Coconut water has become big business in the United States. All of a sudden people are calling it “nature’s Gatorade” and talking about it’s amazing restorative powers. Cocktail blogs are posting recipes for coconut water newbies, talking about this delicious new chaser that’s actually good for you. Ask anyone from the islands and they’ll tell you – y’all are WAY behind. Coconut water has been a staple in cultures around the world FOREVER, for exactly these reasons!

This is how I grew up drinking coconut water in Trinidad – vendors around the Savannah and in parts of downtown Port of Spain sell cold coconut water, fresh from the nut. And it is DELICIOUS. If you ever visit Trinidad, it’s a must. Stop for coconut water, drink it, and then ask the vendor to cut it open so you can enjoy the coconut jelly inside. So good, and so good for you!


Image via Outlish Magazine.

Coconut water is a staple back at home. If you’re sick and dehydrated, Caribbean doctors will recommend you drink it. And the official drink of Trinidadian men as long as I’ve been able to remember, is Johnny Walker Black and coconut water. Ask my dad! If you’re not a fan of scotch, no worries. Coconut water also mixes well with rum – one of the most decadent and delicious cocktails I ever had was the Coco Loco served at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana – coconut rum, coconut water, and coconut milk, blended and served in a coconut. SO amazing. You can also make a killer pina colada, by adding a splash of coconut water to your pineapple juice and coconut cream mix.

Unfortunately, here in Chicago the coconut water I buy is expensive and sold in little cartons at expensive grocery stores. And I’ve come to learn, not all coconut waters are equal. Price and flavor can vary wildly. Maybe you’re interested in drinking coconut water for it’s health boosting properties. Maybe you’re dying to try one of those cocktails I just mentioned. As a born-and-raised island girl who yearns for the real thing, let me tell you which varieties of coconut water are worth buying at your local grocery store.

Zico Pure Premium Coconut Water.


Zico has managed to establish itself as one of the go-to brands for coconut water, and so far I’ve found it to be one of the easiest to find in grocery stores. Zico sells flavored coconut waters (pina tropicale, lima citron, pomberry, passion fruit, and mango) but they also sell Zico Natural, which is 100% coconut water. It tastes just as pure and perfect as you’d like. Their product used to be sold in cartons, now they’re selling them in bottles. Either way, delicious.

VitaCoco.

VitaCoco was the first kind of coconut water I really started seeing at stores – it’s perpetually stocked at my favorite healthy vegetarian restaurant/grocery store in Miami, The Honey Tree. (If you’re visiting, GO! And tell Michelle you read about it on this super cool blog called Afrobella written by a woman named Patrice. And tell her I miss her! Get a seitan pie to go!). Where was I? Oh yeah. Every time I’d go to the Honey Tree, Michelle knew the drink to go with my meal – either a pineapple or passion fruit VitaCoco. So delicious, so refreshing – and if you’re new to coconut water, trying it with a light fruit flavor like this isn’t a bad way to go. My only complaint is that the single-serving size cartons are too small. I always want another one!

Naked 100% Naked Coconut Water.

I recently bought one of these and fell in love. To be honest, Naked 100% Naked Coconut Water was the inspiration behind this post. It’s so refreshing, I drank it and thought to myself, “I must blog about this.” The size of the carton is perfect – comparable to the kind of large coconut I would have wanted from a vendor around the Savannah. Post-workout, this would be a great, electrolyte-restoring thirst quencher. And for cocktails at home, it’s perfect for a pair of scotch and coconut waters.

BomDia Coconut Splash, Tropical Mango.

I couldn’t find a link for this product ANYWHERE but I found it at my local Jewel supermarket. It’s delicious, but coconut water purists may not approve – it’s also got apple juice, mango puree, lemon and passion fruit juice, and stevia for sweetner. It’s super yummy and would be great for cocktails, though!

Amy and Brian’s Coconut Juice — I’m sorry…but what in the deuce is coconut juice? I was honestly perplexed when i saw this at the health food store. Even when I asked a clerk he was just like…”i guess that’s what they’re calling coconut water?” I was already skeptical, but decided to buy and try it for the sake of this review. And my suspicions proved correct. IMO coconut water should never be packaged in a can. I definitely got a metallic flavor from this, and it was my least favorite thus far.

Those are the brands I’ve tried, but I know there’ll be more in store. Celebrities and tastemakers are loving the stuff, and big companies like Coke and Pepsi are investing. So here’s hoping that coconut water remains sustainable and profitable for countries that could use that income.

Are you a longtime coconut water lover, or a newbie? What are your favorite varieties you’ve seen on store shelves?

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