Press it Forward: Organic, Cold Pressed Juice in D.C. (With a Little Help From Me!)
June 26, 2012

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Back in December, I received an email from my (now) friend Dasha, who works for my favorite casual DC eatery, sweetgreen. I’ve written about sweetgreen many times, most notably in this dedicated blog post. To sum it up, sweetgreen specializes in fresh, creative, seasonal salads, frozen yogurt, delicious vegan soups, and now, cold pressed juices. When Dasha emailed me, the juices were just being conceptualized. Much to my delight, Dasha asked if I would be interested in helping to play a creative role in the process, helping to formulate the juices themselves, and—as a clinical nutritionist—staying mindful of the juices’ nutritional integrity.

Though I knew I had my hardest post-bacc semester ahead of me, I said yes without hesitation. It was a fantastic opportunity to help bring a product I believe in to my home city, and it was also a chance to partner with a company whose values are greatly aligned with mine. sweetgreen is not a vegan institution, but the menu is remarkably vegan friendly, and I think that the restaurant does an enormous amount of work to encourage diners towards progressive, healthy, plant-based food. And so my adventure in cold-pressed juice development began!

For six months, I helped build the foundation for this very special line of pressed juices. Activities thereto included learning to use a Norwalk juicer (I had no idea—no idea whatsoever—that they were so labor intensive! But the taste and texture is very worth it), testing countless combinations of green juice, and talking about how we could create juices that will help to support busy lifestyles. It was really interesting, and it was a lot of fun. In the end, we had six outstanding flavors ready to go (and many more ideas still circulating).

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The flavors are:

Purify: Apple, kale, spinach, cucumber, lemon, ginger
Satisfy: Carrot, beet, apple, cucumber, lemon, parsley
Detox: Pineapple, apple, ginger, mint
Energize: Carrot, orange, grapefruit, ginger, cayenne
Hydrate: Cucumber, pineapple, coconut water, pear, and lime
Seasonal: Watermelon, coconut water, lime, mint

On Friday, I received my official “juice box” from sweetpress, which is sweetgreen’s official juice brand.

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I was so excited to try the finished flavors, and they did not disappoint! I have a personal attachment to “hydrate”—it was one of the first combinations that Dasha and I thought of, and it was instantly delicious upon our experiments. My other personal favorite is the “satisfy.” I like to think of this juice as a “salad in a bottle”—between the beets, cucumber, carrot, apple, and parsley, it’s so unbelievably rich in micronutrients. Of all of the flavors, it’s the closest to pure liquid nutrition.

As you can see, it’s helpful for fueling long hours spent in front of computers with physics.photo(47)

Speaking of liquid nutrition, there’s something about the sweetpress brand that distinguishes it from most of the other pressed juice lines with which I’m familiar. This is the fact that these juices are not designed for radical cleansing/fasting/detox regimes. They’re packaed in the 12 oz. size, which means they’re more conducive to early morning, mid morning, or afternoon snacking, or to pair with meals, than 16 oz. bottles, which are often marketed as meal replacements. I love fresh fruit and  vegetable juice, and I believe that it has remarkable power to deliver huge stores of micronutrients efficiently.

That said, I treat juice more like a supplement than a means of replacing my food; for all of the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content, I don’t personally feel that juices can provide the protein, fat, and complex carbohydrate power we need to stay fueled and keep our metabolisms active. So for me, juices are ideal snacks and ideal ways to get a little extra nutrition when I’m very busy, but they’re not sufficient sustenance on their own. I love that the sweetpress line is designed to be a component of healthy living, but not to replace food. They’re also not marketed with some of the alluring—but often misleading—claims about “cleansing” that mark many other juice lines. These juices provide simple, supplementary nutrition in a delicious form.

