yesterday i was tasked by the woman at home to grill some pork chops for dinner. i went to wal mart and bought a bag of lump charcoal. after that i decided i wanted to go into lowes and see what they had. i came across a bag of coshell coconut charcoal. for 18 lbs it was $9. pretty cheap compared to the $7 i paid for 8.8 lbs of royal oak. naturally i had to try it! i got online after i got home and noticed that there are not to many good reviews on this product...or any coconut charcoal for that matter the the exception of the ones on http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm. so i decided to do a review. this is the first review i have ever done so bare with me.
the bag itself is pretty similar in size to the 8.8 lb bags of royal oak. slightly shorter but a little wider. the bag is filled to the very top with charcoal. claims of coconut charcoal are low ash production and super clean burning.
first impressions out of the bag are pretty good. the coals are shaped like your typical briquette. for size comparison i put the miller light cap next to it. im pretty sure we all know the size of those . the individual coals felt very light and seemed to be a pretty decent size. after touching them with my hands i had very little charcoal dust on me. the dist is significantly less then other charcoals i have used.
in my reading on this type of charcoal. some people have said that there was no smoke or crackles even when lighting the coal. i didnt find this to be the case. the crackling only lasted about 30 seconds after the fire from my starter cube starting igniting the coals. after that i didnt hear a single crackle. the coals did smoke throughout the entire lighting process. initially it was a thin white smoke. after about half the coals were lit it turned into a very nice thin blue smoke (shown below)
while the coals were smoking they gave off a very pleasant smell. very mild and slightly sweet and earthy. i think when used in a smoker using the minion method this smoke could be very beneficial to flavor. im looking forward to using it in my UDS.
once the coals were heated all the way i put them on the grill. at this point there was no smoke and no noises coming from the coals. they were burning super clean and very hot. they didnt even put out on odor at this point. i found it odd that once they were on the grill they were no longer glowing red but were putting out tons of heat.
you didnt think i would forget the qview did you?
this is about 30 minutes after i put the coals on the grill. the food is done and is resting for a few minutes while the sides are being finished inside. the coals look just as they did when i first put them in the grill. still burning clean and hot with no signs of stopping any time soon.
the finished product! i also decided to try experiment with a sauce recipe and made it earlier in the day. it tasted great! as far as the taste of the meat goes...i couldnt taste any sort of charcoal flavor. they burn so clean it didnt add your typical grill taste. the meat tasted very natural and clean. i actually like it. nothing to interfere with your flavor of the spices and meat. if you want some sort of smoke/charcoal taste with these it might not be a bad idea to throw some wood chips in with the coal.
this picture was taken the next morning after it has had time to burn out. to the naked eye it looks the same as it did when put on the grill. these coals are actually ash all the way through.
as soon as you touch any of the "coals" they fall apart. ash production is actually pretty high. it covered the whole bass of my charcoal box in ash. i could see where this may cause an issue in some smokers and grills. especially it your kamado style. i think in a horizontal or a uds it would be ok as long as it was cleaned out before the next smoke.
all in all i really liked this charcoal and i will use it again on the grill and in a uds. if you can get past the lack of smoke and flavor imparted by the coals as well as the ash production i would give them a shot. as i said i think in a uds using the minion method these would actually be great due to the way they smoke while being lit.