Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

Toledo’s Own Actual Coffee

Actual Coffee is Both Sustainable and Exceptional

While the flavor and quality of Toledo’s own Actual Coffee speaks for itself, the one thing that stands out to me most about the company are the words of the owner himself: “I wanted to be a healthy cog in the coffee roasting business.” Lance, chief coffee roaster and founder of Actual Coffee, has a passion for ethically sourced, finely roasted coffee and the stories behind his hometown venture. His business mirrors his coffee, a labor of love, not born overnight, cultivated, handcrafted, and worth every bean.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

Four months ago I declared that if I am to only have one cup of coffee a day, it was going to be darn good coffee. Freshly ground, locally roasted coffee only. High maintenance? … I like to call it high standards, and let me just say – my one and only pregnancy demand. We have been long supporters of fresh, locally roasted coffee. It was always in the house, and to Starbucks dismay, our preferred way to buy coffee. It was our evening/weekend coffee, not our morning jolt to functionality. Well, not anymore. One good cup, still to be enjoyed; savored during my few minutes of morning peace before work. On the weekends, it’s the quiet morning pour over, that starts with opening that bag of beans and taking in the sweet smell of coffee roasted this week, right here in Toledo. Ahh, the little things I expect to come to a screeching halt come late January. Not the coffee, just the peace and quiet of solitude.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

For this Simply Jess 1 year anniversary post (woohoo!!) I wanted to bring back coffee. Darn good coffee! The Toledo coffee roasting movement  has grown tremendously over the past few years, and one of the major players has been Actual Coffee. Roasting beans since 2012 as a business, Lance Roper found his niche in the third wave, ethically sourced, coffee movement that had finally made its way to Toledo, Ohio. Upon reading a book of coffee history, Uncommon Grounds, Lance found himself challenged by the social and environmental consequences that come from big corporation coffee consumption. This luxury product so vastly consumed by first world countries, created modern-day slaves to the coffee industry at the root, the farms in which the coffee berries are grown and harvested. But he also found that consciously sourcing coffee distributors worked with old farms that cared as much for their workers, as the product they were growing. Actual Coffee was born, out of an effort to make a positive contribution to the coffee buying industry. Lance wanted to sell coffee that was sustainable, both environmentally and socially, but was a hands down superior, top quality product. “If you put our coffee next to a big brand’s take on coffee, you’d know which one was Actual Coffee.” Awesome.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

Actual Coffee has seen the largest growth through word of mouth. Starting with Bleak House Coffee, Lance would practically volunteer hours at the coffee shop in order to get his roasts out to the public. Not too long later Becky Ohm, from the Flying Joe, approached Actual Coffee about distribution in their store. This has been a great, long standing relationship that has encouraged creativity though both business. Next, came an urgent request from DaCapo Coffee in Temperance, MI. DaCappo became a milestone for Actual Coffee, as this is the only coffee they serve to their customers. It has not only resulted in major growth, but new ideas as well. Element 112 became the first fine restaurant to serve Actual Coffee, and Walt Churchill’s the first grocer. Most recently Lance also had the opportunity to bring his coffee back to the downtown area with distribution to Rustbelt Coffee and Creamery. Each a new business relationship, and each a new way to get the people of Toledo familiar to where there coffee dollar is going.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

The picture I see is that conscious coffee is part of a larger practice of conscious spending. When you shop at a local business, who buys from a local vendor, who buys from an ethical sourcer, who buys from a sustainable farm, and each business along the chain has employees that have a face, a name, a family, a story who are taken care of through good business practices. Have you ever thought your hard earned dollars could impact a world of people just by buying good coffee?

