My Organic Coconut Water Conundrum

Written by Max Goldberg on March 4, 2011. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

Coconut water is one of the most popular and fastest growing drinks on the market for one main reason — it tastes so good.

Furthermore, it is touted as the best post-workout drink due to its large number of electrolytes. There always seems to be someone who is drinking it immediately after my yoga classes.

Yet, nearly every box of coconut water that you see people drinking from is not organic.

My Dilemma

Even though many organic food restaurants use young Thai coconuts, these coconuts are not organic. They are shipped in formaldehyde from Thailand in order prevent mold from growing on the outside of the fruit.

Furthermore, I have heard that they plant sugar into the ground where the coconut palm trees are grown in order to get a much sweeter taste.

This makes sense, especially when you compare the young Thai coconut water (from an actual coconut) with young Thai organic coconut water by Exotic Superfoods (above). The water from Exotic Superfoods is much less sweet.

Last fall, I profiled the young Thai organic coconut water by Exotic Superfoods and was very excited by it. This product is juiced in Thailand and then shipped frozen in a plastic bottle to the U.S.

Lately, however, my excitement has dimmed and I am drinking almost no coconut water these days. Why?

Well, something makes me a little uneasy about drinking a beverage that was shipped frozen in a plastic bottle. I keep thinking about the plastic that leaches into the coconut water; the plastic is known to be a hormone disruptor.

This is the reason why I ditched my BPA-free plastic water bottles and now exclusively use glass water bottles.

I don’t mean to single out Exotic Superfoods here. I have seen another young Thai organic coconut water brand on the internet that does a similar thing but uses a plastic box, instead of a plastic bottle, and I would be equally as wary of that as well.

While I understand that it is practically impossible to avoid plastics and food altogether, I am making a conscious effort to do the best I can.

But I also think this: If it is so difficult and problematic to ship a tropical fruit from the other side of the world to cold New York City, maybe this is a sign.

Maybe this is a sign that tropical fruit is meant to be eaten in tropical climates.

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  1. we should not be drinking any bottled water or other beverages. The carbon footprint alone is enough to keep me from drinking any of it! I drink local water….

    Written by Hannah on March 4, 2011 @ 7:24 pm
  2. Hey Max,

    Was thinking a similar thing as I read your post, while I appreciate your take on things is organic, it does seem like other issues like transport costs (financial and other) can come into the equation at some point – a holistic view of the advantages and disadvantages.

    Much love mate, Jon x

    Written by Jon on March 5, 2011 @ 5:47 am
  3. Hi Max,

    I agree with you 100%. I share your same concerns. I don’t drink coconut water in the US but when
    i travel to the Big Island, Kona in Hawaii, and the West Indies
    I drink fresh coconut water picked right free then and their from the tree.

    All the best,

    Written by stephanie haughey on March 5, 2011 @ 12:33 pm
  4. Hi Hannah,

    There is no doubt that bottled water is a major, major problem. Filtered tap water and glass bottles have to become much more widely embraced.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 7, 2011 @ 2:28 pm
  5. Hi Jon,

    Clearly, transportation costs are part of the total environmental impact and need to be considered. Take a look at this recent blog post I did where I discuss this more.

    Hope you’re doing great in England.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 7, 2011 @ 2:32 pm
  6. Hi Stephanie,

    Please just tell me one thing. How amazing is the coconut water in Hawaii? I’ve never been there and never tasted it. Would love to know!!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 7, 2011 @ 2:33 pm
  7. Cononundrum can be quenched by CocoHydro dehydrated coconut water! Boys of Big Tree Farms are dehydrating Indonesian coconuts at source and providing us our needed juice in an economical envelope of electrolyte enjoyment. It comes in a convenient re-sealable pouch which has approx. 25 8oz servings… 2 scoops into your water bottle and there you have it – your potassium punch with an environmentally friendly footprint. And it tastes great too –

    Written by Becky Schilling on March 14, 2011 @ 9:18 pm
  8. Hi Becky,

    Yes, it is a VERY innovative product. I was blown away by it — it made so much sense. Great meeting you at the show and please let me know when this product gets organic certification. I will definitely do a profile on it!!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 15, 2011 @ 2:45 am
  9. Hi Max,

    I can’t wait to try Boy of Big Tree Farms product when it gets certified organic as well. Good future option.
    BTW the coconut water in Kona is delicious and refreshing.
    I am including a photo of the tree I climbed with help to pick my coconuts.

