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.
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.
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:
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.
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.