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Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?Spring is in the air, and at least around here, that means grocery stores are bringing out floor-to-ceiling displays of coconut waters.  I typically don’t buy pre-packaged coconut water, because it’s easy enough to crack open a fresh young coconut from Thailand.  But, with so many brands being so prominently displayed these days, it got me wondering if any of them live up to the real thing…

Of course, there’s only one way to answer this question, and that is with this month’s Thai Test Kitchen!

For this taste test, the boyfriend and I bought quite a few different brands of coconut water, in addition to a fresh young coconut from Thailand.  We tried to choose brands of water whose coconuts originated in Thailand, but also threw in one or two popular brands made with non-Thai coconuts for comparison’s sake.

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?Once all of the coconut waters were poured into their own glasses, it was interesting to note the color differences between them.  Only a few brands were perfectly clear, with most being slightly cloudy and a few looking almost yellow.  The Taste Nirvana “Real” coconut water was the most clear of the bunch, clearer even than the water from our young Thai coconut.

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?In order to make it a fair taste test, I removed the name tags and coded each brand by number before serving them to our friends.  Then it was just a matter of tasting and grading!

Each brand was scored by five participants on a scale of one to five, with five being the best.  Fresh coconut water from a Thai young coconut was held as the benchmark against which all of the brands were compared, and was sampled in between each brand as a reminder of what the coconut water should taste like.

After averaging the scores, our top three favorite brands were:

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?Looking back on our notes, it seems that the qualities we liked in these top three brands were a subtle sweetness, pleasant earthy flavor, and lack of a sour or bitter aftertaste that many of the other brands had.  We were pretty harsh critics, though, with the best that one friend could offer regarding these brands being that they were “not offensive”.

As you can imagine, the remaining brands garnered much less positive reviews, with some inducing quite strong reactions.

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?

By the end of the taste test, everyone had had enough coconut water to last them for quite a while.  And while we did our best to be objective taste testers, we also realized that the sheer volume of samples being tried may have influenced our scores, so we’d love to hear your favorite coconut water brands as well!

I’m glad to have found some substitutes for those times when popping the top of a coconut isn’t an option.  But at the end of the day, I have to say that nothing beats fresh coconut water straight from a young Thai coconut.

Thai Test Kitchen: Which brand of coconut water is best?



10 comments… add one
  • Bonnie September 11, 2016, 6:30 pm

    Fresh out of the coconut is my favorite by far.

    • Rachel September 13, 2016, 5:52 pm

      Me too :)

  • Aphinya M. September 20, 2014, 12:18 pm

    I love coconut water!! Have tried several myself and the Taste Nirvana is the best soo far although pricey, haven’t tried the Harmless Harvest yet but it’s now on my list!! Love this idea of taste testing!! A store here on Maui have just recently started stocking “Roasted Coconut Juice”, was more like sugared coconut water but love the idea of it, Roasted Coconuts on Thailand’s beachside is just perfect..
    Just a note though.. Beware of coconut “juice” because a lot of them contains sugar so it actually isn’t all natural as the coconut “water”..

    • Rachel September 20, 2014, 8:33 pm

      Ahh, I never would have thought that the difference between coconut “juice” and coconut “water” would be added sugar! So tricky… Thanks for commenting on this!!

  • Evie {Domestic Whimsy} August 31, 2014, 11:38 pm

    Great post! With the assortment of coconut water out there, it’s helpful to be pointed in the right direction. I’ve tried a few that had “off” flavors which was a bummer. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the ones you recommend here!

  • Katie August 18, 2014, 8:56 pm

    I’m glad you guys added this. I picked up some Taste Nirvana coconut water and it was definitely the best out of several brands that I have tasted.

  • Jennifer June 22, 2014, 11:48 pm

    Hi Rachel, I love your blog. I was just going through and found this post and thought I’d chime in and say I’m another fan of Harmless Harvest. I’ve tried most of the brands in this post, and it’s by far my favorite. Too bad it’s harder to find than many of the others!

  • Fawn @ Cowen Park Kitchen May 2, 2014, 9:17 pm

    Harmless Harvest is by far my favorite as well. Must have something to do with the lack of pasteurizing. Wish it was less spendy though! Yikes.
    If I had better looking young coconuts in my local stores, I’d opt for them too, but the ones that seem to make their way up here are often moldy or shrunken looking unfortunately, so the bottled stuff is usually a better choice.

    • Rachel May 9, 2014, 3:35 pm

      That’s a really good point, Fawn! I guess I really am lucky to have access to fresh young coconuts whenever I want…

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