Oh, the price we’ll pay for something—anything—that promises improved health, vitality and (fingers crossed) lean, luscious looks.
The jury’s still out on whether juicing achieves all that. Is it really more nutritious than eating the actual food? That is the question. Nonetheless, juice—specifically cold-pressed juice, which, in a nutshell, means the produce is pressed between plates, using no heat and extracting maximum juice—is trending in a big way, including in the Sacramento region, where new juice bars are popping up like crazy. Prettily colored bottles of cold-pressed juices can also be found at places like Trader Joe’s and Starbucks. But these juices come with a hefty price tag, setting this Dollar-Wise expedition in motion. I checked out four juice bars—two locally owned and two chains—and here’s how the numbers broke down for bottled, cold-pressed juice blends:
Jamba Juice: $5.29 (12 ounces)
Liquidology: $5 $8.75 (17.5 ounces)
Pressed Juicery: $6.50 (16 ounces)
Sun & Soil: $9 (16 ounces), plus a $2 refundable bottle deposit
Bottom line: not cheap. Why does this stuff cost so much?
“You get four-and-a-half pounds of produce in a large bottle, and two-and-a-half pounds in a small,” according to Logan, a friendly young man who patiently answered my moronic questions (I’m new to this stuff) when I dropped in at Liquidology in East Sac. “And because it’s cold-pressed,” he added, “this is straight juice.” Alexa, who was also working behind the counter that day, brought up another good point: Juicing is labor intensive. If you tried to do this yourself, it would take forever.
At Sun & Soil in midtown, Kelsey noted that the juices are “really concentrated, so it’s a good value for the money.” One bottle, she says, is the equivalent of two meals. Plus, like Liquidology, Sun & Soil’s juices are 100 percent organic. “It’s good produce,” she says, “and we take good care of it.”
In the spirit of good reporting, I sampled and purchased a juice at every stop. At Sun & Soil, I guzzled the “orange carrot creamcicle,” a creamy orange concoction with carrots, oranges, coconut milk and vanilla. It was divine. I also liked the “bottle rocket” blend at Liquidology, with watermelon, lemon and a touch of cayenne. The results weren’t quite as favorable at Pressed Juicery, where I almost gagged on the “Citrus 1” mix of cucumber, pineapple, lemon, coconut water and aloe vera. (But this was my fault: I bought it before I sampled it. There were other choices.) At Jamba Juice, I cheated and ordered a freshly made (not bottled) Citrus Kick (orange, apple, pineapple and ginger). It was $4.79 for 12 ounces, though it’s also available in a cold-pressed, bottled version for $5.29. To me, it was the best of the batch, reminiscent of the Orange Julius I loved as a kid, all whirred up into a mild, citrusy froth. Yum.
If you regularly indulge in cold-pressed juices, cutting corners isn’t easy. You can find incentives here or there: There’s a “buy 12 juices, get one free” plan in place at Sun & Soil; Liquidology offers a free drink for every 15 purchased, and both Jamba Juice and Pressed Juicery offer “rewards” programs. Still, the juicing phenomenon seems best suited for those with cash to spare. But if the reported health-enhancing properties of cold-pressed juices are even remotely valid, it could be argued that regular imbibing is an investment in preventive medicine—and even The Dollar-Wise Gourmet can’t argue with that.