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Much more information is available on the sweetpress website. Note that the 12 oz. form helps to keep the price point of these juices far more modest—$6 on average—than the usual $12 you might spend on a juice that you may or may not finish! While you can, of course, enjoy a juice along with your sweetgreen salad, you can also take a bunch to the office or to your home and sip and enjoy over the course of a few days; the nice thing about cold pressed juice (rather than centrifugal) is that it will stay fresh, especially if sealed, for two days, rather than two hours. When I know I’m going to be incredibly busy, I often purchase quite a few juices and freeze them; they defrost beautifully, and are ready for me when I’m ready for them.

Until now, there have been very few pressed juice resources here in Washington. I’m happy making my own, but the truth is that it’s not easy for me to juice a few times weekly with my academic schedule right now. sweetpress juice will now become a steady part of my life: a resource for extra nutrition and healthy lifestyle support when I’m out, about, and on the go. As the company slogan goes, these juices can help to “balance your daily rhythm.” And when you’re a pre-med crazed student, food blogger, and writer—or an athlete, a busy working person, a full time Mom, a businessperson who travels frequently, or anyone who finds him or herself short on time and hungry for nourishment—balance is key.

If you’re in the DC area, I hope you’ll take some time to seek out sweetpress juice. Right now, they’re exclusively at the Logan Circle location, though they’ll be appearing at others soon. Let me know what you think.

And thanks for joining in the convo about nettles and nettle infusions yesterday. I hope to become a better and better resource for you in the arena of medicinal plants!

xo

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    36 Comments
  1. Just made it to Logan Circle today and picked up some juice. So far, I have tried the “hydrate” and it was absolutely delicious on this hot and humid day!

  2. I surprised there is no all greens type juice without any fruit in it…Was that done intentionally?
    I may be moving from NYC to DC myself come the fall and am very happy to find a place that has Norwalk juice there but a bit disappointed in the lack of green option (s)!!!!!!!!!

  3. This is exciting news for me as I love fresh juices and love Sweetgreen!!! Will the Bethesda Sweetgreen location has this as well??

  4. Ooh, awesomeness!! I remember you alluding to a sweetgreen venture, and here it is! I want to move back to DC NOW! I love that these stay fresh for a longer time period- when I juiced consistently I always wished I could slow down and enjoy the juice throughout the day whenever I needed an energy boost.

  5. What a fun project to be involved in! Congrats on the launch! My sister and I really enjoyed our meal at Sweetgreen this past spring. I’ll definitely check out your concoctions next time.

    Thanks for your thoughts on juice being a meal supplement vs. a meal replacement. As someone who did experiment with only drinking juice for breakfast for a short span, I can surely say that starting my day with a full meal and treating juice as a snack or a supplement definitely works better for me 😉

  6. I’m of a similar mind with regards to fresh pressed juices – I regard them as delicious, nutrient dense, and revitalizing SUPPLEMENTS to my high raw diet. It’s funny because when I “went raw” back in 2006 or 2007, don’t remember now, the only thing that really changed about my diet (which was already high-raw and veg-centric) was that I started juicing. And I will say it was transformative. There’s something magical about green juice, I don’t know if there’s a better pick-me-up on the planet. I must admit, because of the way I was introduced to raw foods, I felt a lot of pressure to SUBSIST on juices, at least during the day, and for a while, I succumbed to it. Now I know people who thrive juicing until dinner, but I wasn’t one of them. I was always cold and tired, and worst of all, hungry. I’m willing to believe some of the tiredness I experienced when trying to live on green juice was “detox.” But I think most of it was a result of not getting enough calories, pure and simple. It’s one thing for someone overweight, or sick, to embark on a juice fast. Another thing altogether for someone who’s already lean and healthy to attempt such a regimen. My real consternation stems from the negative associations many proponents of fasting and “cleansing” have around food, and eating in general – I’ve never felt that was safe ground for me to tread, solid as my recovery may be.
    On the price of fresh-pressed juice, I think our unwillingness to pay $8 or $9 for a 16 oz juice has everything to do with our expectations of what *juice* costs. When I think about how much I’ll pay for wine by the glass, when all the bartender has to do is uncork a bottle, it puts the juice price into perspective. Juicing at home is certainly more economical, but it’s still not cheap. I think last I calculated a 16 oz celery based juice (all organic) costs around $4. But then there’s the time factor – the time you spend juicing and the time you spend cleaning the juicer! Which makes the $8 juice SO attractive, at least to my mind. I just wish there was a juice bar nearer my office, I would be a regular, I know it.

