Convenience stores are typically associated with unhealthy foods such as sugary soda, candy bars and potato chips.
But Overland Park’s Simple Science Juices is putting a healthy twist on the grab-and-go business model. The small shop next to John’s Space Age Donuts at 8126 Floyd St. stocks its coolers with cold-pressed juice blends, portable organic salads, soups and chia seed parfaits. On the shelves: Trail mix, house-made cereal and a variety of paleo diet-friendly “protein bites” made with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut oil.
On a recent Wednesday morning, a steady stream of customers filtered in to the sunny shop, which opened last summer in the former Villa Capri space. Some shoppers sported yoga clothes and looked fresh from a workout; others wore business attire and rushed as though they were on a short work break.
“A lot of people use it as a convenience store,” says owner Steve Spangler. “They get their food and juices and they’re good to go.”
Simple Science Juices sells a dozen different juice blends. All are made using the cold-press method, which involves grinding produce into pulp, then pressing the pulp to extract the juice.
Each blend has a science-inspired name (Proton, Carbon, Phyto, Electron) and a unique color. The bestseller is Calcify ($5 for an 8-ounce bottle or $8.50 for a 16-ounce bottle), a creamy green juice made with celery, apple, spinach, cilantro, dandelion greens, avocado and lemon. I like the deep purple Molecule, which sweetens beet juice with apple, carrot, cucumber and ginger. Those new to fresh juice might prefer something sweeter. Carbon blends carrot with apple juice; Hydro brightens watermelon with fresh mint.
I’m also a fan of the shop’s cold-brew coffee ($4.95), made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water. The method produces a mellow, almost tea-like brew that’s less acidic than brewed coffee. Simple Science Juices blends its cold-brew with house-made almond milk, a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk that tastes sweet and creamy.
Health food geeks will find a lot to love at Simple Science Juices. The salmon on the kale salads is wild-caught, the beef in the chili is grass-fed and all of the produce is organic. The good-for-you recipes are crafted by chef Laura Favela. Ingredients are listed on each package, and often include buzzed-about superfoods such as coconut oil, turmeric, chia seeds, raw honey and kombucha.
Kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea that’s rich in probiotics, is served on tap at Simple Science Juices. It comes in flavors such as black cherry, blueberry and banana (my personal favorite) and is made locally by Lisa Bledsoe, who Spangler met at the Overland Park Farmers Market.
Spangler, a professional soccer player who arrived in Kansas City in 2012 to play for Sporting Kansas City, says healthy foods helped him relieve chronic health problems such as acid reflux, fatigue and asthma. He spends a lot of his time researching hot health topics such as gluten, GMOs, nightshades and legumes.
“Product development is a full-time job,” he says. “I want to provide the best product, backed by science and research.”
Spangler and business partner Ken Martin plan to grow their business rapidly over the next year. In April, they plan to open their second location on the ground floor of a new apartment building at 19th and Main streets in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. They’re looking at additional locations in Fairway, the Northland, south Overland Park and Lawrence.
Simple Science Juices started as a delivery service, and the business still offers free delivery (with a $40 minimum purchase) to customers in the Kansas City area. The business sells around 2,000 bottles every week, which keeps employees busy juicing and bottling eight to 10 hours a day.
Like Spangler, many of Simple Science Juice’s 15 employees have backgrounds in athletics and passions for health and wellness.
The company philosophy is right in line with the Hippocrates quote painted on the lime green wall of the Overland Park shop: “Let food be thy medicine.”
“This isn’t just another job or another fad,” Spangler says. “This changed my life, and it can change so many other people’s lives.”
Simple Science Juices
Location: 8126 Floyd St., Overland Park
Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Don’t miss: The Calcify green juice blend ($5 for an 8-ounce bottle, $8.50 for a 16-ounce bottle), the wild-caught salmon salad ($8.95), chicken salad ($6.25) and the cold-brew coffee with almond milk ($4.95).
Vegetarian: Try any of the juice blends. For a satiating dose of protein and healthy fat, order the bean-free paleo hummus ($5.95 for an 8-ounce package) or a bag of MCT paleo protein bites ($5.95). The bites contain cashews, shredded coconut, raw honey, coconut oil, vanilla, chia seeds and Himalayan sea salt.