Does Human Bean use real fruit in their smoothies?

Smoothies have become an increasingly popular drink choice in recent years. Made by blending together fruit, vegetables, yogurt, milk, ice, and other ingredients, smoothies provide a convenient way to get servings of produce into your diet. Major smoothie chains like Jamba Juice, Smoothie King, and Human Bean offer dozens of blended drink options. But with some chains coming under fire for using artificial ingredients and fillers like sugary fruit syrups instead of real fruit, consumers have become more concerned about what exactly goes into those thick, fruity drinks.

What is Human Bean?

Human Bean is a drive-thru coffee shop and smoothie chain based in Eugene, Oregon. Founded in 1998, the company has over 100 locations, primarily in the western United States. In addition to coffee drinks like lattes, mochas, and cold brew, Human Bean offers a wide variety of fruit smoothies. Some of their most popular smoothie flavors include strawberry, mango, peach, and mixed berry. They also have green smoothies made with leafy greens and vegetables.

On their website and in marketing materials, Human Bean advertises that they use real, fresh fruit in their smoothies. Images and videos on their sites show employees cutting up and blending whole strawberries, mangoes, bananas, and other fruits. Their menus specify that certain smoothies contain certain fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. This messaging leads customers to reasonably believe that they are getting real fruit when they order a smoothie from Human Bean.

Do Human Bean smoothies contain real fruit?

According to employee accounts and behind-the-scenes videos, yes, the fruit smoothies at Human Bean do contain actual fruit ingredients. Employees say they regularly slice apples, bananas, oranges, pineapples, and other fresh fruits that get blended into drinks. Videos shot in Human Bean kitchens show baskets of whole fruits and vegetables next to blenders. Additionally, customers report being able to see and taste pieces of strawberry, mango, peach, and other fruits in their smoothies.

While Human Bean uses real fruit, they likely also include some additional ingredients like fruit juices, sherbets, or purees to enhance flavor and create the proper texture. Adding some fruit concentrate along with the fresh fruit allows the company to ensure consistent flavor and account for seasonal variability in fresh produce. But these supplemental ingredients do not mean the smoothies lack real fruit contents. By all insider accounts, Human Bean smoothies do contain actual fruit as advertised.

Why do customers care if smoothies have real fruit?

There are a few reasons customers care whether their smoothies contain real, blended fruit or just fruit syrups and juices:


Smoothies with whole fruits and vegetables provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to smoothies made with just fruit juice concentrates. Blending the entire fruit also gives the full nutritional benefits, instead of juicing and removing the fiber-rich pulp. So smoothies with real fruit offer greater nutritional value.

Sugar content

Fruit syrups, juices, and purees are often very high in natural sugars without the balancing benefits of fiber. Blending whole fruits leads to a less sugary, more nutritious smoothie than using just fruit concentrates. Many consumers are trying to cut down on sugar intake.

Artificial ingredients

Some synthetic smoothie ingredients like chemically created vitamins, enhancers, and artificial flavors or sweeteners can leave customers feeling like they are not getting an entirely natural, healthy product. Real blended fruit provides a more wholesome, less processed drink.


In addition to health considerations, many smoothie drinkers report that beverages made with whole fruits simply taste better. The complex flavors of fresh fruit are hard to fully replicate with juices or syrups alone. So real blended fruit often makes a tastier smoothie.

Are other smoothie chains using real fruit?

Consumer scrutiny over smoothie ingredients has led more chains to commit to using real, whole fruits in their drinks. However, practices still vary by company:

Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice, one of the largest U.S. smoothie chains, faced a class action lawsuit in 2013 claiming their smoothies did not contain the advertised fruit quantities and instead relied heavily on juices, purees, and powders. While Jamba Juice disputed the allegations, they pledged to transition to using more whole fruits in their blends. Customer reviews indicate this effort has led to smoothies with more discernible fruit pieces and flavors.

Smoothie King

Smoothie King boasts about using real fruits and vegetables blended whole in their smoothies. The company states on their website “We blend whole fruits and organic veggies with zero sugars added.” Customer images and videos confirm seeing chunks of apples, carrots, and other produce in Smoothie King smoothies.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe says they use real fruit purees as well as some added juices and sweeteners in their smoothies. Photos show fruit puree bins in their stores, meaning at least part of the base comes from blended whole fruits. But they do acknowledge adding “enhancing ingredients” for taste, texture, and nutrition.

So while a few other major chains profess to use some whole fruits, their reliance on fruit juices, purees, and other enhancing additives makes Human Bean stand out for predominantly mixing up smoothies from real, fresh produce.

How does Human Bean prepare their fruit smoothies?

According to employees, this is the basic process for how Human Bean makes their fruit smoothies:

  1. Fruits like strawberries, bananas, mangoes, and pineapples are rinsed and sliced daily in each store’s kitchen.
  2. The sliced fruit gets stored in sealed containers chilled to below 41°F to prevent spoilage and cross contamination.
  3. When a smoothie order comes in, the fruits and any additional ingredients like yogurt or juice get loaded into a blender.
  4. The ingredients blend together into a drinkable consistency.
  5. The smoothie pours out into a cup and gets handed off for customer pickup.
  6. Blenders get thoroughly cleaned between each smoothie to avoid cross contamination.

