I’m used to seeing coconut water peddled in large cartons, usually with some sort of semi-novel tetra-pack packaging – so coming across Trader Joe’s new 100% Pure Coconut Water in a tiny little 12 oz plastic bottle was a surprise. Even more surprising was the $2.99 price tag. Wait – seriously? Doesn’t Trader Joe’s already peddle a 750ml box of Pure Coconut Water for that exact same price? Just feet away on a nearby shelf? Do they really expect me to pay more than twice as much for the same amount of coconut water? They must think this is some seriously good stuff.
As I talk about in my earlier post on coconut water, Trader Joe’s made me a coconut water convert. Yes, I still think it tastes sort of weird and is painfully trendy – but it’s also an absolutely amazing (and natural) way to get massively hydrated. So I’m more than willing to be receptive to TJ’s new take on coconut water – but with this sort of price differential they going to have to make one hell of a case.
When you crack this bottle open and take a sip, the first thing you’ll notice is that it is actually pretty similar to Trader Joe’s other coconut water. This certainly puts it leaps and bounds ahead of many of the commercial coconut waters on the market (Zico, VitaCoco, etc, etc, etc) but doesn’t exactly make the case for that bigger price tag. Sure, there are some subtle taste differences that can be dissected – this Single Origin Coconut water seems to go down a little “smoother” and seems to taste a little fresher – but this is largely splitting hairs.
So if they taste the same, why the big price difference. That, of course, is because of the “single origin” quality, featured on the label. As TJ themselves explain on the side, each bottle is derived from a coconuts grown only in Thailand, with 1.5 coconuts going into each bottle. Hence the “single origin” label. While that may be somewhat underwhelming (defining “single origin” as originating within the same general country doesn’t particularly impress me), they also make use of a cold water method of pasteurization called HPP or high-pressure processing, thereby avoiding high temperature pasteurization which degrades the nutritive qualities inherent in the water
Basically, at this point, I could get into exactly what that entails – but it matters less than what Trader Joe’s is really trying to do with all this fancy labeling. True coconut water purists – those who turning to coconut wateras a lifestyle choice – pay considerable attention to the origin and method of pasteurization of their water. For instance, this blog post goes into depth at great length about the various virtues and sins committed by coconut water bottlers. Trader Joe’s new 100% Pure Single Origin Coconut Water is Trader Joe’s response to these concerns – a coconut water targeted at the discerning coconut water drinker.
While that’s all well and wonderful, what does it mean to someone like me who already enjoys Trader Joe’s existing coconut water offerings fairly well, and technical discussions of pasteurization processes very little. For that person, you can safely ignore this little bottle and continue to purchase the big carton, as usual. You can imagine the difference between these two as something like the difference between Perrier bottled water and Arrowhead. By all means, go for the Perrier if you fancy yourself a bottled water connoisseur, or have the money to spare. For everyone else, the difference between the two will be less than the pressure on your wallet.
Would I Recommend It: Only to serious coconut water enthusiasts.
Would I Buy It Again: I’ll be sticking with TJ’s other coconut water.
Final Synopsis: An ostensibly higher-quality coconut water meant to target the discerning coconut water crowd.
I don’t like coconut water. I’m officially on the books as one of those guys who walks around with a half-quizzical, half-angry look on his face, loudly complaining to his friends about how stupid it is that coconut water is being sold everywhere all of the sudden. Granted, I formed my opinion after trying maybe two different types of coconut water (Zico, and something else – something stupid) but that was enough for me. To hell with coconut water! It tastes weird and kind of gross, it routinely costs four bucks a bottle, it’s been co-opted by the uber-trendy – what more reason did I need to forsake it forever?
Forsake it I did until, in a moment of sheer caprice, I picked up Trader Joe’s Coconut Water. now sold in convenient giant box form. Instead of taking it home, trying a warm sip in my kitchen then writing a pissy article about it with one hand while pouring it down the drain with the other, I thought I’d actually give it a fair shake, take this one out into the real world, and field test it.
The one thing that coconut water gains the most acclaim for, and cornerstone to it’s marketing spiels, is how incredibly hydrating it’s alleged to be. Seeing as that all of my encounters with coconut water have been in the comfort of my own kitchen while at 90% hydration, I’m willing to grant that I haven’t really given coconut water a fair shot. What if I was super in to yoga, like the girls in all the coconut water ads? What if I was all sweaty and tired from yoga? Would I have a totally different opinion of this otherwise lame drink?
I executed my plan on one of the 90+ degree Saturday’s Los Angeles has been inflicting on us throughout late summer. I left home with two bottles, a liter of Trader Joe’s Electrolyte Enhanced Water (not reviewed on this blog because, come on, it’s basically just water), and the unwieldy, soft-sided 750 ml box of Trader Joe’s Coconut Water.
The plan,such as it was, was to walk down to a local park, goof around and play Frisbee with friends, and self-hydrate as necessary. I ran into trouble immediately out the door. While attempting to apply sunscreen to my head and walk at the same time, I managed to apply 100 times the required amount of lotion. Operating off of, what I know recognize as deeply flawed logic, I attempted to massage the pool of sunscreen into my scalp. This did not work out well, resulting in a dense mat of oily, greasy hair. While this did provide an all but impenetrable barrier to ultraviolet radiation, it also prevented normal perspiration. After walking two blocks, giant beads of sweat were already crawling down my forehead. I cracked open the electrolyte enhanced water and began to drink.
Two hours and a bathroom break later, the bottle of water was laying empty next to me. Meanwhile, the stealthy hands of dehydration continued their busy work, pilfering my precious bodily fluids. The time had come for coconut water. I popped open the sun-warmed box and took a drink. Folks, believe me when I tell you that I was instantly quenched in a way the water didn’t even come close too.
The coconut water lit up my whole tongue as it hungrily responded to the vital potassium and trace nutrients it contained. When it splashed down into my stomach, I could actually feel a difference in the level of hydration I was receiving – I could feel the coconut water saturating and infusing my whole body. To put it mildly, I was astonished. I expected the coconut water to be a good source of hydration, in a best case scenario I thought it might be on par with water. I certainly didn’t expect it to completely blow away water. Where the water felt like it was nourishing the top of my tongue, but the coconut water felt like it was hitting every nook and cranny, hydrating me throughout my body. Simply put, it was satisfying in an organic, fulfilling way.
Did it still taste gross and slightly off-putting? Yes, absolutely. But what I’ve come to realize is that coconut water isn’t playing the tasty drink game, it’s playing the hydration game – and in that arena it triumphs.
If you, like me, have avoided coconut water on the grounds that it’s gross and expensive,you’re absolutely validated and may continue to do so. If, however, you’re looking for a healthy, natural and very effective way to rehydrate – Trader Joe’s Pure Coconut Water is an excellent solution.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, if you plan on sweating; no if you want a tasty drink.
Would I Buy It Again: Yup, I’m a coconut water convert.
Final Synopsis: Coconut water will hydrate the hell out of you.