Storm Mountain Coffee selected for national chef tasting

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— Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters owner Julie Spitzley is used to locals sampling her coffee with a smile, but she never expected someone to recommend her coffee for a national culinary event.

Although Spitzley still isn't sure who contacted renowned chef Greg Claus, he got wind of Oak Creek's coffee roasting leader and asked Spitzley to bring her beans to the 2006 Culinary Vegetable Institute's Food and Wine Celebration in Milan, Ohio.

"Since they already had picked a coffee vendor for the event, I was just there handing out samples, which I think everyone liked," she said. "It was really neat being there. We got a lot of great response on our coffee."

The Food and Wine celebration brought together dozens of celebrated chefs, including those from NBC and Bravo's TV reality hit "Top Chef," to practice their craft and help support the Culinary Vegetable Institute's Veggie U. program, which aims to get elementary school students to eat more vegetables.

While there, Spitzley said she learned a lot about Veggie U. and thinks it could be an asset to offer to South Routt students.

"(Claus) was telling us that the majority of elementary school kids, when asked, can't name five vegetables without saying things like 'ketchup' or 'french fries.' On top of that, between 80 and 85 percent of kids admit to eating fast food once a week or more," she said.

Those statistics are why Spitzley wants to bring Veggie U. to South Routt.

"Kids just aren't getting enough vegetables. They don't know what they are, and they don't what they taste like. This program is all about health awareness," she said.

The program, which costs about $325 for a fourth-grade class, teaches students the value of eating vegetable and even provides kits for students to grow their own mini-vegetables.

"It's so unique. The kids grow zucchini that are the size of a thumb and radishes that are the size of marbles. Our kids would love it," she said.

Part of being a responsible business, is giving back to the community, Spitzley said.

"I love having my business in South Routt. For young businesses there is no better place to be, because you can actually afford your rent. People really like to see you and you meet some really fun people," she said.

Spitzley and her husband have owned Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters for nearly three years. The business recently moved to its new location on Main Street next to Bonfiglio Drug.

"We wanted to get into the coffee business because it's the second biggest commodity in the world. We wanted something that wouldn't suffer with a bad economy, and since coffee has been around for thousands of years, we knew it wasn't going to go anywhere," she said.

Spitzley said she distributes her coffee locally and nationally, but she would like to have more of a local following, especially because the business is in Oak Creek's backyard.

"For some reason it's been hard to get the locals to try us. Those who have tried us are really faithful, but if they don't know us, they don't try us," she said.

Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for wholesale, which means the public is welcome to come and sample, smell and purchase coffee.

"Come on in, we have great deals," she said.

To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com.

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