Ubuntu Cola

This can of Ubuntu was sent to me by a friend of a friend in Britain. How cool is that? Soft drinks getting mailed to me from across the Atlantic! And for free.

It sat in the refrigerator for a couple of months, I couldn’t bring myself to drink it. It’s too nice of a thing, this gift from overseas. And it came with a cool fold out pamphlet, informing me the many ways in which Ubuntu helped the world.

Sadly, I lost the pamphlet. I think my wife might have tidied it away, she steadfastly denies it, but does so in a shifty manner indicating to me her possible guilt.

Anyways, Ubuntu is delightful. A joy to sip. It’s a very crisp and clean drink, tasting like an amalgam of all the best things of the cola world. It has that light sweetness of Pepsi, but not overly much. It has the good bits of Tab in it, too. Some of the roughneck flavor of RC is in there as well, swaggering quietly in the background but not drawing too much attention to itself.

The stuff is mild and lightly carbonated. There is a very slight ugliness to the initial aftertaste, a mixing of a numb tongue and mud, but it doesn’t reappear after the first couple of swigs. Maybe the Ubuntu was just rehydrating the dried foulness already present in my mouth.

It’s a Fairtrade product, something which I heartily approve of. According to the can, it “Guarantees a better deal for Third World Producers”. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. For a few cents more a heck of a difference can be made in someone else’s life. That’s great. I’ll quote the rest of the can:

Ubuntu: “I am because we are”

Through Fairtrade, sugar cane farmers in Malawi and Zambie receive a better deal and a social premium to invest in social, economic, & environmental projects. Plus, we will return one third of our profits into those communities through our Ubuntu Africa program. Visit: www.ubuntu-trading.com

Hmmm. I’m not sure if I approve of all of that sentence. I hate it when ampersands are used unnecessarily. And that last sentence is a little oddly phrased: “…we will return one third of our profits into those communites…” That seems like odd english. Shouldn’t it be “return to” the communities? Or “invest into”? Or something?

But then again, this a product of London. They certainly have the upper hand when it comes to good English.

The ingredients list reads:

carbonated water
fairtrade sugar
colours: sulphite ammonia caramel
acidifier: phosphoric acid
preservative: sodium benzoate
flavour: caffeine, natural flavors

96% (excluding water) fairtrade ingredients certified to international fairtrade standards

So listing items with their function is a new one on me. Sulphite Ammonia Caramel lends it the color, eh? We all love the color of ammonia. And caffeine is listed as a flavor? That’s a little wacky.

Like I mentioned above, the pamphlet disappeared before the review. In this instance, I don’t feel terrible about doing a little research on the website – all I’m doing is replacing the info that came with the can, right? It’s not cheating, I swear it.

The first thing I notice is that the http://ubuntu-trading.com/our-fairtrade-cola page says “Each year We’ll [sic] give at least 15% of our profits to our Ubuntu Africa Programme”. 15% isn’t equal to 1/3rd. A discrepancy between the can and the website. Alas. And what’s with that royal upper case W on the “We’ll”?

Ah, heck with the website. This stuff is really good, and you can drink it with a clean conscience.

Edit: So I found the pamphlet which came with the Ubuntu. Like you might expect, it’s touting the good-for-the-worldness of Fairtrade goods. It has a printed excerpt from a blog by an African sugar farmer, he talks about cows. It has a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It mentions Zulu community support. Etc. The most important thing about this is that it turned up in the stamp drawer. My wife’s stamp drawer. She seemed embarrassed and claimed to have no idea how it got there, though I will point out that the pamphlet is conveniently stamp book shaped and could easily fool someone not paying attention.

Crafty Ubuntu.