Review: Trader Joe’s Vintage Cola

Trader Joe’s is a specialty supermarket chain that has locations in about 25 states. They are known for having unique products, as well as gourmet and organic options at affordable prices (and incidentally are currently owned by one of the two brothers who run discount grocery chain Aldi… well, at least the ones in Germany). To keep costs low, you’ll find a lot of food with the namesake store brand name. Beverages are no exception, which is what brings us to Trader Joe’s Vintage Cola.

The other day a friend of mine handed me a bottle of Vintage Cola and encouraged me to try it out. What attracted me to this product was the sharp packaging design, but also the promise that it was “naturally sweetened soda with cane sugar.” Woo hoo! The packaging also proclaims that this drink is “vegan” and that “no gluten ingredients used”.

The logo design for a store branded-beverage is actually pretty good, reflecting a vintage take on a pop bottle cap. In fact, there was a real bottle cap used on Vintage Cola, though it only required a twist to review vs. a bottle opener. The color scheme on the label of light blue, dark blue, and red, combined with the patterns of bubbles and 60s style diamond shapes, provides a nice setting for the drinking experience.

Upon opening the bottle, the drink smells like… well, it smells like cola. Go figure. The flavor itself is very clean, as expected by a drink sweetened with cane sugar. Unfortunately, the taste is also somewhat bland. It probably skews more towards Coke than Pepsi, in that it’s not overtly sweet. But the flavor profile is lacking in a real identity. That said, it’s a very clean identity that does not linger with syrupy residue like a high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) drink would. This isn’t a bad flavored cola. It’s just not exceptional.

Here’s what’s inside:

Trader Joe’s Vintage Cola
Triple filtered carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavor, citric acid and tartaric acid

A 12 oz. glass bottle packs 160 calories and 40 grams of carbs (all of which are sugars). This drink is caffeine-free.

If you can find Trader Joe’s Vintage Cola at an affordable price, it’s a good way to get a cane sugar-sweetened beverage that won’t break the bank. It provides a cola flavor on par with what you’d expect from a store brand, but at least it’s very clean and tasty!