Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trader Joe's Organic Acaí 120

I remember it well. Circa 2004, I walked into Jamba Juice on Ventura Boulevard near my old apartment in Sherman Oaks, CA; the same Jamba Juice where I saw Natasha Henstridge, Brooke Burke (twice) and Shaquille O'Neal on seperate occasions. I perused the menu for a while, wanting to try something new. They had an item listed called the Acaí Supercharger, which, I believe, they have since discontinued. They now offer at least one other acaí-based drink. Curious, I asked about it. The enthusiastic "juice-ista" (that's a word I just invented) explained that it had about the same amount of caffeine as a can of coke (35 mg) but that the Supercharger's caffeine was all wrapped up in the completely natural acaí (ah-sigh-yee) berries, rich with fiber and antioxidants, etc. She explained that the natural caffeine would be slowly time-released as my body digested the berries, thus preventing the dreaded caffeine-crash associated with sodas, energy drinks and coffee.

I tried the Acaí Supercharger and quickly turned into a proponent of the acaí fad. Soon thereafter, every smoothie place and health food establishment in the city was offering at least one product with acaí. Those acaí-based drinks from Jamba Juice became a staple of my diet, and thanks in large part to those smoothies, I lost more than 20 pounds over the next 12 months (almost all of which I have gained back in recent years, unfortunately). At the time, I could have been the poster child for Jamba Juice—like their version of Subway's Jared, but hopefully a little less annoying. (If anyone from Jamba is reading this, please open a store in the Philly area, have me walk there every day, and I promise I'll rapidly lose weight again and you can use me as your Jared-like poster child, and I'll write my own commercial scripts as a bonus).

Now, I realize my opinion is probably part of a distinct minority, but I could write you a lengthy essay on why I believe Southeastern Pennsylvania is superior to Southern California. However, that's one thing I really miss about Los Angeles: my beloved Jamba Juice. The nearest Jamba Juice to Philly is over 2 hrs. away in NYC. Road trip, anyone?

Flavor-wise, acaí tastes a little like dark chocolate. It's a berry flavor, but it's very rich, very complex. This Trader Joe's acaí juice is no exception. The "120" represents the supposed number of berries in each bottle. At our TJ's, one tiny little bottle will run you about $2.30. You're paying almost 2¢ per berry. I suppose I can live with that, since the berries are coming all the way from Brazil—and in PA, there aren't a whole lot of other places you can buy organic acaí.

The serving size is tragically small, but it does pack more of a punch than one might think. The three gulps in the bottle are relatively filling, since they're thick and rich, and have 2 grams of fiber. It's just enough to curb a moderate appetite for a while, or to give a little boost of natural energy.

You should know that the acaí berry has taken flack recently for supposedly not being as healthy as was originally claimed, and also for allegedly being farmed and harvested unethically. I myself am still a fan of acaí for its taste and natural energy. If you've never tried any acaí stuff, I recommend you pick up just one of these bottles to taste it. And that's all these are: just a taste of acaí.

Because it does what it's supposed to, and it tastes good, I give it a 4. Sonia does too, for the same reasons. Be warned, however, that it's a lot of money for a very small amount of product. Perhaps our score is a tad high because the novelty-factor is also very high, here in our otherwise acaí-less world.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10 stars.


  1. I do a lot of blogging for Good Apps and the late nights can really crash your immune system. This drink has really helped me. My trainer says that is another thing the Acai berry really helps with.

  2. I am really going to have to try this. I have seen it but have not yet picked it up. I am planning a trip (one of many actually) and will make a point to try it.
    Susan Cooper

  3. Hope you like it Susan! And, yes, I have heard, now that you mention it, that acaí is good for the immune system.

  4. This may not be exactly what you're looking for (from Jamba Juice), but check it out anyway.


  5. i'm a native Philadelphian who moved to LA about 2.5 years ago. There used to be a Jamba Juice in the Whole Foods on South Street-it's not there anymore??

    (and I'd love to hear your reasons for why SEPA is better than SoCal. I'm working on my own list ;) )