We Think That Anyone Who Is Serious About Juicing Regularly Should Avoid These Two Machines.
What are Juicero & Juisir?
These are two new juicer concept start up brands, each offering a counter top juice press that squashes sealed packs of ingredients to produce juice. We think these machines will probably turn out to be a bit of a white elephant, both for the people who buy them and for the companies that make and sell them. We’ve looked into them and our verdict is that they won't work for most juicing enthusiasts.
Juicero is the name given to an electrically operated juice press developed in the USA by Doug Evans. According to the New York Times: “With no experience running tech companies and a bungled juice-bar chain under his belt, he has extracted a remarkable $120 million in investments from Silicon Valley titans, including Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and big companies like Campbell Soup. His pitch: a $700 machine that makes an eight-ounce glass of juice.” Doug has now left the company, the price of the machine has been slashed, and the jury is out on the future of this massively funded tech start up.
Juicero uses thousands of pounds of pressing force to crush pre-prepared bags of ingredients and produce juice, one small glass at a time. The concept of freshness is catered for by the network of organic suppliers who deliver these pre-prepared packs to your door… for a price. This business model is set to emulate the coffee pod phenomenon if it succeeds - an ingenious way to get return business after you have sold your customer a machine. Our American juicing friend John Kohler reckons it would cost him about $60 a day in these pre-packs to sustain his juicing habit!
Launched in March 2016, the Juicero is a ‘smart’ juicer that records what you do with it and relays information about your juicing regime to the company, direct from the coded packs. So it can talk to the internet, but is it a practical way to juice? We’ll get into that a bit later. Juicero hasn’t spread very far and now a Chinese rival has appeared.
In January 2017 up pops Juisir, with a kickstarter campaign for this Chinese developed machine. It looks quite similar to the Juicero and works on very similar juice production principles, with a slightly different business model. The Juisir is developed by Leo Chen, who according to Forbes is “…actually the heir to Hubei Yitai Pharmaceutical, a major Chinese company that specializes in manufacturing a type of ingredient used by major soft drink and energy drink companies in the US.” Presumably not short of a bob or two to pay for all the marketing hype.
With Juicero you are tied in to buying the eye-wateringly expensive pre-packs of organic ingredients for juicing because it won't work without them. With Juisir, according to kickstarter, they would also like to emulate the pre-prepared pack idea with agricultural producer partners in due course, but they are launching the system now with pressing bags that you fill with ingredients yourself. There’s still a tie-in for return business of course, because you will need to keep buying pressing bags regularly to operate the machine.
What’s the hype?
All marketers are looking for that one killer unique selling point that can beat all the competition, and of course marketers also love hype. These two machines both aim to eliminate the tiresome problem of having to clean a juicer, making the whole process of juicing much easier.
'No cleaning' sounds good, and the promoters of both bag-squeezing brands do a great job of selling the idea that it is onerous to spend 2-3 minutes per day cleaning your conventional juicer. But there’s an elephant or two in the room that they’d probably rather we didn’t mention.
By the time you’ve used either of these machines to make a decent amount of juice for a whole family you could have made pints of juice in a conventional juicer and cleaned it up and saved some of the juice you made for later.
The machine itself may stay relatively clean after juicing but if you choose to use the reusable pressing bags on offer with the Juisir, these will need cleaning. Both types of bags work with a second inner filter bag made from fabric. If you are refilling the same inner bag in the same session, you first have to peel the pulp out of that liner bag sufficiently for it to be able to let juice through the weave again. That's if the filter bag even survives the first pressing in the Juisir - which is not guaranteed judging by their own promo videos. 'No cleaning' is only possible if you bin this after you squeeze each bag, which we assume is part of the manufacturer's plan. Lots of miniature juicing bin bags within your ordinary bin bag. Lots of repeat business.
The customer being permanently tied in to purchasing replacement juicing bags for the Juisir isn't really an 'elephant in the room' because they are quite up front about it. But the Juisir juicing bags coincidentally do have an elephant face printed on them. An orange elephant, not a white elephant. Everybody likes elephants.
Another selling point both brands run with is the now ubiquitous term ‘cold press’ which we all associate automatically with better nutritional qualities. Juicero have the strapline on their website: “The world’s first countertop cold-press juicer—engineered for an optimal home juicing experience.” It’s a clever thing to say and it creates the impression that it is a pioneering new product. It categorically IS NOT 'the worlds first countertop cold press juicer'.
