So finally they get it. Coca-Cola, Lucozade and a host of others are launching half-sugar versions of their classic drinks. And with fanfare.

In 2007, two years after we launched our Indian Tonic, we rolled out our Naturally Light Tonic. Talking to consumers, we heard that many had always been prepared to sacrifice taste for these no-calorie, diet versions of tonic water. But almost all acknowledged that the artificial sweeteners used in diet tonic left a bad taste in their mouths - and a concern about health in their minds. So our bet was that many would turn away from artificial sweeteners if they could have a lower-calorie, yet natural, alternative. This ‘third way’ proposed reversing the hierarchy from ‘no calories but tastes pretty awful using artificial sweeteners’, to ‘all natural, tastes delicious, and as low-cal as possible’.

Almost all these new low-sugar drinks include some amount of stevia. We use pure fruit sugar and minute amounts of stevia. At this level, the stevia has more benefit as a flavour enhancer than as a sweetener.

All drinks brands are going to need lower-calorie offerings without a total reliance on artificial sweeteners. Recent press attacks on aspartame are here to stay. In Coke Life’s formula, I understand, the quantity of stevia used is much higher, with its main purpose therefore as a sweetener.

Sadly, Coke Life seems to be getting a rough ride in the press. Some are pointing out that partly this is because it still contains ‘unnatural’ phosphoric acid. Others suggest it will cannibalise existing sales, but at least it is giving consumers a new choice. And whereas Fever-Tree’s customer is typically an adult looking for an all-natural mixer, it’s presumably less clear to commentators exactly who Coke Life is aimed at.

But I think it’s exactly the right thing for it to launch. Many have suggested Coke Life will quickly fall away. But if it helps to promote the awareness of this third way that we helped develop - good tasting, naturally sweetened and as low-calorie as is possible - then it will surely add to the important debate on low-cal, good taste and natural, versus diet and unnatural.

Charles Rolls is co-founder of Fever-Tree