Are you wondering what this bright yellow brew is that looks rather like nuclear liquid than a refreshing beverage? It is actually Peru’s most popular soft drink called Inca Kola. Yes, the most popular, even more so than Coca Cola!

Whether it is delicious may be debatable. Nevertheless, everybody who is visiting Peru should definitely give it a try. And you will have no difficulty in finding it! The sugar-sweet drink is available pretty much anywhere! From fast food joints such as McDonald’s or the typical Chifa restaurants to high-class cevicherias and even in Peruvian airlines.

Chemicals Or Natural Ingredients – What Is Inca Kola Made Of?

Just like with Coca-Cola, there is a certain mystery around the exact formula of Inca Kola. The rather obvious ingredients also stated on each can or bottle include carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, caffeine as well as flavoring and coloring. One of the known special components which is not specified on the packaging is Peruvian hierba luisa. Known in English as lemon verbena, this flowering plant is native and pretty common in Peru and other parts of the Andes. Peruvians cultivate in in family gardens for a variety of drinks and foods such as herbal infusions, sorbets or savory dishes.

Does Inca Kola Actually Date Back To The Incas?

The short answer is: No! So who invented the bright yellow beverage that made it so big in Peru? The history of Inca Kola goes back to the year 1910, when José Robinson Lindley emigrated from England to Peru. After having built up a beverage company with several lines of soft drinks in production, the British immigrant tried conquering the market with a new carbonated drink. In 1935, he finally introduced Inca Kola. With the bright soda he scored an immediate goal as it quickly gained huge popularity in Lima’s working-class districts.

Only ten years later, Inca Kola had become the most popular soft drink in the entire country. But not only the distinct taste and look of Inca Kola were responsible for its fast rise. Lindley’s company had accomplished to create an iconic brand with a strong visual and marketing strategy. The corporate identity directly pushed Peruvians’ patriotic buttons, positioning Inca Kola as the official soda for Peru.



Inca Kola by Christian Haugen, licensed under CC BY 2.0