The plant is cultivated as a cash crop in Argentina, Northwest, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and other parts of South America, even in areas where its cultivation is unlawful. It also plays a role in many traditional Andean cultures as well as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Coca is known throughout the world for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. The alkaloid content of coca leaves is relatively low, between 0.25% and 0.77%. The native people use it for a stimulant, like coffee, or an energy source or both.
Coca-Cola used coca leaf extract in its products from 1885 and until about 1903. Extraction of cocaine from coca requires several solvents and a chemical process known as an acid-base extraction, which can fairly easily extract the alkaloids from the plant