Photography By Thomas C. Card
Juice shops were once considered a punch line, dubious wheatgrass emporiums catering to a fringe of health freaks. Now they're a hugely popular segment of the culinary landscape, with suppliers popping up in cities across the country. The major distinction of this new wave of juicers: Their drinks are actually delicious.
The shift stems partly from cold-pressing. Traditional juicing machines have drills that bore into the flesh of ingredients to extract the juice, and as they heat up so does the juice, ridding it of a percentage of its nutrients and taste. With the cold-pressing method, on the other hand, the ingredient is given a quick buzz in a machine akin to a food processor before the pulp is placed in porous bags and subjected to thousands of pounds of pressure. The resulting juice retains nearly all of the vitamins and nutrients of its original form.
But the real potential that cold-pressing has unlocked is higher-quality flavor. Entrepreneurs with kitchen backgrounds are now making the jump into the juice game, crafting cold-pressed marvels like watermelon-tomato and jicama, pineapple, and kale that are both healthy and palate-pleasing. The San Francisco shop Project Juice offers raw, organic combinations that toe the line between sweet and savory, like its new collaborative blends with local chef Blair Warsham; one is Thai-inspired, made with toasted coconut water, Thai chile, and pineapple.
In another life, Amanda Chantal Bacon was a line cook at L.A.'s Lucques restaurant and a food editor at the Los Angeles Times. Now she's a full-time juice queen at hip Venice shop Moon Juice, where those previous experiences shine through in every bottle she sells (try her sweet, tropical carrot, lime, and coconut juice). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Krissy Sciarra, a former chef and fitness professional, has married her twin passions to launch Harvest Juicery, a local delivery service that drops off blends like fennel, orange, and mint right at customers' doors.
For Sciarra, the transition to juices was simple. "I'm buying from the same farmers I did when I was a chef," she says, "and just basing my juices on flavor combinations I love to cook with."
Formed three years ago when cofounder Carly Brien was searching for homeopathic remedies for her ill mother, the company has gained a fast following thanks to juices like the innovative Coconut-Cinnamon. It recently unveiled a digital health magazine called The Chalkboard. PressedJuicery.com
One of the leaders of the cold-press craze, it has factories on both coasts and ships its selection of six flavors by overnight mail. BluePrintJuice.com
This Miami-based company goes beyond the juice, with many of its mixtures incorporating superfoods such as chia seeds.First-time juicers can also get online support. OnJuice.com
The King of Juicers
Making juice at home can be pricey and labor-intensive. But if you're determined to try your hand at it, the best option is the Norwalk Juicer, the machine that most cold-press juice businesses use when first starting out. Starting at $2,495; NorwalkJuicers.com