carbonate as a filtering aid. When filtering a 'slimy' substance a very fine inert powder can be used to prevent the filter from becoming clogged. 211 kg/cm2 is the pressure to which a "homogenizer" is set (see Section 3.2.3.).


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2.6. Another Recipe

This recipe is taken from Food Flavourings by Joseph Merory (see Bibliography).

Cola Flavourings Base Oils:

46.8 g Lemon Oil - California cold pressed 3.50 g Nutmeg Oil
14.20 g Lime Oil - distilled 0.01 g Neroli Oil
10.65 g Cassia or Cinnamon Oil 24.84 g Orange Oil

Note: The essential oils should be terpene free.

Dissolve in 11 fl. oz. of 95% alcohol. Agitate and add 5 fl. oz. water. Hold at 15°C. The mixture will separate and the clear portion is kept and filtered if necessary.

Phosphoric Acid Solution:

0.5 fl. oz. Phosphoric Acid USP 85% (liquid)
3.5 fl. oz. Water

Cola Nut Extract:

Mix 125 lbs Cola nut with 25 gal. warm water at 50°C. After 1 hour, mix with 25 gal. 95% alcohol. Stir the mulch twice daily. After 3 days take off 31 gals of the extract. Add 19 gals. of water and leave the remaining mulch for a further 2 days stirring twice daily before removing the final 19 gal. of extract and adding it to the previous extract.

Cola Flavour:

12 fl. oz. Cola Nut Extract (see above) 32 fl. oz. Lime Juice
2 fl. oz. Vanilla Extract* 32 fl. oz. Caramel - acid proof
2 fl. oz. Caffeine 12 fl. oz. Cola Flavour Base (see above)
100 fl. oz. Water 12 fl. oz. 95% Alcohol
16 fl. oz. Glycerine  

*The original source gives a long, detailed description of how to prepare the vanilla extract from vanilla beans. It has been left out for brevity.

4 fl. oz. of flavour and ½ fl. oz. phosphoric acid solution are added per gallon of syrup.

Note: The recipe does not say how much sugar is to be added per gallon of syrup.

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[6] Morphine, nicotine, caffeine, quinine and cocaine are all alkaloids - nitrogen containing organic molecules that occur in many plants.[Return To Text]