If it were up to my three-year-old daughter, robots would be running almost every aspect of our house. Well, PRINCESS robots, to be exact. She sort of got her wish when we took the latest juicer craze for a test-run. It’s called Juicero, and it’s definitely from the future. (We named her “Princess Juice.”)
The Juicero is less traditional juicer and more robotic vice grip. It’s a sleekly designed press that looks a little bit like a standup mixer without the bowl. The machine works by cold pressing prepared packets of organic fruits and veggies only available through the company. Unlike traditional juicers, this works literally with the press of one singular button. You drop the packet in, set a glass underneath, and presto. A few moments later: juice.
Juicero’s most robotic feature, though, isn't in its juicing tech, but that it is online. All.The.Time. It knows not only when your juice is ready (it will alert you on your smart phone via an app), but it knows when your stock of juice packets are about to expire. So, kind of like a sommelier, it can make recommendations for you. Except it’s less like "have the Chardonnay with the bisque" and more like “Drink the Sweet Greens before they expire, lady.” Okay, fine.
As anyone who’s ever purchased a juicer in hopes to make their lives healthier knows, they’re never easy to clean. Never. And it turns out, that alone is a huge deterrent for people. So juicers stay tucked in the cabinets until those two-weeks before your summer vacation when you swear you're going to juice every day after you jog 4,000 miles. With Juicero, there’s no clean up at all, unless you consider throwing out a spent packet and rinsing your glass terrifically labor intensive.
It’s so seriously convenient. Here, you have a machine that will tell you what you need to drink before it goes bad. That not only prevents food waste, but helps to keep health goals. If you want juice, you got juice. The packets are slim and store easily in the fridge as opposed to 30 heads of kale and 18 pounds of carrot. They’re all 100 percent organic as well, which is a huge plus. The cold press action is a high-tech way of pasteurizing without heat. So you reduce your risk of foodborne illness. While Juicero recommends opening the packets and eating the spent juice pulp, we did not do this step. But for dehydrating enthusiasts, you could make some raw veggie crackers out of the pulp before recycling the packets.
Overall, it was fun. If my three-year-old daughter can “make” a juice all on her own by simply pushing a button, that’s most certainly a win in the fun column. But you don’t have to be an easily amused child to find this gadget interesting. We all love watching machines (pardon, princess robots) do our dirty work. Button pushing never gets old, does it? This would be a terrific addition to a work kitchen environment—a healthy sidekick to the coffee maker or microwave.
While we loved the convenience aspects of Princess Juice, it also left, at least me, feeling a bit removed from the whole process. The prepared juice packets are opaque—it’s a slurry of chopped and partially processed ingredients, but there could be anything in there, really. I hate to say the B word, but bugs are no stranger to vegetables and not being able to see what I was juicing a little bit drove me crazy. We love clean food in our house and not seeing it until it dripped out into the glass felt way too Soylent.
More fridge space and less cleanup were big pros, but we missed the process of pressing our own juices. There’s something satisfying in watching a beet get pulverized into perfect pink juice and that visceral juice-making experience is sorely missing with Juicero.
Another big con for us was the very limited selection. Since Juicero is relatively new, I assume there will be more flavor options down the road, but there are currently only a handful of flavors (I see nine on the website with two marked as seasonal.) The greens were a bit too strong for my daughter alone; I would normally amp up the cucumber or apple to boost sweetness. I like a lot of ginger in my juice and the options I received didn’t hit the mark there for me. I'm also prone to flavor fatigue pretty quickly anyway and with just two packets of five flavors, I was a little bored by the end.
You also have to purchase the machine, which is not cheap (it just dropped to $399). And packets run from $5-$8 with discounts when subscribing or buying in bulk. But with a subscription model already built in for the packets, it would seem more appealing if consumers could rent the machines rather than buy them. At $10 or $20 a month, it could give the consumer a good amount of time to decide whether it was worth the spend without forking over $400 for a machine they might not like. A rent-to-own model seems like an ideal situation. Or, how about selling a reusable pouch customers can fill with their own chopped veggies and fruits to make their own juice blends?
The juices were pretty small, too. For $8 a pop plus the cost of the machine, I was expecting glasses filled to the brim. But my 12 ounce glass was barely half-full. For that same price I could buy a 16-ounce bottle of juice at the local market or press my own pitcher's worth.
Every day I’d sidle up to Princess Juice and watch her easily make a juice better, faster, and cleaner than I could. Maybe she made me feel inadequate. Every day I would ask myself “Would I buy this machine?” And for days, all I heard back was the not-unpleasant hum offered up by the Princess. Until finally, one day, I was able to answer for myself. I loved the cold-press aspect and the commitment to organic ingredients as well as all the many conveniences. (I loved there was another princess in our house beside my daughter!) And, of course, seeing my daughter enjoy a kitchen gadget so much was a true delight. And while it's probably a perfect juicer for people on the go, with small fridges, or aversions to clean up, in the end I decided that the Juicero is not for us. Call me old-fashioned (no, really, I like it), but I much prefer making juices from scratch--mess and all.
And if we’re to get really philosophical here (it’s Friday!), I think we need to be careful about where we cut corners in life. Do I want a robot vacuum? Hell.Yes. I seriously don’t care how my floors get cleaned as long as that sticky stuff gets off my feet (juice pulp?). But when it comes to food—especially when teaching a kid about nutrition—every component is critical. That means the mess as much as the fun in pushing the veggies through the chute and watching the magic happen. In food, as in life, there’s no compromise on a little bit of elbow grease where it matters most. Even if that means the Princess gets overthrown by a bag of lumpy carrots.
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