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

So, why Toledo? Why grow slow and organically in Northwest Ohio as opposed to moving to a place much larger where people are used to paying more for goods or a place where craft coffee is expected? At Actual Coffee headquarters, this passionate one man operation and his 20-pound an hour roaster sees the value in Toledo. “I love downtown and we’ve come so far.” Although, Lance takes a very calculated, and scientific approach to roasting coffee, he also takes pride in sharing the flavors that interest him with the community. Toledoians seem to favor fruity, Ethiopian roasts, but what most may not realize is this is a competition level coffee that we get to enjoy. Each roast is so unique, and the single origin roasts have been so well received that with input from coffee shops and consumers Lance recently stepped out of the box to created a truly unique espresso blend. While blend used to be a bit of a dirty word to a single origin roaster, this espresso has the ability to encompass the best Brazil, Ethiopian, and Central American flavors in one tiny cup. This espresso can stand alone, and doesn’t need to be masked by steamed milk and flavors; but if that is your preference, it will make your drink even better.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

While Lance continues to pursue growth and development to expand capacity for Actual Coffee, he is also continually working to be a well trained, educated, and multi service coffee expert. He works hard to constantly learn and improve techniques, and offer full services to the coffee chops in the area to help them grow through better equipment as well. Lance put great importance on the equipment you use to make your coffee. The quality of your water, grinder, and your brewing method are what make a great cup of coffee.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog, Be Local, coffee, artisan coffee roaster, Toledo Coffee

The coffee you buy isn’t about the label, claims, or certification that a company has slapped on the front. It’s about where it started. Do you know where your coffee truly originates from? Buying from a small batch, artisan coffee roaster means you not only have the opportunity to know where it comes from, but you can also trust in the supply chain. That hard earned money you spend on coffee makes a much greater impact than you would believe, and it starts here at home. Be Local.

Actual Coffee, Simply Jess Blog Coffee Giveaway
Giveaway time! Like Actual Coffee, and Simply Jess on Facebook. Then share this picture! #BeLocal #ToledoCoffee

Surprise!! Happy Anniversary Actual Coffee Giveaway!!! Actual Coffee believes so much in their beans they want you to have the opportunity to try a bag of hand crafted, specialty Toledo roasted coffee! It’s roasters choice; Lance is going to roast the winner a fresh bag of Actual Coffee and it will be mailed straight to your house! What you have to do is (1) Like BOTH Actual Coffee’s Facebook page and The Simply Jess Blog Facebook page. (2) Share the post we have on both of our pages to your Facebook page. The caption must have the #BeLocal #ToledoCoffee. Shares must be made by 5pm Friday (8/19/2016). We will contact you via Facebook by Sunday 8/21/2016 to let you know if you won. Enjoy!

Simply,
Jess

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA

Riehm Produce Farm – Sustaining Generations

Multigeneratonal Family Owned Organic Farm

You know your doctor [by name], you know your dentist, why don’t you know your farmer?” Even as a locavore, this statement by John Riehm struck me. This is true! We build relationships with the people we entrust with our health needs: our doctor, dentist, pharmacist; so then why do we not know who is behind one of the most vital elements of your health? Our food and its nutritional value has one of the greatest impacts on our overall health. At the Riehm Family Produce Farm, nutrition and integrity are the reasons behind why they want you to know who grows what you feed your family.

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA

I was first introduced to Riehm Farms last year while trying to pick a CSA to invest in. I was having lunch at one of my favorite stops and they had two pamphlets on the counter near the register about local CSA options. The restaurant owner had such wonderful things to say about both farms, it made the decision tough, but in the end the story of Riehm Farms is what really resonated with me. The Riehm family has more than just a produce farm, they have created a multigenerational legacy in Tiffin, Ohio, sharing quality organic food and continually growing towards the future.

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA
A little up-close-and-personal introduction to my future tomatoes

Growing food for fine 419 restaurants and loyal CSA members is nothing new for this century old farm. The Riehm family welcomed 5th generation farmer, Phil Riehm, back in 2014 to continue to agriculturally develop the land. His father John has been farming the land since 1978 when he graduated high school, continuing on the legacy of his father who passed away many years prior when John was very young. Through this time the sales center has progressed from a roadside cart, to a lean-to, to a tent and now the farm proudly welcomes guests into its lovely market.

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA

The Riehm’s farm focus is on the nutritional value, which is why they choose to undertake the risks and challenges of organic farming practices. At one time, Diane Riehm was a health instructor, and was able to spark John’s interest in changing the conventionally farmed land to less harmful methods. Nutritional tests were later done comparing the nutritional value of their tomatoes vs a neighboring farms’ and hydroponic tomatoes. The results were much higher with the Riehm farms variety. This became their motivation and their focus: Healthy Soils = Healthy Crops = Healthy People

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA
Fresh cucumbers? Sure!
Phil Riehm tells me about organic fertilization.

