Home Fermentation Recipes How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Water kefir can be brewed with coconut water, which is naturally high in electrolytes, enzymes, and nutrients. When fermented with water kefir grains, coconut water is easier to digest and contains more boiavailable vitamins and minerals.

What is Water Kefir?

Water kefir is a cultured drink also known as Tibicos. This drink is thought to have originated in South and Central America.

Originally, tibicos was a fermented drink made in Mexico from the sweetened juice of the prickly pear cactus since water kefir grains naturally form on the cacti. The grains naturally form on the pads of Opuntia cacti as microbes feed off the sugars and water in the succulent plant.

Water Kefir Benefits

Water kefir is a great source of probiotics for gut health. It is also a great way to make fruit juices easier to digest if you have gut troubles.

Most of the microbial species living in water kefir are probiotic.  Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus hordei, Streptococcus lactis, leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are just a few of the great microbes that live within water kefir grain communities.

How to Make Water Kefir

To make water kefir, you only need kefir grains, water, and sugar; however, I suggest a few other ingredients. In this recipe we will use coconut water to make water kefir, and the coconut water supplies essential minerals so the kefir grains can stay strong and healthy.

If you are making regular water kefir, with only water and sugar, I suggest adding molasses and a pinch of salt for minerals. You can read more about caring for water kefir grains here.

Water Kefir Recipe

Here is everything you need to make this delicious coconut water kefir:

Before purchasing a bale top bottle, verify from the seller that they are pressure safe and intended for fermentation.

Also, you can recycle kombucha bottles from the grocery store for the second fermentation. Since the bottles are designed for high carbonation, they’re safe to use.

Fermented Coconut Water

Coconut water ferments extremely well as water kefir, because it naturally contains sugars that microbes like to ferment.

Have you ever heard of FODMAPs? FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that microbes can ferment. Coconut water is high in two FODMAPS, fructan and sorbitol.

People with IBS are advised to stay away from FODMAPS. However, when coconut water is fermented with water kefir grains, the microbes digest all the FODMAPS, making it much easier on digestion.

The healthy bacteria and yeast are fed substrate (in this case coconut water) and pre-digest it for us by breaking down all of the elements into an easier to absorb form, making them more bioavailable.

Coconut Water Kefir

Since coconut water naturally contains fructan and sorbitol (both fermentable sugars) we don’t need to add as much sugar as we do when making water kefir with just water and sugar.

You can make water kefir with just coconut water and no added sugar; however, I think the flavor is best with a small bit of organic cane sugar added to the primary fermentation.

Coconut water also adds a lot of minerals to the mix, which is great for the kefir grains, and for your hydration. Coconut water is often used to make adrenal cocktails because it is so mineral rich, containing calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.


How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

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Water kefir can be brewed with coconut water, which is naturally high in electrolytes, enzymes, and nutrients. When fermented with water kefir grains, coconut water is easier to digest and contains more boiavailable vitamins and minerals.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 72 hours
  • Total Time: 72 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 32 Ounces
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Fermentation


Primary Fermentation Ingredients

  • 40 grams activated water kefir grains
  • 20 grams organic cane sugar
  • 500 grams coconut water
  • 2 grams sea salt
  • 300 mL water

Secondary Fermentation Ingredients

  • 400 grams coconut water
  • 500 grams primary fermented liquid


Primary Fermentation Instructions

  1. Prepare sugar-water mixture in a quart-sized mason jar. Add the sugar, coconut water, salt and water to the mason jar and top with boiling water.
  2. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Allow the sugar-water mixture to cool to room temperature. 
  4. Add the activated water kefir grains once the water is at or below 40° C.
  5. Cover jar with a cloth lid and secure with twine or a rubber band.
  6. Allow kefir grains to ferment the sugar water mixture for 24-48 hours. Taste and smell the mixture to see when it is pleasantly tart and sour.
  7. Strain the grains from the cultured water mixture, and reserve the liquid for secondary fermentation.
  8. Make a new batch of the sugar water mixture, and add it to the water kefir grains to start fermenting your next batch.

Second Fermentation Instructions

  1. Fill a 1-liter swing top bottle with 400 grams of coconut water and 500 grams of liquid from primary fermentation. Top off the bottle with primary fermentation liquid, so that there is about an inch or two of headspace left in the bottle.
  2. Secure the bottle lid and allow it to ferment for 24 hours, then carefully open the lid to see if it is carbonated to your liking.
  3. After 24-48 hours, refrigerate immediately. 48 hours will be more bubbly.
  4. Enjoy over ice plain, or mix with fruit juice for a refreshing sparkling drink.

Did you make this recipe?

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Nutrition information is auto-calculated and estimated as close as possible. We are not responsible for any errors. We have tested the recipe for accuracy, but your results may vary.

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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Tonia June 2, 2018 - 1:28 pm

Where is the best place to get the of the water kefir grains?

Cultured Guru June 2, 2018 - 2:04 pm Reply
Abby July 4, 2020 - 11:28 pm

What size bale top bottles do you use for this?

Kaitlynn Fenley July 5, 2020 - 1:17 pm

I used two 16 Ounce bottles, one for each flavor.

Naomi February 12, 2021 - 5:37 pm

You mention leaving cheesecloth on the top, does a silicon fermentation lid work as well or is it best to use an open weave cloth?

Kaitlynn Fenley February 13, 2021 - 7:53 am

No, cheesecloth works best. There needs to be good airflow into the jar.

Rosie February 16, 2021 - 6:45 am

Do you ever burp it during the second ferment? I’m so nervous about an explosion. 🙈

Kaitlynn Fenley February 16, 2021 - 7:45 am

Sometimes I do, especially if I include whole fruit pieces in the second ferment. You can burp it before refrigerating. Just be careful, don’t open it all at once, and do it over the sink.

Ru August 15, 2022 - 2:32 pm

How long does the fermented coconut water last in the fridge?

Kaitlynn Fenley August 15, 2022 - 3:53 pm

It should last a couple of weeks. It might get fizzier the longer you store it.

Raychel October 26, 2022 - 9:03 pm

I’m new to making water kefir and my last batch almost has a wine/alcohol flavor to it. It’s sour and not sweet at all anymore unlike my first batch. Is this normal? I’m really wanting to use this for my young kids and don’t want to be basically giving them alcohol if I have done something wrong 🤣

Kaitlynn Fenley October 27, 2022 - 9:29 am

If it smells like alcohol, that usually means you added a lot of sugar. more sugar = more alcohol. Did you use my recipe here? and did you use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients?