photo by Tom O'Connor

When Sharif Rasheed decided to leave a dead-end job for an entrepreneurial adventure, he pursued something he has long loved: fresh juices.

“I had my first juicer when I was six years old — it was the old crank kind but it worked,” says Rasheed.

That surprisingly early start in mastering juice and smoothie recipes gave him a foundation for healthy living. An early diet heavy on fresh produce and vegetables also helped him gain a working knowledge of the way different food sources affect the body. For example, how turmeric reduces inflammation and beet juice improves blood flow and stamina, he says.

With his new shop, Safi Juice at 4919 Penn Avenue in Garfield, Rasheed has the perfect place to do what he longs to do — share all that healthy knowledge with people.

“The way different ingredients make you feel and what they are good for — I’m good at explaining that,” says Rasheed. He hopes to draw people to his shop to experience freshly made juice combinations that might be new to them.

Everything is fresh and organic with no extra ingredients. The word Safi, which means “pure” in both Arabic and Swahili, struck Rasheed as the perfect fit for his intentions.

Fresh juice combinations at Safi Juice.
Fresh juice combinations at Safi Juice.

It all happens in the shop’s kitchen. Right now, it’s a one-man operation with Rasheed doing all the prepping, cleaning, juicing, mixing and selling. The juices have a three-day shelf life so the process of keeping fresh products on the shelf is very labor intensive.

Even the almond milk and coconut milk are made fresh in-house. He soaks the nutmeats overnight and blends them the next morning.

Rasheed has come a long way from where he started only a couple years ago, hitting up random strangers on the Downtown streets to get them to sample his products. “I would walk up to people and offer them a juice in a bottle with no label and ask them if they wanted to try it,” he says, adding, “I knew if I could get them to try it I could tell them my story.”

His direct approach, selling juice out of a bag, eventually started to work. People liked his juices and wanted to know where they could get more. Soon, he set his sights on finding a retail space. The small business program at Duquesne University and some mentorship from Bridgeway Capital helped make his Safi Juice shop a reality.

Some of the current juice combinations include “Spicy Like Us” made with orange, cayenne, agave, turmeric and golden beet juice. There’s also the “Berry Smooth” smoothie made with homemade vanilla almond milk, almond butter, banana, blackberry, blueberry, ginseng, chia and flax seeds and hemp protein. In addition to juices and smoothies, the shop carries cold brew coffee, protein drinks and a matcha latte.

Safi Juice is open Monday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is closed Tuesday.

Sharif Rasheed of Safi Juice in Bloomfield.
Sharif Rasheed of Safi Juice in Bloomfield.

Tom O'Connor

Tom O'Connor is a photographer and writer currently based in Pittsburgh.