When I first heard about the Coconut Cult's $25 yogurt, I scoffed and shoved it to the back of the same mental shelf as vitamin-infused waters and sundaes sprinkled with gold-leaf sprinkles. As someone who tends to avoid dairy (it and my skin do not get along), I appreciated that the yogurt was made from coconuts, and I was charmed by the witty brand voice and cute pink flamingo on the packaging. But still—$25? For yogurt? What on earth could make it worth that much money?
How can $25 yogurt be worth it?
According to the founder, Noah Simon-Waddell, it's thinking of it as a yogurt that's the problem. "It's more comparable to Bio-K or a probiotic supplement," he told me. "The price is due to the super-high-quality probiotic strains and the fresh, high-quality coconuts. We don't use any sugar, or any filler, which is really hard to find in store-bought yogurt, especially nondairy ones."
He personally has always had issues with dairy, and started making an early version of the Coconut Cult, which he refers to as "medicinal yogurt," as a side project. The secret, he says, is in the human-strain probiotics. "Humans have evolved in complex ways, so we've evolved with more complex bacteria in our bodies, which are evolved to have specific reactions. These are different from the bacteria that live in soil or traditionally fermented food, like sauerkrauts or most yogurts." While these other types of probiotics aren't bad for you, he says, they won't latch on and grow in your body, and thus aren't able to really offer much in the way of benefits.
Noah's had amazing effects from his yogurt. "My digestion immediately became much more reliable and smooth. When that happened, I noticed my mood swings and brain fog started improving. My asthma dissipated and my immune system is way better, and I've noticed that in everyone around me who has taken it."
But what does it taste like?
My yogurt had separated a little bit when it arrived in the mail (the product is sold in a few stores and rapidly expanding, but online is still likely your best bet), giving it a chunky, not-especially-appetizing look. I reached out, asking if the yogurt had perhaps gone bad while being shipped from California to New York and was assured no. "Unlike dairy-based yogurts, ours can be room temperature for a while and stay good. Stir them up before eating, since the texture often changes during shipping. They'll be tangy, but that's our good super probiotics at work!"
Tangy, indeed. As the yogurt hit my tongue, my mouth puckered and my face screwed up as if I'd eaten a lemon. It was tangy, sour, and almost effervescent—and I kind of liked it. I took another bite, then another. The sourness was satisfying in a medicinal way, and the tang worked to immediately abolish my sugar cravings (which are as constant and unrelenting as New York noise). And then I stopped. According to the brand, it's best to take it slow with the yogurt, eating just a few spoonfuls at time, lest you experience side effects like "stomach cramps, rumbles, and active bowels."
This is due to the incredibly high quantity of probiotics per serving. Each jar contains 800 billion (with a B!) probiotics. I'd say I consumed a jar over the course of about 10 days, which means I was eating roughly 80 billion CFUs daily. For reference, my daily probiotic capsule markets itself as high-potency and contains 50 billion CFUs in every two pills.
The effects were almost immediate—the yogurt stimulated, shall I say, one of the most satisfying elimination experiences I've ever had. Thinking it was a fluke, I continued to have a few spoonfuls a day—and my digestion only got better. For the first time in my life, I was eliminating regularly and completely every single morning (literally like clockwork). Working at a wellness website, I'm well aware how many benefits stem from having a happy gut. When my husband got a case of nasty food poisoning, I was completely fine, despite having eaten the exact same sketchy curry.
Despite my initial misgivings, I'm now completely hooked.
The mistake is thinking of the Coconut Cult as yogurt. This is not a food that you top with some berries and granola, or scoop liberally into smoothies to make them super creamy. Rather, it's a super-high-potency probiotic, and, at least for me, I've been able to replace the equally expensive pills that I've purchased for years.