Caramel Colors for Beverages

Sethness liquid Caramel Colors, Class I Caramelized Sugar Syrups and powdered Caramel Colors are used in a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage applications including:

  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Teas
  • Lemonades
  • Fruit drinks
  • Powdered drink mixes

Caramel Color in Carbonated Soft Drinks

Caramel Color is the most widely used colorant in the soft drink industry. Because of the low pH of most carbonated beverages, Sethness Class IV Caramel Colors are commonly used because of their acid stability. In addition to providing excellent reddish to brown hues, Caramel Color can enhance the foaming characteristics, mouthfeel, and flavor of soft drinks.

In soft drink concentrates, Caramel Color has an emulsifying effect with flavor oils, and helps to eliminate the formation of certain types of “floc”. The light protective quality of Caramel Color also assists in preventing oxidation of the flavoring components in bottled beverages. Sethness Caramel Colors are also very stable in various processing and packaging conditions.

Beverage manufacturers sometimes use the terms “single strength” and “double strength”. These terms describe the relative color strength of Caramel Color and may cover different ranges of color. Double strength Caramel Color (Sethness DSL4) was originally developed for use in dietetic beverages. The goal was to reduce the caloric content contributed by the Caramel Color to about 25% of that contributed by a single strength color (Sethness S190). However, double strength Caramel Color also offers greater cost efficiency, which has contributed to its rapid acceptance.

Recently many carbonated soft drink users have switched to Sethness DSL4 Low 4-MeI liquid Caramel Color in order to comply with Prop 65 in California.

Class I Caramel Colors may not work in any colas containing phosphoric acid, but can potentially be utilized in beverages containing citric acid.

Caramel Color in Teas

Important considerations in choosing Caramel Colors for teas are tannins, pH, and acids present. How a tea is made – natural or tea-flavored – will determine the class of Caramel Color to use. For natural teas, negative ion charged Sethness Class I, Class II and Class IV Caramel Colors are compatible with most tannins from the tea leaves which results in a clear solution. On the occasion that the Class IV caramel has a poor interaction with the tea tannins, a Class III caramel may be a better choice. For tea flavors, all classes of Caramel Color can be considered for use. While all classes of Sethness Caramel Colors are stable at low pH levels, Caramel Color interaction with various acids in teas can be varied and lead to haze problems.

Red toned Caramel Colors with higher hues are recommended for most tea applications, while Class IV Caramel Colors are widely used for their strong, dark color in liquid ready-to-drink tea applications.

Caramel Color in Lemonades

Yellow-toned Caramel Colors YT25 and YT90 are preferred for ready-to-drink lemonades and lemonade mixes. Sethness Class I Caramel Colors are recommended for their excellent yellow tones and foaming properties.

Caramel Color for Fruit Drinks

For fruit drinks such as apple juice, cranberry juice, tomato vegetable blends, and more, Sethness Caramel Colors are chosen to standardize or enhance the color. How a fruit drink is produced, whether it is made from natural fruit or fruit-flavored, can influence the best Caramel Color choice. The presence of tannins and pH are important in the Caramel Color selection. Negatively charged Sethness Class I, Class II and Class IV Caramel Colors are better suited for real fruit beverages, due to their compatibility with the tannins from the ripe fruit. For fruit-flavored drinks, all Sethness Caramel Colors are good options. All classes of Sethness Caramel Colors are stable at low pH levels. However, some caramel colors may have poor interaction with some acids present in the fruit drink.

Caramel Color Powered Drink Mixes

Caramel Colors can serve as a major cost-saving alternative in powdered drink mixes. From flavored coffee/cappuccino mixes to hot chocolate mixes, Sethness Class IV powdered Caramel Colors can act as an extender and provide the rich, robust brown color these applications require. Sethness liquid Class III Caramel Colors have some of the flavor characteristics of coffee and are an excellent choice in spray-dried applications. Sethness Caramel Colors are also used in flavored powdered coffee creamers. Typically Class I and III are suggested in dairy applications. Caution should be taken when blending Caramel Colors with flavor or milk in a coffee drinks, as ionic properties may cause haze or even settlement.

Please contact the Sethness technical team for more specific application guidance.