Inside the new headquarters of our favorite source for cold pressed greens. New York
As you may have noticed, we spend a fair amount of our time trying to uncover the heretofore unseen—and it's our Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards and Google alerts that kind of serve as our research labs (this is serious, very scientific business, guys). And, despite the fact that pretty much everyone and anyone with a working Internet connection and a pulse has taken to doing the same thing, we still like to think of ourselves as explorers of sorts—you know, like finding Lauren Rubinski and her brand of pretty, punky bijoux in the middle of Paris or taking a tour of Peter Marino’s Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst-filled office. That said, there are still happenings that are, well, harder to miss than they are to find. Birkenstocks. Clarisonics. Coconut oil. Juicing.
After all, the whole pressing-your-daily-fruits-and-veggies-into-liquid thing has more or less dominated the health food conversation for the past, well… it been a second. Once the equivalent of social leprosy, at this point, it’s become pretty standard to (ironically) discuss over dinner with one friend or another how they’re cleansing, going raw, going vegan, on an elimination diet, et cetera, et cetera—and juice is usually the main component. And while we’re not really the types to cut out chewing completely—we mean, we like our BBQs and fro-yo too, guys—we’re all for a green juice in the morning (to accompany our artisanal, Pinterest-eat-your-heart-out granola, duh) and a self-congratulating energy booster when the inevitable three o’clock lag rolls around, ‘cause the nutritional value is totally worth the, ahem, considerable wallet-lightening effect, right?
“I’m Marcus Antebi, I live here in New York City, and I founded a company called Juice Press, which I’m now the CEO of. I run the day-to-day of the company, everything ranging from the production of our juices and our food to the construction and expansion plans, business development. It takes up all of my time––I work six and a half days a week. I take off half of a day on Sunday.”
So, despite the fact that juice has (pretty quickly) taken over as the easy-to-latch-onto health movement du jour (and we have a feeling it’s going to be sticking around for a while, too, so if you haven’t gotten on the whole drinking your vitamins train yet, you might as well join in now), visiting the brand new facilities of Juice Press (the mini-chain responsible for a sizable amount of our weekly New York budgets) was kind of like trekking to the health nut’s version of Mecca.
Upon arrival at their shiny n' new Long Island City digs (so new that the main kitchen is still being renovated, while operations currently run out of a kitchen half the size—it was still huge), we met founder Marcus Antebi, and immediately knew we would be in for a, well, experience. Inspired to get into juicing when he needed to drop weight classes as a Thai boxer (an area, we’ve gotta say, we don’t have a ton of experience in), we still kind of got the, ahem, ‘fighter spirit’ from him—see for yourself in the video interview below. While we sipped from seemingly endless bottles of Dr. Green juice, he proudly took us on a tour, from the loading dock (Antebi even drove the forklift, with great comic effect), to the cold pressmachines. It goes without saying that he’s a proponent of juicing—we mean, the man has been known to undergo massive 30-day all-juice cleanses—but his best note on the benefits of drinking liquid gold? “Expensive pee.” The more you know, right?!
"The first juice I ever created was actually a smoothie. It was one that I used to have at home all the time, where I basically would take every ingredient that I had, usually stuff that was left over, and just dump it into a base of raw coconut water. This was a smoothie that later became one of the smoothies at Juice Press that originally was an $18 smoothie––we found a way to get it down to $15. It has coconut water, raw cacao, banana, apple, coconut meat, goji berries, blueberries, some superfood green powders––very expensive ingredients and a lot of everything. That formula had enough calories and enough superfoods to let you feel full for the entire day. The menu that we [first] created for the cold-pressed juices really just consisted first of Norman Walker’s book on juicing––Norman Walker being one of the founders of juicing and inventor of the Norwalk cold press. I would take some of the formulas that he really preached and fine-tune them so that they’d taste a little better, or be more economical. I got really lucky with this guy Fred Bisci, who’s 100% raw vegan. At the time that we met, he was 43 years [old], 100% raw. He has a Ph.D. in nutrition, [a] very, very knowledgeable counsellor. He set me on a path of balancing things with greens and starchy fruits. Our menu developed through the customers’ feedback––that was really important. Things that didn’t sell, we took off the menu; things we got requests for, we tried to put on the menu.”
“As you walk through our kitchen, you’ll see that our production is a very complicated production because we’re not doing large quantities of any one formula. Whereas some companies have between five and eight formulas, and can do a couple thousand to ten thousand of one thing, because we have so many formulas, we’re doing short-runs of a lot of different things, which makes it very difficult to automate the process. Every day, we’re receiving between one to two container loads of produce, which have to quickly enter into refrigeration and have to be triple-washed by hand. We have a very rapid system of being able to take fresh produce that’s coming in and taking it to our juice machines. We have X1 machines, and we also have Norwalk machines––the Norwalk are the really small machines. They both work on the same principle, which is grinding down solid produce to release the encapsulated nutrients from the fibre, and the pulp is then pressed on a hydraulic press, which squeezes the juice from the fibre––the fibre is then compostable material. We take our compostable material, which is put in a dumpster and then taken directly from [here] to a farm in upstate New York.”
“Everything in juicing is controversial. It’s very difficult to get two ‘experts’ on juicing to agree on anything. Just when you feel like you’ve reached the ‘peak’ or figured out that secret, there’s a guy with great credentials who will come along and be like, ‘are you crazy? That will cause cancer, your hair will fall out!’ and they’ll always say that there’s data to support that. What’s really important for people to understand is that as a guy that’s selling juice, I don’t really promote juice more than I need to––it’s something I do for myself. I’m not a doctor, I don’t have a Ph.D. in anything. Most of what I’m saying is a reductionist theory. If you eliminate mistakes, you’ll feel better. Drink juice in between. If someone has a diet that’s riddled with mistakes, they’re not going to feel good. They’re going to age themselves faster, they’re going to have a lot of problems as they get older, or they’re going to be young with health issues. I don’t put as much emphasis on juice as I do elimination. I never get involved in the discussion of ‘which juice is good for your left pinky’, ‘my eyesight isn’t good should I drink more carrots?’ or ‘my hair is falling out, I need to drink spinach’. That’s nonsense, that’s abstract science. You can never prescribe a specific juice. I think it makes people more confused.”