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Ranking the top 7 coconut water brands

Like sports drinks before it, coconut water has quickly infiltrated the shelves of every major supermarket and convenience store, giving America a taste of an actual tropical beverage, instead of just a tropical-flavored one (though, to be fair, their bottles are good for hiding booze). Coconut water provides electrolytes and replenishes lost fluids at a rate equal to that of a sports drink, making it an all-natural alternative to those bottles filled with processed sugar.

But what does it taste like? Is it worth the exorbitant price tag most brands carry? And will one sip transport you to that creepy tropical island in the movie where Leo DiCaprio does sex in a tent with Tilda Swinton? We tasted seven of the major brands' most basic coconut offerings (excluding flavored ones) to find out, but before that, we even made a very scientific hypothesis:

Very Scientific Hypothesis
A high sticker price on something doesn't always equal quality, but paying extra for an organic product like coconut water will result in a more delicious drink experience. The cheap stuff will be grosser. But basically they'll all taste kind of the same, since they mostly have just the one ingredient (um... coconut water, obviously).

Ranking: 7th
Brand: Nature Factor Organic Coconut Water
Coconuts sourced from: Thailand
Serving size: 10oz
Price: $2.79
Cost per ounce (for reference, gasoline is $0.026/ounce): $0.28
Tasting notes: That hypothesis got debunked real quick, because the most expensive brand was unanimously ranked last. One taster said that drinking it was like taking medicine, in that you'd drink it only because you know it's good for you. But, unlike cough syrup, this isn't cool to drink, because Lil Wayne has not written multiple songs about Nature Factor Organic Coconut Water. YET.
ZICO
Ranking: 6th
Brand: ZICO
Coconuts sourced from: Thailand
Serving size: 11.2oz
Price: $1.99
Cost per ounce: $0.18
Tasting notes: A coconut water so good Kevin Garnett felt the need to scream at it (?), ZICO missed the mark with "metallic notes" and a dull flavor. Garnett famously said that "nothing is impossible", but we wonder if he ever tried to finish an entire bottle of this stuff.
Naked
Ranking: 5th
Brand: Naked
Coconuts sourced from: Brazil
Serving size: 11.2oz
Price: $2.29
Cost per ounce: $0.20
Tasting notes: Naked's positive rep is built around their tasty line of bottled juices -- and we'd rather have a Mighty Mango than this, as there wasn't anything particularly spectacular about it. It was perhaps the least coconuty-tasting of the bunch, though we admit that might be a plus for some.
Ranking: 4th
Brand: Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water
Coconuts sourced from: Thailand
Serving size: 9.5oz
Price: $2.39
Cost per ounce: $0.25
Tasting notes: The only coconut water brand owned by Krist Novoselic we tried that had large chunks of actual coconut floating around in it, Taste Nirvana made our tasters realize that chewing after drinking was not an altogether pleasant experience. It distracted from the actual flavor of the water, which reminded us of cereal milk after you've eaten Wheaties (EDITOR'S NOTE: Do people still eat Wheaties?). Delicious, delicious cereal milk.
Ranking: 3rd
Brand: Vita Coco
Coconuts sourced from: Brazil
Serving size: 8oz
Price: $1.99
Cost per ounce: $0.25
Tasting notes: The only coconut water brand owned by Conan O'Brien? we tried that used a sweetener ("less than 1% natural fruit sugar"), Vita Coco adds a welcome sweet kick to the water, while only resulting in 2g more sugar than the average brand.
Cassie Johnston
Ranking: 2nd
Brand: O.N.E. Coconut Water
Coconuts sourced from: Philippines/Indonesia
Serving size: 11.2oz
Price: $2.49
Cost per ounce: $0.22
Tasting notes: The second entry on the list brought to you by PepsiCo (Naked is also a wholly owned subsidiary! They're flooding the market!! Ahhh!!!), this was our favorite of the mass market coconut waters. It had a superior, clean finish, and left our tasters feeling most refreshed, like Leo in that movie after he goes harpoon fishing and has to kill a mako shark with a knife.
Ranking: 1st
Brand: Amy & Brian Coconut Juice
Coconuts sourced from: Thailand
Serving size: 10oz
Price: $1.19
Cost per ounce: $0.12
Tasting notes: While this is labeled coconut "juice" and not "water", they're the same exact thing. But there's something extraordinary about this sweet concoction that pleased our tasters more than any other brand. It has notes of burnt caramel, and goes down smooth. And it's the cheapest of the bunch. Take that, Krist Novoselic!

Very Scientific Conclusion
The difference in taste from one coconut brand to the other is vast, and much of it depends on the countries of origin of the coconuts (Thailand's are sweeter than Brazil's). The higher cost of some of the brands had no influence on how good they were -- the best was also the cheapest. Hypothesis refuted! Coconut waters for everyone!

UPDATE: After completing this taste-test, we tried Harmless Harvest coconut water. It was clearly the best coconut water in the country, and certainly not the cheapest. We recommend Amy & Brian's Coconut Juice to quench your thirst in an affordable manner, and Harmless Harvest if you don't mind dropping a few bucks.

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