Coca has only recently acquired its nefarious reputation: for millennia, people living along the Andes mountains have chewed coca leaves. The juice from the leaves has a mild stimulant effect, easing stomach pain and helping people from the lowlands cope with altitude sickness, known locally as soroche.
The beer is in demand among tourists "who want to try something new," said Alejandra Orihuela, owner of a bar named K'umara ("Healthy" in Aymara).
She said that a group of German and American tourists liked it so much they came by several times a day for their coca beer, "as if it were breakfast and lunch."
Bolivia opposes the use of cocaine, but deplores the demonisation of the coca plant.
President Evo Morales, a former head of the country's coca growers union, is a strong supporter of finding legal ways of using the plant and of rehabilitating its reputation.
Bolivia withdrew from the Vienna-based UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs last year, angry that the coca leaf was labeled an illegal drug. It was readmitted in January after winning an opt-out allowing its population to keep legally chewing the leaves.
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