Ask anyone in the ‘Bu where they go to get their superfood fix, and chances are you’ll get a singular response. Almost as pervasive as Malibu’s sandy beaches and stunning coastal sunsets are the refreshments of SunLife Organics, a shop serving up quintessential California in 32 types of juices, shakes, and smoothies, plus acai bowls, coffee, sundaes, and frozen yogurt.
A health- and community-focused mainstay for Malibu residents and visitors, SunLife has redefined the smoothie shop experience with the highest quality of organic ingredients — and has expertly curated them into various concoctions aimed to heal the body and inspire a sense of well-being. Luckily for visitors, there’s a euphoria-inducing oasis of antioxidant-rich offerings less than a mile from the soft sands and blue waters in front of Malibu Beach Inn.
Since its inception in 2011, the company’s mission has been to “love, heal, and inspire” the community in which it operates – an ethos that has spread hand-in-hand with its burgeoning growth throughout the LA area and beyond. Tanner Wildason of Team Wolverine, SunLife Organic’s corporate group, explains that SunLife’s meteoric rise during the past seven plus years extends well beyond its nutrient-packed food and drink selections.
It’s not just a juice bar, not just a guest experience, but a template for something more: an informal meeting place centered around nutrition and support for those who want to live a healthier life. Per the SunLife mantra, this entails getting back to the roots that sustain organic interaction between community members, and that means every location shuns Wi-Fi zones in favor of human-to-human communication.
“The owners want to inspire every community they put SunLife Organics into,” says Wildason. “They seek to create a living room space in every community where individuals come to connect and know that they’re putting great food into their bodies.”
Today, the most signature item on the menu and annual top seller, The Wolverine, is a mixture of bananas, dates, almond butter, coconut butter, cocoa nibs, sea pollen, royal jelly, maca, and almond milk. It’s the very same shake that owner Khalil Rafati first concocted to recover from the throes of addiction before he decided to start SunLife with a goal to help others discover life-changing nutrition.
While most of SunLife’s ingredients are sourced from local farmers, Rafati personally chooses some of the more exotic plants from their innate origins around the world. The maca used within recipes like The Wolverine, for instance, comes straight from Kyoto, Japan.
“We’re very careful where we source,” Wildason says. “We do a fair amount of research looking into each of our vendors and of course there’s a protocol to ensure that it’s a top-quality organic ingredient so that our customers are always getting the same consistent product at all times.”
The Fountain of Youth
There’s even a shake for those aiming to preserve the longevity of skin, hair, and heart. The Fountain of Youth contains strawberries, bananas, apple juice, and the vitamin C powerhouse goji, as well as coconut, acai, and resveratrol — powerful antioxidants meant to fight off disease and keep you looking young.
This shake, and every other creation at SunLife, is part of the company’s quarterly process that includes evaluating the store’s existing ingredients and deciding whether to keep them going or revamp the recipes. It’s also an opportunity to stay on top of emerging trends in the health food world, and SunLife’s decisions are often innovated and informed in an organic manner by recommendations from the community. One of the newest ingredients that has been incorporated into their lineup is a mineral-laden bone broth.
“Some people don’t anticipate walking into a smoothie store and finding bone broth on the menu, but it’s such a holistic health item that helps with intestinal lining and has great collagen benefits,” Wildason says. “It’s kind of a catch-all.”
Also in vogue are the hemp extracts known as CBDs, or cannabinoids, which have been proven to aid in everything from pain to anxiety to inflammation relief.
“CBD is something on the cusp and it’s really taking the health world by storm,” he explains. “It’s a growing trend and I’m looking forward to helping it find its role in SunLife Organics.”
Of all the health shop’s creations, Wildason’s personal favorite is a vegetable-packed, kelly-green concoction called The Alchemist, which goes through a special juicing process to preserve the fiber usually lost in similar modes of extraction.
“It’s taking greens from my plate and putting them into my cup, so it really allows me to move on with my day and feel guilt-free when I order my carb-loaded plate at dinner,” laughs Wildason, who consumes the blend of kale, cucumber, spinach, mint, fennel, mango, ginger, lemon, and MCT oil almost every time he works.
Bonus: Master Tonic
Another vigorous and popular blend among patrons is the Master Tonic, a shot fermented over six weeks containing remarkable tones of Maui onion and habanero and sure to vanquish most bugs and ailments.
“It will really demolish any cold and clear your sinuses,” says Wildason. “Whenever anyone comes into the store and says they’re feeling symptoms and need to be cleaned out, it’s always the Master Tonic we recommend. It’s pretty intense.”
No matter their current nutritional goals, customers can enjoy colorful and rejuvenating shakes, smoothies, and bowls sans technology in SunLife’s crystal-decorated living rooms, or take them on the road as the perfect sidekick for an active lifestyle or a just day unwinding under the California sun.
*All body photos courtesy of SunLife Organics.