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Turns out you can replace the $400 Juicero with your bare hands

Juicero's CEO has fired back, noting that the juicer still has its benefits

Why it matters to you

At least you know you can still grab a drink from a Juicero pack should the machine ever break down.

It probably looks kinda cool sitting there on your kitchen counter, but the Juicero may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

The high-tech juicer had Silicon Valley investors drooling with delight when they first set eyes on it in 2016, though its wallet-busting launch price of $700 left many consumers opting to stick with their regular order of Tropicana.

A cut to $400 this year, however, prompted renewed interest among fresh-juice fans and helped to boost sales of the machine, which squeezes fruit (or vegetable) mulch from a pack into a cup for a healthy eight-ounce drink.

Well, it turns out you can squeeze the juice out of the pack using your bare hands in the same time as it takes the pack-pressing Juicero to perform that task.

While Juicero founder Doug Evans has declared that the juice press is capable of four tons of force — “enough to lift two Teslas,” he said — reporters from Bloomberg recently managed to extract the juice by squeezing the packs using only their hands.

“Hands did the job quicker, but the device was slightly more thorough,” the report said. “Reporters were able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes.”

Juicero’s specially designed juice packs cost between $5 and $8, and you can only purchase them if you have the machine.

Previously, a person “close to the company” told Bloomberg that the machine is mess-free, whereas using your hands might not be. Also, the Juicero machine automatically checks via a barcode on the pack that its contents are still fresh, although a date is also printed on the back if you want to check for yourself.

But Juicero has come out with a lengthier response to the bare hands debacle. In a blog post on Medium, Juicero’s new CEO Jeff Dunn made a case for the expensive juicer and why it is still better than … not having one. “Our connected Press itself is critical to delivering a consistent, high quality and food safe product,” he wrote. Citing a closed loop safety system that protects customers in real time (Juicero can remotely disable a Produce Pack if they find any contamination), the machine’s ability to press a pack consistently to deliver “the best combination of taste and nutrition every time,” and the connected nature of the juicer, Dunn noted, “the value of Juicero is more than a glass of cold-pressed juice.”

Really, that is what Juicero appears to be hanging its hat upon — convenience. Sure, you can squeeze a pack with your hands, but Dunn suggests that it is both harder and messier to do so than with the Juicero itself. “The sum of the system — the Press, Produce Packs and App — working together is what enables a great experience,” Dunn wrote. “However, you won’t experience that value by hand-squeezing Produce Packs, which to be clear, contain nothing but fresh, raw, organic chopped produce, not juice. What you will get with hand-squeezed hacks is a mediocre (and maybe very messy) experience that you won’t want to repeat once, let alone every day.”

That said, Juicero is willing to admit that it is listening to the criticisms that have arisen from this rather embarrassing discovery. As such, for the next 30 days, Juicero is extending its Happiness Guarantee to any Juicero customer who isn’t fully satisfied by the juicer. “That means that if you send us your Press, we’ll refund the money you paid for it,” Dunn said.

The news that the Juicero may, in fact, be little more than a pricey piece of counter candy comes in the same week that the startup expanded sales of the device from three states to 17. But at least owners now know that they can still grab a drink from a Juicero pack should their machine ever stop working.

If you have one, how do you feel about the fact that your bare hands are just as effective as a $400 machine when it comes to pumping the juicy mulch out of the pack?

Updated on 04-21-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added CEO Jeff Dunn’s response to the discovery that bare hands are just as effective as the Juicero at producing juice.