Kombucha Kamp Blog

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir without Sugar

Coconut Water Kefir is an easy, healthful alternative for those with serious sugar issues or anyone who wants to make a delicious beverage at home!

Coconut water kefir is a naturally refreshing beverage with a boost of beneficial bacteria and yeast. Often found at health food stores, coconut water kefir can be quite expensive. Yet many people pay handsomely because it is a wonderful sugar-free substitute for sodas, energy drinks and juices. Making coconut water kefir at home is an affordable way to create a delicious supply. Coconut Water Kefir is an easy, healthful alternative for those with serious sugar issues or anyone who wants to make a delicious beverage at home!

For some people with sugar issues, making their own coconut water  kefir  (THRIVE, AMZ) ,at home is the only healthful fermented beverage option. But most people make it because it’s delicious and fun! It’s easy to brew and can be flavored to appeal to all kinds of taste buds.

The coconut is a seed of the coconut palm tree. Inside it is filled with sweet, white, creamy meat and tasty coconut water. Over time the water transforms into the meat. This means that younger coconuts have more of the water used to make coconut water kefir. Older coconuts have more flesh making them a better choice for eating or making coconut milk.

What’s in Coconut Water that Makes it So Good?

Coconut water is highly nutritious – here is a short list of some of what it provides:

  • amino acids – building blocks
  • B-vitamins – riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pryidoxine and folate – in living form
  • cytokinins – such as kinetin & trans-zeatin – phytohormones that promote healthy cell functioning (anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, anti-clot formations)
  • electrolytes – potassium and sodium – mineral salts that replenish the body
  • enzymes – such as catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, and others that help with digestion and boost metabolism
  • trace minerals – calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!KMAMMA SEZ…

The word for coconut comes from Portuguese and Spanish voyagers who brought them back from the tropics to Europe. They saw the “face” and called it “coco” which means “grinning” or can also mean a scarecrow like bogey man!

Here’s a little poem: “Coconuts aren’t so scary, even if they are sometimes brown and hairy!” ~ Hannah

Water Kefir “Grains”?

Water kefir grains are not “grains” at all, rather they are a polysaccharide – a fancy term for a bunch of sugar molecules that form a crystalline shape. Normally water kefir grains, also known as tibicos, feed on sugar. But these organisms are flexible and can successfully ferment in coconut water kefir for a batch or two. Then you will want to rest them in regular cane sugar  (THRIVE, AMZ) water to recharge. You can repeat this cycle indefinitely as long as the grains are healthy.
Healthy Low Sugar Coconut Water Kefir Recipe requires FRESH water kefir grains, buy them by clicking here

While they will not likely grow or reproduce when making coconut water kefir, they will create a low calorie beverage free of any cane sugar, with vitamins and nutrients and a distinctive tangy taste.

You might wonder: If coconut water is so great on its own, why ferment it? Fermentation is nature’s way of pre-digesting nutrients and increasing their quantities. It also breaks down any potentially negative components, provides a longer shelf life. And of course, once fermented coconut water kefir is host to numerous beneficial bacteria. When made without sugar, it’s also a delicious beverage for those who need to stick to low sugar diets such as diabetics and candida overgrowth sufferers.


Coconut is not a nut at all! Belonging to the same family as pistachios and cashews, coconuts are actually a drupe (a kind of fruit) like mangoes, olives and cherries. Other drupes include common nuts like walnuts, almonds & pecans. With stone fruit, we eat the luscious flesh that surrounds the pit. But in the case of the (coco)nuts, we eat the seed contained within the pit rather than the fruit.

Coconut Water Kefir Recipe – No Sugar Added

In this coconut water kefir recipe, the water from young, green coconuts, with no added cane sugar, is fermented with water kefir grains. The microscopic bacteria and yeast that live in the grains convert the natural sugars in the coconut water into a mouthwatering fermented treat.




  1. Pour 4 cups of coconut water into a glass jar.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of water kefir grains.
  3. Cover with a plastic lid, cloth cover or Fermentation Cap.
  4. Let sit for 24 – 48 hours – If using fewer grains, ferment no longer than 72 hours.
  5. The coconut water kefir will be a little fizzy with a slightly tangy flavor.
  6. Strain the coconut water kefir through a strainer or cheesecloth to recapture the grains.
  7. Move to the fridge for storage.
  8. May also be flavored if desired; see flavoring suggestions below for more details.
  9. To make larger batches, simply scale the ingredients.

Coconut water does not provide enough nutrition for water kefir grains to reproduce so they will need to be rested in sugar water after every batch or so to renutrify.

Repeat & enjoy!

How to Renutrify the Water Kefir Grains After Using with Coconut Water Only

After making your batch of coconut water kefir with no sugar added, they will need the boost of real sugar to be ready to make another batch in coconut water. To do this, capture the grains and then place them in a dish with 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¼ cup of water per 1 tablespoon of grains. Set aside for 24 hours. The grains ought to look plumper and more vibrant. If they still seem weak or sandy, then repeat the process. When ready, brew another batch of coconut water kefir.