Phil’s return to the family farm brought extended knowledge from his crop science and agricultural business education from The Ohio State University. Together, Phil and John lead the team into their 14th CSA season! In 2002, as CSAs were just beginning to gain popularity in the midwest, Riehm Farms started offering CSA shares to a small community of people in Sandusky Ohio. The first season started with just 12 shares, and has continued to double ever since. Currently, they offer close to 400 shares delivered to 12 different pick-up sites across NW Ohio.

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA
Strawberries

So many pick-up sites for their CSA members is just one example of how the Riehm Family serve the people they feed. They don’t just want to grow a mass amount food, hand it over and be done with it. For one, they greatly care about what each CSA member gets in their bag; how you like it, how it lasts, how to cook or preserve it, they even give recipes in their weekly newsletters. It could almost be looked at like they are your seasonally selected, picked at the peak of ripeness, nutritionally balanced food coaches. This past year I included my parents in the Farm-to-Fork dinner event held on the farm. At this dinner, all of the food served was picked directly from the field, cleaned, cooked and served over four courses by professional chefs. At the dinner, they gave us the whole story of how our food was prepared: from Farm to Fork. Guests enjoyed foods that they had maybe never tried before, my parents were quite impressed. I know personally, I am a self proclaimed beet-hater, but the roasted beet, kale, bleu cheese salad was fantastic! Not that I now LOVE beets, but I do enjoy them roasted, and mixed with other ingredients. This also gave me confidence to experiment and create a recipe that included beets (recipe coming your way this root vegetable season). They truly taught me how to use my CSA.

The influence a farm can bring to its community is huge. This job is not cheap, it’s not going to make you rich, it’s hard, and requires tremendous amounts of time and discipline. So I as the Riehms: “Why do you keep farming?”

Phil: “It’s in our blood, it’s built into our family”
Diane: “It’s helping the next generation to make them successful.”
John: “You know your doctor, you know your dentist, why don’t you know your farmer?”

Riehm Farms Simply Jess Blog Local Ohio Farming Organic Farm CSA
Early May Onions

It takes passion to seed, then transplant 40,000 onions by hand. Building the relationship with your CSA customers, and restaurant owners, to tell them your story, and learn about theirs; this is where it’s at. It’s more than feeding people. It’s being local.

A half CSA share of organic, locally grown food was more than adequate for our family of two, and could have easily fed a small child as well. It greatly impacted our weekly grocery budget and the value of what we picked up from week to week was worth every penny. Please take a moment to check out Riehm Produce Farm at funacres.net or on Facebook. They have full and half share spots open for the 2016 season that will start in about 3 weeks! That’s not much time, so sign up soon!! Please feel free to contact me or riehmfarms@gmail.com for more information as well.

Be Local.
Simply,
Jess

Kombucha {Gesundheit!}

Boochy Mama’s Probiotic Tonic – Locally Made Kombucha

Kombucha? Well, this sounds interesting? That was my thought the first time I came across Boochy Mama’s kombucha beverages at Zingo’s restaurant in Perrysburg. I’m adventurous when it comes to trying new foods and beverages, but I began hearing about kombucha in conversations usually followed by something like: “Oh yea…. my wife drinks that stuff.” Well, doesn’t that make you want to give it a sip? None-the-less, curiosity got the best of me and one evening while out to dinner with a friend I decided to give it a go. Woah! Not the “stuff” I was imagining! This was fruity, fizzy very good “stuff”! Kombucha is a pleasantly unique beverage usually served cold, made of tea, sugar, and water. Never tried kombucha, or a little unsure about it? May I suggest introducing it to your tastebuds at the sure to be fun and festive Grand Opening of Boochy Mama’s new location Friday May 6th? 130 10th Street, Toledo, Ohio beginning at 7pm there will be music and tastings, plus some highly recommended cocktails and beer on tap.

