Coca-Cola recently jumped into the sparkling water space, with several fizzy flavors that hit shelves nationally on March 2nd of this year (2020). While the thought of drinking a Coke nowadays makes my teeth hurt, I was all about giving the zero sugar, zero-calorie sparkling water - dubbed AHA - a go.
I tried all available flavors of Coca-Cola’s AHA sparkling water and was overall pleased with the selection. Not every flavor was a winner, but a few were a few standouts that have made it into my regular beverage rotation. They occasionally change their lineup so some of the reviewed options may no longer be available.
*This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the products with my own $$$. All opinions are my own. As an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn a commission from qualified purchases.
Strawberries and cucumbers are two of my favorite whole foods to snack on, often devoured sans accompaniments as a refreshing snack. I was excited to see this flavor combination but skeptical. I pretty much hate anything strawberry-flavored. The flavor is always super artificial, over-the-top sugary, and far from the exquisiteness of a perfectly ripe strawberry.
Strawberry + Cucumber tastes like a strawberry Laffy Taffy in liquid form, the overly saccharine notes replaced with fizz. I tolerate strawberry Laffy Taffy because I know what I’m getting into, but that’s where I draw the line. (And don’t get me started on banana Laffy Taffy, which is the most offensive flavor of the bunch).
The verdict? Like strawberry Laffy Taffy, I tolerate it. The cucumber on the backend helps temper the dominant faux-strawberry flavor, but I won’t be adding this to my fizzy water repertoire.
Citrus + Green Tea (*contains 30 mg of caffeine)
This flavor makes sense to me. Green tea is an acquired taste. I drink it on occasion, but doctor it up with lemon juice and/or honey to temper the bitterness. Sometimes the mild caffeine kick from green tea is all the pick-me-up I need.
Upon cracking Citrus + Green Tea open, your nostrils will be (pleasantly!) assaulted with citrus. Flavorwise I get all citrus and no green tea, which is cool with me (and I suspect many others). It’s like grapefruit and orange had a lemon party and wound up with one effervescent beverage. Plus it’s 1 of 2 AHA offerings that have caffeine, for the win! You can expect the caffeine equivalent of a cup of green tea.
This tastes exactly like peeling an orange smells like. Sweet, citrusy, zesty. It was love at first sip when I tried the Orange + Grapefruit AHA.
This is just what I want from citrus-forward fizzy water - it’s bold, the flavor hitting your tastebuds with a vibrant citrus wave that quickly fades into a refreshing, fizzy finish. Those bitter notes that often deter citrus aficionados from loving grapefruit are absent, making it a well-balanced, approachable drink.
The orange and grapefruit are both detectable, unlike most of the other AHA flavors where one flavor dominates. The best qualities from both shine - the sweetness from the orange, the tartness from the grapefruit - combining to create one invigorating citrus beverage.
The Blueberry + Pomegranate combo provides a tag-team of tartness that I am all about. I’m not much of a candy eater, but when I indulge I often buy what I refer to as Halloween candy - Starbursts and Sweet Tarts, all the sugary junk we’re expected to leave behind in our tweens. Drinking this reminds me of Sweet Tarts, minus the exaggerated tartness and tooth decay.
Even though there’s no caffeine in Blueberry + Pomegranate, this flavor gets me jazzed up. It’s just so tart and punchy. Both the flavors intermingle well, with no particular fruit overpowering the other. It’s just delightful!
Apple + Ginger - Discontinued
Apple + Ginger is surprisingly tart. It’s like eating a Granny Smith that finishes like a Red Delicious. The sharp tartness literally wants to make my mouth water, but the dry, effervescent finish whisks the need away. The overall flavor is reminiscent of apple juice with a fizzy flair.
When I first spied this flavor, I anticipated more from the ginger. I wanted it to be ginger-forward, with the robust spiciness of ginger beer. Sometimes I swear I can detect it when I’m taking a swig, but I think it’s wishful thinking... I’ve never been a big apple juice drinker so this beverage falls flat to me without the punch of ginger.
Black Cherry + Coffee (*contains 30 mg of caffeine) - Discontinued
This flavor combo struck me as odd. After all, I’ve never seen a Starbucks cold brew coffee with Black Cherry foam. Though maybe they should consider it because I was surprisingly pleased with the Black Cherry + Coffee flavor despite my initial reservations.
Hey Starbucks, call me. Let’s collaborate.
