It wasn’t until she moved away from home and spent time in Seattle, New Orleans, and Peru, that Naomi Homison began to appreciate being raised a vegetarian.
She returned to the Pittsburgh area in 2012, and opened a business with her brother, Zeb, two years later. Conveniently, Zeb’s Yoga Factory Pittsburgh is next door to The Pittsburgh Juice Company, which has annually been selected as Best Juice/Smoothie Bar by City Paper readers since 2014.
Now, some of the Mars Area High School classmates who considered Naomi and Zeb’s plant-based diets bizarre are regular consumers of organic, cold-pressed juice churned at The Pittsburgh Juice Company.
“It’s pretty commonly noted that Pittsburgh is about 10 years behind on any trends that might exist in New York City or California,” Naomi says. “And I think that’s changing a bit with the current climate.”
Juice bars having been gaining steady popularity across the country over the past decade, but many that popped up prior to The Pittsburgh Juice Company fizzled out.
Part of what Naomi credits The Pittsburgh Juice Company’s success to is its production process. A hydraulic press-like juicer (located at a production facility in the Strip District) puts immense pressure on previously pulped fresh fruit and vegetables. Sounding similar to a steam engine, this juicer squeezes every drop, which is bottled in glass and sent to Lawrenceville.
Rinse and repeat — every day for the past four years.
Since its inception, The Pittsburgh Juice Company has expanded from seven juice flavors to a rotating selection of more than 70 products that also include nut milks, smoothies, shots, vegan foods, and made-to-order smoothie bowls. Juices vary from green-heavy, nutrient-packed to the Drink Me, a blue-tinged concoction that tastes like a vanilla milkshake.
Most popular is Witch’s Brew, a juice developed for the cast and crew of The Last Witch Hunter, which was filmed in Pittsburgh in late 2014. This juice’s balance of sweetness and nutrition places it between a somewhat sweet Starter Green and Super Green. That latter is “for people who don’t want their healthy stuff to taste too good,” Homison says.
Witch’s Brew quickly transitioned from secret-menu item to a drink discussed by regulars.
“We are humbled by the support of our customer base,” Naomi says, also noting first-time juicers. “It’s because of our customer base that we are able to grow and provide fresh products.”