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Food & Drink

Reinventing the Meal: Cold-Brewed Coffee

The first day Steve Johnson walked into the Stock & Barrel offices, we knew he’d soon land on these pages. Not just because he brought a six-pack of free stuff—but because how do you not wanna know more about a 63-year-old cattle farmer who invented a proprietary cold-brew coffee to fuel his mountain biking pursuits [...]
614now Staff



The first day Steve Johnson walked into the Stock & Barrel offices, we knew he’d soon land on these pages.

Not just because he brought a six-pack of free stuff—but because how do you not wanna know more about a 63-year-old cattle farmer who invented a proprietary cold-brew coffee to fuel his mountain biking pursuits and fight off diabetes?

Meet, Steve, the owner of Off The Beaten Path, who like the name, tends to walk his own way through the local culinary scene. He’s invented his own tap system to furnish local businesses, and his nitrogen-infused (think Guinness) coffee, in flavors like Bourbon Pecan and Snickerdoodle, is low-to-no calories. He’s also full of hot takes on why cold-brew is the only true way (you don’t like over-boiling your veggies until they’re mush, right?), proselytizing a product that is less bitter than hot coffee, has more antioxidants, and promises faster muscle recovery—which is likely part of what landed OTBP on shelves at Paradise Garage, where a clear crossover exists between coffee and cycling culture. It’s a more efficient fuel than the regular stuff, too, with 20 percent more caffeine than regular coffee.

Steve’s always rolling, but we were able to take a moment out of his day on the farm to warm up on cold-brewed coffee.

What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?

Iced coffee is merely ice cubes in hot brewed coffee. Any time you hot brew coffee, it makes it more acidic, lowers the caffeine and kills the flavor. Cold brewing coffee is basically brewing coffee in the absence of heat. My cold brew goes through a patented chilled overnight process, uniquely different from the norm.   

We’d be remiss to leave out your age, and how that typically doesn’t match up with mountain biking and cold brew. What do the people your age think of an old cattle farmer making this stuff?

The short answer? They think I’m nuts. I still love my roots and still love my cattle, but I was looking for a new direction and for a way to increase my level of fitness. As I assimilated into the mountain biking culture, it was there that I got the idea to cold brew coffee.

How can you tell a good cup of coffee or tea from a bad one? In other words, what are the big red flags to take note of when taking your first sip?

A good cup of coffee or tea will have a pleasant aroma, a smooth taste, and a positive flavor profile. Anything else—look out. In a bad cup of coffee, you can smell of bitterness even before you taste it.

What was the trial and error like before got your process down?

Up until three years ago, I always avoided coffee because of the bitterness. Then I found out that the quality of the bean, the way it is roasted, and how it’s brewed all made such a difference. So first I had to find the bean, and was fortunate enough to find Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. From there, I experimented with steeping and soaking and was able to develop an even higher quality product through my proprietary brewing system.     

Besides cold-brewed (obviously), how do you prefer your morning cup of joe?

Here is the perfect cup of coffee; it’s cold brewed, filled with nitrogen and then it is served at 180° F! In order to get this, I developed the Hot Tap, which is temperature limited and allows the nitrogen infusion to stay constant.

How has your diabetes played a role in this?

I started mountain biking 4 years ago to control my diabetic situation. The exercise allowed me to avoid medication. I average riding 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. I also found that coffee consumption helps me control my blood sugar levels.

We know you have a patent on your process. Do you have any other inventions to your name? We know you farmers have to get creative out there….

I have modified hay and tillage equipment to fit the specific needs that I have had on the farm.  I have also developed improved ways of recycling wood waste and asphalt shingle material as well. All that practice allowed me to design and invent the Hot Tap and related brewing equipment.    

Coffee is somewhat an acquired taste for people, do you think cold brew coffee makes it a little easier for people to enjoy coffee?

Yes, cold brewed coffee tastes much better than hot brewed, but the nitrogen infusion creates such a great flavorful creamy profile, most people don’t even need to add any cream or sugar to my coffee or teas.

Can you give us an elevator pitch as to why people should switch from energy drinks to cold brew coffee or tea?

Feel like you need an energy drink?  Skip the additives and sugar and Try Off the Beaten Path cold brewed coffee and teas! Coffee and water, tea and water, zero additives and 10 calories or less.

Off the Beaten Path On Tap

The Walrus

The Angry Baker (3 locations)

Polaris Grill

The Guild House

Lemongrass Fusion Bistro

Zoup! (Easton)

Dicks Den

Woodlands Tavern

On Shelves

Lucky’s Market

The Hills Market (Downtown)

Weiland’s Market

Savor Growl

Paradise Garage


Yellowbird Foodshed

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Food & Drink

Tea Time: Spritz puts new twist on bubbly beverage craze

Mitch Hooper



It’s Friday night and you and your friends are at the bar. While everyone else is sipping back glasses of wine, cocktails, and beer, it’s your turn to be the designated driver of the night. We all take our rounds, and these rounds are usually a reminder that being out at the bars sober while everyone else is working on getting intoxicated just feels off. As your friends reach for their glasses to toast in celebration, you might take a sip of your ice water, or just wait to get the nod to round up the crew and go home. However, Kathyrn Dougherty is hoping to change this all-too-common situation with her line of non- alcoholic sparkling teas called Spritz.

Spritz is a new beverage hitting the markets based out of Dublin, Ohio. In a world where grocery stores offer seemingly endless options of sparkling waters and flavors, it was really only a matter of time until the trend took to tea. But, unlike the famous La Croix and Bubly on the market, Spritz is much less carbonated, giving it a lighter mouthfeel. They’ve even coined a phrase for it: softly sparkling. Combine that with flavors such as green tea with pomegranate, lemon, and peach, and Spritz might quickly become both your mid-day pick-me-up as well as that refreshing drink you enjoy in between a night of cocktails.

The idea for Spritz comes from Dougherty’s background in health and fitness. A few years ago, she and her friends were training for an Ironman competition. These competitions are not for the light of heart, as they feature 2.4-mile swim, a 112- mile bicycle ride, and a 26.22-mile marathon in this exact order. It goes without saying that training for and competing in this leaves little room for hangovers. As Dougherty and her friends would hang out more after workouts, they noticed they were craving a more sophisticated drink that wouldn’t cause a splitting headache the next day. Thus, an idea was born.

It started simple for Dougherty. At the time, she was (and still is) a big fan of sparkling waters. She also had grown a heavy affinity towards Teavana, a tea provider now owned by Starbucks. After scrubbing used Gatorade bottles with disinfectants and cleaners in her very own kitchen, Dougherty and her step-daughter began the process of brewing what would eventually become the basis for Spritz. While she no longer uses Teavana for her tea blends, she still holds a special spot for them in her heart.

Fast forward to present day and Dougherty is ready to release Spritz to the public in December. The first iteration of the teas will be hibiscus with dragonfruit, guava, and mango with no caffeine. Dougherty said this tea is great for unwinding after a long day, or simply treating yourself after a good stretch at a yoga class. The zero calorie, zero carbs, and gluten-free drink is both vegan and keto friendly so it fits essentially any diet. And while the idea for Spritz began during a time of looking for an alternative to alcohol, the drink maintains its fitness roots as Dougherty works to get the drinks in places such as PAI Yoga and Friendship Fitness in Dublin.

“I want something I can grab and say, ‘Hey, I get a treat now,” Dougherty explained. “But, it’s not going to be something I feel bad about.”

Spritz also serves a second purpose, and it’s something Dougherty feels is very important to the brand of the business. It’s women’s empowerment, and through channels such as hiring more women at proper pay rates to close the pay gap, or promoting other women business leaders through their hashtag #FemaleFounderFridays on Facebook, she hopes to change a few practices within the industry. In her mind, the best way to do so is to lead by example.

