History: Maine Root is a well-known craft soda brand. It’s nationally distributed, but despite its widespread availability, the company’s reputation is still darling. Sometimes the bigger a brand is, the harder the craft soda connoisseur will push back against it. Not so here. It still feels genuine. Maybe it’s because Maine Root is still a family business. Maybe it’s because they place a major emphasis on “organic” and “fair trade.” Or maybe people just love Maine. It is just kind of hanging out up there, all cutesy in the northeast. But it’s probably something you don’t see: the owners. Mark Seiler was working in a pizza place that sold a root beer he loved. Pepsi bought it out. Aw HELL NAH! That led to Maine Root and the creation of its root beer by brothers Mark and Matt Seiler. Today’s review, Mexicane Cola, is the company’s newest regular soda and came out about three years ago due to customer demand. What the owners will repeatedly emphasize to you is that Maine Root is the first and only company to use fair trade, organic cane sugar juice. They source it from Paraguay. This is in contrast to cane sugar. It’s also “incredibly expensive,” according to Matt Seiler. Let’s drink it in.
Where to get: Maine Root is a nationally distributed soda. You probably already knew about it. It can be found in well-known stores like Whole Foods and O’Naturals. And if you can’t find it in your city, order it online.
Nose: Not much of a scent on this, but sugar is what hits the nose most.
Taste: Cane sugar; soft kola nut; nutty; light cinnamon. Right away the kola nut is upfront. You’ll want to compare this to Mexican Coca Cola based on the name, but the two aren’t that similar in flavor. Coke is more bitter due to its use of high fructose corn syrup, while Mexicane Cola’s organic cane sugar juice gives it a sweeter, earthier taste. Maine Root keeps the spice in this a secret, but you can taste them swirling around after the kola nut wears off. Cinnamon is identifiable, but it’s very faint. The cane sugar flavor is constant throughout, which is the staple of a mexican cola. Definitely more a rustic flavor than most colas. The sugar permeates the mouth. It’s the soda’s defining trait, but at times it overpowers the spices.
Finish: Cane sugar juice that trails off into spices.
Rating: A new take on an old classic, Mexicane Cola is anchored by its use of fair trade cane sugar juice and secret spices. The cane sugar powers this soda from beginning to end. It’s a natural sweetness not found in many other sodas. The spices help mellow the intensity of the sugar’s flavor, but it still packs quite a punch. If you’re not a fan of sweeter sodas, then I’d keep looking for your dream cola. The use of kola nut in this soda plays nicely with the rest of the spices to help create a nuanced flavor profile. Unfortunately, the sugar limits the opportunity for more of those flavors to come through in the mouth. This is solid as is, but could really go to the next level without as much sweetness. Our suggestion? Try it on ice to help limit some of the sugar’s effect. If you see this in a coffee shop or grocery store, it’s worth a shot. It’s an adventurous take on a soda that’s often so dull, and the craft soda world needs more adventurers.