We’ve been selling cold press juicers since the turn of the millennium and they were around for decades before that, in various formats. 'Press' can mean only one thing in this context. 'Cold' can also mean only one thing. Cold pressing can only mean applying pressure without heat to extract, in this case, juice. Practically speaking, all masticating juicers use a cold pressing action, and cold pressing ingredients between two pressing plates under extreme force is nothing new either. (See our article about the Norwalk hydraulic press and triturator here)
Juisir is to be marketed by Froothie, an Australian company known for their parasitic online advertising campaigns against known brands - selling their Optimum brand juicers by comparing them with leading marks like Omega, Hurom and Kuvings. At the time of writing, Froothie proclaim on their Juisir product page: "The End Of Traditional Juicers"... We don't think so.
If you go to the kickstarter campaign for Juisir you will see some comparison tables similar to the ones on the Froothie website, one of which appears to be referring to both the Juicero and the Norwalk in an attempt to presumably imply that the Juisir is better. There's also a false claim within the Juisir Kickstarter campaign that Froothie's Optimum brand is "....the leading brand of juicing machines globally". Leading in what? I thought I'd check this out by comparing Optimum against a few established brands. According to google, global monthly searches for the term 'Breville Juicer' are on average 126.5 times more frequent than the term 'Optimum Juicer'. 'Omega Juicer' gets 69.4 times the monthly searches globally. So we have Juicero claiming they've made the worlds first countertop cold press juicer and Juisir pretending that Optimum Juicers are the leading brand globally, and they get away with it. Well, we certainly are living in a post-truth world.
Why Neither The Juisir Nor The Juicero Could Ever Work For Us
We are passionate about juicing and the benefits we experience to our health. There is nothing wrong with trying to make that process easier and everybody hates washing up. But neither of these presses makes juicing more convenient if you wish to produce a few pints of juice per day. (Since we are in the UK, from now on we’ll concentrate mainly on the Juisir which is the only one currently taking pre-orders over here).
It’s not more convenient - It's easy for us to conflate 'no cleaning' with the idea of greater convenience all round if we believe the hype. That's certainly the impression the advertising for these new machines suggests. In a typical juicing session I like to make about three pints and store two pints for later use. I'd feel cheated by a puny 8oz glass. Using a juicer like the L’Equip XL anyone can produce 3 pints of juice from start to finish in LESS time than it would take to make a single pint of juice in the Juisir. Even our slow juicers would have the full 3 pints done while you are still repeating the filling and pressing process with the Juisir (at least 9 times) to achieve the same quantity.
Nobody could persuade us that chopping all the ingredients up small enough, stuffing them into a cotton filter bag, then stuffing that into another bag, then putting it into the machine, then waiting 90 seconds for a small glass of juice, then repeating this process umpteen times... could possibly be more convenient than the experience of using a conventional juicer.
Juicer cleaning is really not that onerous a task once you nail down a routine in any case. So what if you don’t have to clean the Juisir? That advantage is cancelled by the need to repeat the bag filling and pressing operation several times if you've got a thirst on.
Juicing greens - we at UK Juicers find the marketing materials for the Juisir to be quite misleading in how they present it as a good juicer for greens. We have prior experience of the difficulty of flat pressing leafy greens in a cotton filter bag, from the time when we used to offer our own Hercules Hydraulic Press. You cannot simply press leafy greens and get good results this way without first finely chopping or grinding the leaves. We’d challenge anyone to prove us wrong on this point. The Juicero brand (which only offers pre-packed juicing bags) supply finely shredded ingredients in their packs (see image below). This method does seem to work, if you have access to a Juicero (currently only in three US states according to their website). However, if you are filling the bags yourself, as with the soon to be available Juisir, this would be a lot of preparation work compared to all conventional Juicers. Decanting finely chopped ingredients into small filter bags is not easy and of course, you still have another machine to clean if you’ve used a processor or blender to shred the ingredients first. If you finely chop your juicing ingredients by hand, you are defeating the whole ‘convenience’ pitch for this machine when compared to the time spent using a normal juicer. Even the promotional videos can't disguise the fiddly nature of getting the juicing bag ready - all for one small glass of juice.
People are more inclined towards large feed chute juicers these days. These don’t require a huge amount of ingredient preparation. But even small feed chute conventional juicers generally require less prep than would be needed to shred greens for what we would consider to be successful juicing in a machine like the Juisir. But the Juisir promotions don't suggest chopping finely. This is a significant point.
