Organic foods, vegan eats, and cold-pressed juice bars are all the rage in South Florida these days. But with all these fancy, big-time operations setting up shop, you have to wonder: Are all those fruits and veggies really organic, and is that juicer truly cold-press?
A newcomer to the juice-bar scene, Organic Express in Boca Raton, is offering patrons the opportunity to see what it's like when your juice bar does more than simply bottle your juice and slap a label on it. According to owner Jonathan Gelpey, who opened Organic Express in February, the mom-and-pop feel of his small café is the future of what your juice bar experience should be.
Gelpey opened Organic Express off Federal Highway in the shopping strip plaza across from Mizner Park. The former owner of Village Organic Market in Palm Beach Gardens, he sold his organic produce business offering cold-press juices and prepared foods late last year. His intention was to set up shop closer to family in Boca Raton.
"The juice bar was really the most successful part of the entire store, so I sold the market and decided to open a juice bar here," says Gelpey. "I saw the opportunity to do something no one else was doing."
Despite the local "juice" craze, what no one else was doing was offering 100 percent organic, cold-pressed juice, made to-order, and served in glass Mason jars, said Gelpey.
"These are the four things that really set me apart from the other places in the area," he said. "Some are using organic, but not all their produce is 100 percent organic like I am. And some are bottling in glass, but they aren't making their juice to-order."
For Gelpey, being 100 percent organic is the most important aspect of the business. Prior to opening his organic market, Gelpey worked as an organic farmer for several years. He began farming during college at Babson College, where he volunteered for a local organic farm, Natick Community Organic Farm in Natick, Massachusetts. Volunteerism turned into passion, and he stayed for two years as the farm's full-time caretaker.
"When the other guys say they can't get organic this or that, that's crap," said Gelpey. "I've been buying organic for two years [because of the market], and the only challenge is paying for it. The other juice bars don't want to drop five times the price for organic apples. But I don't mind signing that check. I love supporting the small organic farms and giving the community something they can be confident is safe and healthy."
To make your juice, Organic Express has a fleet of VitaMix blenders and several Super Angels, a stainless-steel juicer that extracts the most nutrients from fruits and vegetables. The fresh versus premade gives patrons a chance to custom-select recipes, as well as determine if they want health shots or "boosters" like wheatgrass, fresh spirulina, flax seed, macs, hemp, or chia seeds.
For those in a rush, the store also offers fresh juice made that day for grab-and-go convenience, as well as coconut water made from fresh-harvested, local coconuts. There is also a selection of organic (sometimes raw and vegan) salads, soups, dips, and snacks for patrons in need of something more substantial.
In addition to a full menu of nine cold-pressed juices and nine smoothies, Gelpey makes almond mylk in-house and a specialty he's dubbed "nice" cream -- frozen bananas whipped into ice cream with add-ins like fruit, peanut or almond butter, cacao nibs, and honey.
All food and drinks are served in 16-, 24-, 32-, and 64-ounce glass Mason jars, and the prices are comparable to area juice bars, anywhere from $10.25 for a 16-ounce juice to $36.75 for an ambitious 64-ounce jar.
If a trip to the juice bar isn't on your to-do list, Organic Express also offers free delivery for orders in the local area. There is no minimum order requirement, says Gelpey, but a delivery charge of $2 to $5 may be added for orders outside Delray Beach and north Broward.
Which brings Gelpey to the last reason Organic Express is different: the customer service.
"The store's number rings directly to my cell phone, so you'll get your questions answered every time," said Gelpey.
Organic Express is located at 495 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton. Visit the Facebook page, or call 561-707-0072.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.