Taste Test Thursday: Coconut Water

All the coconut waters. I found out later that the Naked one had expired in July 2013. (photography by Carol Shih, design by Ricky Ferrer)
All the coconut waters. I found out later that the Naked one had expired in July 2013. You suck, Wal-Mart. (photography by Carol Shih, design by Ricky Ferrer)

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconut waters… diddly-dee.
There they are, all standing in a row!
Tasty ones, gross ones, ones as weird as your head!

Give them a sip, a nip of the lip
That’s what the drinkers said.

Now that I’ve sang a song for you, hopefully you’re in the same coconut-y mood as we are at D Magazine right now. There’s nothing more satisfying than going to the Vietnamese grocery store, buying a 99 cent coconut, and sticking a straw to it.

For all my friends out there who think coconut has magical properties that make your hair grow faster and the bags under your eyes disappear, this taste test is for you.

Today we tried four popular brands of this sweet drink to see which one is actually worth your hard-earned dinero. I know there are a bajillion brands out there, but I went with Tasty Nirvana, O.N.E., Vita Coco, and Zico. (We had to eliminate the Naked one because it was expired.)


A. Taste Nirvana – provided by Taste Nirvana
B. O.N.E. – from Wal-Mart // $2.28 per bottle
C. Vita Coco – from Wal-Mart // $2.48 per bottle
D. ZICO – from Wal-Mart // $1.98 per bottle


Bradford Pearson would like me to acknowledge him in this section.

Basically, he would like me to say it was him + nine other (unimportant) people taste testing.

But we all know that is not true.

Nirvana's coconut water
Nirvana’s coconut water


A. Taste Nirvana’s “real coconut water” – has the most clear coloring

  • “Too sweet. Tastes almost like coconut shavings. Makes me think the coconut was roasted or something.”
  • “The sweetest. Definitely my favorite.”
  • “Tastes like watered-down milk.”
  • “Way too sweet.”
ONE's coconut water
O.N.E.’s coconut water


B. O.N.E’s coconut water – slightly pink coloring

  • “Bitter and watery.”
  • “Pretty flavorless, like a water that’s been sitting out too long.”
  • “Kind of bland, not a lot of taste.”
  • “Medicine?!!?”
  • “Tasteless, plain.”
Vita Coco's coconut water
Vita Coco’s coconut water

C. Vita Coco’s coconut water – greenish coloring

  • “Syrupy, smells like baked pizza dough. I don’t if that’s good or bad.”
  • “Fresh smooth taste.”
  • “I wouldn’t drink this if I was stranded on a tropical island.”
  • “Has almost an apple aftertaste. Sweet, but not too sweet. Tastes most like what I remember a raw coconut tastes like.”
  • “Nasty. Tastes sour.”
  • “GROSS.”
Zico's coconut water
Zico’s coconut water

D. Zico’s coconut water – the most tan coloring

  • “Has a slightly eggshell color to it. The aftertaste tastes like plastic.”
  • “Waxy feel.”
  • “Tastes like dirty water, blech.”
  • “Mild taste, slightly salty.”


A. Taste Nirvana – 5 votes
B. O.N.E.
C. Vita Coco – 2 votes
D. Zico


I was kind of afraid this taste test would end up like the milk test we did (everything tasted pretty much the same), but no. Coconut waters are amazingly varied. They even come in different colors, too!

Some are green. Some are tan. Some are slightly pink. Who woulda thunk?

Taste Nirvana won this test with the most votes, but it definitely doesn’t taste like “real” coconut. Real coconut water is definitely less sugary. This one has a nuttier taste. Interestingly enough, Taste Nirvana’s PR rep sent me the product along with four other coconut water brands. (They were all expired.) I went out and bought my own instead.

I didn’t tell the tasters to pick the one closest to real coconut water; I told them to pick their favorite. It’s funny how the sweetest one usually seems to win these tests. Why is that?

O.N.E., which most people described as “bland” or “flavorless,” and Vita Coco tasted the most like real coconut water to me. Both have this ever-so-slightly sour taste that defines the real deal. ZICO, on the other hand… “Pure coconut” my butt. That stuff is not worth buying, ever.


  • Hunter

    Chocolate Zico = game-changer.

  • TLS

    Coconut water is only good for one thing. Hangover cure. Now everyone, go get wasted and in the morning tell me which brand works. That’s all I need to know.

  • Marley

    I second Hunter. I don’t like plain coconut water, but the chocolate Zico is uh-ma-zing.