If we are to trust the theories of Dr Norman Walker, the Grandaddy of juicing, the breakdown of all the fibres into a finely ground form is critically important. This is what masticating juicers do - they chew and grind the fibres together until they form a wet pulp and then they cold press the pulp to squeeze out the juice. It seems reasonable to think that chewing and grinding the plant fibres against each other in a masticating juicer is likely to release more nutrients from leafy green veg than by simply chopping them into "dollar size pieces" and squashing them.
The Juisir uses hand chopped ingredients that you prepare in dollar sized chunks then. But according to Dr Walker: “Vegetable juices will contain all of the vital elements, that is to say, all of the vitamins and vital organic minerals and salts contained in the vegetable, if the juices are properly made by means of a thorough trituration or grinding, which will rip open the fibres in the vegetables”.
We have not seen any objective evidence from any source to contradict this common sense principle and it is the same principle that is still applied in nutritional therapies like those offered by the Gerson and Hippocrates Institutes. It seems like common sense that if you are going to get good results from pressing ingredients between two plates with extreme force, they should first be finely broken down. Juisir do not mention this and their demonstrations so far only show ingredients that have been roughly chopped.
A masticating juicer does finely grind the ingredients before pressing. We predict that if you simply stuff handfuls of roughly chopped greens into a Juisir bag you will get very poor extraction compared to say, a single auger masticating juicer, but we’ll probably do a video to show that when we eventually get our hands on a Juisir. Their own promo videos of juicing spinach don't exactly convince.
It’s wasteful - whether you use the disposable bags or the reusable bags (which still have a limited lifespan) you will need a regular supply of these, plus replacement cotton filter liners in order to make your juice. Like the coffee pod principle, this is an ingenious way to get repeat business from your customers, but it is unnecessarily wasteful in terms of the disposable nature of these components of the Juisir concept. The filter and juicing parts of a normal juicer are indefinitely reusable.
It would take a few more articles like this to dismantle all the pre-market hype around Juisir and offer a more realistic perspective on the pros and cons of the machine than the manufacturer and their chosen distributor Froothie claim. For now, we hope you find our words of caution helpful. In our opinion, if you want to juice a decent amount of ingredients, Juisir would be one of the least convenient choices you could make. In 'solving' the problem of cleaning a juicer we think they have produced a machine that is far more inconvenient than a conventional juicer, because of all the extra tasks you'd have to perform to get a decent quantity of juice.
The Juicero & Juisir story continues with some interesting twists and turns!
Before it's even arriving with customers the Juisir seems to have hit a slight obstacle in the USA. Froothie, iTaste and the 'inventor' of the Juisir, Xiuxing "Leo" Chen are being taken to court in Northern California for alleged patent infringement. It hadn't escaped our notice that the Juisir has a very similar appearance and methodology to the Juicero, but we know from past experience that Froothie are a bit sensitive about any suggestion that their Chinese made product range might have any 'similarities' to pre-existing brands. We had wondered how long it would be before Juicero responded with an action like this.
According to The legal website Northern California Record, a site owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, "The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks to enjoin the defendants, award all damages plus interest at the maximum rate, actual damages, reasonable funds for corrective advertising, treble damages, all legal fees, order the defendant the destruction of all infringing products, punitive damages, restitution, disgorgement, and any other relief as this court deems just." Ouch.
Who knows what will happen, but the implications for all the people who have pre-ordered their Juisir, including us, may not be entirely encouraging. With all this on their plate, you might think that Froothie would have more pressing matters (see what we did there?) to deal with than their complaint about our article above, which the Advertising Standards Authority dropped into our inbox today.
Juicero too have some issues to deal with because it turns out you don't even need the machine to get juice from some of their pre-prepared squashy juice bags! According to the Bloomberg website, two investors told them that after the machine was released last year, they were surprised to find that the packs could be hand squeezed, yielding almost the same amount of juice in a shorter period of time. Double ouch! To be fair to Juicero though, at least this shows that the trituration method to produce a wet pulp recommended by Dr Walker that we mentioned earlier in this updated article was certainly in place in their pre-packed bags, because you could wring out the juice yourself.
It remains to be seen how this all unfolds for both these products. You can rely on us to do our best to keep you informed as things progress, but we are still convinced that neither of them will represent "The End Of Traditional Juicers" - and interestingly that claim seems to have disappeared from the Froothie product page at the time of this update...