Jennifer Wesley of Alchemy Juice Co. & Market is a woman of substance. Fifty percent idealist, fifty percent gutsy. Her indomitable spirit comes from a long line of proactive women and from growing up in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where she developed a love for the simple things in life and delectable coastal dishes.
But it wasn’t until she moved to the mainland that she saw the miracle of natural healing from the very things she learned to eat in abundance on the island—mangos, pineapples, papayas, apples, bananas, and all that is good to eat straight from the trees.
“My mom was helping a friend wallpaper her bathroom and cut off a large chunk of her finger with broken glass,” Wesley recounts. “She ran to the emergency room hoping the doctor would be able to put the piece back, but he said no and that her finger would be disfigured for life. She then went right to the library and took out a book on juicing and its natural healing. It said that if you put whole, raw foods into your body, your cells will regenerate.”
Wesley’s mom went to a local health store and bought a juicer—this was in the early 80s. She juiced straight spinach and carrots, not even combined with anything else. Two weeks later, her finger was completely healed, with not even a scar. “I saw the power of natural healing of your body with fresh vegetables and fruits—which goes back to what Hippocrates said many years ago: ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’”
Fascinated by her mom’s incredible healing and curious about the science behind it, Wesley took a course in nutritionist healing. With volumes of research being done on increased levels of stress and pollution in our environment, she saw an ardent need to study the mineral density of fruits and vegetables in the human body. As time passed, and she began her own family, she was mindful of cooking certain foods that can help the body to repair and regenerate new cells.
Then, in 2014, she started Alchemy Juice Co. and Market, distributing her juices to Subculture Coffee in West Palm Beach and other small markets throughout the Palm Beaches. Alchemy. Interesting name, I thought, and that’s how our conversation started at her shop, located at 527 Clematis Street.
Alchemy Juice Co. & Market. Catchy name.
I chose the name wanting to show the science behind juicing. It’s about combining things in the right mix. What we are essentially doing is taking ordinary ingredients like apples, oranges, and spinach and transforming them, by combination, into something extraordinary.
First, it’s about what combines well and what doesn’t. And secondly, there’s something to take into consideration, like the enemies of juice—light, heat, and air. So, by using a cold-press, you’re eliminating those. Think of when you place an apple out on your kitchen counter, it begins to oxidize because of the air, right? The same thing happens with the juice. We use a cold-press juicer, so there’s no heat involved because it’s a very slow process. It’s actually called a masticating juicer, so the juice comes out of the ingredient just like if you were eating it, and then it’s immediately pressed between two cold plates. You make sure the ratios in the juice are right and then it gets bottled immediately.
How do you get the most beneficial and nutritious juice?
At least 50 percent of it comes from vegetables and 50 percent from fruits. Apples, celery, and cucumber have the highest water content. To get the most beneficial nutrients, and minerals, you really need to add a higher concentration of those things to the juice.
Not the kind of juice around in the 70s and 80s, for sure.
Oh, my gosh! Remember Hawaiian Punch? All artificial with dyes and many unknown ingredients. When I was a kid, I would be so excited to go to a birthday party where I could have those drinks! But then, you get older and you realize what your body needs and you make better choices every day.
So, the way your mom’s finger healed made a great impression on you.
My mom’s healing experience was the ultimate eye-opener. Sometimes, life shows you things that you couldn’t have experienced for yourself. When all my friends wanted to go to McDonald’s, I chose not to eat that . . .as much. C’mon! I’m human. We all eat bad things from time to time, but that shouldn’t be the norm. And of course, later, when I had my own family, I took that natural healing to heart and really learned a lot of stuff, beyond the juice, like eating less dairy. Growing up, I always had this tickle in my throat and the minute I stopped eating cheese, it stopped. I eat it sparingly now, and my body knows the difference between having it and not having it.
Before opening your own brick-and-mortar shop, you were incubated by Subculture Coffee. How was that experience?
It was great. They started carrying my juices and as they expanded and I was going to take a small space for my own juice bar of the size of my bar area here. As they grew, they realized they needed to have someone to manage the food service part of things, and they recruited me. The time was right as I had two kids in college, so I took it on and really loved it! I was doing both: pressing juice and serving other locations and vendors like a cute little grocery in Delray Beach and other places in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, but I really liked the food part of it. I’m a total people person. It’s nice to see people every day.
But as the pandemic hit, Subculture Coffee wasn’t leaning towards food service anymore. I was bombed out about that and so I asked myself: “What do I really want to do?” I knew I loved the juicing and the food service—I’ve always been a baker. The gentleman who owns this building used to come to Subculture and tell me, “Why don’t you open up your own place?” But to be honest, I was terrified of doing that, especially on Clematis Street. It’s a lot of pressure! “I think you can,” he told me one day and after I crunched some numbers and figured it all out . . . and here we are!
Alchemy Juice Co. & Market is a beautiful place with lots of room.
Yes, it’s 2,000 square feet. The idea here was not to just create a spot where you can find a juice, sandwich, or smoothie, but to be a community space. I put up the bar knowing that at some point, we would be hosting events like birthdays, baby showers, or a book club. We have a group that comes for poker nights. We’ve got the Young Professionals of the Palm Beaches coming to do their networking events. It really lends itself to more than just your breakfast and lunch spot.
When the season starts rolling again, we’ll extend the hours and create some elevated elixirs —things that are really good for your body. We only have a beer and wine license, so you can come and be social but not get hammered! We’ll also have a nice tapas menu to go along with it. You can leave work and come here, grab a bite with your friends and still go home and have dinner with your family. You know, sometimes that’s all you need at the end of your day. Something light with maybe a nice glass of wine.
I love the name of your place and its ‘vintage meet modern-day’ décor. From the outside furniture to that antique green chair in that corner next to that old record player, circa 1970. It’s eclectic. I like that.
Yes, I can see that! [laughs]
This is an extension of my living room. Now, the first thing that drew me to this space was the floors. I absolutely love the warmth of them. The building has been here for 102 years, and these are the original floors. I love the story that tells about space. I purposely left the high beam above because that’s also original. And, it’s not perfect, you know. Some flaws have been covered up, so it’s the perfection in the imperfection that I love.
The green chair [she laughs] came from the side of the road at my boyfriend’s house! We had just gone out to get ice cream and we were just pulling out when something caught my eye. I put my window down and I saw this tall, white thing with taupe almost mauve-colored fabric. “I have to put that in my car!” I told my boyfriend and his mouth dropped. “And where are you going to put that?” He said, thinking I was insane. “In my shop,” I told him.
And here it is. I sanded it down and painted it black. One of my good friends does upholsteries and so I picked out the fabric and now it looks like I got this chair from a vintage shop. And I love it! Here, it’s not about having cookie-cutter tables and chairs. If at some point they don’t work, then we’ll move them out and get something else. It’s truly alchemy. A constant transformation of this space. And that is behind what we do—not just transforming simple things and making them extraordinary, but it’s the overarching transformation of our people, too.
Alchemy is something different, something fresh and healthy that almost feels like home. If you visit, make sure to try The Artichoke Caprese, one of the most popular items in their menu. This pressed sandwich has artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, arugula, roasted tomato, homemade pesto, balsamic vinegar, and it’s served on ciabatta bread. Pair that with a Golden Hour Smoothie, which contains passion fruit, mango, pineapple, lime, apple juice, maple, and bee pollen and your body will be running at full speed for hours.
They also serve breakfast all day. So, be sure to check out one of their breakfast sandwiches—both equally delicious.
Online at www.alchemywpb.com and @alchemywpb