The most exciting spot on the Dublin food scene right now is Green Beards juicery. Green Beards has brought the craze of cold pressed vegetable based juices to a whole new level in Dublin and their glass bottles filled with all different types of truly delicious juices are flying out the doors. You may think that Ireland has experienced the smoothie crazy already, but cold-pressed vegetable based juices are a completely different ball game. The vast majority of the smoothie bars dotting the city are selling essentially pints of sugar with little nutritional value. Cold pressed juicing is a process that extracts the maximum possible nutrients and enzymes from fruits and vegetables. You only need to look at Ray and Kev, who are positively glowing, to see that the juices do what they say on the tin!
The majority of the ingredients in the Green Beards juices are vegetable with small amounts of fruits being added for flavour. They also do healthy shots if you need a quick pick me up. You may be sceptical, I know I was expecting the shots to be a punishment having only ever experienced a dodgy wheatgrass shot in a cafe in town but their 'Rollercoaster' and 'Fireball' were incredible. The 'Rollercoaster' was packed with mainly ginger so it had a massive, tasty kick. The Fireball had cayenne pepper in it so had a really nice heat.
The business was launched this May in Dunville Avenue, Ranelagh and has been hugely popular. The also have an incredible selection of sorbet like smoothies and a morning coffee drink that I know will become a breakfast staple of mine and get a cult following in the city. I sat down with Ray and Kev, the founders of Green Beards to learn more about them and what they're doing.
What are your backgrounds?
Kevin: I worked in finance and then advertising in London. I was living in Toronto before London and saw how these things were taking off and got a little inspiration there.
Ray: We both did commerce in UCD together and always got on really well. I did a bit of travelling and then I worked in Google for a few years. I used to go over to London to visit Kev and we would shoot the breeze about the growing trends in juicing. We started looking into it more, it's big business like coffee was years ago but nobody was doing it properly. I had been juicing myself. Some of the problems I encountered were that if you were to go to the market for fresh ingredients you would be limited with what is available, you have to invest in a good juicer, you have to clean it. It's time consuming. There was nobody doing it well where I would want to go into to pick up a juice. We started looking into it more and went over to the States to research it further. Even though we have similar background we have taken different ideas from different industries and things that we've liked. Green Beards is a mish-mash of what we thought would represent us as a business and what we're all about. It's very pared back here, organic and stripped back.
Some of the customers were saying that with other juices there's no transparency, and you don't know how it's being made. People appreciate coming in and seeing the press and the juicing happening. People pass by here and smell the juices, they tend to come in and say that the smell lead them in.
This place looks incredible, was it hard to fund starting it up?
No luckily we had saved up and gotten loans from family and friends. We've managed to create Green Beards on a shoestring. We put everything we have into it. We got architects and builders that were recommended to us, they were fantastic and did great a deal.
It just looks so well, and has that stripped back look that people often spend a fortune to achieve.
No, we're genuine!
Were you both into your health before this? How has Green Beards impacted your health?
Kevin: Over the last number of years I've definitely become a lot more health conscious as a result of getting more into exercise. It's not that easy for a lot of people to take care of themselves. I've done a few online courses to increase my knowledge, you can never know too much about nutrition. A lot of our customers know a lot more than you think they would, there's such a growing interest in nutrition.
Ray: We've been liaising with a lot of people from the Gourmet Dietician. One of the things we're trying to work on is that fact that people are being bombarded with nutritional information. We're trying to digest the information for them and explain the main attributes. I played a bit of rugby in college so would have been interested in health and nutrition. In my last job I started becoming more aware of healthy foods. I had previously been taking supplements but they were very processed. Then I started taking spirulina and matcha, I was amazed by their effects and wished that I had known about them earlier as the energy I got from them was incredible. The main thing is that it all goes full circle, if you eat better and consume more nutrients you then have more energy to exercise, if you exercise you sleep better, if you sleep better you're generally happier and better to be around. So diet is the first building block.
Tips for people starting juice cleanse?
Don't jump into it if it's your first one. Rather than doing the 3 day cleanse start off with the one day cleanse. There's a temptation to jump straight into one after a holiday or Christmas, but it's like cramming for an exam. Start with our one-day 'wash' and see how you find it, get a feel for it. People can see which juices they like best and experience the benefits. The one day is achievable. The other thing is that the bottles of juice are quite sizeable so we have had people saying that they weren't that hungry during the cleanse.
Since we've first opened there are so many people coming in more and more regularly. It has really kickstarted something for them. One of our best customers comes in really often and has a few kids, he said it was really hard for him to try and exercise when you have four young kids. Now he cycles here and in the two month period since he began coming here, he looks healthier. And it's not just the juices it's the knock on effect of him exercising more and being inspired to make more healthy choices.
Would you tend to start every day with your juices?
We're not that structured at the moment because we're just so busy in the mornings, but usually by 11am we make a smoothie. But we haven't had a solid breakfast in a while!
What are the most popular juices on the menu?
The 'Boss' is our latest edition to the menu, it's the most hardcore green juice with stinging nettles. It's pure vegetables and we can't keep it on the shelves. 'Beets by Rays' is really popular. When people come in we try and give them a breakdown of what it is in particular they need. If they're lacking energy a green juice is great. There's a lot of cross over between the juices benefits. With green veg you're flooding your system with micro nutrients and enzymes, but if you're going for a run beetroot is good as it has slow release sugars that helps with stamina, it's great because there are studies now coming out to validate that. 'Green love' is also very popular as packed with leafy greens.
And you can get great smoothies here too if you want something more filling than the juice?
Yes the 'Ragamuffin' and 'Healer' contain young coconut water which is great for rehydration thanks to all their electrolytes. It has a sorbet like texture so it's great for a hot day. They're both really popular at the weekends too because they're so hydrating, it helps cure a few sore heads!
The 'Green Goddess' is lovely and subtlety smooth, it has a little sweetness to it and some healthy fats thanks to the avocado in it.
The shots have started catching on as well. In the beginning we started giving people the shots and at first they were a little shocked by them, but then we found customers coming back more and more for them.
The needed their next hit?
Tell me a little about the almond milk you use?
Ray: Predominately our smoothies are made using homemade almond milk that we make up each day. I started transitioning off dairy but the almond milk you get in the shops is usually refrigerated for months whereas it's actually quite simple to make your own almond milk. The only thing the shelf life is so short, but its the perfect base for smoothies. There are only good things in it. We sell the almond milk on it's own here too, we make up fresh batches daily.
Kev: The shop bought almond milks usually contain about 8 -9 ingredients in them and you usually don't even know what they are, whereas ours contains just almonds and water.
So what are your plans for summer?
Maybe next year we'll try and do a few markets and things like that but I think right now we're just really busy so we want to keep growing at this pace, keep working on our menu and start delivering our cleanses.
Any plans for expansion down the line?
We just want to validate the idea first and learn like sponges for the first year. However there is loads of opportunity though and room to grow.