Stolen dump truck eludes police for 50 miles

STOW, Ohio (AP/UTC) — Police in Ohio say a 50-mile pursuit of a stolen dump truck had officers dodging bricks hurled from its window and dodging the truck itself when it suddenly went into reverse.

Police cruiser video shows the truck striking police cars and several civilian vehicles during Saturday’s chase through parts of three northeast Ohio counties.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports authorities have charged a 17-year-old suspect with multiple juvenile court charges including felonious assault with a weapon — namely, the truck.

The pursuit began after the truck was reported stolen in Stow, about 25 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker Jr. says one of his cruisers was totaled and two others were damaged. Two officers were treated for bumps.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Downtown Chattanooga fueled by popular coffee shop hangout

The downtown Chattanooga coffee shop scene has been around a while, and Greyfriar’s Coffee & Tea Company has been fueling their customers with unique coffees and breakfast offerings for quite some time.

Jack Howland

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/TheLoop)For the better part of a decade, Greyfriar’s Coffee and Tea Company has been serving Chattanoogans quality coffee and pastries from the little shop at the corner of 4th and Broad streets.

Greyfriar’s is a full service coffee shop that features house roasted coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas and also specializes in such breakfast offerings as pastries, bagels, cakes and pies, all of which are baked in house.

Greyfriar's regularly displays their daily pastry and breakfast features for their customers.

The shop, along with the roastery, has inhabited the same building, located at 406 Broad St., since its inception.

The cozy shop offers a relaxing and laid back atmosphere coupled with specialty coffees and a full breakfast menu.

Greyfriar’s coffee selection typically features seven to ten different single origin roasts and blends at a time, the shop’s head roaster, Kevin Ricks, said.

However, Ricks added that he is constantly experimenting with blends and each bean’s flavor profiles of caramel, or chocolate, or berries or even spices and how to harmoniously unify each characteristic.

“As far as blends, we don’t really serve them in the shop,” Ricks added, “We do blends for different restaurants.”

Ricks added that in addition to Greyfriar’s, their coffee is also served at Big River Grille, 222 Broad St., and Neidlov’s Breadworks, 215 East Main St.

Greyfriar's features a full bar capable of brewing up anything their customers may think up.

However, their coffee can only be purchased in the coffee shop or online, though Ricks recommends customers call before ordering to be insured of the freshest and most available coffee selections.

“The big companies have more priority and the market prices for greens keep rising, but the projections for next year’s beans are much better than this year’s,” Ricks said.

Greens are the coffee beans before they are roasted.

This is what coffee beans look like prior to being put into the roasting machine.

Ricks began his coffee shop experience on the retail end, but moved to being the roaster for Greyfriar’s in June of this year. Ricks said he is completely fascinated by the nuances of roasting coffee.

“I had not roasted before, but the opportunity presented itself. It’s a lot of fun, I learn something new every day,” Ricks said.

Ricks added that he would like to see the shop grow both retail and wholesale wise and also expand to offer more lunch offerings for their food menu.

“I want the shop to continue being a second home for people, to where they can feel comfortable and enjoy the laid back atmosphere,” Ricks said.

If you liked this article, check out this article about another downtown coffee shop roasting their own coffee as well.

On the heels of Halloween a couple’s worst nightmare comes true

Jack Howland

COVINGTON, Ga. (AP/UTC) — A 9-month-old baby is in critical condition at an Atlanta hospital after she was attacked by two raccoons while sleeping in her crib in the same room as her mother.

Authorities say they are investigating how the raccoons got inside the home and whether the family was keeping the animals as pets.

Newton County Sheriff’s Lt. Tyrone Oliver says authorities arrived about 4 a.m. on Wednesday after the mother called 911 to say the baby had been attacked. She was bitten severely on her head and on other parts of her body.

Oliver says the raccoons were outside the family’s house when deputies arrived, and that one was aggressive and fatally shot by a deputy. The other raccoon was given to animal control to be tested for rabies.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

Local roaster donates 5% of sales to environmental causes

Jack Howland

Blue Smoke Coffee has only been around the Chattanooga area for a few years, but has already garnered a faithful following, due in part to the company’s charitable contributions. But Blue Smoke’s owner has no ambition of his company becoming a booming coffee powerhouse.

