Coconut water—ahh, the sweet nectar of those cute little, tasty coconuts. But not all coconut water is created equal, and we found that out the hard way. As described by our taste testers, some are “metallic-tasting” or “gross.” On the bright side, one tester said an option “tastes like it’s made from sweet baby angels.” Which is exactly why we blind taste-tested—literally, we put a blindfold on each of our taste testers so colors or packaging wouldn’t inhibit their choices. Below, the sweet victors and losers of our great experiment. Hold on to your cocktail because things just got cocoNUTS (sorry, we had to).
It’s possible we didn’t pick your favorite, but, damn, there are a lot of coconut waters on the market. We’d still be testing today if we tried each and every one. So we picked each contender based on their ability to fit into a general category in hopes that it, or a similar one, would be available near you.
The Bodega Option
This one is 100 percent coconut water (other brands can sometimes add some fillers) from the Philippines. It’s the only canned version we tested and it’s BPA-free.
The Thai Coconut One
Thailand’s Nam Hom coconuts (the famously super-tasty coconuts locals prefer) are bottled fresh hours after harvest.
The Whole Foods Version
The Whole Foods–produced brand offers Thai coconuts at a pretty accessible price.
The Prevalent One
Available in nearly every single grocery and convenience store now, this brand is bottled from Brazilian coconuts and has six varieties of coconut flavors.
The Actual One
At our local juice shop, they cut the top off and serve. We walked it back to the tasting HQ, and it’s as fresh as it comes (outside of a tropical locale).
The Artisanal One
CoAqua is made from fresh young coconuts harvested at around seven months of age in Southeast Asia. The single-serve recycled glass bottle means you drink it in one sitting.
The Pink One
The iconically pink (and sole reason for the blindfold in this test) coconut water has pretty much raised the standards of coconut water since its launch in 2009. It’s sourced from organic agroforestry farms in Thailand.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Each taste tester (and Domino employee) individually tried all seven options on their own so as not to be influenced by friends (peer pressure is real). We took the dramatics as far as blindfolding each tester in a separate room (so they didn’t peep any glances), and then walking them to the testing table and handing them each cup. Here, without further ado, is the ranking and actual tasting notes from our expert testers.
7th Place: Vita Coco
“Tastes like it has added flavoring, like it’s trying to be refreshing, but it’s not.”
“Tastes like it has some type of flavoring that shouldn’t be there.”
“Is this that Vita Coco shit?” (It was.)
6th Place: 365 Everyday Value
“Very dull, very bad.”
“Kind of tastes like there is pineapple in there, but not in a good way.”
“Not a strong taste to it.”
“Tastes almost like there are preservatives in it.”
5th Place: Blue Monkey
“Not refreshing or a lot of flavor.”
“Pretty good, but sweeter aftertaste.”
4th Place: Taste Nirvana
“Really thick texture.”
“What fake coconut is modeled after.”
“Taste like coconut that’s in pina colada, with an aftertaste.”
“So yummy, like dessert in a bottle.”
3rd Place: Real Coconut
“Yummy, tastes more like a real coconut.” (It was.)
“Really light, with a more complex flavor.”
“Subtle sweetness, which seems natural.”
“Gross, metallic tasting.”
2nd Place: Harmless Harvest
“Delicious; really strong coconut flavor.”
“Sweet, but in a sugary way.”
“Flavor is smoother.”
“Yum; has a coconut taste that doesn’t seem fake.”
“Wow, it tastes like I’m drinking straight from a coconut.”
“Very sweet, but in a bad way; more of a treat.”
“It smells so tropical, and the taste is caramelized and toasted.”
When it came to ranking the coconut waters (while still blindfolded), the clear winner overall for tasters was CoAqua. It has a unique, bold coconut flavor that’s also unusual, almost like caramelized or toasted coconut, and it’s incredibly refreshing. Testers also really loved Harmless Harvest for a more subtle but still delicious coconut flavor. And, of course, an actual, real fresh coconut is always a great choice.
When it came to least favorites, testers were unanimous with the more mass-produced options, saying the flavor was more metallic, bland, or artificial tasting. Oh, and we should mention that all opinions and choices are our own, and no brands were part of this ranking.
This story was originally published in March 2018 and has since been updated with new information.