Now that's an energy drink! - Mercedes-Benz Forum

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
BenzWorld Elite
firstmb's Avatar
Date registered: Jan 2005
Vehicle: 2006 ML350
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 1,434
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
(Thread Starter)
Now that's an energy drink!

Beverage Creates a Buzz
Coca-Sek, bottled by a Colombian tribe, gets its kick from coca leaves. The not-so-soft drink has stirred debate about drugs and sovereignty.
By Chris Kraul, Times Staff Writer
April 12, 2006

INZA, Colombia — Call it the "Real Thing."

Indians in this remote mountain village in southern Colombia are marketing a particularly refreshing soft drink that harks back to Coca-Cola's original formula, when "coca" was in the name for a reason.

Advertising posters here describe the carbonated, citrus-flavored Coca-Sek as "more than an energizer" — a buzz that just might be provided by a key ingredient, a syrup produced by boiling coca leaves.

Since January, the Nasa indigenous community has been offering the soft drink locally and in neighboring Popayan, where it is bottled. By the end of the year, the Nasa hope to sell Coca-Sek nationwide, targeting the same consumers who drink Gatorade or Red Bull, both highly popular with Colombians.

For six years, the Nasa have been quietly selling coca-flavored cookies, aromatic teas, wines and ointments at informal sidewalk stalls and in health food stores. They say they're trying to capitalize on a plentiful resource — and remove the stigma from a leaf that for them is sacred.

Cocaine, the highly concentrated form of the leaf's alkaloid extracted using solvents and other chemicals, is "foreign to our culture and is an invention of Western man," said Gelmis Chate, president of the Nasa council here.

But consumption of coca leaves by chewing them or by using them in food or tea is an ancient custom. The 4,000 indigenous families in this region typically grow several coca plants on their farms for personal use, a right guaranteed by Colombian law.

For Abraham Cuello, 50, the half-dozen coca plants sprouting among his banana, coffee, mango and papaya trees have as much mystic as alimentary value. "They protect my farm and all that I grow," he said as he pulled the bright green leaves from an 8-foot coca plant.

The Nasa's coca cookies and teas attracted little attention, but the launch of Coca-Sek has ignited controversy in a country where Washington has spent $4 billion since 1999 combating the drug trade and terrorism.

The reasons are myriad: the tribe's market ambitions for the beverage; the inevitable comparisons with the original Coke, which dropped cocaine from its formula in 1905; and the recent election of Bolivian President Evo Morales, an indigenous coca grower who supports the production of legitimate coca products.

Coca-Sek has also reopened a debate over the limits of the sovereignty that indigenous groups in Colombia and other nations are afforded. The Nasa claim a sovereign right to commercialize the soft drink and other coca products, even though the law permitting its use clearly limits it to traditional, not commercial, ends.

Indigenous tribes elsewhere in the Andean region also are trying to mainstream the leaf, trumpeting its nutritive and painkilling value. Morales, who says he will end coca eradication efforts in Bolivia, promotes coca-based yogurt, soap, bread and tea. He is appealing to the United Nations to drop the coca plant's designation as a poisonous substance, which would open the way to exports.

In Peru, a state-owned monopoly called Enaco was formed to create a legitimate market for coca leaves and channel them into the production of toothpaste, topical ointments to treat arthritis, tea and energizer drinks such as Coca-Sek. Nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, who led Peru's presidential vote Sunday, promised to push for legalization of coca if elected.

In Colombia, the drive to make legitimate products from the coca leaf is being led by the Calderas reservation, one of half a dozen Nasa communities clustered around Inza. The community pays $15 for each 30-pound bag of coca leaves. Each bag makes enough syrup to produce 300 bottles of Coca-Sek.

That price tops the $12 a bag paid by local drug traffickers, who are always willing to buy leaves, said David Curtidor, who helps manage the soft drink business and touts the beverage as a weapon in the war on drugs. "Each leaf that goes to making the drink is one leaf less for the narcos," Curtidor said.

Chewing coca leaves, which depresses the central nervous system, has enabled Indians to soften the effects of hunger, hard work and high altitude for centuries. Franky Rios, the engineer at Popayan's La Reina bottling plant who oversees the production of the beverage, said Coca-Sek delivers the various vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium and magnesium, found in the coca leaf.

"It's better than Gatorade," he said.

Jim Bauml, senior biologist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, said coca leaf boosters might be on to something. "There is literature out there that shows there is a tremendous nutritive value in the leaf itself," he said. "How much of that is released by chewing or other extraction methods isn't clear, but it's there potentially."

A bonus is the spiritual power that the Nasa people believe resides in coca. In this valley that is also the site of the Tierradentro prehistoric burial caves, one of Colombia's most important archeological zones, evidence of that belief is seen in many of the stone statues unearthed in recent years. Several of the carved human forms are holding cuetanderas, the woven bags that the Nasa even today use to carry their coca leaves for chewing.

"Coca permits man to communicate with nature, and nature with man," said Fabiola Pinacue, a Nasa who helps run the coca-based businesses and is a former mayor of Paez, a village 15 miles north of Inza.

Thanks, D.

2006 ML 350 - Black, Appearance Package, Navigation System, Entertainment Package, Sunroof Package, Heated Seats, IPod Integration
firstmb is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 08:16 PM
deathrattle's Avatar
Date registered: Jan 2005
Vehicle: 1992 W126 300 SE
Location: Head in the clouds
Posts: 11,045
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
RE: Now that's an energy drink!

It's probably less damaging to the health than huge quantities of sugar or sweeteners.In fact if it got fat kids up and moving,it should be endorsed by the government.
deathrattle is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 09:37 PM
BenzWorld Elite
BNZ's Avatar
Date registered: Jan 2006
Location: Ye Olde Siamese Rub n' Tuggery
Posts: 6,463
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 570 Post(s)
RE: Now that's an energy drink!

Yeah you've got that right, it would certainly help with the obesity problem amongst adults too.
BNZ is offline  
Sponsored Links

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Title goes here

video goes here
description goes here. Read Full Story
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome