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Matthew Sherman used to hate juice. "I thought it was the most disgusting thing ever," he tells us over a caffeinated Brain-achino one day at Jugofresh in Sunset Harbour.
The Baltimore native originally migrated to Miami to master in sports exercise pathology. "I thought I'd be working with athletes for the rest of my life, so I designed my life to be able to be in a backpack. I had books and shoes and clothes ready to take a call, get on a plane, and go. If someone wanted me to go to Kansas, I'd be ready to go to Kansas. I wanted to be that call guy, and that's how I thought my life was going to go."
Two years into his program at Barry University, he became disillusioned with sports culture and earned a certification as a holistic life and health coach, which led him to Hawaii for an externship at a place that treated cancer patients with cold pressed juice. "That's when I was like, ‘Holy shit, this stuff is legit.'" he admits. "I could feel it in my veins the minute I drank it."
So he bought himself a juicer when he got back. One day a private client he was training saw the juicer and told Sherman she was going to ship herself a cleanse from New York, at which point he stopped her. Why order an expensive cleanse when he could just make one for her? The experience turned out to be a good one.
"She started telling her friends, her friends started telling their friends, and literally my phone started ringing off the hook," he says. "I was 18 hours a day making juice for people in my home, guiding people. I knew about their hopes, their dreams, their fears- everything."
And so Jugofresh's predecessor, Miami Juice Club, was born. Part of his business was preparing juice cleanses for clients, the other half was making juice mixers for parties and boats. But running a fully functioning juice operation from his small kitchen proved to be a challenge, and so Sherman called in Darren Laszlo (A.K.A. Chef Paco) to lend a helping hand.
"I was a hot mess," he says. "Literally there was kale on my ceiling. I was like 'I gotta get out of my house. I also don't know what the hell I'm doing. Will you come down and help me?'" With a little convincing Laszlo was on board, and so they moved into a catering kitchen, changed the name to Jugofresh, and opened their first store in Sunset Harbour in 2012 with only $2400.
Today, Sherman counts two successful storefronts and a lucrative, ground-breaking dealwith Whole Foods Market to open 7 in-store counters as his biggest successes (it's most recent shop-in-shop, North Miami, opened today!). However, that might soon take a backseat to the April opening of Jugofresh's first full-service, meat-serving restaurant, Jugofresh Kitchen, and the brand's latest product drop, CPP juices. CPP stands for cold pressure protected, and these babies have a lower price point, a two-week shelf life, and the ability to be scaled to serve the mass market.
It seems the vibes only keep rising for Jugofresh. We're just thankful Sherman nixed the serpent Mohawk he once rocked (more on that below) before his juice-powered world domination.
What are you drinking right now?
A vanilla Brain-achino. It's coffee grounds that are mixed with reishi mushrooms. Reishi mushrooms help reduce any stress on the nervous system that caffeine would cause otherwise. And then [the Brain-achino's] got a bunch of brain foods that give a little extra pep in your thought processes and steps throughout the day.
So Jugofresh pretty much started out of your kitchen, like Matt's Makeshift Juice Bar?
It was originally called Miami Juice Club. So part of my business was making juice cleanses, the other half was making juices for chefs to make cocktails at parties and boats. So I would make concoctions for people to bring on boats as cocktail mixes on Saturday, and then I'd make the juice cleanses for people on [Sunday] fun day. [Laughs]
My best friend [Chef] Paco– he and I worked together and lived together. I called him because I was a hot mess. Literally there was kale on my ceiling. I was like 'I gotta get out of my house. I also don't know what the hell I'm doing. Will you come down and help me?' He came down and tried some things. At first he was like, ‘This is ridiculous, I'm a chef.' I was like, ‘Dude try some of the recipes I'm making. They're more complex than normal juices, I promise you.' So he tried the Ashram. It's got grapefruit which is bitter, lemon which is really bright and acidic. He loved it. So Paco moved down, we moved into a catering kitchen, started catering, and then we opened here in 2012. I bought my first car, a home, and now I'm permanently established in the culture here.
Does your Quaker background funnel into Jugofresh's philosophy at all?
I went to a Quaker high school and coached at a Quaker school for seven years and my religion is Quaker. I wrote my undergrad thesis on how to apply a Quaker philosophy to sports. I have it tattooed on my arm. One of our greatest sayings is "My only dogma is that I have no dogma." Quaker is non-dogmatic... so that's a big part of it. We do a lot of silence and meditation and mindfulness and we're very purpose-driven, which is a common trait [amongst Quakers]. We're very socially active. You see things like Little Gardens, Big Futures where we're planting gardens in schools, and we're doing Yoga Del Barrio, doing conscious movie nights at our Wynwood location.
Did you ever imaging Jugofresh would grow as vastly as it's grown?
Aspirationally we set out to raise the vibration in Miami. We dream big, for sure. Part of us, do we know what we're doing? No. But we have a really strong faith and commitment that if you do things with a lot of integrity and thoughtfulness and always do no harm, then you'll be able to find a way to contribute. We just keep on pushing and pedal to the metal. Me and Chef Paco are extremely passionate and pretty much obsessed with what we do and that drives us. I didn't imagine opening up this store, no less nine or ten stores and signing a deal with Whole Foods.
In the past five years, what have you learned that works for Jugofresh and what doesn't?
What works for Jugofresh is getting the highest quality product that we can hand out, taking no shortcuts and doing things the right way no matter how hard they are. That really works. One of our biggest learning moments was when we launched a program called Love Shakes. We had this crazy huge smoothie menu. We thought it was too hard to manage and we weren't making the smoothies right every time. How could we do this easier? So we started making these banana nut ice creams, which were super delicious, and we would combine them with the juice to make these amazing, healthy milkshakes. We got rid of the whole smoothie program because [the Love Shakes] were more streamlined and easy; you couldn't make mistakes. Immediately we got feedback from our customers saying it wasn't what they wanted. Instead of listening to our customers, we did what would be easier operationally and learned that when we do that, we're not going to do well.
Well, what is your go-to juice at Jugofresh?
My go-to combo is the Alkaline Gangster with the Brazil nut crumble. The Brazil nuts have some of the best amino acids and proteins and then the more alkaline in your body the more you isolate those proteins, so having the Alkaline Gangster, which is a very alkaline[-based] drink with the Brazil nut crumble is, like, the perfect snack- if you like green juice. It's very strong.
What's your beef with meat?
I have no beef with meat. [Laughs] I eat whatever I want, mostly plants. But I have the same amount of beef [with meat] that I have with plants that aren't grown properly. I have just as much disdain for the torture of a cow as I do for the torture of a head of romaine by spraying it with pesticides or putting it in a small box and force feeding it. Either way, I'm not for it. I have beef with malpractices that are just commoditizing food.
What vegetable do you relate to the most?
Probably a moringa. It's a plant that grows in the toughest of circumstances.
You're lazy when it comes to ____.
Putting away my clothes.
It's Friday night. What are you doing?
I try to have a date night with my fiancé on Fridays. I try to plan something on Friday and that usually consists of cooking dinner, going to the movie, dinner with friends...
Speaking of fiancé, tell me about your upcoming wedding!
The wedding is going to be in Colombia. We have a beach party. My fiancé is Colombian so we've got a salsa and latin band. We've also got my friend who's a DJ and plays a lot of soul and hip hop, which is what I grew up on. That'll be an interesting movement throughout the whole day.
Did you ever suffer from a bad teenage phase?
My first job was being a head basketball coach. I was the youngest head coach in the league and I had a mohawk that started [at the front of my head] and tailed around the back. I would wear really nice suits. And then the next year I went through a phase where I grew my hair out and slicked it back like Al Pacino. That was really bad. It was 2003.
What's one thing people might not know about you?
I hate driving. I despise cars, I despise traffic.
Do you own a car?
Unfortunately I do. I look at it with disdain every time I go downstairs to the garage. [Laughs] I only have it because I play basketball every Saturday morning.
What's your favorite neighborhood in Miami?
My neighborhood– and I almost don't want to say it because I almost don't want people to know it's such a great neighborhood– is 29th through 41st on Indian Creek and Collins, which is technically called Mid-Beach. It's the best. There's no downside to it. You have these hotels which are relatively small, and the people who are staying at the hotels aren't just getting super drunk, acting a fool like at some of the hotels in neighborhoods more south. You're liable to find, like, some college kid passed out in the middle of the street, whereas in my neighborhood you would never find them but you have all of the perks. You have great restaurants, you have the beach. Everything is easy to get to.
What's next for Jugofresh? You have your huge Whole Foods expansion- but is there any other neighborhood you're thinking of going into, or any other state?
Right around the corner from here we're opening our first restaurant called Jugofresh Kitchen, which will actually serve the "no beef with meat" portion of our lives. So I have some really thoughtful animal products- no anti-biotic, cage-free chickens, some really nice local eggs, and some really nice, lean, grass-fed and grass-managed lamb. That's a really exciting evolution. Paco and I love food. We love cooking. We've been doing events for anywhere from ten to 100 people over the last five years and we've been waiting for this opportunity to cook food forever.