I Tried Three Kinds of Probiotic Coconut Yogurt — Here’s What I Thought
Comparing two store bought yogurts from The Coconut Cult & GTs and a homemade version
If you’re like me and you follow a ton of lifestyle accounts on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that probiotic coconut yogurts are having kind of a moment. The first one I became aware of was The Coconut Cult, a trendy and famously expensive (their 16 oz jars go for $25 a pop) brand that comes in a glass jar and advertises having 25 billion probiotics per 2 tablespoon serving. A few bloggers that I follow are obsessed with this stuff, and I do have a long history (read: love affair) with yogurt, so needless to say my interest was piqued.
Just like how after you watch an iconic movie for the first time, you start to notice references to it everywhere, I started to notice glass jars of coconut yogurt from different brands everywhere I went. My local deli even stocked GTs CocoYo for about $7 for an 8oz jar (at this point, this might seem cheap in comparison to the Coconut Cult, but let’s not forget that a normal single-serving container of yogurt ranges between $1-$3). Despite my hemming and hawing about the steep prices, I have to admit that I bought, tried, savored, and added both brands to my Instagram story. After that, I found a cheap and quick way to homemake the stuff, and the results were favorable.
In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on each brand, how to make coconut yogurt from scratch, dive a bit into the woo/science behind this trend, and give my thoughts on this fad from a low-waste perspective.
The Coconut Cult
I noticed that a matcha shop I sometimes go to on the way to work carries this stuff (yes, I know how that sentence sounds) in a smaller size than the 16oz jar — they sell a jar that was $14 for 8oz. I ended up buying a small jar of the coconut cream flavor after thinking about buying it and not buying it three or four times and then finally convincing myself that it was ok because it was approximately the cost of a New York City cocktail (raise your hand if you’re familiar with this brand of logic).
On the side of the jar, it warns you that you should start with just a few spoonfuls (presumably, because of, well, poop). I didn’t personally notice any big changes in my, errr, digestion based on eating this stuff, but to be fair I already eat a lot of fermented and probiotic foods. And, it was remarkably delicious and definitely felt like a treat. It’s creamy at the top and more liquid-y towards the bottom of the jar, and definitely tastes more sour and fizzy than a typical yogurt you’d buy.
Cost: $25/16oz or $14/8oz
Is it worth it?: Uh, sure! If you’re on a budget, probably skip it (check out the recipe below), but if you have a little extra cash and this is the way you want to treat yourself instead of that extra lunch out or extra cocktail, by all means go for it. I can see myself buying it again if the craving strikes! But, it’s not magic — it’s just a food (more on that later).
They carry this brand, made by the same GT’s that makes the Kombucha we all know and love, at my local deli. The texture is thicker than The Coconut Cult, but it’s slightly less creamy tasting. Like The Coconut Cult, it’s made with no added sugar — just coconut milk, coconut meat, and probiotics. I enjoyed having this brand with some blueberries and flax seed stirred in for a snack — I finished it in about three servings.
Is it worth it?: This brand is a bit more budget-friendly as a treat or probiotic to add a dollop of to your overnight oats. Definitely still expensive in comparison to your average yogurt. I liked the flavor of this one slightly less than The Coconut Cult (and my homemade version, but I’ll get to that in a second). Still a good option if you know you want to have coconut yogurt but you don’t want to make it at home.
Homemade Probiotic Coconut Yogurt
Because I’ll ferment anything I can get my hands on, and the options to buy are so darned expensive, I obviously wanted to try making coconut yogurt myself. After reading a couple of recipes (I really liked this one and still want to try adding cashews and coconut meat to my yogurt), I ended up settling on following my girl Lee From America’s advice and starting my homemade recipe with a couple tablespoons of The Coconut Cult that were leftover in the jar I bought.
Here’s what I did: poured the remaining liquid-y part of my coconut cult jar into a bigger, clean glass jar, poured a 16oz can of organic coconut milk into the jar, emptied two probiotic capsules into the jar, stirred with a wooden spoon, covered with a cloth and rubber band, and let it sit in my window for two days. THAT’S IT. Much to my surprise, it turned into yogurt. After I put it in the fridge, it thickened up considerably.
As for the flavor, it was, in my opinion, the best of all three options. It was super creamy and smooth, tangy, and uncomplicated. I will definitely be making it again. I suspect that adding that small amount of coconut cult at the bottom didn't make a huge difference (except maybe introducing more probiotic strains into my finished product), and I'm sure this could be done with just the coconut milk can and probiotic capsules. I will try this and report back.
Is it worth it?: Definitely. This is one of those DIYs I wish I knew about earlier. I don’t do tons of crazy DIY projects (like, making my own mascara) because sometimes the work just outweighs the benefits. But in this case, it took literally two minutes, was cheap, and turned out great. So yeah, definitely worth it.
What’s the deal with probiotic yogurts?
As with lots of nutrition and health trends (coconut oil, sweet potatoes, cauliflower), probiotic coconut yogurt (and probiotics in general) has definitely been painted with “the wellness brush.” In other words, lots of foods that get hurled into wellness/lifestyle spotlight start to take on a glow of health that has less to do with the food’s actual qualities than it does with the lifestyle you’ll supposedly have when you join the ranks of those who eat the food (hence, the Coconut Cult).
Especially when the products are prohibitively expensive for some, this outlook, and this part of the ‘wellness’ community is an issue. It’s always important to remember that no one food, or especially product, is going to change your life or transform your health.
That said, there is some good emerging research on the role that having a healthy gut microbiome plays in overall health and digestion, and probiotics are a large part of that. I found this story from NPR to be instructive about this. If you’re like me and you’re constantly thinking about supporting your gut flora, including a coconut yogurt like these can be a tasty option, especially if dairy is an issue for you or you want to avoid the added sugars that are in a lot of conventional yogurt brands. I hope this post has given some options at multiple price points, so you can get your wellness on at any budget.
A low-waste perspective
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t speak at least a little bit to the waste implications of these three options. One of the things that drew me originally to both The Coconut Cult and GT’s CocoYo is that both brands come in a glass jar. I’ve talked in the past about how glass is one of the best options for sustainable packaging — it can be reused over and over again in your home before it enters the waste stream at all, and when you do recycle it, it can be recycled over and over again without ever losing quality. From that angle, both of these brands are doing a great job with sustainable packaging, and are leaps and bounds ahead of most conventional yogurts you buy in the store that come in predominantly plastic packaging (Fage, Chobani, Dannon, etc).
As for the homemade option, it stacks up pretty well on the waste front as well. You do have to purchase a glass bottle of probiotic capsules (the one I bought has 30 capsules, so will last for about 15 batches of yogurt) and cans of coconut milk — but again, metal cans are a much more easily recycled material than plastic.
I hope you all enjoyed this post, and definitely let me know in the comments if you have any questions or are trying out making coconut yogurt for yourself! Enjoy!