If you're really serious about juicing -- especially if you're creating "green" drinks loaded with healthy veggie juices – you'll want to consider a masticating juicer. Unlike the vertical styling of a centrifugal juicer masticating juicers usually have a horizontal design and use an auger to grind and break down food more thoroughly than centrifugal juicers. They take longer to crush food; in fact, for some, waiting 20 to 30 minutes for a glass of juice is a deal-breaker, but the reason they grind so slowly is because some nutritionists feel that this process is more effective for preserving nutrients from leafy greens like kale, spinach and other superfoods.
Masticating juicers used to be prohibitively expensive, making them a luxury for all but the well-heeled, but they've come down significantly in price over the past couple of years. The best masticating juicer we found is the Omega J8006 (*Est. $260). Reviewers rave about its ability to handle a wide range of vegetables, including spinach, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes and wheat grass. Many owners say they can juice for hours at a time without the unit slowing, bogging down or heating up. Best of all, the Omega J8006 gets absolute top ratings for ease of disassembly and cleaning, with owners saying they just toss the components in the top rack of the dishwasher. Reviewers also appreciate its quiet operation and smaller footprint. It's larger than centrifugal juicers, but relatively small for a masticating juicer. The J8006 is highly versatile, too. In addition to juicing, it makes pasta, nut butters and specialty milks. It even grinds coffee.
Two machines that often come up in discussions of basic masticating juicers are the Fagor Slow Juicer (Est. $120) and the Breville Juice Fountain Crush BJS600XL (Est. $200). However, neither machine gets good reviews for being able to handle grasses, greens and other tough vegetables. That means that these machines are fine if all you want to juice is softer veggies and fruits, but if you're going to invest in a juicer, you might as well pay a bit more and get one that gives you the versatility to juice any green. The low rankings on the Breville masticating juicer were a big surprise, as Breville centrifugal juicers are at the top of their class, but it was panned by both experts and owners for its poor performance and difficult cleaning. One juice advocate tested it against the Omega J8004 (the white version of the J8006) and said the Omega far out-performed the Breville.
If you have unlimited resources, or just dream of owning the best that money can buy, there are two top-of-the-line products that are considered the gold standard in juicers. The Green Star GSE-5000 (Est. $520) is one of the top-rated juicers on consumer review sites, with owners saying it's very easy to use and clean, although a few complain that the screen is a pain to wash. More important, they say that it extracts every single bit of juice, resulting in a high-quality juice that is far superior in taste to juices from a centrifugal juicer. We saw many comments from people who started juicing with a less expensive juicer, then when they realized that they were serious about it and were going to stick with it, decided to upgrade to this machine.
Even more expensive, and often used in commercial applications, the Super Angel 5500 (Est. $1,400) is a juicer will last for generations according to reviewers, making it a life-long investment in your health. In fact, it is sturdy enough that it could become a family heirloom. The Super Angel 5500 is a heavy-duty, high-performing machine that expertly turns vegetables into high-quality juice. It specializes in tough, leafy vegetables and grasses, and excels where lesser masticating juicers struggle. You'll have no wasted produce, because its powerful, 3-housepower motor squeezes out every last drop. It's easy on the eyes, too, with an attractive all-stainless steel construction. Reviewers say this is a particularly great choice if you're regularly juicing for a crowd.
In our estimation, you can't go wrong with the Omega J8004 (Est. $200) or Omega J8006 (they are identical except for the finish; the J8004 is white). It gets stellar reviews for doing everything that a much pricier juicer can do -- and it beats out everything else in its price point.