A quick background on kefir: Coconut water kefir is by definition a "water kefir" as compared to a "dairy kefir," which is a fermented dairy product. These mainly differ in the fermentation base (coconut water compared to milk), but also in the strains used to ferment the respective sugars. Certain strains ferment the sugars present in coconut water much more effectively than could strains that ferment lactose (dairy sugars). Plus, commercially available dairy kefirs have truckloads of added sugar, which is in complete opposition to the very reason most of us should be consuming probiotics.
Coconut water kefir is teeming with probiotics.
Referencing a statement illustrated on every bottle we produce; RAW and ALIVE. The coconut water we use is completely raw (out of the coconut) and is alive because 150-200 strains of bacteria are already present before fermentation! We then inoculate the coconut water with 8 strains that ferment the sugars within the coconut water, reducing the sugar content significantly and growing the probiotic population to levels of 18-50 billion per ~1/3 cup serving. That's a lot of probiotics!
This isn't to state that other fermented products are not efficacious, but coconut water kefir is uniquely effective and is delivered in the living food matrix of organic coconut water, therefore lacking some of the undesirable additions in many other fermented products (i.e. brine and cane sugar).
For example, commercially available fermented vegetables rarely state their levels of probiotics because they are not inoculated with predetermined strains, rather, they are fermented with the bacteria that are already present post-harvest. Although a great addition to one's diet and one I highly recommend, they are not the "probiotic" specific food you are looking for.
What about kombucha?
The question of the decade for fermented beverages: I have mentioned, or maybe libeled, that kombucha has become another example of how great foods with incredible benefits can fall victim to mass production. Kombucha, and coconut water kefir might I add, can be easily produced in one's home, though this is very costly. This controlled environment, also referred to as small-batch fermentation, allows for the production of a very raw, living food. However, when companies begin to ferment batches containing thousands of gallons, new parameters of purity, efficacy, and food safety arise. No longer can each bottle contain a specified amount of probiotics, and the processes used in small-batch fermentation that created a wonderful, efficacious product are replaced with regulated, industry standard techniques that provide a higher level of assurance that the product is safe to consume.
One example of this is called "forced carbonation." If you've consumed kombucha then you know that one of the reasons the drink has become mainstream is because it has a unique and tempting effervescence (bubbles). Also known as super bubbly tasty deliciousness. The bubbles are different from the bubbles found in carbonated beverages because they are naturally produced during fermentation. Some large producers are now force carbonating their kombucha (like soda) in order to meet demand by shortening the fermentation period while still providing the impression of "living energy" that effervescence creates. They then mask the loss of probiotics associated with reduced fermentation time by adding powdered probiotics that give guaranteed counts. Again, if you've browsed our website then you would know that powdered probiotics are nonsense. However, I do not want to become obsessed with "counts." The point I am trying to illustrate is that if a company is producing and marketing a truly fermented product, then that is what it should be doing.
Furthermore, kombucha uses yeast during fermentation, strains like (Saccaromyces boulardii), contrasting the majority of non-yeast strains used during coconut kefir fermentation. Although the yeast (which is not a bacteria) strains used in the production of kombucha are beneficial, they do not have the probiotic potential or diversity that bacteria provide to one's digestive system.
A final note:
As the diversity and availability of fermented foods grows, it is important to recognize that the ideologies of the producers is nearly as important as the products being produced. We truly want to produce the most effective probiotic available, which is why we adhere to a strict set of values in the sourcing of our ingredients and the processes we use to produce our coconut water kefir.
Companies should not sacrifice the integrity of their products for profit; a mission that was once embraced by the natural foods movement, and is now, in my opinion, making a definitive resurgence.