Thanks to the wonders of Twitter I was introduced to Gabriel, the guy behind new natural, raw, young drinking coconut brand, UniCOCO. As a huge fan of coconut water, I was delighted when Gabriel kindly invited me to to try his product to be enjoyed straight from the shell, giving a novelty, fresh way of consuming it. Before I reveal my verdict, here’s more about UniCOCO and what the Anthropology student has in mind for this Manchester-based business…
The brains behind the UniCOCO brand
Hello Gabriel! Thanks for letting me sample some of your wonderful raw coconut water. Tell us more about how the UniCOCO brand came about.
Young coconut water is something I’ve been drinking for a few years – I live in London, right next to the Portobello Market where you could, occasionally, get hold of them. Myself and friends/family would pretty much make an event out of getting these coconuts; they have an element of rarity to them.
Having tried all varieties of the young coconut (they’re really different depending on origin) I came across the Thai coconut, which had the most incredible natural, Earthy almost sweet vanilla flavour.
Having done extensive research into the health benefits, it soon came to light that these natural wonders were not only delicious, but incredibly good for you (more health benefits below). More importantly, it became apparent that they really could help the dreaded hangover…
And I’m a university student. So that’s good news.
I put the hangover-helping element to the test (the day after my 21st) and it really did help my hangover. And what do University students have in common? Hangovers.
People are becoming super health conscious at the moment, and with nothing like this in Manchester, I wanted to bring this incredible, natural coconut water in the coconut to fill this gap in the market.
Coconut water seems to be a popular, growing trend at the moment. How does UniCOCO stand out and what have you learnt within this market as your brand has developed?
It seems like almost every day a new coconut water brand comes out. I for one have tried every one under the Sun, but there are a lot of ‘natural’ brands out there, that actually heavily pasteurise/ tamper with their drinks. UniCOCO can truthfully say that our coconut water is 100% raw, natural and untouched, and we really mean that.
I mean, when was the last time you could say that you had coconut water straight from the coconut? We thought about bottling it, but didn’t want to lose the authenticity and fresh, natural element. To thrive in this crowded market, we’ve learnt that the top thing we can do is stay honest, and 100% natural, which is what we do best.
Known to help hangovers, this is ideal for students who like to party. For those who don’t know, what are the other fantastic benefits coconut water offers?
I personally believe in order to get the very best of these benefits, you really do need the real, raw thing which is exactly what our UniCOCO coconuts are – straight from the fresh coconut itself. The water and jelly are said to have powerful anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal properties.
The water is also an incredible source of rehydration, making it great for pre and post work out, whilst also helping with weight loss by speeding up the metabolism – I read somewhere that they’ve even used these coconuts in remote areas of Thailand as an alternative IV drip as the mineral and nutrient content replicates blood plasma. It’s great for skin and naturally boosts your immune system function too! So much good stuff other than helping your hangover!
The taste of coconut water can be unusual for some. What would you say to those who are not yet converted to this natural drink?
I’ve successfully converted lots of friends/family who were not sold by it instantly. It can have an unfamiliar taste, but usually that lasts for the first sip. People have said countless times, “It was different to start with, but I couldn’t stop drinking after.” Lots of people around me started with this same attitude, and are now absolutely hooked and can’t stop drinking them. To the unconverted, I would say that it’s going to be very difficult to find something else that tastes similar to this and does as much good at the same time!
Where can those who like the sound of UniCOCO get it from? Do you have plans for the business to expand any time soon?
We sell online here. At the moment I’m running a free ‘hangover service’ delivery to the Fallowfield and Withington area every day of the week.
If you do live in Manchester, but not in Fallowfield, you can order online and we can arrange a delivery! Just make a note of it anywhere on the order form.
Additionally you can always collect from our storage facility in Fallowfield, just contact me on 07817728151 if you want to arrange something.
We definitely have expansion plans, we’re in talks with a few independent health food stores about stocking our coconuts and have had lots of interest in our product. We will eventually be opening up in lots of cities/universities in the UK but for now, I like that it’s a Manchester thing.
Finally, do you like to enjoy the coconut water in other ways as well as drinking it straight from the coconut? Let us know!
I have a fridge full of coconuts all the time, and in terms of other ways of drinking the coconut water, I’m starting to fill up re-useable/gym bottles with the coconut water just before I leave so that I can have it as fresh as possible during lectures, or for going on runs/exercise, it only takes two seconds!
I know you’ve mentioned smoothies with coconut water, which I’ve yet to try, but I’m sure there are some incredible recipes out there. Apparently squeezing a slice of lime in the coconut water tastes amazing too…
They can be slightly tough to open, though there are two simple ways you can do it, depending on what you’re after;
– If you’re after just the water, we sell coconut opening drills which take 5 seconds to poke a hole through the side, where you can add a straw and drink. They’re about £8+ in the UK, but we sell them for £2.99; it’s silly that you should have to pay unnecessary premiums on to enjoy a healthy drink.
– If you want to get into the jelly inside, you have to make a square shaped cut with a big knife along the top, and essentially prime the protective fibre away until you can get to the shell and take that square ‘lid’ off, and then spoon it out!
A coconut water lover’s verdict
With two whole coconuts ready to be consumed, the action of cutting into the tough skin was an experience in itself, fairly straight forward and actually quite fun. Once I had pierced a hole deep enough and stuck two straws in, I felt like I had deserved to pleasure of tasting the raw, fresh young coconut myself and wow, was I impressed.
Without naming brands, I thought I ‘knew’ the taste of coconut water but this is something different. Literally straight from its natural source, THIS is the real coconut sensation and how it should be enjoyed to really gain the natural benefits of this delightful fruit (not a nut!). Nutty, refreshing and wonderfully sweet, I don’t think I’ll drink coconut water in the same way after experiencing the fresh variety from UniCOCO – I think I may have to stock up!