Quick Trips

On the Road: Rooted Grounds Coffee Company

The first thing that jumped out upon arrival at Rooted Grounds Coffee Company, located in West Chester, was a simple sign that read, “Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.”

For many, particularly in college, those words couldn’t ring more true. Coffee is an important ingredient in the college scene and, as such, requires the utmost care and attention.

So, last week, Miami University dining services, representatives from the Miami University Associated Student Government and a social media person made the 50-minute drive to Rooted Grounds Coffee Co. to talk coffee, learn about the roasting process and begin development on an exclusive Miami coffee blend.

Rooted Grounds has deep roots to the love and honor of Miami University. Founded in 2016 by Miami Mergers David and Patsy Knopf, Rooted Grounds sets out to make locally roasted, fresh, small batch craft coffee available beyond the coffee shop setting.

Their dedication to their craft was put on display during our visit. Working with high-quality ingredients and a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, Rooted Grounds walked us through a sampling. As a group, we ranked a handful of coffees, each of which offering unique flavor profiles.

While Rooted Grounds took the results and set up a second round of sampling, we were taken around the facility where we learned about the roasting process and about the science that goes into each step of production.

We roasted our own coffee beans, left them to cool and went back to sample three blends, made using our results from earlier. As we ranked our new favorites, the Rooted Grounds team explained the nuances of the coffee beans we tasted. We learned more about Brazilian, Sumatran, Guatemalan and Colombian coffee varieties and how factors like soil, climate, geography, harvesting methods, and more impact flavor. Meanwhile, our rankings from the second sampling were tallied.

We discussed the results, having chosen our favorite blend of the three, before returning to the coffee beans we roasted, to get a hands-on look at the result of our demonstration. Shortly after that, we returned to Oxford, plenty caffeinated.

The entire experience was interesting and informative. We made the trip, not to merely satisfy our own curiosity, but to learn more about a local business whose coffee is expected to be served at various campus locations and to ensure that our guests receive the very best coffee!

While we would love to share our winning blend, we think it best to leave the final say to our patrons, so we are planning a sampling where Miami will choose the Rooted Grounds Miami blend! Keep tabs on our social media so you don’t miss out on that or any other information relating to our dining services and Rooted Grounds Coffee Co.!

Like Rooted Grounds Coffee Co. on Facebook and check out photos from our visit here!


Stay connected and follow @MiamiUDining on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

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Locally Grown: The Miami Institute for Food Farm

Nearly 26% of the food Miami University dining services purchases comes from vendors located throughout southwest Ohio and the neighboring regions. However, one of Miami’s newest local partnerships is particularly close to home.

Located on the historic Austin-Magie Farm, near the intersection of Morning Sun and Somerville Roads in Oxford, the Miami University Institute for Food farm is only a five-minute drive from the center of campus. The Institute for Food is a unique local supplier, not only because of its proximity, but because it’s so much more than a farm.

“The farm is a part of the larger context of what the Institute for Food is about,” said farm manager Lauren Wulker. “The Institute for Food is an interdisciplinary education endeavor connecting students, faculty, and the Oxford community to issues of food, health, and sustainable agriculture.”

The farm is one component of the Institute for Food’s greater mission to engage diverse communities around issues of food, health and sustainable agriculture. The farm offers an interactive learning space for students and faculty from different disciplines to apply classroom learning to a real-world experience. For example, one of the only structures on the farm currently is a shipping container, fashioned into a “part-office” “part-toolshed” by an architecture design and build class at Miami. Other classes participating in the on-farm learning experience this semester include Engineers without Borders, web design, journalism, and a service-learning course.  

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The farm is still relatively new, but has come a long way since breaking ground in January, with two shipping containers, a drip-water irrigation system and eight acres of both produce and cover crop. The first harvest took place in June, which marked the beginning of their partnership with dining services. Since then, the Institute for Food farm has continued to offer items like their dark-colored cherry tomatoes, fresh sage and an array of squash to the dining halls.

While partnering with the Institute for Food ushers in additional, fresh and locally grown produce for patrons of Miami’s dining services, the partnership serves a greater purpose for the farm.

“We’re growing vegetables in an effort to affect change within the food system regionally and around the country,” said Wulker. “We’re trying to breakdown some of the barriers that prevent smaller scaled operations from partnering with institutions.”

The partnership between the Institute for Food and Miami’s dining services is expected to grow as the farm does, leading to more farm fresh, local products on menus from just down the road. In the meantime, Wulker is excited at what the farm has already accomplished.

“It’s arriving. We are making it arrive. You know what I mean?” said Wulker, “And that’s important.”