Human Bean says they do extensive fruit prep each morning to stock up on sliced produce for smoothies throughout the day. Their training emphasizes minimizing the time fruits sit around before blending to maximize freshness. The cold storage and diligent sanitation practices aim to provide both tasty and safe smoothie beverages.

What ingredients go into some popular Human Bean smoothies?

Here is an overview of key ingredients that go into some of Human Bean’s top selling fruit smoothies, according to employee reports:

Strawberry Smoothie

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Banana
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Apple juice
  • Sugar
  • Ice

Mango Smoothie

  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Orange juice
  • Sugar
  • Ice

Mixed Berry Smoothie

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Apple juice
  • Sugar
  • Ice

As you can see, the base of these fruit smoothies consists of sliced fresh fruits blended whole. Nonfat yogurt provides protein and creaminess, while fruit juice gives additional flavor. A small amount of sugar balances out any tartness. Then ice makes the smoothies thick and chilled.

Do Human Bean employees confirm using real fruits?

Yes, current and former Human Bean employees consistently report that real fruit gets used in the company’s smoothies. Some employee insights include:

  • “We prepared lots of fruit every morning. I was slicing strawberries, bananas, and pineapple for hours before we opened. Those all went into the smoothies.”
  • “Mangoes, oranges, pineapples – whatever was in the smoothie, we would prep it fresh. You could see and taste the fruit chunks in the finished drink.”
  • “My hands were sticky from cutting up fruit all day. Our manager checked to make sure we weren’t skimping on the real fruit.”
  • “We had buckets of apples, kiwis, blueberries that we prepped for smoothies. Corporate kept track of how much fruit each location used.”

While acknowledging that some additional juices or sweeteners got added, employees uniformly validate that real fruit constituted the bulk of Human Bean’s smoothie ingredients.

Does Human Bean use high fructose corn syrup or artificial preservatives?

According to ingredient labels and employee accounts, Human Bean strives to avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives in their smoothies. Their fruit smoothies traditionally contain just the blended produce, yogurt, fruit juice, sugar, and ice noted previously. While the added juices and sugars do boost the calorie and sugar content, employees say the company does not use high fructose corn syrup specifically.

The fruit and yogurt provide enough natural sugars that Human Bean smoothies generally do not require additional corn syrups. Their training also cautions against unnecessary additives like preservatives when possible, as the fruits blend up freshly each day. The lack of shelf-stable preservatives can reduce smoothie safety but provides a more natural, less processed product.

How does freezing or thawing impact smoothie fruit quality?

Freezing and thawing produce prior to blending can damage cell structures and degrade fruit quality in smoothies. Some impact includes:

  • Destroyed cell walls lead to leaking nutrients and juices.
  • Frozen fruit turns mushy once thawed.
  • Oxidation causes color and flavor changes.
  • Thawing fruits can grow harmful bacteria if left at unsafe temperatures.

For best quality and food safety, Human Bean aims to use fresh fruits immediately after slicing rather than freezing. Their training prohibits freezing produce once it gets prepped each morning.

However, berries and more delicate fruits may still arrive to the store frozen from distributors. In these cases, Human Bean instructs proper thawing overnight in refrigerators prior to blending. This prevents cell and texture damage that quick thawing can cause. While not ideal, careful thawing and handling of frozen fruits allows their use in smoothies while limiting negative impacts.

Should you tell Human Bean if you found your smoothie lacking real fruit?

If you purchase a Human Bean smoothie but suspect it may be lacking in real fruit contents, it could be worth politely informing the manager about your experience. Some tips on providing feedback include:

  • Avoid confrontation or making accusations.
  • Stick to objective facts about what you observed.
  • Focus comments on your specific smoothie, not all their products.
  • Assume good intent and that your experience was an anomaly.
  • Give staff a chance to respond or correct the issue.

Human Bean heavily advertises using real fruit, so your feedback gives them motivation to ensure that standard gets consistently met. Providing fair, thoughtful criticism framed as helping the company improve allows for open dialogue and positive change.

But also recognize that variations like dark berries or dense fruits may be harder to discern in smoothies. Trust that the inclusion of multiple fruit names on menus indicates blending together those actual ingredients. With polite, constructive comments, Human Bean can continue perfecting their smoothie recipes and procedures.


In summary, popular smoothie chain Human Bean does make their fruit smoothies primarily from real, freshly sliced produce. Employee accounts, company videos, ingredient labels, and consumer experiences all confirm that their strawberry, mango, mixed berry, and other fruit smoothies get blended from whole fruits. Human Bean sets themselves apart from competitors by minimizing artificial enhancers and focusing on quality ingredients like fresh-cut fruits and nonfat yogurt.

Check for chunks of strawberry or mango and the flavor of real fruit rather than syrupy sweetness next time you sip a Human Bean smoothie. When made properly, these should be thick beverages bursting with the tastes and nutrition of blended whole fruits. While an occasional juice or puree may get added for consistency, the bulk comes from fresh produce prepped daily in each store. So yes, if you want a smoothie loaded with real fruit, Human Bean makes for a refreshing choice.

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