The can on the left is an energy drink that gets its kick from real coca leaves.
It’s called Coca Sek and was created by the indigenous Páez people of Colombia, partly in protest at the association between their traditional plant and the cocaine trade, which makes the illicit drug by processing the leaves.
The indigenous people of South American have used coca for thousands of years for its mild stimulant effects. Coca Cola originally used coca leaf extract for its kick, hence the name, but now apparently only uses ‘denatured’ leaves for flavouring.
It has only been relatively recently that the plant has been of interest to narcotraffickers, leading to the stigmatisation of the plant and its use to fund violence.
In 2005, the Páez people decided they would make a series line of home products based on coca, partly as a form of income and partly as a way of rehabilitating the image of their sacred plant.
They launched the drink to much fanfare, including coverage by the LA Times, only for the Colombian government to pressure the major supermarkets to take it off their shelves in 2007 because of its association with drugs.
However, the product lines, including energy drinks and tea bags, are still available in market stalls and health food shops around the capital.