Hannah’s Tasty Coconut Water Kefir Recipe Twist!

While coconut water kefir without sugar added is exactly what some people need, those who can tolerate a little sugar in their diet might find this tasty twist fits their palate a bit better. Sugar is not just a fuel source for humans, it is fuel for microorganisms too. Adding a little sugar gives the grains a boost and imparts a more full bodied flavor to the coconut water kefir.

As a bonus, many people find they do not have to rest or renutrify the grains between batches if they follow this recipe. Either way will work, so give it a try & see which works better for your gut!

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!KMAMMA SEZ…Upgrade to the bulk size for this recipe! The taste is great and extras can then be shared with friends!




  1. Pour 4 cups of coconut water into a glass jar.
  2. Add ¼ cup cane sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons of water kefir grains.
  4. Cover with a plastic lid, cloth cover or Fermentation Cap.
  5. Let sit for 24 hours, if the flavor is still too sweet, then go 48 hours but no longer than 72 hours.
  6. The coconut water kefir will be a little fizzy with a slightly tangy flavor.
  7. Strain the coconut water kefir through a strainer or cheesecloth to recapture the grains.
  8. Move to the fridge for storage.
  9. May also be flavored if desired; see flavoring suggestions below for more details.

Since there is some cane sugar used in this recipe, you may not need to rest your grains in sugar water. Observe them closely and if they appear to be getting sandy or disintegrating, that’s the sign they need to be renutrified. If necessary, follow the instructions above this recipe to renutrify the grains.

Repeat & enjoy!

Coconut Water Kefir Flavor Ideas

The flavor of the Coconut Water Kefir may take some adjusting to, especially if omitting the sugar. Adding fresh fruit, ginger root and other herbs or spices after the primary fermentation is complete will add a fun twist to your brew.

Flavoring Rule of Thumb

Fruits, herbs and spices all enliven the flavor of ferments. Just like most fermented drinks, a little bit of flavoring additive goes a long way. Also the size of the flavoring agent also impacts how much will be needed. The larger the surface area, the more “work” it takes the organisms to break it down. So if using fresh pieces of fruit or ginger, cut into small pieces to make it easier for the flavor to infuse. If using juice or puree, then reduce the amount. For example, if using 1 tablespoon of apple pieces to flavor a 16oz bottle of coconut water kefir, then only use 1 teaspoon of apple juice as it will be more potent.

Flavor Inspirations

Measurements assume a 16oz bottle. Adjust up or down according to the amount available for flavoring.
Healthy Low Sugar Coconut Water Kefir Recipe requires FRESH water kefir grains, buy them by clicking here

  • Pomegranate Blueberry – high in antioxidants
    • 1 tablespoon of blueberries lightly crushed
    • 1 teaspoon of your favorite pomegranate juice
  • Watermelon Mint – cool & refreshing
    • 1 teaspoon pureed watermelon “juice”
    • ½ teaspoon dried mint or 1 teaspoon of fresh mint leaves, shredded
  • Lemon & Ginger – digestive support & curbs cravings
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (THRIVE, AMZ)
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger cut into pieces or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
    • add lemon zest for a floral note
  • Cinnamon Hibiscus – a fiesta in your mouth!
    • ½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon or 1 teaspoon cinnamon bark in pieces
    • 1 tablespoon brewed hibiscus tisane (steep in hot water for 10 minutes) or 1 teaspoon dried hibiscus leaves

Bonus Recipe – Beat The Heat With
A Cool Coconut Water Kefir Sweet Treat!

Love ice cream but not the calories? Then try this fun recipe for frozen fruity fermented ice pops!

  • 2 cups coconut water kefir
  • 1 cup of fruit – berries, citrus juice or zest, or kiwi
  1. Puree ingredients in blender or food processor.
  2. Pour into ice pop molds or ice cube trays, then place in freezer.
  3. Add one to smoothies or drinks for a pop of probiotics or lick as fast as you can before it melts!

Coconut Water Kefir FAQ

Why choose coconut water kefir over regular water kefir?

The traditional water kefir recipe is fermented sugar water. Like all fermentation cultures, they are adaptable to different substrates. The reason to choose coconut water kefir is to reduce sugar intake as well as to reap the benefits inherent in the coconut water.

coconut water kefir served in a coconut

Is coconut water kefir a good choice for those wanting to reduce sugar intake?

Coconut water kefir is frequently made without adding any sugar at all. Candida sufferers, diabetics, cancer patients and anyone wanting to limit their sugar intake will find this a refreshing addition without extra calories or glycemic load. Those who can tolerate some sugar in their diet might find the flavor improves when at least some sugar is added.

How do the water kefir grains survive without sugar?

Water kefir grains need sugar in order to survive. Sugar is an easy to digest fuel source that provides nutrition for the microscopic organisms. If you notice the grains are starting to dwindle or turn sandy, give them a rest in sugar water for 24-72 hours so they may renutrify. Over time, the grains may adapt to the nutrients in the coconut water and might no longer need to rest in sugar. You will know if you observe the grains continuing to multiply and thrive.