  7. This is awesome, Gena! I’m so impressed you had time to fit this gig in with everything else you have going on. What a neat project.

    At my new job, we have a juice bar (!) and I end up spending $6-8.50 on a juice, which I know isn’t as bad as NYC, but it still kills my wallet. Would it be better, do you think, to find a cheap but nutritionally sound juicer online? Are there ANY for 100 bucks or less?

  8. Congrats Gena on being a part of this. I may be in DC this fall and will check it out.
    Seriously, folks consider a 16 oz juice to be a meal replacement? Not this active hungry vegan!

    • I know! I’ll never understand it, though I have tried to understand it. It just doesn’t meet my understanding of what a meal is at all.

  9. What an incredible endeavour! The flavours all sound fantastic. I am really enjoying the spread of the juice trend – having fresh, fantastic vegan options more available is awesome.

    Even though I know you’re a pretty busy lady, I’m glad you were able to be part of creating this line. Plus now you’re reaping the benefits.

    xo

  10. So excited! Can’t wait till they come to the Capitol Hill location. Thanks for your role in this.

  11. Gena, what a great opportunity you had!
    Although I am impressed with the benefits of the juice I am most impressed by the marketing!
    I am so glad they are not marketing it as a cleanse or a detox/weight loss product.
    I also agree with you on not using juices to replace a meal for the same reasons you stated but as a snack or to go with lunch I thoroughly enjoy and feel refreshed.
    Lisa x

  12. Yey! How amazing! What a great opportunity for you, and what better person to do it! I really hope it comes to the Ardmore location soon! I am obsessed with Sweet Green!

  13. I’m so excited for this! I will definitely be heading to Logan Circle during my lunch break! Still hoping to run into you during my short time here! 🙂

  14. I’m totally with ya on the juice front–there’s not really many juice brands that I know of that don’t market juice as a meal replacement or as some sort of cleanse. Love the balanced approach to this, because I agree with you, juice should complement a healthy lifestyle. I’m not a big juicer myself (too time intensive), but I do have a juicer. I’m more apt to make myself a smoothie, but if I was out & about & needed a pick me up, I’d definitely go for one of these. We need more “fast food” like this!

  15. yum! i love sweetgreen! they all sound delicious. i wish i lived in dc again so i could go buy some tonight!! 🙂 i will have to try it next time i’m in town!

  16. Wow, way to go! What an accomplishment! Something that I would hope sweetgreen & you would consider about as you all develop new juices is to pretty please consider a juice that would be friendly to people who need to have it very low glycemic (those of us with candida or diabetes for example). Meaning no carrot, beet, or fruit of any kind or coconut water. A truly green juice with a celery or cucumber base. It is always so hard to find this sort of juice at juice bars and it would be great to have one like this in DC to pick up when I visit. I love pressed juice, it just tastes so much better and love that it lasts longer. And its not foamy either like so much juice bar juice.

    • We are 100% on board — so important to keep glycemic index in mind for those who have particular needs. I know there’s an all greens under development, so hopefully it’ll emerge soon — most likely not by next week, but soon.

  17. Very cool! I saw sweetpress mentioned on facebook earlier this week and was instantly intrigued. I work in Penn Quarter, so I’ll have to work my way over to Logan Circle on my lunch break soon. DC really is lacking fresh juices, especially at such an affordable price! (I’ve never been to sweetgreen, which I’ve been meaning to try anyway)

    Congrats on your involvement, too. 🙂 It must be really rewarding to see your ideas come to life.