Chattanooga (UTC/TheLoop) — It all started as a hobby in his father’s old cabin in the Smoky Mountains on the weekends and during what little free time was granted him, but quickly blossomed into a full-time entrepreneurial undertaking.

For Kevin Price, owning his own coffee roasting company was never planned, for him it just kind of happened when some of his friends in Gatlinburg, Tenn. offered to sell his beans in their store. And Blue Smoke Coffee was born.

Blue Smoke Coffee commands a good portion of the coffee display at Greenlife Grocery and offers at least five different roasts.

Based now in Chattanooga, Tenn., Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in such retail markets as Greenlife Grocery, Earth Fare, and Crabtree Farms, and 212 Market Restaurant is currently offering Blue Smoke as a French press. Elsewhere, Blue Smoke Coffee can be found in Knoxville and Gatlinburg, Tenn., Boone and Asheville, NC, Atlanta, Ga. and can even be purchased online at

According to Price, Blue Smoke Coffee is not about becoming a booming coffee roasting monopoly. Instead, his goal is to continue roasting the highest quality beans he possibly can while also being able to give back to the community by donating five percent of his sales to environmental and humanitarian causes.

Kevin Price, at right, owner of Blue Smoke Coffee, attends several of the farmers' markets in Chattanooga and even donates time and fresh brewed coffee at various off-road running races.

“I have tried to refrain from studying what other roasters are doing and just focus on doing my own thing by developing my own unique way of blending and roasting to create blends that are distinctly Blue Smoke,” Price said.

Currently, Price offers five blends at each of the outlets that carry Blue Smoke Coffee. Such blends range from a light, medium and dark roast, to an espresso roast and a decaf roast.

All of Blue Smoke's coffees and merchandise can be purchased online and at many retailers in the region.

Price started out donating only one percent of his sales to the aforementioned causes, but as demand grew, so also has his donations. “Soon Blue Smoke will be donating 10 percent of its sales,” Price added.

Much of Blue Smoke’s sales directly benefit many of Chattanooga’s environmentally focused causes such as Appalachian Voices, Trust for Public Land – Stringer’s Ridge, Wild Trails and Crabtree Farms.

Price also maintains that many Chattanoogans are still not drinking local coffee, that the local roasters are competing against many national brands.

“My advice to Chattanooga roasters is not to compete with their fellow local roasters, but instead focus on taking market share away from the big national brands,” Price adds.

If you like this article, you might also like this article about a coffee shop located practically on UTC’s campus that is roasting their own beans.

New breed of celery hits grocery store shelves

Jack Howland

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP/UTC) — Is America ready for red celery? A Florida produce company thinks so and has bet consumers will bite on the colorful crunch of its new product.

Red celery will hit selected supermarkets Dec. 1 — in time to add some eye-catching color to holiday tables, said Dan Duda, president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, which was set to unveil the new celery at a produce industry trade show in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.

“It’s bright, it’s red, it’s different, it’s unique,” said Duda, who added that it has the same flavor and crunch of regular green celery.

It was nearly 20 years in the making, he said. One of the family owned company’s celery breeders, Larry Pierce, started developing it in 1991, working off a European heritage variety using natural breeding methods.

Jean Ronnei, who oversees the award winning school meal programs of the St. Paul public schools, said the new celery could be a “perfect fit” for her cafeterias, which run “coolest new veggie” contests to encourage students to try fresh produce.

“We do eat with our eyes,” Ronnei said, adding that she hoped it would be priced low enough for the school lunch market.

“If there are efforts under way to jazz up veggies, I’m all for that,” she said.

Red celery will be test marketed first on the west coast and in the northwest and southwest, Duda said. It will carry a premium price that will vary by location as they gauge how much extra shoppers are willing to pay. It will be rolled out nationwide sometime later. Duda declined to go into much detail about the company’s marketing plans for competitive reasons and would not say which retailers would carry it or specify which cities.