Keep an eye out for signs, indicating Institute for Food products available on campus, and buy their products at Market Street at MacCracken or the Moon Co-op. They have also sold to Quarter Barrel and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Cincinnati called Urban Greens.

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On The Road At Downing Fruit Farm

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to take a drive to New Madison, Ohio and find the home of Miami University’s locally grown apples and pumpkins, Downing Fruit Farm (photo gallery below).

Downing Fruit Farm has been discussed on this blog before. The family-owned farm has been around since 1838, located in the village of New Madison, Ohio. According to Google Maps, the fruit farm is right around an hour from the Demske Culinary Support Center, just over 40 miles north of Oxford in Darke County.

The farm is, as you might expect, in the middle of farm country. The roads leading out there are winding, the fields are rolling and the people are scarce. As I made the final turn, the road dipped and bent one more time and the GPS – rather abruptly – announced, “You have arrived at your destination.” All that was before me was the road that extended further beyond, and a small mailbox on the side of the road. To my right was a quaint little farmhouse. There isn’t any sign or billboard, just a gravel path.

A drive leads up towards the central barn/shop/storage area and wraps around, providing parking and a glimpse at the different structures found on the farm that were initially hidden from the road. Families, both old and young, bustle about the space, the bright orange of the pumpkins scattered around the barn reflect the bright autumn sun while the trees provide a picturesque scene of a beautiful, natural farm. The entire setting reflects a level of authenticity that, for some reason, I didn’t really expect.

“Around 30 years ago, most of the business was done at the farm,” says Scott Downing, a seventh generation Downing who currently owns and maintains the farm. “I’d say about 75% of sales were made at the farm. Now, it’s closer to 25%. You just don’t get the Sunday drives like you used to have.”

My Sunday drive was eye-opening. While people love and embrace the concept of “local”, we sometimes lose touch with what that really means. The pumpkin on campus, used in the pumpkin smoothies and milkshakes – or even the locally grown apple available on campus – is grown and sold at a family farm only an hour from Oxford. A lot of hard work and time goes into ensuring the quality of their food. In addition to the work they put into preparing their products, the Downing family also creates other opportunities to reach out to new audiences by frequenting local markets like Oxford’s farmer’s market on Saturdays.

“Going to Miami… going to the market down there. We do fantastic down in Oxford at the market,” says Downing, who travels to various markets throughout Western Ohio during the week, selling his local fruits, vegetables and apple products, including apple cider that was once voted the Best Cider in the country.

At the farm, there is a definite homely feel between the natural, fresh products, the setting and people there. There are families with young children who are taking horse drawn wagon rides through the orchard or getting their face painted and older families with teenagers who have been to the farm every year since they were the ones with the smiling pumpkin painted on their cheek.

The central barn area acts as a family store and is stocked with apples and apple products, which make up nearly 70% of the Downing’s sales. A table in the back sells hot dogs and iced apple cider. The walls are lined with a variety of items, ranging from the familiar apple butter or cider to different jars of preservatives made from their own fruit or their very own fresh pumpkin butter. The quality and freshness of the products available are on display as visitors pick up entire bags of apples, pumpkins and a gallon of apple cider.

“We raise the highest quality of whatever we do, whether it is peaches, plums, apples or pumpkins,” says Downing, “It’s pretty satisfying to know that people appreciate and enjoy the taste and quality of our products.”

Downing can be found at the Oxford farmer’s market on Saturdays uptown, selling apples, etc. His products can also be found on campus in the form of the local pumpkin smoothies, available at King Cafe, Bell Tower and Miami Ice, and the pumpkin milkshakes available at Encounter. The Moon Co-Op, located near T.J. Maxx, also sells Downing Fruit Farm products.

They weren’t using the machine below while I was there, but let’s face it… it looks really cool.

Apple season in Ohio. #jonagold

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What is the Demske Culinary Support Center?

Miami University Dining Services serves over 20,000 students, staff and faculty everyday, between the Oxford and regional campuses. At the center of that is the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC), which has been the Miami University food service headquarters since 2001. Located on Wells Mill Drive (behind T.J. Maxx), DCSC serves as a warehouse, production center and distribution hub for all of Miami’s food operations. While most universities partner with external companies to supply their food, Miami University Dining doesn’t need to rely on a corporate company because of the Culinary Support Center.

Okay, so why should you care?

First of all, the Culinary Support Center ensures students and staff higher quality food and lower prices. Products can be ordered in bulk, stored and DCSC can produce food on-site. Additionally, Miami University Dining is able to source from a number of vendors because of the on-site production facilities, and it is easier to focus on local food products, which makes up 26% of the food Miami University distributes.

Secondly, it is fascinating.

