Friday, September 12, 2008

Robeks vs. Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice (est. 1990) and Robeks (est. 1996) are both chains of smoothie-making restaurants. Recently, (since I've been attending Cal State Northridge) I've visited Robeks three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Previously, I only visited Jamba Juice and Juice It Up! (never again). I've had Robeks probably twice before in the past threes years. Two years ago, after I went to a screening at Sony Studios and three years ago when my grandmother had a free coupon. Therefore, I don't remember much of what it was like. Jamba Juice, on the other hand I've been going to since I was ten years old. Actually, my first visit to Jamba Juice didn't even consist of my drinking a smoothie, but instead, orange juice. The concept of a smoothie freaked out my ten-year-old brain but now I'm hooked. I digress. Like I said, I finally have been able to really taste and feel the atmosphere of Robeks, as I've been going there every other day after class for three weeks. But as I would sip on my Strawana Berry I would ponder: which was better? Jamba Juice or Robeks? Today, I skipped going to Robeks and headed for a Jamba Juice (further from Northridge, but closer to my house) on my bus ride home. Now I feel I have a grasp of who has my pick.

Whenever you first walk into a restaurant you always get the first impression from the smell. If you go into a Coffee joint you are taken in by the coffee beans; a Chinese place, the orange chicken; an American diner, the pancakes. When I walk into Robeks I don't smell much of anything. I didn't really recognize this until I stepped into Jamba Juice today and smelt all the fruits of the smoothies and the wheat grass they had behind the counter. In this element, Jamba Juice wins. Just with opening the door you are taken into its swirls of flavors before you take a single sip. I just feel at home at Jamba Juice, with Robeks, I feel like a vistor. But both stores do greet their guest with a "hello" when they entered the stores. I believe Robeks started this and Jamba caught on because before today I never was greeted into Jamba with a "hello."

Then there is the price. For a regular sized "Berry Smoothie" at Robeks it cost me $4.50 while an original sized "Classic" at Jamba Juice cost me $4.10. Note that I am comparing just one smoothie that I get from almost all smoothie joints: Strawberry and Banana, at Robeks its called "Strawana Berry" and at Jamba Juice it's called "Strawberries Wild." Now this price difference may not seem much but if you are going as often as I do it does, plus, it seems like you get more for your buck at Jamba Juice for more than just one reason. First, I believe Jamba Juice's cups are bigger and you get more smoothies. I'm not sure how Jamba's and Robeks' cup regular and original cup sizes match up but I do know that their junior (Robeks) and sixteen (Jamba Juice) sizes are greatly different. Robeks's Jr. size is 12 oz. and Jamba's sixteen size is, well, 16 oz. I would only have to assume Jamba has more oz. in their original cup size than Robeks' regular cup. So you pay less and you get more at Jamba. Second, for just a dollar more (this deal is no longer in effect) you get bread or pretzel at Jamba. Robeks has no deal like this. Plus, Jamba's "treats" are all freshly made like their pretzels and bread. Robeks'"treats" are all pre-packaged. Third, the smoothies at Jamba juice just seem to contain more, they are thicker and feel me up more. After sipping down my "Strawberries Wild" I felt satisfied and a bit full while Robeks feels watered down and more like juice and less like smoothie. So, again, Jamba wins.

There are some other miscellaneous things that play into which is better for me. On Mondays, Robeks has a special offer for children. With any purchase of a regular drink they give away junior sized drink to a youngster. That's very kind. Jamba has no deal like this. Also, Jamba has no sale of their smoothie powder boost. Robeks sales the "free boost" they give with their smoothies. 