American consumers used an average of just over 6 pounds of fresh celery per person last year, compared with about 8 pounds of fresh carrots, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2009 celery crop totaled 1.97 billion pounds, with a total value of $364.8 million.

Based in Oviedo, Fla., Duda Farm Fresh Foods says it cultivates 39,000 acres of produce in Florida, Georgia, California, Arizona and Michigan and ranks as one of the world’s largest celery producers.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Alternative coffee brewing methods yield superb results

Jack Howland

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CHATTANOOGA (UTC/TheLoop) — Long regarded as the norm when it comes to brewing coffee, the conventional drip coffee maker is starting to lose popularity among coffee aficionados.

Of the many methods to alternatively brew coffee, there are two that stand out as being cheap and easy to produce good coffee.

First, the French press method is probably the easiest way to brew stellar coffee with little effort. All one needs is a coffee grinder, a French press, and a way to bring water to a boil.

The French press can be very cheap to buy and is visually stimulating if brewing for guests.

The second method, referred to as the pourover method, is less widely known, but is equally as easy to employ and yields a very good cup of coffee. Aaron Rauch, head barista at Windfarm Coffee Bar & Café, 1427 Williams Street, admits that the pourover method requires a little bit more work but the end result “is a lot cleaner tasting and a lot more flavorful and eliminates some unnecessary oils and acids that drip brewers will bring out.”

The benefits to using these two methods is that though they take a little longer to make coffee than drip coffee machines, the end result is that they are cheaper and the product they produce is far superior to drip coffee.

To brew French press coffee, coarsely grind coffee beans and measure out approximately one well-rounded tablespoon of grounds per four ounces of coffee and then dump those grounds into the French press beaker. French presses can be found for around $20 anywhere coffee accessories are sold.

Next, once a pot of water reaches a boil turn off the heat and let sit for about 30 seconds before pouring over the grounds. Cover the saturated grounds with the French press mesh plunger and let stand for three and a half minutes before plunging and forcing the grounds to the bottom. Pour and enjoy.

To employ the second method of brewing first one must go out and buy a pourover ceramic or plastic cone filter that fits over a standard coffee mug and paper filters to put inside the pourovers. The pourovers can range anywhere from $4 to much more expensive glass or ceramic models.

Next, grind the same amount of beans as for the French press method, only this time use a finer grind. Then pour the grounds in the filter and add a little bit of near boiling water to the grounds so that they bloom and are able to hydrate.

After thirty seconds, slowly add about ten more ounces of hot water to the grounds allowing as much grounds to come in contact with the water creating a much cleaner and smoother taste to the coffee. Remove the pourover and enjoy.

While these two methods require a little bit of effort and work on behalf of the home consumer, the end results can be very satisfying. And one does not need to spend the money on an expensive drip machine.

New Orleans chef turns potential downfall into successful business venture

Jack Howland

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NEW ORLEANS (AP/UTC/TheLoop) — Chef John Besh’s two restaurants were spared when Hurricane Katrina barreled through New Orleans five years ago, but the storm almost wiped him out anyway.

Besh had just taken out a large loan to pay off his partners when the storm shut him down and sent his customers looking for dry ground.

“We came back fast and furious, but we were here with a refrigerator full of food and no one to cook it for,” Besh recalled.

At the suggestion of an old Marine Corps buddy, Besh decided to cook the food and serve it to stranded residents and first responders brought to New Orleans by the hurricane. That effort led to Besh’s latest commercial endeavor — ArkelBesh — in which he has partnered with Arkel International to create high quality ready-to-eat meals that will be distributed to emergency response teams.

It’s the most direct outcome of the 2005 storm for Besh, but only a small part of his growing empire that includes several new restaurants, a James Beard award, TV appearances and cookbooks.

“In retrospect, things worked out really well,” Besh said. “But no one thought it would at the time.”

Besh, whose likable persona is a mix between southern good old boy and friendly boy scout, is now involved in six New Orleans-area restaurants — August, Besh Steak, La Provence, Domenica, Luke and American Sector — with a seventh, Luke River Walk, to open in two weeks in San Antonio.

