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OpenCola is unique in that the instructions for making it are freely available and modifiable. Anybody can make the drink, and anyone can modify and improve on the recipe as long as they, too, license their recipe under the GNU General Public License. The legal grounds for this are dubious however, as recipes are exempted from copyright as they are techniques, not artworks.

Although originally intended as a promotional tool to explain free software/open source software, the drink took on a life of its own and 150,000 cans were sold. The Toronto-based company Opencola founded by Grad Conn, Cory Doctorow and John Henson became better known for the drink than the software it was supposed to promote. Laird Brown, the company's senior strategist, attributes its success to a widespread mistrust of big corporations and the "proprietary nature of almost everything."

Flavoring Formula

  • 10.0 g Food Grade Gum Arabic (Important: Do NOT use Art Grade Gum Arabic!)
  • 3.50 mL Orange oil
  • 3.00 mL Water
  • 2.75 mL Lime oil
  • 1.25 mL Cassia oil
  • 1.00 mL Lemon oil
  • 1.00 mL Nutmeg oil
  • 0.25 mL Coriander oil
  • 0.25 mL Neroli oil
  • 0.25 mL Lavender oil

Concentrate Formula

  • 2.36 kg plain granulated White Table Sugar
  • 2.28 L Water
  • 30.0 mL Caramel color
  • 3.50 tsp. 75% Phosphoric acid or Citric acid
  • 2.00 tsp. Flavoring Formula
  • 0.50 tsp. Caffeine (optional)


Mix oils together in a cup. Add food-grade gum arabic, mix with a spoon. Add water and mix well. A mixer may be used for this step, mixing for 4-5 minutes. You can also transfer to a blender for this step. The mix can be kept in a sealed glass jar in a refrigerator or at room temperature. Please note that this mixture will separate. The gum arabic is essential to this part of the recipe, as you are mixing oil and water.
In a one gallon container, take 5 mls of the Flavoring Formula, add the 75% phosphoric or citric acid. Add the water, then the sugar. While mixing, add the caffeine, if desired. Make sure the caffeine is completely dissolved. Then add the caramel color. Mix thoroughly.
To finish drink, take one part syrup and add 5 parts carbonated water.

External Links

Adapted from: