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Great Harvest Bread Company

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An assortment of items at Great Harves Bread Company.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Great Harvest Bread Company, 2803 Evans St., is a charming, homespun bakery cafe that serves up fresh baked goods, sandwiches, soups and salads in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Owners Gregg and Kim Green have been managing the franchise cafe since it opened in April 2015.

When you walk into the cafe, you immediately smell fresh bread baking. For the Greens, bread is more than just food.

“Bread is the No. 1 symbol that crosses all cultures, and when we break bread together and sit down with friends or family, we give thanks. We slow down around the table, stop and enjoy great food,” Gregg says.

The baking process actually starts thousands of miles away on wheat farms in Montana in a region called the “Golden Triangle of Wheat.” The wheat arrives in large paper sacks and is added to Great Harvest’s on-site stone grist mill. Once the wheat is milled, it is used within 72 hours in order for the nutrients to remain in the breads and baked goods. All bread dough is hand kneaded, and the process starts each day at 3 a.m.

All of Great Harvest’s handmade breads start with five basic ingredients: yeast, salt, honey, flour and water. Then other ingredients are added to make the special flavors. The dough has no added levelers or conditioners, so each baked good has a clean taste, just the way Grandma made it 100 years ago. Bread loaf prices range from $5.75-$9, and the menu prices range from $4.25-$8.75.

The Greens offer seven everyday breads, two cheese breads four days a week and then rotate in two-three seasonal breads, so there are plenty of tastes, flavors and textures to fit your bread mood. The seven everyday breads that stay on the menu throughout the year are honey whole wheat, farmhouse white, cinnamon chip, cinnamon swirl, Dakota bread made with pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds and millet grain, monkee bread and pepperoni rolls. The upcoming seasonal breads are the pumpkin chocolate chip and the autumn apple. These will be available Sept. 1.

Not only is the bread a hit, but Gregg and Kim listened to their customers when they asked for a bagel. The bakery doesn’t have equipment to cook traditional bagels, so the Greens found a recipe and a way to create their very own “Gragel.” Traditional bagels are boiled in salt water, but the Gragel is baked. The result is a crust top just like a bagel but with a soft, slightly chewy bread-like center.

You can spread on some walnut cranberry cream cheese or another creamy flavor, homemade flavored butters or add your favorite meats and cheeses for a savory and delectable breakfast sandwich. I tried the bacon, cheese and egg on a cheddar Parmesan Gragel. The egg was airy and fluffy, the bacon crisp and smoky, and there was a good amount of oozing cheese and garlic-herb spread inside a flavorful Gragel.

Other flavors include the cinnamon sugar with a side of frosting; sea-salt, which tastes like a soft pretzel; plain; blueberry; and “everything.”

If you like a bit of hearty morning fuel instead of a sweet morning treat, try the everything Gragel that is dusted with sunflower, sesame, poppy, caraway and fennel seeds, millet, oats and minced onions and garlic. It has a savory flavor profile with a front note of rye. Gragels are $5 for a four-pack or $16.50 for a 12-pack.

Make sure to pair your Gragel or cinnamon roll with a steamy cup of Blackbeard coffee. Two custom roasts were created for Great Harvest: the Rise ‘N’ Grind light and the Kneading dark roast. There also is a 48-hour cold brew.

One of my favorite things about Great Harvest is that it gives back to the community. It partners with a local nonprofit organization each month and handcrafts a custom baked item that is featured all month long. The nonprofit organization receives 15 percent of the proceeds from the sale of that item in addition to the month’s “tip jar” money.

This month, Great Harvest is paired with Parents for Public Schools. The custom baked item is a German chocolate brownie, which is the most delectable treat. A rich square of a decadent chocolate fudge brownie is topped with a homemade coconut-pecan frosting. You can eat delicious food and give back at the same time, which is just as sweet and tasty as that insanely delicious frosting. The brownie is $3.25.

Another way Great Harvest gives back is to donate unsold loaves of fresh bread to local food pantries throughout Pitt County.

Great Harvest also has a variety of handcrafted gift baskets priced from $18-$75. Catering is available.

Hours are from 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Order online at www.greenvillenc.greatharvestbread.com or call 689-6012.

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