Except for his earliest outposts, August and Besh Steak, all were established with a corps of chefs who returned to New Orleans help him get back on his feet after Katrina.

“They had all lost everything, but they came back to help me,” Besh said. “Working together through that time created an esprit de corps. These guys realized if we worked together we could move ahead.”

One in that close-knit crew, Chef Steve McHugh, was diagnosed with cancer and went to San Antonio for treatment. Besh said McHugh fell in love with the city, and will now be at the helm of Luke River Walk.

“It was a life-changing event for all of us,” said Alon Shaya, who was the chef at the steak house before the storm. “I had only known John for a short time, and we really just had a professional relationship. But I tell you, when we were stirring pots of red beans in his driveway at four in the morning, it created a bond for all of us.”

Preparing food and delivering it to hospitals, rescue workers and stranded residents — and “every civil servant in St. Bernard Parish for a year-and-a-half,” was the start of everything that followed, said Shaya, who now leads Domenica.

Simone Rathle, who until recently handled Besh’s publicity, said a Katrina fundraiser Washington, D.C., shortly after the hurricane, was one of the first things to put Besh on the national radar.

“He hadn’t shaved, he was tired, he knew what was going on in the city, and everyone wanted to talk to him,” Rathle said.

That day Besh and the other 19 chefs making po-boys, the traditional New Orleans sandwich, raised $27,000 in two hours, Rathle said. But the event also made Besh a spokesman for his stricken hometown.

Since Katrina, Besh has won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2006 and more than 100 other honors, including those from Food Arts and Gourmet Magazine, for his cooking and restaurants.

Besh also became a rising television star, finishing second in the first season of the Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and competed on the popular “Top Chef Masters” series on Bravo. This summer, TLC aired a series called “Inedible to Incredible,” in which Besh traveled around the country working with home cooks to help them improve their cooking skills. He has also filmed an upcoming 26-episode series for PBS, “John Besh’s New Orleans.”

Besh’s first cookbook, “My New Orleans: The Cookbook,” was published last year. He also has a modest line of products — a variety of vinaigrettes and a steak sauce — for sale through his website.

But at 42, Besh said he’s at a point where he’s ready to change direction.

“I get to live my dream every day,” Besh said. “I live in the same town as my mom and dad and my in-laws. I love what I do. My mission now is to work at being the dad I really want to be and doing things that will help people.”

During his 20 years coming up through the ranks and building his businesses, Besh said he’s had little time to spend with his four sons, especially his 14-year-old, the oldest. The others are ages 6, 7 and 9.

Now he intends to change that.

At August last week, he was happily looking forward to going to one of their soccer games between lunch and dinner services. He’s also started started work on a second book, “My Family Table,” which he hopes will inspire people to re-establish the family dining tradition.

This summer Besh took up the crusade to help restore confidence in Gulf seafood, which consumers were avoiding after a massive oil spill.

He’s considering several other philanthropic moves, ranging from a foundation to fund scholarships to cooking programs at colleges to hands-on work with youngsters to teach skills they need for restaurant careers.

“I love what I do, I love the art of fine dining,” Besh said. “But I just love cooking for people and want to share that with others.”

Quality coffee at UTC students’ fingertips

Jack Howland

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — The smell of freshly brewed coffee and artisan panini sandwiches wafts from out the front door of a quaint little coffee shop, known as Coffee Crafters, adjacent to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Coffee Crafters offers their own line of hand roasted coffees and is conveniently located on the corner of Vine and Houston streets.

Coffee Crafters has outside patio seating along with a convenient location to campus and downtown Chattanooga.

The coffee shop originated when owner, Kent Baumhover, started tinkering around with roasting his own coffee beans at home. Without prior training or roasting experience, Baumhover researched extensively about roasting coffee and eventually bought a quality roaster in 2003.

Later that year, Baumhover drew up a business plan and opened up a shop through which to further display and showcase his own hand-crafted coffee.

