Iyoshi Cola is bringing cola back to the streets, back to the people.

Whenever we think of cola, usually the product of a major corporation comes to mind be it Coca Cola, Pepsi, or your own regional counterpart. It’s a drink so widely consumed yet most of us never take a moment to consider making it ourselves.

We brew our own coffee and tea, squeeze our own juice, and even creating our own beers and wines in the comfort of our own home has become a mainstream hobby. Is cola such a mysterious concoction that only it cannot be done as a DIY project likes its peers in popularity?

These are the thoughts that suddenly rushed into our writer Tasuku Egawa’s mind as he came across Iyoshi Cola at a farmers’ market in front of the United Nations University building between Omotesando and Sibuya Stations in Tokyo.

The menu was almost embarrassingly modest: “Craft Cola 500 yen (US$4.40).”

And yet, those simple words unlocked a world of imagination.  Despite being little more than a food truck, the Iyoshi Cola store itself had a whimsical otherworldly feel. Random ingredients were lying around like yuzu citrus fruits, kola nuts, spices, and shelves lined with bottles of mysterious looking items.

Even as Tasuku approached the vehicle a bizarre “whoosh” sound emerged from it as if the surprisingly good-looking counter person were using some ancient, arcane arts to craft a magical elixir.

Whatever it was, it must have been good judging by the crowd of people waiting for a taste of “craft cola.” So Tasuku took a number and waited too.

After a little while his turn came and he approached the dashing young shopkeep, whom Tasuku later learned was Cola Kobayashi, the founder of Iyoshi Cola. Kobayashi handed Tusaku a plastic resealable bag with a strange brownish liquid inside that looked more like a savory dipping sauce than what he would normally associate with cola.

As he served the order, Kobyashi pleasantly reminded Tasuku to stir the drink whenever the bottom part became too dark and murky. Our reported faithfully made sure the contents were an even shade of brown, took a sip through the straw, and quickly determined that it was without a doubt deliciously spicy.

It’s hard to really put the complex taste of this cola into words, but Iyoshi Cola is to Coca Cola, what a home-or-restaurant-cooked pasta is to a can of Spaghetti-Os. They are essentially the same thing, but the depth and richness of flavors to be experienced are worlds apart.

It was such an amazing difference that Tasuku met up with Cola Kobayashi after Iyoshi Cola closed for the day to ask a few questions, namely: “Who the heck are you and where did you learn this alchemy?”

As you might have guessed by his name, Cola Kobayashi is a self-professed “cola-maniac” who has traveled around the world seeking out new varieties and flavors of his beloved beverage.

On top of that, Kobayashi’s grandfather was also in the Chinese holistic medicine business and had a factory called Iyoshi Yakko. From there Kobayashi could learn both the modern and ancient techniques needed to create his own unique brand of cola.

Tasuku also asked about the magical “whoosh” sound he had heard earlier, but turns out it was just Kobayashi mixing plain old carbonated water with the cola base. In order to sell fresh colas on the spot, Kobayashi prepares the base the day before and adds the carbonation and spices just before serving.

What exactly those spices are is not only a secret, but it’s not certain. Kobayashi is constantly updating his recipe making adjustments and improvements as he goes, which means no two visits to Iyoshi Cola may be exactly the same.

But if you want to start with your first visit, then head down to the weekly farmer’s market held by the United Nations University. However, Iyoshi Cola’s schedule is a little unpredictable so be sure to check its Instagram account linked below ahead of time, especially if it’s a long journey for you.

Shop information
Iyoshi Cola / 伊良(いよし)コーラ

October’s Schedule
13th (Saturday) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Time Alive Farmer’s Market
Tokyo-to, Chou-ku, Kachidoki 1-9-8

20th (Saturday), 21st (Sunday) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Farmer’s Market @UNU
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-53-70

27th (Saturday) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Farmer’s Market @UNU
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-53-70

Photos ©SoraNews24
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