Boochy Mama’s is Toledo’s first commercially available kombucha maker, that is quickly spreading distribution across Ohio, Ann Arbor, and through Detroit. Stacy Jurich is the lovely mastermind and tonic maker of Boochy Mama. Her passion for teas, kombucha, and tonics is expressed by the quality product she makes. Creating a truly green company, Stacy uses organic ingredients, and cares for the environment she draws her business from through composting, transporting goods using biodiesel, even delivering bottles of kombucha to retailers by bike when at all possible. Each bottle of Boochy Mama Kombucha sold provides 5¢ to a local charity. Currently Boochy Mama directs these funds to Toledo Bikes!

A native of the Toledo area, Stacy moved about the country several times in her young adult life. Making kombucha was a hobby, turned into a small business as friends continued to enjoy her drink. As the process became more consistent, and the product became more desireable her Toledo roots took hold as she began to feel the pull our city has to offer. Connections, and affordability, as well as the populations growing awareness on health made the choice to stay in the area clear.

Boochy Mama Kombucha | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

As stated previously, Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage usually served cold. Simply put, sweet tea is brewed, combined with a SCOBY, and some starter kombucha to sit and ferment over a two week period. Once the two weeks is complete the SCOBY is removed and the kombucha is bottled. Fermentation is a process that turns sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. It needs yeast and bacteria (the SCOBY); the SCOBY bacteria “eat” the sugar to release gases. When combined with the tea the result is a fizzy, slightly sweet drink with very little residual sugar. Kombucha is not an alcoholic beverage, and is not a “sugary” beverage like pop/soda. In fact, 16 oz of kombucha only has about 60 calories and only 1-2 grams of sugar. This makes a great alternative to pop/soda, sweetened lemonade, or sweet tea, while still giving its drinker a fruity sweet drink.

Many like the heath benefits of kombucha, most notably the benefits to the digestive system. Like yogurt, kombucha has live probiotic cultures that give the body good bacteria aiding in nutrient absorption. It has been said that diets that include fermented foods can help in regulate blood sugars and bad bacterias in the body, and can good for protein digestion relating to muscle health. One of the great things about Boochy Mama’s kombucha is that it is raw and fermented in open air. Unpasteurized kombucha has not been through the high heat process that kills many of the bacterial cultures, some of which contain the benefits noted above. Fermentation in open air allows the product to use environment to its benefit. Boochy Mama kombucha also creates such wonderfully unique flavors not found in the national, grocery store varieties. The blends of organic tea and juice are seasonally changing and evolving allowing for great variety in a growing kombucha market.

Boochy Mama Kombucha | Simply Jess

One thing I found fascinating about Stacy and her building of Great Lakes Tonics – the mother of Boochy Mama- was her continued individuality in growth. Whether it involves SCOBY, tea, or eventually indoor mushroom growth, Stacy is working steady with other entrepreneurs in the area to make Toledo more diverse. Local artists have lent their hand to the Boochy Mama bear artwork, and the lettering on her labels and storefront. She has even worked to extend the kombucha market into taprooms such as Black Cloister and the Attic. Having kombucha taps allows for growler fill up of kombucha, as well as the development of cocktails involving kombucha. Some alcoholic and other cocktails providing non-alcohol drinkers some options other than pop/soda.

Locally you can find Boochy Mama’s Kombucha at the new kombucha store and kitchen located at 130 10th Street, Toledo, Ohio, and many of the local grocers (Market on the Green, Health Foods by Claudia, Bassett’s, Kazmaier’s, the Phoenix Co-Op, Churchill’s Market, and soon The Andersons). Quite a few local restaurants also carry the Kombucha (this is a great way to give it a try): Fowl and Fodder, Zingo’s Mediterranean, Balance Pan Asian Grille, Grumpy’s, The Original Sub Shop, Plate 21, Bleak House Coffee, Black Kite Coffee, and on tap Black Cloister brewing company and The Attic. If you are in Ann Arbor you can find bottles at Katoi, and the Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Co. As well as Phoebe’s At 138 – Tiffin. The storefront will also offer growler fill-ups and merchandise. Soon to follow will be teas and other kombucha making products.

Go visit Stacy and the Boochy Mama team at their new location! Check out the Facebook page for updates, events, and store hours.

Be Local.

Simply,
Jess