Boulder digs its beverages. Coffeeshops–of which there are many–buzz with patrons all hours of the day. Microbreweries pop up like umbrella vendors in the rain (and tend to stick around after the thunder). Distilleries pour gin cocktails while their whisky ages. Now, thanks to Con Lazarakis, there’s a new libation in the lineup: Sol Juice.
When I met with Lazarakis recently, he was like a a pushy (and cute) bartender, wanting to skip the small talk and get me to drink. I now understand why. On a purely aesthetic level, his juices are lovely. Take ‘Rouge,’ for example, where beet, cucumber, apple, lime, and basil marry to form a deep, sanguineous union. ‘Boost’ (pineapple, coconut, apple, mint) shines like the summer sun. Each of the juices–we sampled four–have texture but are not grainy. They’re thicker than water but not as much so as a smoothie. The flavors are strong and linger on the palate, which checks the urge to mindlessly chug. Basically, the juice exhibits none of the qualities I associate with the store-bought stuff (sickly sweet, watered down and not-really-worth-the-calories.). Here’s why:
#1: The ingredients. Lazarakis spends a lot of time looking for the best ingredients, and organic is a non-negotiable. As he said many times during our interview, quality is key, and this means finding a source for fruits and veggies that are both responsibly grown and tasty. Pineapple, he’s found, is best purchased from Whole Foods; however, he has to look further afield for coconut that hasn’t been altered by pasteurization. As any educated foodie knows, this dedication to quality comes at a high consumer cost, something which Lazarakis is keenly aware of. And, don’t worry, he’ll start incorporating produce from Boulder County farms in the juices just as soon as it’s in season.
#2: The method. Being the juice virgin (and food trend skeptic) that I am, I needed to know more about this cold pressing business. Lazarakis patiently explained his craft by comparing it to centrifuging, its commercial cousin. The cold press first grinds fruits and veggies to a pulp, then squeezes the bejeezus out of them, while a centrifuging machine spins a metal blade to separate flesh from juice. Cold-press purists purport that the heat created by centrifuging kills beneficial live enzymes, while the stuff that comes out of the cold press is chock-full of nutrients. After the pressing process, what remains is the sweet nectar that goes in the bottle and also heaps of fruit and vegetable fiber that Lazarakis creatively integrates into other snacks like meatloaf (beet fiber) and desserts (almond meal). Yum!
#3: The package. Before moving to Boulder, Lazarakis worked as a chef at one of Melbourne’s top Greek restaurants. Although he’s shifted gears since moving to Colorado, his juicing endeavor shares some of the same tenets as creating meals for people. ’Mass production’ doesn’t exist in Lazarakis’ kitchen; each batch of juice is small, and because no preservatives are added, it has a short shelf life. When you order juice from the Sol website, Lazarakis requests that you do so 24 hours before you need the juice; this ensures that he can whip up exactly what you’ve ordered. This also means that he spends a lot of time running back and forth between Boulder and his Longmont commercial kitchen. In fact, when we met at one o’clock in the afternoon, he’d already been juicing at the kitchen and done four deliveries. Delivery to your home is, for now, the only way to get your hands on a bottle of Sol juice, and costs nothing if you live within Boulder city limits. Outside of town, expect to pay $10. The juice arrives at your door between 7-10 am, which ensures that you can start cleansing* with the sunrise.
*A note on the cleanse: while Lazarakis firmly believes that his juices are beneficial to anyone seeking organic, whole foods nourishment, most customers have been interested in using the juice as a avenue for cleansing. One wanted to kick a smoking habit, while many like the idea of a bodily spring cleaning. Whatever the goal, the Sol juice cleanse gives the gut a chance to rest, while sending vital nutrients straight to the bloodstream. Lazarakis recommends that people ease into a cleanse slowly and in no way discourages them from supplementing the cleanse with other healthy food (nuts, meat, and whole grains). In a town where food choices and eating practices can become downright divisive, Lazarakis’ open-minded approach to marketing his product is as refreshing as the juice itself.