Photography by John Antaki
When mom and daughter team Heather Needles and Ali Kocher moved to the Evans area with their families a couple of years ago, they immediately saw a void that needed to be filled. They had been “uprooted” and missed the community that had existed in the coffeehouses of their hometown. An idea was born and, with the help of a few providentially placed artisans, Rooted Coffeehouse, located off William Few Parkway in Evans, came to life in late February of this year. It’s been a growing and learning process but the reception is undeniable – the community loves it. With a focus on relationships and a beautiful and creatively curated environment, Rooted offers a place for a breakfast date, a place for students to study, and a place for friends to gather.
There are traditional favorites like the frigid Espresso Iced Blend but other popular drinks include their specialties: the Golden Milk Latte, Matcha Latte, and the Fat Coffee. Golden Milk sounds like the food of the gods and it may as well be as this caffeine-free concoction features oat milk and a turmeric spice blend. It’s fraternal twin, the Matcha Latte, is packed full of antioxidants while offering a subtle but not overpowering flavor. Both come hot or iced. The Fat Coffee comes guilt-free as drip coffee levels up with vanilla bean infused ghee and coconut sugar.
And, though a coffeehouse, they certainly won’t be left behind when it comes to their food. From warm breakfast and lunch sandwiches to melt-in-your-mouth scones smothered in icing to nutrient-packed smoothie bowls, everything is hand-crafted with care. With so much to offer it’s no wonder their popularity is spreading both within the immediate community and throughout the CSRA. Whether you live around the corner or across the river, it’s worth the drive for food and drinks that are good for the heart and an environment that’s good for the soul.
Solomon Cohen grew up in Savannah, eating vegetarian and working in the food industry and always had a desire to have his own business. It only made sense to create one around something he is so passionate about: “Down to earth, healthy cuisine”. He wanted to take a health supportive approach to Papa Mountain and so, chose to attend the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, TX before returning to Georgia and choosing Augusta as his home. There’s no denying the positive reception; he’s refilling wholesale orders from a week before that have been flying off the shelves as I ask him questions about what makes Papa Mountain special. “Food is life,” he tells me as he juggles two industrial mixers at once. “What we eat is what we are, down to a cellular level.”
Whether its for health reasons and allergies or just a desire to eat a healthier and more plant-based diet, there is definitely a call in the greater Augusta area for more vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Papa Mountain is the newest addition to the movement in the area and is already building rapport within the community.
Celebrating their first anniversary last month, they are already known for their breads, which are available both frozen and ready-to-eat, and can be found at local markets and health food shops in the area. Solomon has formulated recipes that are both comforting and full of flavor. All of the breads are naturally gluten free, made with a cassava flour base. The Classic cheese bread is a favorite with Garlic and Herb, Chili Lime, and Sweet Potato following close behind. You can enjoy them at home by picking them up in the frozen section of Good Earth, Augusta Locally Grown, and Paleo Num Yums, and both the Augusta Market and Soda City Market in Columbia on seasonal Saturdays. If you want to give them a try first, you can also find them ready-to-eat at Indah Coffeehouse in Columbia and both of the markets offer warm bread as well. After only a year, they’ve been welcomed into the Augustan culture with open arms and I’m excited to see what the next year holds!
Cassava flour is made from the root of a plant (also called yuca) that is native to South America but is also grown on the African and Asian continents. The starchy root is dried and ground to create the flour and is grain free, gluten free, and paleo friendly.
Growing up in central Texas, some very good family friends had a pecan farm and I took it for granted that we always had access to fresh pecans. As kids they would drive us around and show us how they’d use one machine to shake the trees to loosen the nuts that would fall to strategically placed tarps on the ground where another machine would collect them. Hundreds of pounds of pecans were then transported to their barn where one machine would remove the outer shell, another would crack the inner, and yet another would separate the meat from the chaff. We ate those pecans by the handful and baked them into everything we could. I’ve missed having easy access to candied pecans, unique trail mix, and cookies. It wasn’t until recently that I found out that Georgia is actually the largest producer of pecans in the world and that the solution to my problem was right around the corner!
A local family-owned-and-run business, WatANut is a hidden gem, tucked into the Augusta Exchange at the corner of Walton Way Extension and Wheeler Road. They’ve taken a Georgia staple and developed an extensive and creative selection of treats, mixes, and cookies that feature nuts, primarily Georgian pecans. There are both sweet and savory options such as the generously double-dipped Chocolate Pecans, How ‘Bout Them Apples – a mix reminiscent of a piece of homemade apple pie with a slice of cheddar, and their famous Pecan Sandie Cookies, a Flavor of Georgia Finalist. Each product and recipe is intentionally constructed with comforting flavors and 100% all natural ingredients.
They have an enthusiasm and passion for a high-quality product and have purposefully packaged each product in such a way that it is perfect for both personal snacking and gifting. They have a Nut of the Month Club, Gift Tins and Cookie Boxes, can do large orders for corporate gifting, and ship nationally and internationally. But don’t let that stop you from walking through the front door. Their shop is perfectly decorated to fit their brand with a fun outdoorsy feel and someone on hand to help you choose the perfect nutty snack!
Article appears in the May 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.