Kamado 2003 Extruded Coconut Charcoal
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Quick Stats
Date Of Review: January, 2004
Purchased From: Kamado (donated to us by KimW, Smokin' Away In Porkaritaville BBQ Team)
Date Purchased: December, 2003
Price: $11.99
Weight: 16.5 pounds
Burn Time:
Ash Production:
Type of Wood: Ground coconut shell, extruded into briquettes.
Strange Material?: None.
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: None.
Smell: See commentary below.
Country of Origin: Philipines

Quick Links
Other Information: Click Here
Unusual Or Unique Statements: Click Here
Statements From The Bag: Click Here
Lighting Instructions: Click Here
Photos of Contents: Click Here
Other Photos: Click Here
Photo of UPC Code: Click Here
Contact Information: Click Here

Rate And Comment On This Charcoal: Click Here


Update (08/16/09): Kamado no longer sells this extruded coconut charcoal which was made in the Philippines. They are no longer able to procure this high-quality charcoal and have taken to selling coconut charcoal from another supplier. We recently obtained two boxes of the current charcoal and you can read the review by clicking here.
First of all, kudos to Kamado for providing so much information to their customers about their different types of charcoal. Kamado Newsletter Number 4 is devoted to their charcoal. You will need Adobe Reader to view this newsletter, which you can get by clicking here.

This rather unique charcoal is made from coconut shells that are carbonized, screened to size, mixed with binder, extruded into logs and then dried. In case any of you are scratching your heads thinking you've seen something like this before, you are right. It is reminiscent of the Chinese lump sold by Wal*Mart a few years ago. Here is a link to a web page that discusses a similar process for making briquettes from sawdust: Sawdust Briquette Charcoal

The charcoal comes in a box which is always a good thing, as the lump is protected from damage during shipping. The lump is stacked in layers and packaged in plastic bag, protecting everything around it from charcoal dust.

This lump is a bit of a challenge to light. Ok, it is the most difficult to light charcoal we have ever tested. It took 7 sheets of newspaper in our chimney starter test. However, we saw a photo in the Kamado newsletter showing this charcoal being started in a chimney starter with all the pieces sitting on end. We tried again with this method, using a single layer on end and it took 6 sheets of newspaper. (The previous record was 5 sheets of newpaper.) We also tried starting the charcoal in our small ceramic cooker using 3 small pieces of starter block. It lit fine, but the fire was quite slow to spread. Needless to say we were a bit perplexed at the statement in Kamado's newsletter which says this charcoal is "easy to light".

When we first tested this charcoal, we didn't make observations on how much ash a charcoal produces, but what about the "ashless" and "virtually ashless" claims in the Kamado newsletter?. Since this review was first published, we of course have started measuring ash production and this charcoal produces a very low amount of ash. Not ashless, but indeed very low on ash.

We found this charcoal was lower in smoke than many lumps, but not smokeless. When we came in from testing this charcoal, we smelled of smoke just like we do with all the other brands we tested. It is a pleasant smoke, not terribly distinctive, but to our nose it has a bit of a perfume quality to it. (That's good, by the way.) And like most lumps, during the initial lighting smoke was produced, but after the charcoal was burning, THEN it was virtually smokeless.

Ever the curious tester, we decided to see if we could get a flashback with this charcoal. Normally we don't do this test, but like we say, we were just curious. Yes, you can get a flashback off of this charcoal, so treat it with the same care as you would any brand of charcoal. But we digress....

So, does this stuff burn a long time? You bet your briquette, it does. This is one of the top 2 charcoals for burn time that we have ever tested. (Editor's note: Since this review was published, we have reviewed over 30 other brands of lump charcoal. This charcoal is no longer in the very top rage, but nevertheless, its burn time was High compared to other lump charcoals.) In a comparison test we did in which we burned equal weights of charcoal, this charcoal burned about 1.5 times longer than typical hardwood charcoals and about 2 times longer than Kingsford. This is because of the high fixed carbon content (FCC) of this charcoal. Roughly speaking, you can equate this high FCC with the density of the charcoal. Pick up a piece and it's downright heavy. All that carbon in the charcoal is available to burn, resulting in longer burn times than charcoals with lower FCC.

