Sunday, December 30, 2012

Harmless Harvest has made me a coconut water snob

fresh coconut water, St. Thomas, Ritz-Carlton, Donnie B.
Coconut courtesy of the good peeps at Ritz Carlton, San Thomas US-VI
I consider myself to be somewhat of a coconut connoisseur. Anything that smells or tastes like coconut gets my attention. Much of the experimental cooking during my formative late teens/early twenties consisted of three primary components; heat, onions, and coconut.

For years I've been drinking the canned coconut water with the chunks of pulp that can be found in almost any Mexican super mercado and many taquerias. It's very sweet and the can is virtually indestructible, which lends to the tinny, metallic taste. And then there's the frozen coconut water with pulp slices that come in a bag. These can be found in the frozen food section of your local Asian super market - and you can usually order it in Vietnamese restaurants - primarily pho houses. For me, the frozen bags of coconut water were the next best thing to popping off the top of a fresh baby coconut.

Needless to say, I was genuinely stoked when the whole coconut water craze kicked into high gear over the past few years, thanks to broad exposure via Dr. Oz, and others. In the months running up to our wedding last May, Kristi had instituted an all organic, low carb death march diet. Luckily, she started bringing home different types of coconut water. We drank O.N.E., which tasted great and was competitively priced with the other big brands in the coconut water wars. After a few months, we switched to Zico because it had a higher electrolyte level. Zico lacked the flavor of O.N.E.. In my opinion, Zico tastes a bit, off.

Harmless Harvest: It can harm your wallet
It was sometime in late June when Kristi brought home a case of Harmless Harvest coconut water. I was not immediately impressed. The bottles were small (8 oz), the labeling was hokey at best, and worst of all, Kristi had spent over $30 for 12 bottles. What the hell was running through her mind?

Then I opened a bottle. Easily the best tasting coconut water on the market, hands down. The stuff tastes pretty much exactly like it does straight from the coconut. This is because Harmless Harvest, unlike the other products out there, is bottled raw. The coconut water goes through some sort of cold high pressure process that allows for storage without having to pasteurize the product. Apparently, this prevents the loss of nutrients.


coconut water, Harmless Harvest
5 cases of 8 oz bottles = no shelf space
  • Superior taste to other coconut water brands (Zico, Vita Coco, O.N.E., Naked) 
  • Great source of potassium, electrolytes, fiber
  • Better than sports energy drinks
  • Supposedly sustainable
  •  Pricey: A 16 oz bottle of Harmless Harvest coconut water costs $4.49, while a 33.8 oz bottle of Zico sells for about the same price
  • Short shelf life: Since this product is raw, it lasts about as long as a carton of milk - and it must remain refrigerated before and after opening
  • Limited supply: We've only seen this Harmless Harvest at health food stores such as Whole Foods, New Leaf and Sprouts. And even then, they're often out of stock
At the end of the day, I eventually became accustomed to spending more on a coconut water that provides me with an authentic taste, and I can't really consider going back to the other coconut waters available today. @HarmlessHarvest, if I can't afford to send my kids to college, please know that it's your fault - and my pleasure.