It starts hot and heavy with the black cherry flavor.... well, hot and heavy for a sparkling beverage, which is more like a peck on the cheek. It finishes with a barely discernible coffee aftertaste. The cherry flavor is quite the opposite of cough syrupy, overly sugary cherry (read: almost any cherry-flavored candy ever created). It’s black cherry, hitting you with a robust and balanced tartness that quickly fades into oh-so-delightfully fizzy oblivion. It’s definitely got the faux cherry thing going on, but I enjoy it here whereas I don’t with strawberry.
A 12 ounce can of Black Cherry + Coffee provides caffeine equivalent to half an 8-ounce cup of coffee. As someone who does not enjoy getting their caffeine fixes from hot beverages during the spring and summer months, AHA’s Black Cherry + Coffee offers a convenient boost.
Other than Black Cherry + Coffee, this was the only other flavor of AHA I had immediate doubts about. Couldn’t tell you why. Lime and watermelon are both refreshing flavors, so why not combine them?
If you had me blind sample Lime + Watermelon and ask me what I thought it was I’d respond with “fizzy lime drink.” I’ve closed my eyes while sipping this, trying to hone in on those watermelon notes, but they remain elusive. If I really concentrate I can tell you that it doesn’t finish like any other fizzy lime drink I’ve ever had. This has a flat (anticlimactic?) finish. I’m left wanting a sharper, tart citrus punch.
Regardless, it is quite light and refreshing, just not my favorite of the AHA bunch. I’d be inclined to mix this with a few ounces of a complimentary fruit juice over ice instead of drinking it solo.
Few things are as satisfying as biting into a perfectly ripe peach. Or eating a straight spoonful of raw honey. Honey is the perfect sweetener - it’s natural and unique, with complex flavors influenced by the plants the bees fed on.
I have a soft spot for Peach + Honey. The flavor is delicate and beautifully rounded out with a sweet fizzy finish. It's unlike any other sparkling water I've tried so far and I love its unique flavor. I could easily binge-drink an 8-pack of Peach + Honey over the course of a day or two. Begrudgingly I practice restraint because my husband thinks I go to Target way too much as it is... *rolls eyes*
Mango + Black Tea (*contains 30 mg of caffeine)
I wanted to love this one, to add it to my fizzy drink rotation, but I don’t. I thought the Mango flavor would “sweeten” and compliment the bitter notes from the Black Tea, but I find they clash. As a regular unsweetened tea drinker, I found the Black Tea notes pleasant (sort of like slightly earthy/bitter sparkling water). I think I would have preferred the flavor without the Mango because for me it just doesn’t jive.
Raspberry + Acai is delicious. I haven’t a clue what Acai tastes like on its own, but it rounds out the dominant raspberry flavor beautifully. It tastes like a blackberry-raspberry hybrid, beginning with zippy slightly tart and sweet raspberry, grounded with the earthy berry undertones of blackberry. If you enjoy berry-flavored sparkling waters, this is one that’s not to be overlooked.
Fuji Apple + White Tea (*contains 30 mg of caffeine)
I couldn't wait to try this one. My assumption is that this is a replacement for the since discontinued Apple + Ginger. And a fantastic replacement it is! It has a lovely, well-rounded apple flavor very much like a Fuji apple - not too sweet, not too tart, all apple!
I'm quite impressed with this one and love the fact that it has a small hit of caffeine. A solid addition to the lineup, one I hope has staying power.
Blackberry + Lemon
Another flavor I was super excited to see. I have to say I quite like it, though the execution isn't perfect. The lemon is vibrant but the blackberry falls a little flat. There's a hint of unwelcome chalkiness there, but fortunately, it passes quickly and ventures into that subtlely tart/bitter flavor blackberries are known for.
I'll be honest. If a sparkling water has pineapple in the name my expectations immediately lower. Pineapple is a challenging flavor to get right, especially when paired with another. I was pleasantly surprised with AHA's Pineapple + Passionfruit duo - it has a tropical, pineapple forward flavor with a forgivable amount of artificiality at the end. It doesn't make my Top Four best AHA flavors, but I'll be picking up a case or two this summer.
Tino’s Top Four Best AHA Flavors (in no particular order):
Orange + Grapefruit
Peach + Honey
Silver Medal Mention
Fuji Apple + White Tea
There you have it, those are my favs. Have you tried any of the AHA sparkling water flavors yet? If so, please share your favs!
Other Sparkling Water Reviews
The More You Know!
Did you know that the brain’s response to carbonation is actually a pain response, like with spicy foods? A receptor in the brain registers the carbonation as irritation and pain. Check out the podcast episode “What Makes Some Seltzers Sparkle?” on the Sporkful to learn more, hosted by the always entertaining, knowledgeable, and opinionated eater, Dan Pashman.