Summer is the season to sip refreshing beverages, and you’re hitting the sweet spot if you can find one that’s both tasty and healthy. Jubali Juice, also known as Life Force Juice, is a local small business that can’t stop churning out mouth-watering “raw” juices, smoothies and herbal infused teas packed with as much ethical impact as bold flavor. Founded by three college buddies from Northeastern University, the company is growing fast and is opening a storefront in the seaport in August.
Jubali Juice cofounder Liam Madden is both passionate and humble about his good-food social venture. Growing up in a family that owned several restaurants and gourmet food distribution businesses, Madden understood the importance of quality ingredients and was comfortable in the realm of small food entrepreneurship. “In high school I wrestled, and my coach put an emphasis on optimal nutrition,” he says. “Later, I trained with the Marine Corps wrestling team, and learned how to become more aware of my own health, exploring natural remedies to maintain good health. Basically, I learned the connection between food, personal health, and the planet.”
To get healthful “raw” juice in commercial-safe conditions, Jubali uses a relatively new pressurization technique (not pasteurization, which kills all the living goodness in a thing). Picture a huge MRI machine that’s flooded with water and applying 80,000 pounds of pressure on a crowd of little juice bottles from all directions. After going through that, all pathogens are dead, but most of the beneficial enzymes that give these juices and teas their raw “life force” are still alive. Compared with other food safety methods like traditional pasteurization, this pressurization technique preserves the taste and extends shelf life. With pressurization, juices can stay fresh-tasting and healthy for up to five weeks. Without treatment, they last only three to five days.
Madden started the business with two college friends—Brian Axelrod and Sam Flows—who also had experience with food. The team began by renting a café kitchen after it closed at 8 p.m., making juice till midnight, and delivering by bike at 6 a.m. the next morning. Bicycle delivery started out of ethics as well as necessity because, as Madden explains, “Brian is a bike-only type of guy.” Nonetheless, “it fits our ethics—if it makes sense for us to do it, we will.” Today, all wholesale deliveries happen in a refrigerated vehicle, but 30 percent of deliveries to homes are by bike.
The team of three buddies has stuck together as it grows into a family of energetic entrepreneurs, and the group still stays grounded in their original values and process. “When a business is small, having clearly defined roles doesn’t always make a lot of sense,” Madden says. “We all make juice, we all sell juice, we all go to farmers markets.”
Jubali’s juice ingredients, from carrots to beets to hearty greens and apples, are are intoxicating, and their smoothie flavors include delicious options like Cocoa Bliss, Carrot Cake, Greena Colada and Protein Prana. To develop new juice and tea flavors, Jubali turns to its panel of judges—its three co-owners. They think about what kind of juice they want to drink, and consider the best way to offer a mix of complexity, balanced flavor and nutrition. They haven’t gone wrong so far.
Some summer seasonal Jubali favorites include Strawberry Basil and Zen Master Cucumber Mint—but enjoy these in-season before they sell out. “If something is in season locally, we’ll source it that way. We might supplement with other ingredients, but we need to keep connected with where our food comes from,” Madden says.
These cheerful little juice bottles are making their way all over the city. Jubali was at five farmers markets last summer and winter, and ten this summer. You can find it year-round at Whole Foods in Somerville and Fresh Pond, at cafes like Bloc 11 and Three Little Figs and even at the Spaulding rehab hospital. Listed in Boston Magazine’s top four health food startups to watch for, this is a company focused on entrepreneurship. The team of cofounders just “graduated” from a course on social entrepreneurship called Root Cause, and are excited about the organic growth of their company.
With an eye toward life-cycle energy analysis of their product and customer awareness, Jubali’s new labels have a “carbon neutral” logo with a URL that consumers can follow to determine the carbon footprint of making and distributing each juice bottle. Jubali contributes a portion of its sales back to the Nature Conservancy, which facilitates this lifecycle analysis, for carbon offsets to put carbon back into the soil, supporting regenerative agriculture. “We hope to push other sustainability usinesses to do the same” Madden says. “This will come out of our bottom line, but we don’t think it will be problematic because we’re not a super carbon-intensive business.”
Jubali Juice is also looking into new and unique products like their Herbal Infusion Teas. “There are a lot of teas out there,” Madden says, “but virtually none that are nutritionally rich, bottled, and caffeine-free.” Current infusion teas include Chaga Chai, Deep Mineral, Herbal Roots, and Nourish and Cleanse. Jubali also offers nut milks, and cleanses. Soon, the company will be releasing a Chaga and Reishi Mushroom and coffee infused herbal elixir, which they say is amazing. (Chagas, for the mycoligically illiterate among us, grow on birch trees in the Northern hemisphere and are super storehouses of antioxidants, B-vitamins, and other immune support properties.)
Cracking open a bottle of Dandelion tea, Madden’s personal favorite, he begins waxing on the benefits of the plant. “Dandelion is so powerful for us—its roots, leaves, even blossoms. My theory is that’s why it grows everywhere, even sprouting through concrete—it’s there to heal us. Plus, dandelion tea is a great coffee substitute; that flavor is so rich.”