As soon as you step inside Drink Mamey’s clean, all-white interior, the appealing scent of ripe fruit and fresh flowers becomes overwhelming—in a good way. The order counter display contains a picturesque moss garden of live plants and succulents, where some decoy bottled juices (read: water and food coloring) are lovingly nestled for decoration. One wall has been completely taken over by an artsy blanket of fake rose leaves and live flowers, cushioning three orange words: “Drink ya juice.” Starting October 31, Portlanders can — one of the city’s new favorite juice brands will open its shop on Killingsworth Saturday.
Drink Mamey was born out of boredom. An avid home juicer since her college years, Cydnie Smith-McCarthy was stuck at home, looking for something to do. So, as many people started seeking out information on healthy eating, she began recording and posting her juicing videos and recipes during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve always been juicing and doing smoothies and being a super health nut, but when the pandemic happened I was just kind of like, ‘Ok, I’m bored. Maybe I should make some videos and post them and give other people some sort of way to boost their immune system during this time,’” Smith-McCarthy says of her humble beginnings a few months ago. “No one knew what COVID was, how strong it was.”
After getting a bevy of juice requests from friends and viewers, word of mouth travelled fast on social media. That’s when Drink Mamey was born. Having gone to art and design school, Smith-McCarthy decided to make her own labels and bottle her juices; soon, she began selling her bottles online and delivering them around town herself. “I commend GrubHub and Postmates people, because the driving was a lot,” she says. “I was going out to Beaverton and Tigard and Vancouver.” Within weeks, Erica Swanson — the woman behind Portland chain Tea Bar — reached out to Smith-McCarthy, looking to collaborate and stock her juices. Within months, she was taking over a Tea Bar location with her cousin and business partner, Richard Bunch, turning Drink Mamey into its own shop.
Now that the former tea shop on NE Killingsworth is labeled with an orange Drink Mamey sign, Smith-McCarthy is paying it forward by giving other BIPOC-owned businesses that same career-altering courtesy. Aware of the accessibility issues that are often built into wellness culture, she envisions Drink Mamey as a wellness space with Black folks in mind, as well as a landing pad for local BIPOC-owned small businesses and makers. To start, she has curated a great smattering of goods in the self-care and wellness sector for sale on the shop’s shelves: plant propagations and custom-made soil by Noetic Plants, The Journey of Compassion’s Ashwagandha supplements, self-care cards and tees from Portland x Rose, sea moss gummies by The Hussle Way (and behind the counter, some sea moss gummy bears infused with Drink Mamey juice), skin care by BODI, and some seriously gorgeous bouquets by Earth and Her Flowers. “We really want to add more [BIPOC-owned self care products] to the shelves,” Smith-McCarthy says. “We want to make sure that we’re giving everybody a platform as much as possible.”
Smith-McCarthy’s aim for Drink Mamey to be a full-blown wellness brand plays into how she manages the juice bar’s menu, as well. Smith-McCarthy’s lineup balances joyful flavor-forward juice blends and smoothies alongside others with superfoods, herbs, and other nutritional components that can offer her customers relief for specific health needs.
Drink Mamey’s first three juice blends are available for sale at the shop: Sweet Talk, a refreshing mix of watermelon, apple and lemon; Green Is Good, made with celery, cucumber, and pineapple; and 24 Carrot with carrot, pineapple, and lime.
And of course, there’s a slew of new concoctions like Majikal, a juice blend that comes in a bright blue color. Majikal is an unlikely mix of pineapple, mint, and blue spirulina—a type of blue-green algae that’s packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina also gives Majikal its radical blue hue.
“It’s really tasty; it’s very simple,” Smith-McCarthy says. “I totally believe in making juice and smoothies and things like that as simple as possible. If you can understand the ingredients, you know, that’s what you should be drinking and that’s something I always go by.”
Another one of the juice-maker’s new favorite menu additions is the creamy Wild Matcha smoothie, made with Tea Bar matcha, pineapple, spinach, mint, and oat milk. In addition, Smith-McCarthy says she’ll be offering “a couple juices that are good for the winter time as the flu comes on,” with ingredients good for building immunity, keeping inflammation down, getting rid of mucus, and keeping your body in “high alkaline.”
“When your gut is filled with alkaline it’s really hard for disease to sit and nurture itself,” Smith-McCarthy says. “So the higher alkaline in your body the better, so we try to add alkaline water to all our juices.”
Smith-McCarthy’s passion for wellness and nutrition was something she shared with her late father. When she returned to Portland from college in New Mexico, Smith-McCarthy says her father was trying to get his health in check. All the while, he had an undiagnosed heart condition; it killed him in 2018. “He knew that he needed to change up his diet, so we would do smoothie cleanses,” she says. “He was really interested in finding new ways of feeding himself nutritiously, because he grew up on very heavily oiled foods, heavy fried foods and things of that sort. And so closer to when he passed is when he started to really take it into consideration.” It wasn’t until receiving her father’s death certificate that her family found out he had a heart condition.
“Knowing that was really frustrating because he had been going to the doctors for about two years to kind of figure out what was going on... He knew something was wrong,” she says, adding that doctors would brush him off with heartburn medication, telling him to drink more fluids, that he was fatigued, etc. “So with that anger of knowing that, that’s what pushed me to really want to change my diet and it also helped my family also change their diet.”
With Drink Mamey, Smith-McCarthy has the earth’s health in mind, too. In terms of sustainability practices, the 26-year-old business owner has been composting as much as possible, experimenting with using leftover pulp to make self-care face masks, and offering paper straws. The shop currently uses 50 percent glass, 50 percent plastic cups for cost, but she’s pushing to move to using 100 percent glass soon, and perhaps launching a recycling program that can provide customer discounts since the shop has the proper sanitation equipment for reusing bottles.
Creating equity and sustainability in the wellness sector is no small feat, but Smith-McCarthy seems distinctly equipped to chisel away at it. However, she’s still aiming to raise $95,000 to expand the wellness brand via an IFundWomen fundraiser. In terms of what it’s been like to open a new business during the pandemic, Smith-McCarthy says it hasn’t been all stress and struggle.
“Fortunately I think it also saves us a little bit because we can scale back a little and really look and think about how to social distance, about how to reach our customers at their homes and also in the store—but also being safe and making sure everyone feels comfortable.”
Drink Mamey is located at 1615 NE Killingsworth Street.
• Drink Mamey [Official]
• Mamey says ‘Drink Ya Juice!’ [IFW]
• A New Juice Bar Aims to be a Wellness Space for BIPOC Portlanders [EPDX]