Cuckoo for Coconuts (VIDEOS)

Ryan Burden is out to change the way we view coconuts — one niu and one customer at a time.

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Story by Heidi Pool | Photography by Amber Caires

coconut guy
Don’t let the funny business fool you. Ryan Burden is serious about the many health benefits of coconuts — knowledge he shares through his company, Coconut Information.

Ryan Burden of Hā‘iku is a young man in love . . . with coconuts. “I’ve always been somewhat of a geek,” he laughs. “Coconuts have become my outlet. I’m completely obsessed with them.”

Ryan’s passion for cocos nucifera, or niu in Hawaiian, was sparked more than a decade ago during a bartending stint at a nightclub in Lahaina. “My coworkers and I drank Red Bull and Monster energy drinks to make it through our shifts,” he recalls. But a sensitivity to caffeine prompted Ryan to seek an alternative. “I was browsing the supermarket one day, and spied coconut water in cans. I decided to give it a try.” It was love at first gulp. “I quickly noticed how it made me feel energized, hydrated, and satisfied.”

He took the relationship to the next level by making his own coconut water, instead of purchasing imported products. He would buy fifty coconuts at a time at Farmers Market Maui in Honokōwai. “They completely filled a shopping cart,” he says. “The cashiers thought it was hilarious.”

Soon Ryan was thirsty for more knowledge. “I wanted to learn to trim coconut trees,” he says. He spent the next couple of years assisting Alex Pinsky, who had just established Maui Coconut Care and needed a helper. Eventually, Ryan knew he wanted to start his own business, but “as a relative newcomer, I wanted to avoid competing with the local guys who sell coconut water,” he says. Instead, Ryan decided to focus on education, and named his company Coconut Information. “My desire is to increase overall demand for cocos by converting people who don’t know much about them into customers.”

Lifecycle of the coconut tree


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