It’s mid-summer, and unfortunately, an end to the sweltering temps isn’t on the horizon. We’re all (desperately) in need of a thirst-quenching bevvy, and while cocktails, mocktails, and electrolyte-fueled liquids might be on your list, I’m searching far and wide for the best coconut water my stay-cool-this-summer budget can buy.
Have you ever thought about what the best coconut water to drink was? I haven’t either—that is, until a few weeks ago when I was standing in front of the drinks fridge. I was overcome with a thought: Was there any tangible difference between the bottles I was staring at? Feeling inspired, I took it upon myself to pick up every bottle of coconut water from the stores around me. It was time to determine the best coconut water once and for all.
If you’re familiar with our Taste-Off series (join the debate on the best grocery store pasta sauce and share your two cents on the best jarred salsa), then you know things get heated. Whenever I gather my taste testing panel, I’m always surprised by how brand-loyal people can really be. This taste-off is a little different, but our team came to a consensus on the best coconut water for keeping cool during the dog days of summer. You’re in for a refreshing treat.
The Ranking Guardrails for the Best Coconut Water
Unlike other taste-offs and bake-offs, we approached this one in a slightly different way. Between organic options, sweetened spins, and canned coconut waters, we tried every contender with an open mind and a lot of thoughts.
Of course, we wanted our coconut water to taste a little coconut-y. We also didn’t want the flavor to be muddled, instead pure enough to drink on its own while also doubling as a drink mixer. And no funky aftertastes here—we were after unadulterated, drinkable coconut water.
We created a sweetness scale to fit every taste. Some taste testers wanted sweetened coconut water while others didn’t want any added sugars. Use our scale below to help determine your preference.
Like comparing apples and oranges, instead of ranking these all against each other, our taste testing team chose their winners in each of the following categories:
- Best Coconut Water for Juices and Cocktails
- Best Neutral Coconut Water for Smoothies
- Best Drinking Coconut Water
Keep scrolling for the winners of the coconut water taste-off!
Coconut Waters Ranked by Sweetness
From least sweet to sweetest, see below for our tasting notes across the board.
11. Taste Nirvana. According to our rankings, Taste Nirvana was the least sweet (but still fresh and delicious!). Many tasters’ notes called out that this one had a slightly savory undertone that would go well in mixed drinks.
10. C20. This coconut water had a very neutral, almost subtle flavor. Notes mentioned that this one felt the most like drinking plain water.
9. Vita Coco Pressed. Tasters were surprised that this one was almost silky and coconut milk-like. Compared to the other selections, Vita Coco Pressed had a thicker mouthfeel than the others, likely due to the fact that it includes actual coconut. While some people thought this one was sweeter than the other Vita Coco options, the overall ranking still kept this one on the lower end of the sweetness scale. Tasters also thought this was the most coconut-y of the bunch. Many of us agreed that this would be good in a smoothie.
8. Whole Foods Organic. While the difference between the WF 365 Organic and Regular coconut water was nominal at best, taste testers thought the organic version was slightly fruitier than the regular version.
7. Whole Foods Regular. See above.
6. O Organics. Taste testers said this coconut water was pretty neutral with an aftertaste that leaned slightly on the sweeter side.
5. Vita Coco Organic. Similar to the Whole Foods coconut waters, taste testers noted very little difference in taste between the Vita Coco Organic and regular drinks. Overall, both options are right in the middle—just sweet enough.
4. Vita Coco Regular. See above.
3. Harmless Harvest. Tasters noted this one had the most natural sweetness among the group. The flavor leans slightly fruity and sweet, which tasters enjoyed.
2. Iberia. This pick is among the few that contained added sugar, and tasters noted a slight vanilla flavor in this one that most of the group liked. It’s definitely on the sweeter side and would blend well in a cocktail.
The Best Coconut Water for Fun Summer Drinks and Cocktails
For the ultimate summer party drink, our team was deciding between Iberia and Goya. In the end, Iberia edged out as the winner for mixing needs. While the added sugar set it on the sweeter side, this one had a pure coconut flavor that testers preferred over the Goya. We’ll be making cocktails and summer slushies with this coconut water when we’re craving a sweeter treat.
The Best Neutral Flavor Coconut Water for Mixing
Our crew named C2O the winner for the most neutral-flavored coconut water. Tasters said they’d use this one for healthier juices or smoothies because they could trust that the coconut water wouldn’t overpower the other ingredients. C2O would also be the pick tasters would rely on for hydration during these hot summer days.
The Best Drinking Coconut Water
As for the best coconut water that testers would drink on its own? Harmless Harvest! The flavor was a nice balance between fruity and coconut-y, and tasters named this one the winner for its stand-alone flavor. We’ll be stocking up this summer for sure.
Of course, there are so many more coconut waters to try, so we have to know: Do you agree with our taste testers? What’s your go-to coconut water of choice? Let’s hear it in the comments below!
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