What is the best coconut water to use for coconut water kefir?

When it comes to coconut water, there are many choices. Fresh, frozen, tetrapak? Depending on where you live, then there might only be one choice! Kombucha Kamp’s philosophy is to work with the ingredients that we can source easily as the fermentation process will add the good guys back in while enhancing the nutritional content. Here’s a quick peek at the different types of coconut water available.

  • Fresh
    Fresh is best! It does have it’s own challenges such as finding them locally, cost, labor involved to extract the liquid & meat but if you can get it this is the best tasting, healthiest option available.
  • Frozen
    The closest to fresh coconut water is frozen coconut water. Often sold in the freezer section at health food stores, it is usually frozen without pasteurization which means most of the nutrients will remain intact.
  • Packaged
    These days packaged coconut water is available in nearly every conventional grocery store. Scan the label for unwanted ingredients such as added sweeteners or thickeners.

If the coconut water is pink, is it safe to drink?

Most coconut water is an opaque, slightly milky looking clear liquid. Sometimes, especially with fresh coconut water, it can have a pink color. The color change is due to the interaction of enzymes present in the coconut with phenolic antioxidant compounds and oxygen. It is safe to consume and some believe even healthier than regular coconut water. So if your fresh coconut water turns pink, don’t dump it down the sink!

What health benefits are there in coconut water?

Revered in the Indian Ayurvedic traditional medicine for its numerous benefits and medicinal applications, coconuts have been used to treat a wide range of ailments. According to nutritional analysis, coconut water is a good source of various B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and calcium along with amino acids, enzymes and growth promoting factors all in a living form making them easy for the human body to uptake and utilize. These nutrients and electrolytes help the body return to balance after exercise or dehydration.

Do water kefir grains contain gluten?

The short answer is no! Kefir grains are not derived from grain nor do they contain gluten. Grain in this case refers to the fact that they look like granules.

Healthy Low Sugar Coconut Water Kefir Recipe requires FRESH water kefir grains, buy them by clicking here

Do water kefir grains contain dairy?

While kefir is originally a dairy based ferment, water kefir grains are not related to them at all. Traditionally called tibicos, water kefir is merely a term of convenience likely adopted because of the similarity in fermentation process. They both share a short turnaround time and a grain like shape. Beyond that, they are completely different!

How long will the water kefir grains last?

Kefir grains, like all fermentation cultures, have an infinite lifespan. However, just like pets, plants or any other living being, they do need to be cared for properly. Follow the care instructions included with your grains to ensure a lifetime supply.

How should I store water kefir grains between batches of coconut water kefir?

You can store water kefir grains in the fridge for a period of time. How long is difficult to say because each set of grains is unique. Some may survive in the fridge for weeks or even months whereas others will die after that long in the cold. Follow the ratios listed above for renutrifying and then store in the fridge. If possible, refresh the sugar water once a week to keep the grains active.

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  • Jo

    November 23, 2022 at 7:37 am

    Can you use coconut water in the secondary fermentation with other flavors?

    • Anthea Tayag

      November 23, 2022 at 8:41 am

      Yes! You may notice that the grains may not be fermenting at peak performance after a couple of batches in coconut water. Keep in mind that the water kefir grains will need to “rest” in sugar and water to rejuvenate the bacteria.

  • Beth

    July 24, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Does it matter if the coconut water used comes out of a metal can?

    • Hannah Crum

      May 16, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      the fresher the water, the better the flavor, however any type may be used for fermentation

      • Yuliya

        February 2, 2023 at 12:33 pm

        I have a white coating on my granules, is that bad?

        • Anthea Tayag

          February 3, 2023 at 12:33 pm

          White coating, or white foam, can appear on the surface of the grains when fermentation goes for too long. The type of sweetener used is also a factor. You may remove the coating by gently rinsing the grains and put them into a fresh batch of sugar water.

  • dylinda

    May 8, 2019 at 3:17 am

    I been told the bacteria converts the sugar and is harmless for the diabetic. If sugar in coconut water improves the flavor and benefits the crystal, what is the advantage of not using sugar?

    • Hannah Crum

      May 8, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Great question. Some people choose to eliminate all sugar from their diet for a variety of concerns – candida overgrowth, cancer, etc. and they may feel safer avoiding it all together. For those who can tolerate some sugar, the flavor is much improved over plain coconut water and we’d recommend it for anyone who doesn’t have a sugar restriction. Of course, its whatever tastes delicious to you – so Trust YOUR gut!

  • maz

    February 24, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    Sorry if I missed the information in the article but how long will coconut water kefir made without sugar keep?

    • Hannah Crum

      March 10, 2019 at 5:55 pm

      Like all ferments, it will slow down in the fridge but not stop completely – it will last a little while but you may or may not enjoy the flavor.

  • Sarah Cummings

    October 26, 2018 at 3:24 am

    Great! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the informative post. 🙂


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