Copra 101: How to Shop For Coconut Water
OK, so you love coconut water. But you get to the shelf and there are about 200 brands (or it seems like it). How do you choose? Let’s get straight to the source.
Tips when shopping for coconut water:
1. Look for young coconut water from Thailand.
Thai coconuts are naturally the sweetest and most flavorful in the world. The “nam hom” variety, a large young green coconut grown specifically in Ratchaburi Province, is particularly nutty and nuanced. Ratchaburi Province, home to Copra’s factory and source of all its young coconuts, is an agricultural powerhouse in Thailand because of its soil and weather. Its dark, mineral-rich soil, abundant water and year-round sun ensure that the fruit - and specifically coconuts, its highest volume product - is extremely sweet.
Young coconut water is also naturally sweet -- and therefore doesn’t need added sugar or any other additives -- when it is picked young. Copra’s are picked around 28 days depending on the season for optimal sweetness.
Though we all think of coconuts on the beach, coconuts from these environments tend to have a distinct salty flavor, as Caribbean or Brazilian coconuts often are. In addition, other coconut-producing countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and the Philippines specialize in producing mature coconuts which have thicker coconut meat with higher fat content ideal for making coconut milk, cream and desiccated coconut, rather than young coconuts.
2. Read the ingredient label.
This is always good advice and an easy way to tell if brands are cutting corners. Often coconut water is made from concentrate, which involves reducing the fresh coconut water to a syrup. It’s cheaper to manufacture by adding water and sometimes sugar or syrup. But good coconut water only needs one ingredient -- coconut water.
Also be wary of any preservatives like citric acid or sodium benzoate which are added to lengthen shelf life and cut costs.
Look beyond the ingredients for notes including: 100% real fruit juice, not from concentrate, and certifications like USDA Organic. Oh and by the way, coconuts are always GMO-free. They’ve never been genetically modified because they don’t need to be - they’re perfectly adapted to their environments!
3. Avoid tetra paks and cans.
Be able to look at a coconut water and tell immediately if the coconut water has been pasteurized by the packaging. For instance, Tetra Paks and cans allow coconut water to be shelf stable for at least 12 months. Coconut water that has a long, and in particular ambient (i.e. doesn’t need to be kept cold), shelf life means that the coconut water was cooked to the point where it is no longer alive and therefore able to spoil. When you pasteurize coconut water to the point of shelf stability, the good bacteria, including active enzymes, that detox and replenish the body disappear.
4. Shop in the refrigerator section.
If you’ve already checked out the source, packaging and ingredient list, the final test is to check the shelf life. Generally speaking, the shorter the shelf life, the more nutrition! This is why authorities in the natural food world are saying that the future of food is the refrigerated section. Copra’s coconut water has a 90 day refrigerated life unopened and a 7 day refrigerated life once cracked. It cannot be stored ambient ever, or it will spoil within a day. This is due to the presence of active enzymes from our commitment to minimal processing for maximum health benefits. Ideally, the coconut water should be extracted within 24 hours of harvesting for optimal flavor and nutrition, as Copra does.
But be wary: the best coconut water must pass all these tests. Many coconut water brands in tetra paks are sold in the cold case, and coconut water made from concentrate can be packed in bottles. But follow this guide and you will get the most bang for your buck.
One more thing - honestly, quality doesn’t come cheap. Refrigerated, short shelf life, bottled young coconut water from Thailand isn’t cheap, but you really do get what you pay for.
Now it’s time to taste the difference for yourself! Want to test us out? Shop Copra’s coconut water now.