Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Trader Joe's coconut water
This is Day Three of Coconut Week--and a post of which I'm very much ashamed. Continue reading to see why.
These four bottles do not exhaust the variety of coconut water available at Trader Joe's. At least at my local store in Asheville, North Carolina, they carry two more versions of the Zico brand. And TJ's sells an expensive, super-high-end "single origin" coconut water under its own brand name--which I know only because of this review from the "Eat at Joe's" blog--that has never shown up on the shelves of the Asheville store. But since I had never tried coconut water before, I figured that four varieties was plenty. [EDIT: I have subsequently discovered why I never found it--I was looking in the grocery aisle next to the other kinds of coconut water. But the "single origin" variety is kept in the refrigerated case.]
This blog post should detail for you the ways in which these four bottles differ from each other--and, mind you, they do differ in sweetness, in drinkability, and in the sense of closeness to what you'd get from an actual coconut. This post should be able to do that for you because this time, unlike any other review of a single product or a comparison test of similar products, I had arranged for not just your usual two testers (Nina and me), but a third--a friend of Nina's in town for a short visit. We all tried them, carefully, repeatedly, comparing our impressions. Following that, I spent the next couple of weeks finishing off all four containers, at the rate of a few ounces a day, thus becoming very familiar with the characteristics of each. So this should be an unusually clear, enlightening, definitive review.
But it won't be. Because, truth be told, I hated all of them. As "Eat at Joe's" phrased it in his review of one of these (the TJ's not from concentrate), coconut water "tastes weird and kind of gross." Exactly. I never could get past that. He found himself later impressed by how well it gave him a feeling of rehydration after working up a sweat, but I kind of doubt that's anything more than a placebo effect.
I've procrastinated writing this post because I just wasn't interested in writing a lot of words about the shades of dislike these products evoked in me. All three testers could taste real differences in these four beverages, but I don't want to have any of them ever again. So now my memory of how they differed has irretrievably faded--and I didn't take notes.
I can tell you that, based on the labeling, they have baffling, non-intuitive, per-ounce differences in sugar, carbohydrate, and caloric values. And I can tell you that the not-from-concentrate one has added sugar in the form of fructose, while the Zico has added flavoring. But that's about it. My degree of dislike for them is roughly equal, and I'm just not going to go back and try them again.
Which means that this post holds the record for the most money, time, and effort expended for the least useful informational content of any I have written. It's likely to hold that record forever.
My apologies for a completely sucky review.
Will I buy it again?