I am a Miami University alumnus who, honestly, never knew anything about this side of the University. Heck, I never knew there was anything behind T.J. Maxx, much less a large warehouse, temperature controlled freezers, multiple production facilities and a bakery. All the food that students, staff and faculty eat comes from DCSC in some capacity and, yet, nobody seems to know much about it.

Now, if you want to know more, you can. The Culinary Support Center runs tours through the facilities, offering guests a first-hand look at how food arrives in Oxford and then to your plate. If you are in need of a topic for a school project, or just want to know more about our food services, you can tour the facility and get any questions you have answered while you’re at it.

The Culinary Support Center offers visitors a glimpse into the level of quality and efficiency that goes into the food you eat. You can see firsthand how items come into the shipping and receiving docks and then are dispersed throughout the facility. From there, each area has specialized equipment and dedicated staff who process, organize, and prepare an incredible amount of food that is then distributed and served all over the Oxford campus.

People today want to know where their food comes from. They want to know the farm or the orchard where their food was grown and people want to have a relationship with their food providers. We want to give students the opportunity to build that relationship with us. We want to give students a behind the scenes look at how we operate and provide our services.

If you are interested in taking a tour of the Demske Culinary Support Center (DCSC), give us a call at 513-529-3040 to speak with one of our friendly staff members or reach out to the @MiamiUDining twitter account and we will gladly work out a time to conduct a tour of the facility.

Hope to see you soon!

Guess What!

Traditional Tuffy’s (in Shriver) has been reinvented!

 

As of today, Tuffy’s now offers soup, salads, and bread for a well-rounded, healthy lunch. More exciting news, the Tuffy’s salads are the same salads offered at Dividend$. You can get your Dividend$ salad fix at more than just FSB.

 

If you’re hungry and don’t have a lot of time between classes, stop by Tuffy’s.

Happy Wednesday!

As a special treat to get you through this week, stop by Maplestreet Station for a delightful breakfast. (At any point in the day!)

 

Patisserie (hours: Monday-Friday 7am-10pm; 9am-4pm on weekends) is where you should be if you long for the chic, luxurious feeling of dining in Europe. It is reminiscent of the finest Parisian cafes—perfect to sip, nibble, relax, and study in. If you want to surprise a friend or significant other, get a pastry to go, packaged in a pink box and tied with ribbon.

 

 

First Stop (hours: Monday-Friday 8am-9pm; 10am-7pm on weekends) is a great place for breakfast during the week and an even better for brunch over the weekends. Hey, even if you want breakfast for dinner, First Stop is your place. It is restaurant style, which means you sit down and order your food from a server. While you wait for your meal, enjoy your coffee or juice.

Take Home Snacks!

MacCracken is the most iconic image of the campus. It’s centrally located, situated near an open grassy area (where students hang out when the weather permits), and can be easily pinpointed because of it’s proximity to the equally as famous sun dial.

 

Because of its central location, Market Street is this week’s place to be. Go to the Rec, go for a walk or jog, hike through Miami’s trails and end your journey at the market for a Naked smoothie or an ice-cold bottle of water.

 

MacCracken is a great snack place for those who have just left the Rec and are looking for a pick-me-up, or for those who are enjoying a leisurely afternoon in the quad because Market Street is a small grocery store where you can find fresh produce and bakery items, along with frozen and dry foods. Market Street even sells flowers!

 

Don’t forget to stock up on snacks for when you’re hungry and don’t feel like leaving your room!

 

Market Street is open from 8:30am-11pm Monday-Friday and 10:30am-11pm on the weekends.

Three Words: La Mia Cucina

If you love Italian food, you’ll love La Mia. In this sit-down style restaurant (carry-out is also an option), you have your choice of fresh salad, homemade soup, hearth baked pizzas, made-to-order paninis, subs, wraps, pastas, desserts, and fruit smoothies. Pretty much anything you could ever need to satisfy your hunger.

 

New this year!

 

La Mia is offering 10 Minute Lunches. These are half portions of La Mia favorites such as fettuccine alfredo, meatball sub, chicken Caesar salad, and spaghetti and meatballs. Great on-the-go or for a sit down meal.

 

ALSO, the family-style lunch, served from 11am-4:30pm is a new dining option. For $28, you get entrée, salad, breadsticks, and drinks for 4! Be sure to check this out with your friends for longer breaks between classes or an early dinner.

 

This is a great place for students looking to treat themselves with the ambiance of an open kitchen environment.

 

La Mia is in the same building as Harris over in South Quad. Both meal plans and credit cards/cash are accepted here and it’s a great place to take a visiting parent.

 

Open: Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm; Friday 11am-2pm; closed Saturday; Sunday 4:30pm-9pm