Gilligan and the Skipper would have loved the variety of coconut waters at Willy Street Co-op. Those poor fellows had to gather coconuts and fend off monkeys; we just have to shop. And shop we have. According to Slate.com, the coconut water industry has seen triple-digit growth over the past three years as consumers seek alternatives to sugary sports drinks for hydration, especially during and after exercise. This is perhaps the largest reason coconut water, also known as “Mother Nature’s Sport Drink,” has had such an impact on the beverage market. Coconut water offers supplements like potassium, sodium, easily digestible carbohydrates and electrolytes that are ideal for keeping you replenished. So for the next three minutes, just sit right back and I’ll tell you about the coconut water Willy Street Co-op offers.
With his years of experience, Gilligan could have worked for Harmless Harvest as an official palm tree climber. This company gets its coconut water from old-growth coconut groves in Thailand and bottles the water the same day the coconuts are collected. Their emphasis is on traditional farming and embracing the long-term use of their land. Instead of switching to conventional and potentially harmful farming techniques, Harmless Harvest is a single-origin operation, meaning they use the same small farms in Thailand and their water is subject to whatever Mother Nature decides. If you’re wondering if their products are pasteurized, the answer is no. Harmless Harvest pressurizes their bottles to help keep out microbes and bacteria using a process called HPP, or High Pressure Processing. This method is more expensive, but according to them, “This is the only way it should be done.” The result is water that is completely raw and organic, and it’s never heated or treated with chemicals. Harmless Harvest can be found in our beverage coolers and may likely have some variation in color from time to time. It’s also available in a box of 12.
Our next company, Vita Coco, uses coconuts from Mexico, Brazil, and Southeast Asia. Their water is pasteurized, so it’s shelf stable before opening and is available in original, pineapple, or peach with mango. Vita Coco acknowledges the flavors of their water change from region to region, so adding flavor extracts helps provide a more uniform, sweet taste. Vita Coco may also be the company that helped fuel the coconut water boat from Brazil, where it’s been popular for ages. As the story goes, the owners of Vita Coco were at a restaurant in Manhattan in 2003 when they overhead two Brazilian women complain about the lack of coconut water in America. The rest, like the S.S. Minnow, is history.
Like Harmless Harvest, C2O uses coconuts from Thailand for their water. They also pride themselves in using the youngest coconuts possible. The logic here is that younger coconuts don’t possess mature meat—the portion of the coconut that is pressed to produce milk. A typical coconut palm can produce 100 to 140 coconuts a year, and each coconut holds eight to 12 ounces of water. Between eight and nine months, the water is extracted at the optimal time to yield the coconut’s best water. C20 does pasteurize their water, so if you can’t finish the 16-ounce can, refrigeration is necessary.
Amy and Brian’s
Although marketed as coconut juice, Amy and Brian’s is quick to point out that their coconut juice is indeed coconut water. Nam Ma Phrao, in Thai, means “juice of the coconut.” They simply prefer to use the indigenous term of Thailand in an effort to be as authentic as possible. This authenticity is also reflected in their use of pulp, which is a traditional way to drink coconut water around the world. Their coconuts are grown without pesticides and are also GMO-free. And since their water is from Thailand, it’s sweeter and has a stronger coconut flavor than water from other parts of the world. In short, coconuts are a lot like grapes: the region and climate affect every aspect of the finished product. The Professor could verify this. A lime version is also available at Willy Street Co-op.
For those of us who associate coconuts with monkeys, there’s Blue Monkey coconut water. The company name is derived from the Spanish/Portuguese translation of coconut: monkey face! Formed in 2010, this company was started after the demand for coconut water hit the thatched roof. Blue Monkey sources their coconuts from Thailand, Indonesia, and The Philippines. Similar to C2O, Blue Monkey stresses the use of young coconuts and sustainability practices for their farmers. Willy Street Co-op offers their pasteurized water in BPA-free cans.
Our final company, Harvest Bay, offers coconut water as well as coconut oil.
Harvest Bay uses Nam-Hom coconuts from Thailand, which are recognized for their sweet flavor. And like its neighbors at Willy Street Co-op, Harvest Bay is not from concentrate; it’s just pure coconut water. Each 8.45-ounce serving has all of 35 calories and 20 percent of the potassium you need in a day. The Skipper burned more calories hitting Gilligan over the head with his hat. Harvest Bay is also available for purchase in packs of twelve, just in case you and some friends are heading out to sea.
Coconut water is not only an excellent way to keep hydrated, it pays homage to the simple, timeless way Mother Nature provides. It’s as primitive as can be, but that’s what makes coconut water so perfect.