If you’ve got a food-based business, and you decide it’s time to sell, you might want to look at the sales strategy of the former owner of Minneapolis’ Green Bee Juicery: Find your most ardent customers, the ones who fervently promote your company of their own free will, and ask if they’d like to buy it.
That’s how Michaela Smith and Mallory Madden came to be the owners of the three-year-old cold-pressed raw juice company. “We first encountered Green Bee at the Linden Hills Farmers Market and immediately noticed the way the juice stood out compared to other cold-pressed juices we had tried before,” says Madden. “We preached the word of Green Bee everywhere we went. So when the current owner decided she wanted to move on from the business, she approached the two of us about taking it over. She wanted the company to be in the hands of people who supported the product, and we definitely did that.” In June 2016, they entered into a purchase agreement, and by January 2017, Green Bee was theirs.
Neither Smith nor Madden had a food-industry background, but they are science and health professionals; Smith is a licensed psychologist who focuses on integrative health, and Madden has a master’s degree in public health. Acknowledging that they have to be careful not to make health claims, they believe firmly in the value of raw juice, and they research each potential product and ingredient. “Our products have between three and five pounds of fresh produce in each jar,” says Smith. “There’s no added water. It’s all fruit and veggies.” They source their produce locally as much as possible.
Currently, Green Bee products are available at the Northeast Farmers Market on Saturdays through the season and at the City Food Studio in Minneapolis on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Or juice fans in some areas can sign up for a membership with Green Bee that provides discounts and offers delivery. Coming this fall: Smith and Madden have just signed a lease on a storefront and will be opening a retail location. That will give them a wider public face, since raw juices can’t be sold wholesale — one reason is their short shelf life; most juices have only three to five days for safe consumption.
Still, if no one likes the taste, the juices wouldn’t go far. Green Bee’s proprietors understand that. We sampled most of their product line, some of which was developed by the original owner, with new additions from Madden and Smith. We found that Green Bee manages to avoid the “drink it; it’s good for you; ignore the taste” pitfall that some plant beverages can have. Especially notable on that front is the Smooth Beets, which has a strong sweetness offset by the addition of ginger, lemon, and cucumber, all of which keep the taste from becoming saccharine. But even better, there’s no hint of the earthy taste beets sometimes impart. Even the non-beet-lover who tried it was pleasantly surprised.
Another unexpected offering was the Power Greens. Raw kale and collard could be expected to overpower the flavor here, but instead, apple shines, with a faint taste of cucumber, making this a milder drink than expected. The Turmeric Glow is a bright, cheerful shade of orange and has a strong orange-juice flavor with a nice kick of ginger. For those who prefer less kick from their juice, the seasonal Watermelon Cooler is summery sweet and light, with just a hint of cucumber, and chia seeds stand in for watermelon seeds for a particularly attractive presentation.
The real rock ’em, sock ’em drink is the Power Shot. Made from fresh-pressed ginger root, lemon, raw honey, and cayenne, this is a powerhouse of a drink that is not for the faint of heart — but if you like intense flavor (and we do), this one’s for you. It’s strongly ginger-forward, which transitions to lemon and finally to a light cayenne afterburn. No caffeine, but a definite wake-up call on its own.
Green Bee also has a line of nut milks, which are free of dairy and added sugar. The Vanilla Cashew Milk is a sophisticated yet mild concoction, gentle and refreshing, with a pleasantly nutty aftertaste. For those craving a sweeter flavor, the Strawberry Cashew Milk contains the same ingredients with the addition of the fruit. It also has a slightly gritty texture that’s not off-putting.
Juices and milks are available in various sizes from pints ($10) to 16-packs (4 juices per week for four weeks, $155) to three-day cleansing packages ($175-$190) to half-growlers ($36) and growlers ($72). Power Shots are $3 and $20 for 2 ounces and 16 ounces respectively.
Green Bee Juicery, City Food Studio, 3722 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, 55407. Email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org