Karma Cola is the fruit of a crazy idea three Kiwis had about three years ago on the beach in West Auckland. Chris, Simon and Matt came up with a plan to make a drink that would help out some farmers in Sierra Leone and let people know what real cola tasted like.
For centuries cola nut has been a vital part of West African daily life.
The fruit of the cola tree, native to the tropical forests of West Africa, cola nut still grows wild in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
In Sierra Leone cola nuts are consumed during religious rites and ceremonies, to welcome guests, as a symbol of friendship, to seal an agreement and to celebrate a marriage or reconciliation.
When friends get together they split the cola, taking a nut and dividing it in half to share. It contains natural caffeine, and is apparently good for giving ‘manpower’.
In the 1800s, an American pharmacist cottoned onto it, inventing the world’s first cola drink combining extracts of West African kola nut and South American coca leaf (which included a small amount of cocaine) and mixed them with sugar, other ingredients, and carbonated water to invent the first cola. Not surprisingly early cola caused a drug effect on drinkers. Its secret ingredient, cocaine, was prohibited from soft drinks in the U.S. after 1904. And, despite the name, real kola nut has long since been removed from the original recipe being replaced by synthetic flavouring.
Despite growing the naming ingredient of one of the biggest soft drinks in the world, with little demand internationally, cola nut farmers in Sierra Leone live an impoverished life.
Simon, Chris & Matt trading as All Good Organics wanted to help change that. They thought it would be a good idea to create a natural cola that reintroduced people to the taste of real cola and the people who grow it.
Karma Cola was born.