How you will use the fresh coconut will determine the tool you'll want to to use to grate or shred the meat. If you are going to use the coconut in recipe such as a curry then you will want fine gratings that you would get using a typical coconut grater with a wide stainless steel blade.
Sometimes you may want the coconut to be shredded if you are going to use it for decorative purposes. For this purpose you'd want to use a coconut scraper. The tip on the scraper will determine the shape of the shreds and we show examples below.
First you need to remove the coconut water. The bud end of the coconut has 3 small indentations. Use a sharp object like an awl or an ice pick and poke a hole in at least 2 of the 3 indents. Pour the water into a cup or bowl. The water is very tasty and nutritious so don't throw it away.
The easiest way to open a coconut is to tap horizontally along the center of the coconut using the backside (not the blade) of a heavy cleaver. Once you've made a crack around the entire circumference you can smack the coconut on a hard surface and it will break apart. Beware of hitting the hard shell on a delicate counter top. Once the coconut is open you can use your tool of choice to do the grating work.
Hand style coconut graters are inexpensive, take up little drawer space and are easy to use. They are more "human power" intensive than electrics but once you've used one of these graters you can expect to grate a cup of fresh coconut in just a couple of minutes.
This is a small hand tool about 6" long with a 2 1/2" blade. To use this tool you simply break the coconut in half then use a downward motion and scrape the blade along the coconut meat. This action produce small, fine gratings of coconut meat for use in your recipes.
This style grater provides the same results as the table top grater paddle (shown on right side of page) or the coconut grater stool.
The only downside to this grater is that when you are using it you are prone to place your finger on the sharp peeler side which could be dangerous.
This is another style hand coconut grater with a long handle (about 11" long) and a circular 2" stainless steel blade. The long handle assists by providing leverage, especially if you tend to not have real strong wrists. The grater is easy and safe to use.
To use this grater you just scrape along the inside of an open coconut and tap the gratings into a plate or bowl.
The small suction versions, frequently from India tend to not stay in place as you grate and create a mess and a potential danger of grating your hands.
If you have a counter suitable for "clamping" to then these graters can efficiently grate a coconut. They just tend to be a lot of "apparatus" if you don't use a lot of fresh coconut. They also tend to be significantly more expensive.
The electric versions look like a rechargeable drill with a grater head. These can be pretty tricky to use particularly if you don't have good arm and wrist strength. You definitely don't want to slip when using this tool.