There has been much buzz in the running community of late about coconut water as a wonderful alternative to traditional energy drinks like Gatorade or Powerade - coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes, carbohydrates, and potassium, with none of the weird preservatives and added sugars. Perfect for a runner's hydration!
But of course there's always a catch. And the catch here is this: no one seems to be able to drink it.
Oh, I exaggerate. Lots of people drink it. But they don't seem to like it. Most of the discussion seems to center around ways to make it palatable - drink it with this flavoring, make it as cold as possible, mix it into something else.
As for me, I loved the idea of ditching the Gatorade. Tons of running sites recommended drinking it after a long run, but I could never quite shake the nagging feeling that it wasn't much better than drinking soda, what with the dyes and the sugars and whatnot. Abandoning it in favor of coconut water sounded great! I just had to find a version I could choke down.
No! I don't want to just choke it down. I'd really, really rather enjoy it, at least a little bit. So I ran to a couple stores, grabbed the flavors I could find, and did a series of post-run taste-tests. Time for some opinions!
Note: I ignored all "plain" flavors. If you can drink straight coconut water, you're already set!
FLAVORS BY VITACOCO
- Pineapple. The first flavor I tried. I dunno. I like pineapple a lot, but the mixture of tastes was weird. The pineapple hit first; then I got a hit of a strange, slightly sweet in a noncommittal way flavor and weird texture that I assume is the coconut. I really like coconut desserts and what have you, so this was unexpected. I tried it twice and it just wasn't working for me.
- Orange. MUCH better! The orange flavor is stronger than the pineapple. You still get a bit of the aftertaste, but the acidic orange dominates to such a complete degree that you hardly notice. I'd buy this flavor again!
- Chocolate. I dunno, guys. This is the one flavor people RAVE about. "Try the Zico chocolate version!" they say. "It's a completely different thing!" they say. That may be true, but... I didn't like it. It tastes, to me, like a watery chocolate milk, and as I'm not a huge fan of chocolate milk (I know; I'm the only one), I wasn't able to finish this one. That said, if you really dig the taste of Hershey's chocolate syrup, it might be right for you. It also has potential for inclusion in a smoothie, I think. Maybe with some almond butter and a banana? It might be worth buying again for experimentation in recipes, but I wouldn't purchase it with the intention of drinking it straight.
- Pomegranate. Didn't much care for this one - the pomegranate flavoring was too strong for me, but it lacked the acidity of Vitacoco's orange version to cover up the aftertaste. The pomegranate was more like POW!!! ... yuck.
- Pink guava. Not bad. Kind of nondescriptly sweet. I had the most neutral reaction to this flavor. I might buy it again for some variety but it's not one I would reach for first.
- Mango. Nice mango-y taste. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect. The flavor combination was maybe a leeeeetle weird, but mango is so tasty that it tipped things over to pleasant. Would probably buy it again, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good, solid mango flavor.
- Lychee. GLORY, GLORY, HALLELUJAH. SO GOOD. I love it! The light, sweet, clean taste of the lychee fruit complete kicks the inherent odd taste of coconut water to the curb without emphasizing the aftertaste. When I twist open the cap, I'm looking forward to taking that first drink!
Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya real soon!