This next point is really small but Jamba's energy boost are easier to remember and say than Robeks. Jamba has things like "Energy Boost, Soy Protein Boost, Vitamen Boost" while Robeks has  "Vitabek, Powerbek or Intelli bek." Come on, keep it simple Robeks

Most importantly, what about the taste. Again, I'm only judging by Robek's "Strawana Berry" and Jamba Juice's "Strawberries Wild". Jamba Juice definitely makes the true smoothie. Thick, cold, sweet, you can taste the fruit. Robeks, though, is watered down. Thin, cold, sweet and you can slightly taste the fruit. Jamba Juice = Smoothie and Robeks = Smoothie Juice. I would definitely leave this part in the air though. It would depend on my mood whether I wanted a juicy smoothie or a thick, classic smoothie. In most cases I'd take the thick and the Jamba Juice, though.

So all in all, of course, I choose Jamba Juice for the win in the smoothie chain competition. You get more for your buck, more taste, more treats and more fill. Jamba Juice is the essence of a true smoothie and Robeks is just a watered down option.



Val said...


sadly they got rid of the one on Melrose :[

LiL said...

good choice, i love jamba

Anonymous said...

Now. let's be fair to Robeks. Strawnanaberry is neither watered down, nor thin. Try it from a different location. It may taste somewhat less sweet than Jamba's strawberry wild, because Robeks only uses real fruit and juice, Jamba does add artificial sugar or sweetner to its drinks. If sweet is what you are shopping for, get a strawberry shake at McDonalds.

Anonymous said...

^ This guy doesnt know what hes blabbing about, Jamba Juice adds no sugars or sweetners to their smoothies. They use grade A fruit, thats where the flavors come from.

Anonymous said...

Let's look at sugar content for a moment, shall we?

Jamba Juice "Strawberries Wild": 52g sugar

Robeks :Strawnana Berry": 37g sugar

Neither one is healthy for you, but Jamba pushes into the realm of a dessert rather than smoothie. Go with Robeks if you're looking for the healthier option.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Remember, you are comparing a 16oz jamba to a 12 oz robeks. Furthermore, if you look at the menu options, you can get an all-fruit strawberry banana at jamba juice. It has no frozen yogurt in it, just fruit and juice. It really is up to people to check things out on the menus where they go...or ask questions!! There are soooo many options for all people at most of the places we go to eat. Yet we are soooo quick to blame places for giving us food with calories. Learn about what a calorie is. Are you consuming things that are nutrient dense, or do you fill yourself up with nothing but empty calories. Fruit has lots of carbs. That is NATURE! Every gram of carbs has 4 calories. So I guess when it comes to REAL FRUIT, we really can't get away from the fact that it actually contains calories and sugar!!! LEARN.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Jamba Juice for a little over a year (Newport Beach, CA). We received shipments in of fresh oranges every single day. Other juices were concentrate so I always order a smoothie with orange juice. I went to Robeks for the first time yesterday. You are absolutely correct about the smell - nothing. Other than that it was like being in a badly cloned Jamba Juice. Robeks copied everything from the signs and boosts to the phrase "whirl". Jamba's is "witness the whirl" and Robeks is something along the lines of "whirled". I ordered a smoothie but I also ordered regular orange juice. They didn't squeeze it fresh for me. Yes, I can tell the difference between orange juice sqeezed right then and there and juice squeezed a few hours ago. If you do a taste test at home you will see what I mean. I now live in MD and there are no JJs near me so I will continue to go to Robeks because it is a close 2nd. I was in New York last weekend and went to JJ. It was heaven!
Oh, and when I worked at JJ in the 90s it was company policy to greet every customer with a hello and a smile as they walked in. I loved working there. It was a lot of fun.
It doesn't cost extra, btw, to order a smoothie with nothing but juice and fruit.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I work at Robeks and everything is all natural with no added sweeteners.

Anonymous said...

If you wanna gain weight, go to Jamba Juice.

Anonymous said...

Yeah for me Robeks is MUCH better.

Anonymous said...

Jamba juice has healthy options and there are NO added sugars or sweeteners, you just get juice , fruit, and sometimes sherbert
They have also introduced the make it light versions of the classics with 1/3 less carbs and sugar
They are always looking for ways to please their guests so always try to keep up to date fellow commentors