As a kid, I voyaged often to the Caribbean with my grandmother, and as a veteran traveller, she was all about getting off the beaten tourist path. We often ended up at local markets in Martinique, St. Maarten, or the Cayman Islands. That is where I first remember drinking coconut water, the top of the coconut hacked off with a machete, and a plastic straw stuck inside. Standing in a crowded market, sweat dripping slowly down my spine, feet covered in dust, it tasted like sweet, clean thirst quenching perfection to an 8-year-old.


Since then, I've enjoyed coconut water straight from the fruit (with a bit of rum added) on the beach in the Dominican Republic, by the side of the road in Hawaii, and just off my mountain bike in Trinidad & Tobago. 


A few years ago I was thrilled to see that coconut water, now touted as a health food, was being brought to us by several mass market companies; I now drink it straight up, mix it into cocktails, and add it to smoothies instead of tapwater. It is safe to say that I'm a coconut water fan. When my boyfriend came home last night with a free sample of the new Zico chocolate flavor, I was suspicious: Most of the already flavored coconut waters aren't to my taste. But the ingredients looked good; just coconut water, coconut cream, cocoa, vanilla and carrageenan and at 110 calories for 14 ounces, I had to try it. 


The chocolate flavor was delicious, with just the right amount of cocoa flavor (plenty) and a sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor profile. So tasty that my boyfriend and I split it totally evenly, since both of us was really into it. So tasty that I saved a portion of my half so I could have some more today. Zico has hit the ball out the park with this new choccy flavor, and I'm already planning on making it a go-to drink for 2012. With lots of electrolytes, more potassium than a banana, no added sugar, and lots of flavor, it will be the perfect post-workout drink. 

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.