    Written by stephanie haughey on March 15, 2011 @ 1:02 pm
  10. Thanks Max! As you know…sooo close.

    Written by Becky Schilling on March 15, 2011 @ 4:43 pm
  11. Hi Stephanie,

    Yes, it is a very innovative product. I’ve been told that organic certification will be coming sometime this year.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 16, 2011 @ 12:35 pm
  12. Hi Becky,

    Do you have any more information about when organic certification will be coming?

    Also, I will be showcasing this product in one of my Expo West blog posts coming soon. Stay tuned!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 16, 2011 @ 12:38 pm
  13. Hi Max,

    I discovered that we are selling the aforementioned Coco-Hydro dehydrated water
    in my store. Do you know why one of the ingredients is dextrose?
    What purpose does it serve and what is the source of the dextrose.

    All the best,

    Written by stephanie haughey on March 17, 2011 @ 12:49 pm
  14. Hi Stephanie,

    I am not sure but my guess is it is some type of thickening agent. I will ping the company and get back to you.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 17, 2011 @ 2:48 pm
  15. Max, thanks for asking me to explain.


    Frederick Schilling here, co-CEO of Big Tree Farms and creator of CocoHydro. I spend a good portion of my life in the tropics and LOVE coconut water. Nothing beats fresh coconut water. Yet, as many people noted above, the conundrum of shipping coconut water (98% water / 2% nutrients on average) across the globe in plastic or tetra packs is an environmental step backwards.

    To give fans of coconut water (myself included) that live in non-tropical regions of the world, we created CocoHydro. We evaporate the coconut water and use tapioca dextrose as the flowant/carrier. It’s a necessary ingredient in this process and tapioca is the friendliest version we could find.

    This means we’re shipping nutrients, sans water, allowing you to tap into your local water source. 25 coconuts in every pouch and about half the price, per liquid oz serving, than bottled coconut water. Through our innovative processing, we are able to retain as much nutrients as a bottled coconut water.

    We should be certified organic by year’s end.

    Again, NOTHING beats fresh coconut water. CocoHydro is just an option for the eco-conscious, the hikers, bikers, climbers and office jockies who like to have a bulk pack option.

    Feel free to contact me directly with any further questions.

    Warm regards,
    Frederick Schilling
    Big Tree Farms

    Written by frederick schilling on March 18, 2011 @ 12:29 am
  16. Thanks so much for the explanation Frederick.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 18, 2011 @ 9:56 am
  17. Hello Frederick and Max,

    Thank you for your kind, prompt and helpful reply. I will be happy to support your product at my WFM store in Potrero Hill in SF and I will also try it as well. Look foward to your organic certification. Please keep me posted if possible. My email is

    All the best,

    Written by stephanie haughey on March 18, 2011 @ 10:38 pm
  18. Hi Stephanie,

    Always happy to help and thanks for your kind offer.

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 19, 2011 @ 3:22 pm
  19. I wholeheartedly agree with you Max. I love coconut water, but it just tastes and feels better in the tropics! I really think that foods are best eaten where they come from – which is why eating seasonally seems to work so well. Thanks for posting this.

    Written by Lora on April 4, 2011 @ 12:04 pm
  20. Thanks Lora!

    I have never had the pleasure of eating coconuts in Thailand, like I am sure you have. I’ve only had them in Miami, where they are pretty good.

    The guys from Big Tree Farms are now importing dehydrated coconut powder called Coco Hydro. Not sure if you’ve seen this product.

    Enjoy the warmth in Miami!!!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on April 4, 2011 @ 6:49 pm
  21. Im 100% with you when you mentioned that they taste so good. I also agree that nothing tastes as good as the real thing but I have got to admit that im hooked on Cocofina coconut water its the best one i have tryed so far. Great info. Cheers Max :)

    Written by Louise on October 25, 2011 @ 12:02 pm
  22. Hi Louise,

    Yes, it does taste amazing, especially when it is right from the shell. Is Cocofina an organic brand?

    Thanks for your kind words!!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on October 25, 2011 @ 3:48 pm
  23. Hi Max,

    The idea of how to package beverages safely so we’re only drinking what we intended is really important. Especially when we consider the waste element as well. I try to stick to glass too! Check out this company Manjoor Estate. They bottle all their drinks in high quality glass and have a spiced coconut water:


    Written by Amelia on April 16, 2013 @ 3:52 pm
  24. Hi Amelia,

    Very cool and thanks for sharing! That coconut water looks fantastic!

    Live well,

    Written by Max Goldberg on April 17, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

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