A new juice bar has opened quietly on Willy Street, but co-owner Joanna Um says the cold press juice crowd is already finding its way to her tucked-away shop.
Saints Madison Juice Company, open for just a few weeks at 821 Williamson St. near Underground Butcher, has an unassuming storefront facing a parking lot.
Inside, the walls are painted white. A case full of bottled juices, juice shots and nut “mylks” (based mostly on cashews) sits below a few carefully hung triangle accent mirrors. Through the wall, customers can hear hum of the hydraulic juicer behind the door.
When cold press juice lovers do find Saints, they find bottles in colors from vibrant green to soft blue and a sinister-looking black. They like to pose with them in front of what the owners call their “Instagram wall.”
“My partner and I ... both of us had corporate jobs,” said Um, a fashion designer who has worked for Mudd and Lands’ End. “We were looking for easy, healthy options for someone like us, and wondering why we couldn’t find something like it in our city.
“So we decided to do it ourselves.”
Um and Cullen, a physical therapist and an avid juice cleanser, invested in a hefty hydraulic juicer that a recent story in Isthmus described as looking “like a tank’s gun turret.”
They then developed a range of green juices with ingredients like cucumber, celery, romaine and spinach, as well as fruits like apple, pear and pineapple.
A handful of nut “mylks” deploy dates for sweetness and ingredients like Blue Majik, or powdered spirulina extract, for a nutritional boost.
Each juice costs $7.25 for 16 ounces. The Gateway Greens juice incorporates coconut water to make it more approachable, while the Radiant Greens adds orange and pineapple to cucumber, romaine, fennel and mint.
There’s apple in the Clean Greens, but it’s more cucumber-forward than fruity. The Greens 5 is one of the most intense juices, with kale and parsley in the mix.
“We didn’t want (Clean Greens) to be apple-forward because it’s be too sweet,” said Um. “We wanted to make sure that one of the green fruits or vegetables stuck out.
“We put a lot of thought into balance and flavor profiles, and what remained bright and what recessed in the flavors during our (research and development).”
In addition to the juices there are flavor shots ($4.50 for 4 ounces). The Tummy Tamer, which some take as a hangover cure, blends aloe and mint with grapefruit. Hot Sh!t (pronounced “hot shot” if there are kids in the room) gets a punch from oil of oregano and a yellow-orange color from turmeric.
“I drink one to two juices a day,” said Abigail Wooldrige, a recent transplant from Miami who stopped into Saints on a Friday morning to pick up a half-dozen bottles. “My husband does MMA so one of his concerns is inflammation. Turmeric is good for that.”
Wooldridge said she likes to drink juices like the Lean Greens, a blend with ginger and pear, after she works out, or “in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.” The Prophe-See, a lemon-forward, bright orange carrot juice that includes apple and ginger, is one of Wooldrige’s favorites.
She was surprised by the Exorcist, a juice which has a matte black color that belies a taste like lemonade. The color comes from activated charcoal, which binds toxins — including poisons — and flushes them out of the body. (Less helpfully, it can bind and expel helpful nutrients and medications like birth control, too.)
“This is fun, I just like how it looks,” Wooldridge said of the Exorcist. “I tried it and actually, I felt better the next day. I felt slimmer. It could have been in my head, but I’ll take it.”
Saints Juice Company offers a few kinds of juice cleanses, including “The Novice” and “The Green Sweep.” Each includes five juices and one “nut mylk” per day. Um estimated they add up to 1,200 calories.
“We ask that if you’re a new cleanser, you really do plan out what your goals are and assess your physical activity,” Um said. “Do you have a job that requires a lot of physical strength? Do you work out a lot? We want to know what your day looks like so you are successful ... build your way into a one-day juice cleanse.
“We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re a failure when it comes to a cleanse.”
Most popular with the younger crowd have been the nut “mylks,” $8.75 for 16 ounces, which have almost the consistency of milkshakes. Meet Your Matcha is the only one that is caffeinated. Children tend to love both the Date Shake and the Cacao Bomb, a kind of thicker almond milk with raw cacao and sea salt that tastes like grown-up chocolate milk.
Madison has no shortage of fresh juice bars, including the ever-expanding SuperCharge! Foods on East Washington Avenue and the Willy Street Co-op just down the street. According to Um and Cullen, because the hydraulic juicer is more efficient and exposes the ingredients to less oxygen, Saints’ juices keep their nutritious qualities longer, up to four days.
They currently offer delivery in Madison ($10) and online ordering, but Um and Cullen don’t have plans to distribute beyond the storefront. That’s not only because the shelf life of the juice is fairly short. They also want to advocate for the juices themselves.
“Right now, quality control and customer satisfaction and education is extremely important to Joyce and I,” Um said. “We want to make sure that we interact with all of our consumers.
“We want them to understand why they’re getting a premium juice beverage from us and why they should be paying $7.25 or $8.75. It is an appetizer or a meal replacement; it’s not just a casual drink — although you can drink it as a casual drink, which I do.”
Cullen also wanted to emphasize the difference between Saints juices and prebottled grocery store options. At Whole Foods in Madison, for example, the in house brand of juice is heat-pasteurized, which kills potentially harmful bacteria but also reduces nutrients.
“When you’re wholesaling, those juices need to be pasteurized,” said Cullen. “Our juices are completely raw. That’s something that’s really important to us. That maintains the integrity of the juice and maximizes the amount of nutrients and enzymes and vitamins in the juice.
“We believe strongly in that, and I don’t know that we would want to sacrifice that in order to wholesale.”
Nearby, Willy Street Co-op juice bar coordinator Samantha Kocian said she was happy to see Saints pop up in the neighborhood. The co-op makes fresh juices in a centrifugal juicer that are meant to be consumed on the spot and uses pasteurized apple juice to keep some of the 10 varieties of bottled juice safe to consume for longer.
“We’re two very different juice bars that complement each other,” Kocian said, noting that fresh co-op juices range from about $4 to $8 (with wheatgrass). “I feel like having two different styles of juices on Willy Street offers a wider range of people to serve.”