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Here Are the Crazy Things You’ll See Working at Juice Press

Employees dish on blender explosions, $40 “dirt” shakes, and sharing smoothies with dogs.

Illustration by Andrew Janik

Jane, which is not her real name because she would like to keep her job at Juice Press, had a rough first week. It was the middle of the summer, the busiest time of the year in New York City’s juicing industry. The sweltering, oppressive heat demands a cool, healthy refreshment. The line at the lower Manhattan store was getting longer, the sweaty customers growing impatient. The three employees working the smoothie machines, including Jane, were moving at full speed to get through the afternoon rush.

Jane’s focus was on moving as quickly as possible, the next ingredient that needed to go in the blender, and then the next order she had to handle. Somewhere in that the hectic foray, Jane forgot a key step: putting the lid on the blender.

It didn’t take long for her to realize the mistake. Within a few seconds she was wearing the smoothie. The partially-blended beverage covered her from head to midsection, a murky green liquid dripping down her face.

Jane spent the next 15 minutes cleaning herself, the blender, and the splatter around the smoothie station. When she returned to work, the remnants of green gunk on her shirt indicated that she’d passed through an important rite of juicing passage. Most newbies forget to put the lid on at least once, especially if they start during the hectic summer months.

Even after they learn that smelly lesson the hard way, it’s not smooth sailing. Working at a Juice Press in New York City exposes workers to all kinds of bizarre situations, especially at locations that cater to the type of people who can regularly afford $10 protein shakes. Or, as one employee found out, far more.

Sam thought it had an uncanny resemblance to dirt.

Another employee who we’ll call Sam used to work at a store in Manhattan where he had a regular customer with an unusually large protein budget. The first time she came in during Sam’s shift, the petite woman in a business dress asked for a protein shake. Sure thing, Sam replied, what kind of protein do you want in there?

All of them, the woman requested.

Taken aback, Sam asked the woman one by one if she wanted each protein in the shake. Pea protein? Yes. Hemp protein? Yes. Banana? Yes. Brown rice protein? Yes. Almond milk? Yes. Turmeric? Yes. He continued, listing more and more proteins and smoothie additives. The customer said yes to every single one. She wanted it all.

After a few seconds in the blender, the shake came out looking predictably unappetizing.

For the pleasure of imbibing her dirt shake, the customer forked over $40. But the customer was happy, returning almost daily for her $40 dirt shake.

At least she was a good customer. It’s the stores in touristy areas test the employees’ patience the most. Many tourists will confuse Juice Presses with other juice blender stores they may have visited, asking for smoothies or juices they don’t actually make with ingredients they don’t actually have. Sometimes, customers take the news that the store doesn’t have any avocados, for example, in stride. Other times, Jane said, it can be a battle. They’ll demand she make the smoothie anyways, at which point she’ll inform them she can’t make a smoothie with ingredients she doesn’t have:

“It’s like, will you go to the grocery store and buy the avocados and bring them back here? I’ll make it then.”

It gets tiring explaining the same things over and over, too. All the time, people come into various locations and ask “what’s maple plus water?” Usually, they’re embarrassed by the inevitable reply: maple syrup and water. Other times, the patron will insist the word “syrup” should be added to the menu description so as to avoid the confusion.

But the absolute topper, Jane said, was the time a young woman came in with her short, squat bulldog and wanted to know if they had any shakes safe for dogs. Jane didn’t know which ones were good for dogs and which ones weren’t, and she certainly didn’t want to be responsible for any ill health to come to the dog, especially one leading such a privileged life that it was being fed $10 protein shakes. So she candidly replied that she wasn’t sure. After some discussion, the woman settled on ordering the green protein shake. She didn’t indicate whether the dog would get any, but by the time the pair walked out, the happy pooch was looking up at the shake expectantly. Jane surmised it wasn’t the first time the dog had gotten a shake.

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