A cold-press juice company called Juicero was one of the top-funded hardware startups in Silicon Valley last year. It promised a $400 countertop juice-pressing appliance that squeezes healthy beverages out of proprietary bags, delivered to a person’s doorstep on a subscription basis for $5 to $8 apiece.
But now that the hardware has hit the market, some investors have been disappointed after figuring out that Juicero owners can squeeze juice from the proprietary juice bags by hand, without the $400 appliance.
Bloomberg reporters found that a little elbow grease yielded as much juice as the machine produced. They were “able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes.”
Customers can’t buy the juice bags without first purchasing the $400 machine, which was originally a $700 machine.
According to Bloomberg, Juicero earned millions in investments from Kleiner Perkins and Alphabet by promising a machine that could press large chunks of fruits and vegetables into juice. The juice bags that customers receive today appear to deliver fruit and vegetable matter in a state closer to pre-pressed juice than what was originally promised.
In a September interview with Re/code, Juicero founder Doug Evans said the finished juicer contains “400 custom parts” with two motors, a scanner, wireless support, and “775 aircraft-grade aluminum.” Juicero did not respond to Ars Technica’s request for comment, but a person speaking to Bloomberg noted that the juicer reads a QR code on the bags and won’t press bags that are beyond their expiration date (much like a Keurig, it also won’t press anything other than its proprietary juice bags). The person also argued that using the $400 juicer is cleaner and easier than squeezing the bags by hand.
The Bloomberg piece did note that Juicero has found one solid niche: high-end hotels and restaurants. One shop owner said that she paid $1,200 for the appliance (because business owners are charged differently), but, of the seven shop owners that the reporters talked to, all seven liked the appliance because it offered disposable juice packs that made clean-up easy.
Still, the main function of the juicer appears to be able to be replicated by human hands. When juicers that can make juice with any ingredient you want are available for about the same price, this seems to be an embarrassing case of startup hype.
None of this may make a difference to someone who likes cold-pressed juice from a bag and has significant expendable income. (A moment of opinion from the writer, however: how you keep your kitchen is between you, your god, your partner, and your roommates, but single-duty appliances beyond the coffeemaker seem like a waste of counter space.)
If you just like juice, more power to you. As I write this, I’m drinking a cold-pressed carrot-apple-lemon juice (from a bottle) because I like the sour taste but mostly because I had a coupon for it at the grocery store. But know that there’s little evidence that cold-pressed juice is actually better for you than juice from centrifugal blenders, so a Juicero probably isn’t going to put you ahead of someone who juices vegetables the old-fashioned way. And health experts agree that eating whole fruits and vegetables is better for you than drinking juice, unless juice is the only way you can consume those items. So for now, it’s probably wise to save your $400.
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