Chow Bella

JuiceCore Cashes in with Cold-Crafted Juices

Sneer if you will about the purported health benefits of green drinks and freshly juiced fruit "cocktails" -- said to detox the body, flood it with nutrients, and stimulate weight loss. Whether these perks are real or pulp fiction, fresh juice drinks are more than a craze, they're part of a $3.4 billion (and growing) cold-crafted juice industry. No one knows that better than Starbucks, which bought the Evolution Fresh juice brand for $30 million last November and just opened its first juice bar in Bellevue, Washington, a little over a week ago.

The trend has not gone unnoticed here in Phoenix.

Last fall, 20-something best friends Katie Flanigan and Taylor Renteria (both health nuts, both flaunting the most gorgeous skin you've ever seen) convinced their mothers (Patty Flanigan and Kelly Watkins) that producing green drinks for health-conscious folks too lazy to do their own juicing just might put a little green in the old pocket, as well.

Soon after, the four women founded JuiceCore, a company making 100 percent raw, fresh, and organic juices selling for $10 and $12 per bottle. If the price seems high, consider this: Each 16-ounce bottle contains five to seven pounds of produce. Kind of tough to eat that many fruits and veggies in a day.

So what do pounds of veggies in a bottle taste like?

Some of JuiceCore's flavors are evergreen; others change seasonally. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Mother Earth -- JuiceCore's signature blend, containing kale, spinach, romaine, cucumber, celery, fennel, green apple, parsley, lemon, and ginger

Kick Some Acid -- an alkalizer (meant to change the body's pH) containing green apple, lemon, and ginger

Strawberry Fields -- a seasonal favorite containing strawberry, cucumber, mint, green apple, and coconut water

Ctrl Alt Delete -- (offering liver/kidney support) containing beet, carrot, kale, fennel, and ginger celery

All of them -- even the greenest of green drinks -- are fresh-tasting and palatable. Some of them (Kick Some Acid and Strawberry Fields are my favorites) are downright delicious.

Mom Flanigan handles the business end but keeps her "real job," while Watkins and the BFFs juice two or three days a week, using a $15,000 hydraulic cold-press juicer to make yummy drinks they don't consider a "beverage" but rather "serious medicine." That's not a stretch when you know that Watkins is a former oncology nurse who encouraged patients to supplement their diets -- and give their overtaxed systems a break -- with green drinks.

According to Watkins, the response to JuiceCore has been "utter madness." The juices sell out every week at both the Phoenix Public Market and Old Town Scottsdale Market. The JuiceCore ladies also deliver to corporate clients, while hardcore juice-ists (Watkins calls them their "cult following") show up at JuiceCore's commercial rent-a-kitchen on juicing days to pick up six packs or more of product.

The women hope to have their own storefront in the next month. Chow Bella will keep you posted.