Baumhover feels that his café’s food menu pairs well with his different coffees in that they harmoniously play off each other’s sweet, salty, fruity, and nutty characteristics and nuances.

“For the shop to be successful it is important to have a strong food menu,” Baumhover said.

Currently, Coffee Crafters offers upwards of 10 different single origin roasts of coffee ranging from such regions as:

  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Sumatra
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Tanzania

Baumhover emphasizes the freshness of his beans by including the roasted date on each label.

Baumhover also offers several different blends of coffees, including his bestseller, the Diamond Hammer.

Coffee Crafter’s blends include:

  • Diamond Hammer
  • Brewed Awakening
  • Mocha Java
  • America’s Blend

Baumhover feels that the general public needs to be more educated about the fresh local coffees available to them.

“I want to continue to develop the educational side of coffee and encourage the consumption of it,” Baumhover said.

Coffee Crafters offers some of the best espresso in town.

For UTC students, the coffee shop offers a convenient place to grab a bite to eat while learning about the different coffees Baumhover offers. Michael Lawrence, junior, from Lebanon, Tenn., adds that “Coffee Crafters introduced me to different types of coffee that I otherwise would not have learned about from the grocery store shelves.”

For more information, menu, and store hours, go to Coffee Crafter’s Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

Check out this story on another local Chattanooga roaster.

New Chattanooga roaster set to make big waves in coffee community with bicycle delivery

Jack Howland

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop)–The city of Chattanooga is not without its fair share of well-established coffee roasters, many of whom have their own coffee shops with which to promote their brand.

However, there’s a new kid on the block, one who’s been around the Chattanooga coffee scene for quite some time, but who recently decided to branch out and form his own roasting company, simply called Velo Coffee Roasters, located at 509 East Main St.

Velo Coffee Roasters, owned and operated by Andrew Gage since April 2010, is unique in that Gage delivers all of his coffee by bicycle.

Gage likes to offer at least three caffeinated roasts of coffee and one decaffeinated roast.

Currently, Velo Coffee Roasters’ beans can be found at Greenlife, Niedlov’s Breadworks, and the various farmers’ markets at Finley Stadium, Main Street, and in Brainerd. Gage also hopes to be able to offer space in his shop to accommodate guests for tours, tastings, and also to sell his product

Gage stresses the importance of being able to offer his customers the freshest coffee possible, from regions such as:

  • Sumatra
  • Mexico
  • Ethiopia
  • El Salvador
  • Burundi
  • Uganda

While he tries to change his selections every couple of months, according to the seasonality and availability of the selections from his distributor, he admits that his Ugandan bean has been the most popular. “People dig it, I’ve carried it the longest,” Gage added. He describes it as a medium roast having a heavy body but with a lower acidity level, which, he feels, caters to a broader population.

Gage began his career in the coffee business when he took on the position as one of the baristas for Rembrandt’s Coffee House. While at Rembrandt’s, he assisted in roasting the shop’s various beans, knowing that roasting was in his future.

Gage later left Rembrandt’s to be one of the baristas at both Greyfriar’s Coffee House, on Broad Street, and Pasha Coffee and Tea, in St. Elmo.

The label not only informs the buyer of the region from which the beans come, but also includes the roasting date.

After working as a barista for nearly two more years, Gage was given the opportunity to roast full-time for Greyfriar’s, and it was at Greyfriar’s that Gage was able to hone his roasting skills.

By establishing a strong local following, Gage hopes to create a buzz within the downtown neighboring areas. “One of my goals is to get people to start talking about the coffee, to try and create a coffee community,” Gage said.

If you liked this article, you might also like this article on another local Chattanooga coffee roaster.

New Library Construction

By Jack Howland

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.(UTC/The Loop) The site development for the new library was done in May, followed immediately by the foundation footings and the structural wall phase. That phase is just about finished.

The construction documents for the main building are nearly complete.

The anticipated completion is spring 2012.

“We feel so fortunate, given the economy, that the new UTC library is moving ahead and is on schedule to open in January 2012,” said Theresa Liedtka, Dean of the Lupton Library.