Consider the topic: Trader Joe's and drinks. More often than not, for fans and deal-seekers, thoughts immediately turn to good wines and great prices. And with good reason, too. But look around the main store and you'll find a multitude of other beverages — health drinks, coffees, teas, juices, even beers — hoping to find their way into your shopping cart.
But which ones are the most deserving? Naturally, for the answer to such a question, we turned to the experts: the good folks behind the popular review website, What's Good at Trader Joe's? For the uninitiated, the young site is run by Nathan Rodgers, his wife Sonia, and their friend Russ Shelly, and his wife Sandy. The dedicated crew have reviewed about 200 TJ's products to date (click here and here for two previous in-depth product roundups), rating sampled items on a one to 10 scale, 10 being the best.
Recently, we asked the team to share with us which drinks have impressed them the most (disregarding wine, that is, which is its own separate topic for another day). Below they have evaluated an approximate 30 beverages, ranking the top four across five categories — including one for those drinks better left on the store shelf.
Top 4 Healthy Beverages
All four of us on the What's Good at Trader Joe's? team are health conscious... sort of. We like to try fresh, vitamin-rich beverages, but we'll rarely stick with a "health drink" unless it tastes good, too.
1. Organic Low-Fat Probiotic Smoothies (8.5 points)
These tasty, creamy fruit smoothies meet or beat the quality of national brands. Loaded with healthful probiotics, these smoothies are not only a treat, but they're good for your digestion. Only problem is, they're gone after a couple of sips.
2. Omega Orange Carrot Juice (7.5 points)
A pleasant surprise for Russ and Sandy. Sweet, citrusy, and delicious, this good-for-you beverage tastes less like its many healthy ingredients (including omega fish oils and tilapia gelatin) and more like a smooth, complex fruit-juice blend.
3. Dynamo (6 points)
Don't be mistaken by this product's bold name and color. Its flavor is surprisingly subtle. I'm not saying this drink tastes bad by any means, but I will say that it's probably more useful as a daily multivitamin source than as the sweet, tangy taste-adventure that I thought might have been.
4. Green Plant Beverage (6 points)
Although it looks like a bottle of algae, Russ and Sandy were brave enough to try the Green Plant Beverage. They were pleasantly surprised by its taste. And as one might guess, it's chock-full of good-for-you green plant nutrients and minerals.
Top 4 Tasty Juice Blends
Although the drinks in this category are almost exclusively made with natural fruit juices and are, therefore, good choices for the health-conscious, these are our top picks based solely on flavor, texture, and chuggability.
1. Strawberry Kiwi Juice (10 points)
It's smooth and natural — you can really taste strawberry and kiwi. The taste is complex enough for an adult to enjoy, but it's sweet enough for a Kool-Aid-craving kid. We highly recommend it.
2. Pomegranate Limeade (10 points)
The bottle proclaims that this beverage is sweet and tart. Truer words have never been spoken... or written on a juice label.
3. Blackberry Crush (9 points)
This is what I wanted Trader Joe's Blackberry Preserves to taste like: full and rich with an almost earthy flavor, but still sweet and almost dessert-like. Apple, white grape, and blackberry juices come together to make this one delicious drink.
4. Pear Cinnamon Cider (9 points)
Move over, apples! There's a new fruit dominating the world of cider. In my opinion, pears have never received their due recognition as nature's candy. This drink mixes pear juice and cinnamon with some other natural flavors, and it'll wow your taste buds whether you have it hot or cold.