So, it burns a long time, but how is it on high temperature cooking? We already stated that the fire was slow to spread, but patience paid off as the fire got our small ceramic cooker up to 730 which is about as high as we can get it. However, we needed a large quantity of the charcoal burning to get to this high temperature, just like any charcoal. You have to remember that high fixed carbon content means the charcoal contains a lot of heat. It doesn't mean you get all the heat at once. The fire is actually quite slow to spread, nowhere near as fast to get to high temperatures as less dense charcoals.

The Kamado newsletter says that food will have a mild and unique taste. Kamado encouraged us to do a taste test, so we said we'd try. We won't claim to have a discriminating palate, but we tried. We cooked a 1/2 inch thick slice of chicken breast over the Kamado lump and one over BGE (Royal Oak) lump. Same times and temps, just two lumps and two cookers. For verification purposes, we allowed our wife to participate. We both agreed without hesitation that the Kamado lump gave the chicken a stronger smokier taste than the BGE (Royal Oak) lump. Personally, to our tastes, this is goodness. To those who prefer as little smokiness in their food's flavor as possible, this lump would not meet that requirement.

We did have one unique observation, something we had never seen before. The inside of our cook had a light gray color after cooking with this charcoal. (See photos below.) You could wipe it off and see it was a very fine powder. We contacted the manufacturer and we decided that this was just a thin coating of very fine ash.

And finally, what about that stove-top test that appears at the end of the Kamado newsletter? Well, frankly we didn't have the nerve to conduct such a test indoors, afraid that the wife might object. So we chickened out and bought a cheap hotplate and conducted the experiment in the garage. As you can see from the photos below, the Kamado charcoal burned without smoke. But so did the chunk of oak lump and a Kingsford briquette, so we are not sure what this "test" proves.

Overall, this is a great long-lasting charcoal that gives food a great taste. It is hard to light, so if that is important to you, you might want to try a different lump. We give this charcoal our Highly Recommended rating.

To the left is the rating that our readers have given this charcoal. If you have used this charcoal and would like to rate it and leave your comments, Click Here

To view reader ratings of all brands, Click Here.

Other Information

Kamado Newsletter Number 4 is devoted to their charcoal. You will need Adobe Reader to view this newsletter, which you can get by clicking here.

Unusual or Unique Statements


Statements From The Bag

"Coconut Charcoal", "Made In Philippines"

Lighting Instructions


Photos Of Contents

Here are some closeups of a typical piece of charcoal.

As you can see, there really is a hole all the way through the charcoal.

Here are the contents of the bag sorted in large, medium, small, too small and chips/dust.
And as you can see, the pieces only come in one size. There were no broken pieces in the box.
In case you are counting, there are 105 pieces there. The lump comes packed in 3 layers of 35

And here is the sum total of the dust from the box. I'd guage it to be about 2.5 tablespoons.

Other Photos

When you first open the box, this is what you see. Yeah! A plastic bag!

Open the bag and here is the charcoal, nicely packed.

Here is our "stove-top" test. As you can see, the Kamado Extruded Coconut, the BGE lump,
and the Kingsford briquette are all well lit and burning. !

This photo was taken with flash and as you can see neither one of the three
types of charcoal are smoking.

We have never seen this before, but this is a thin powdery layer of ash that was
deposited on the inside of the cooker. As you can see, the fire ring is black,
while everything above it is light gray.

In case the inside of the cooker isn't demonstrative enough, here you can clearly
see the layer that was deposited.

Photo of UPC Code

Here is a photo of the UPC code on the bag:

Contact Information

2200 Rice Avenue
Sacramento, CA  95691

1-888-KAMADOS (1-888-526-2367)


About This Review

If you are unfamiliar with our testing procedures, you may wish to read How We Review Lump Charcoal before reading this review. Also, you can read How We Score Lump Charcoal to learn about our scoring system.

Prices listed in our reviews are current as of the date of the review. We do not attempt to keep these prices current.

The conclusions and final rating given any charcoal are based upon the opinion of the author. We recommend that you use our rating only as a guide. You should read the entire review and decide what is important to you in making any buying decision.

Performance ratings are designated with stars, 1 star being the worst and 5 stars being the best:

= Performance is Far Below Average
= Performance is Below Average
= Performance is Average
= Performance is Above Average
= Performance is Far Above Average

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