A fit, well-dressed man entered Jugofresh, the organic, unpasteurized, raw juice bar in South Beach, and eagerly approached the store's owner, Matthew Sherman.
"Can you recommend something for me today?" he pleaded. He then tapped his hand on his belly and continued to explain, "I went to The Bazaar at SLS Hotel last night. It was an all out, tapas-style night. I just feel so bloated."
Sherman, a holistic life coach and founder of the bustling juice bar, asked whether he had had any water this morning, and then finished by recommending one of the menu's agua tuya -- a listing of water-based juices, including caliente picante h2o ($4.50), a mix of alkaline water, maca extract and cayenne extract. His client paid and left happy, content with the quick solution for last night's indulgence.
This client is just one of many fans and followers that turn to Sherman for advice. The juice bar has only been open a few months, but it's already developed quite the following.
One of my first visits was on a Saturday morning. Jugofresh is conveniently located just down the block from Green Monkey, the cool yoga studio where locals flock for workouts centered in balance and meditation. The 9 a.m. class had just finished, and most yogis headed to Jugofresh to fill up on raw juices post-workout. Chatting about coconut sugar and bee pollen as casually as discussing the weather, the clientele is clearly buying into whatever Sherman is selling.
My quick smoothie run turned into a tedious twenty minute affair. The place was completely packed, with dozens of fit customers piled into the front of the 1,800-square-foot juice bar. Most of them looked healthy, radiant. Despite the high price tag for the smoothies ($8.50 to $19.99) and occasionally long wait times, the refreshing, nutritious result was clearly worth it.
Although he has sold his signature cleanses for a few years now, Sherman's success is about more than just his position as a holistic coach.
He's struck gold and is already expanding with a separate warehouse that will include juicing prep and a greenhouse. Jugofresh has developed a brand synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. And more and more people are buying into it.
I've only visited the juice bar on five occasions, but I've already added goji berries to my shopping list on supermarket runs. The bookmarks on my web browser now feature sites explaining coconut sugar and deer antler extract. I consistently make excuses to head to South Beach in the morning, just to grab a taste of a new juice, or new smoothie.
So what's his secret? Well, one of the keys to Sherman's success is the quality of product. He can talk to you about why he prefers flash-frozen coconuts from Thailand, rather than the fresh ones. He's also quick to point out that details make a difference. When I asked him about the controversial effect of the highly saturated fat, coconut oil, on elevating blood cholesterol levels, Sherman diverted the question. He explained that studies regarding that topic are inconclusive and difficult to comprehend, because it's all about which coconut oil is being used. Jugofresh only uses raw unrefined coconut oil, and the team works alongside sets of Vitamix blenders and endless rows of Grade B maple syrup. It's all about using the purest, more unrefined ingredients.
He also only uses organic produce, even if it means importing ginger from places as far as Hawaii. "It's hard to be organic from a business standpoint, because of the fluctuating prices due to availability," he explains. "But I make sure that this doesn't reflect the prices for the juices. These always remain consistent". This all, of course, explains why my Jugofresh habit can get quite expensive.
It's clear that dedication is a big part of the formula too. It takes five to six hours to complete the entire process for the nut milks, all of which are made in-house. Sixteen ounces of juice takes about 45 minutes to extract. "We are dedicated to being craftsmen in this process," he reasons. All of the juices and milks are unpasteurized, so they must be consumed -- or discarded -- within a few days. No preservatives are added.
But design and branding also play a part on the Jugofresh effect. The store's walls are lined with reclaimed wood, revealing a view of a vast open kitchen. The prep area is always spotless, and always busy. A couple of aluminum chairs line the bar, strategically designed to get customers in and out quickly. It all contributes to a cool, contemporary natural feel.
The menu is easily deconstructed, divided into categories: greens, detoxers, pura vida, agua tuya, dame leche and la chuperia. Next to the listing for la chuperia -- a set of raw, organic shots -- is the caption "Shots! Shots! Shots!... Everybody!" The names are playful, easily identifiable within Miami's substantial Spanish-speaking crowd.
The names of the juices and smoothies follow the same pattern. Like El Green-go ($10), a green juice with apple, celery, spinach, parsley and lemon. Everything about the place is catchy, and definitely clever.
But the last factor is probably the most important, because everything at Jugofresh tastes absolutely delicious. Although Sherman considers both nutrient density and balanced flavors when concocting a new offering, the result is always surprisingly tasty.
Thai Rico ($10), a blend of pineapple, avocado, basil, coconut water, vanilla extract and agave, is a favorite blended beverage that tastes like a creamier piña colada. The smoothies are all topped off with a mix of cacao nibs, goji berries and coconut flakes. The mylk shake ($11), almond, dates, water, agave, cinnamon, vanilla extract, grey sea salt, is on the juice menu and tastes like thin sips of vanilla ice cream.
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The love for this juice bar is quickly spreading. My Instagram and Twitter feeds have been slowly invaded with hashtags of #drinkmadjuice, all originating with visits to Jugofresh. More and more often, my friends pop up with pictures of themselves confessing love for their latest ten dollar jugo.
It's all part of a larger trend, and the healthy lifestyle is increasingly becoming more cool, more desirable. A carefully styled image of a beet salad will garner as many likes and re-tweets as a hot dog. And more and more people are buying into healthier lifestyle. It's not about snobbery, or high price tags, it's about awareness and mindfulness. Sherman certainly knows all about it, and so do the dozens of customers who flock daily to the juice bar to pick up their weekly cleanses, or their healthy breakfasts. It may be expensive, but they all seem to agree that it's worth it.
So, as for the Jugofresh effect, I'll say we're just beginning to see the start of it.