From her team being comprised of women, to working out of the space at Haven Collective—a woman-owned and -operated co-working office—Dougherty is very much walking her talk. Add in the fact that 1% of all sales this year will be donated to charities and nonprofits that empower women, and it’s clear that she is just as much invested in uplifting women as she is with concocting delicious beverages.

“For some people, [women’s empowerment] means being a stay-at-home mom and having 10 kids—that’s wonderful. I will celebrate that that’s your path in life and that’s amazing,” Dougherty said. “If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to be married and doesn’t want to have children, that’s amazing. Go do that. My number one thing here is that women can feel like they can choose the path that’s right for them and not apologize for being too ambitious, or ‘not ambitious enough.’”

Keep up with Spritz on their Facebook page at facebook. com/SpritzBev or visit the website at

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Food & Drink

Sweet News: Macaron pop-up opens in Short North

Regina Fox



We've adopted many things from the French—kissing, press, bread—but perhaps the sweetest is the macaron. Cincinnati's Macaron Bar recently opened a pop-up location in the Short North at 668 N High St., just in time for the holiday season.

The bakery offers "a premium texture and flavor experience enhanced by our vibrant, cosmopolitan stores," according to its Facebook bio.

Several core flavors are available in the Short North, as well as 3-5 seasonal selections. All the macarons are gluten free. Macaron Bar also offers pour over coffees and loose leaf teas.

Macaron Bar is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon- 7pm, Friday from noon- 9pm, Saturday from noon- 10pm, Sunday from noon- 6pm, and closed on Monday. Visit for more information.

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Food & Drink

Strip Mall Surprise: North Columbus Vietnamese restaurant is a tasteful treasure

Aaron Wetli



Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we highlight locally-owned restaurants and bars that just happen to be located in a, wait for it, Strip Mall.

Let’s warm up with a big bowl of Pho, along with many other Vietnamese delights, in one of Columbus’ best kept secrets: Huong Vietnamese Restaurant.


Nestled away in the southwest corner of Northland, Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is an unassuming haunt that has kept neighborhood residents swimming in Pho since 2008.

Upon entering, you will discover a quaint and cozy dining area containing a seasonal holiday display and a television paying VCR tapes of 1980’s MTV Christmas videos. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. If the Boys 2 Men and Kenny Rogers "Oh Holy Night" collaboration doesn’t warm your soul, the Pho will.

Served in a bowl the size of a football helmet, the Pho is piping hot, rich and flavorful. You can order beef, chicken, shrimp, or noodles only, and could be split between two adults (I said could, NOT should).

Noodle bowl

If you are in a hurry, Huong offers three different options for carry out Pho: eating at home, eating at work, or eating in the car. Each option is prepared differently for the different environments the Pho will be consumed in. How neighborly is that?

If you aren’t in the mood for Pho (weirdo), the Canh Ga will certainly warm you up as well. Deeply seasoned, but not breaded, these fried chicken drums are crunchy and juicy, come with a Sweet and Sour Chili dipping sauce. They rival ANY fried chicken in Columbus and are guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.

Fried chicken drumsticks

A menu item to definitely consider splitting, for no other reason than saving room for other delicious treats, is the FOOTLONG Banh Mi sandwich. Choose between chicken, pork, and beef options, enjoy the toasted bun and accompanying small army of cilantro, jalapeño, carrots, and cucumbers. Just be warned that finishing the sandwich in one sitting is a one-way ticket to a food coma.

Banh Mi sandwich

As for the less well known Vietnamese fare, Huong also offers Crepes (I suggest the shrimp), assorted rice dishes (get the pork chop and fried egg), and rice vermicelli salads with choice of proteins and peanut sauces, as well as a concise but versatile selection of vegan options.

Huong Vietnamese is a funky, fun, and festive holiday destination that doesn’t break the bank unless, of course, it becomes your new obsession. You have been warned.

Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, does not serve alcohol, and is located at 1270 Morse Road.

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