As much as coconut water companies boast the freshness of their product, the reality is that the tropical fruit is grown overseas and has to go through multi-step processing, packaging and transporting before it reaches grocery shelves and stomachs of consumers. Taste Nirvana falls into this pattern with their process, but have incorporated a handful of new practices that help make them more sustainable than the status quo and that other coconut water companies should look to adopt to set higher environmental standards for the industry.
Coconut water is a naturally hydrating, low calorie drink known for its high potassium composition and healthier alternative to sugary sports and soft drinks. Taste Nirvana’s main ingredients are coconut water, coconut essence and less than 1% fruit sugar. The added coconut essence and sugar are disappointing, as it shifts the coconut water towards the beverage side rather than traditional water. My personal preference is for zero additives, however I understand that it makes for a sweeter, more coco-nutty flavor that many prefer.
Taste Nirvana coconuts are grown in the famous coconut grove region of central Thailand, Nakorn Pathom. Farmers gather the fresh, green coconuts from trees and ones that have recently fallen to the ground. Coconuts are moved through canals and hand loaded into vehicles to be transported to the Taste Nirvana facility. I was pleased to learn that the company plant is located close by within the coconut grove region so that they can pack within hours of harvest.
The coconut water undergoes a microfiltration process that helps extend it’s shelf life without the use of preservatives. If you crack open a fresh coconut, the water naturally lasts less than a single day. What really impressed me with Taste Nirvana was the variety of sustainable methods they have developed for production. To help curb the rampant deforestation that is prevalent in the country, they grow their own “farmed” trees that are burned and used as fuel to power their factory. This is paired with a biological waste water treatment process that runs the factory’s contaminated water through aquatic plants on site. This removing toxic particles and enables the water to be safely returned to the environment.
The demand for coconut water has been skyrocketing over the past few years due to its critically acclaimed health benefits and unique, nutty flavor. I wanted to take a closer look at one of the top “sustainable” contenders in this emerging niche beverage industry.
Taste Nirvana was started by a Thai father and son duo and have maintained its factory operations staffed with local residents. Cultural appropriation and exploitation of countries’ natural resources by westerners is so commonplace that I was pleasantly surprised to discover the authentic roots. Their website hosts a handful of videos that go inside the factories and coconut groves while interviewing employees that provide a visual of the company’s people, places and operations.
While I was happy to see the community service that Taste Nirvana hosts (annual Children’s Day and tree planting) I did not see any recent updates from their social media nor reporting about their sustainability practices (see “how it’s made”) which causes a bit of skepticism and desire for more transparency.