Combine 1 1/2cups water and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Photograph by Yunhee Kim