Next up in the Looking Local Gluten Free series I have the pleasure of interviewing Grace, the owner of COPIA Granola. I’ve met Grace at several different Farmer’s Markets across the island and she has such a bubbly and passionate presence. Being a Celiac I was initially cautious of gluten free granola containing oats but Grace definitely knows what she is doing. Her line of products is developed thoughtfully, well crafted and full of flavor. Learn more about Grace, her company, and her products below:
1. First I’d like to know about you. Tell us a bit more about yourself:
I am fairly new to entrepreneurship. My company COPIA Granola LLC is approximately three years old while I, however, am 67 years old. My first career was in teaching special education, follwed by my second career working in New York State government for Governor Mario M. Cuomo. Here is were my world expanded beyond my belief. The Governor was a great role model and teacher. Because of a head and back injury, I had to retire. Twenty years later: My third career is that of a gluten-free entrepreneur.
2. Now let’s hear about your business. Your products are safe for the gluten free community. Was this an intentional choice? If so why?
A friend asked if I could make a granola bar to use with his artisanal yogurt. Knowing how I baked, he recommended the name COPIA after the Roman Goddess of abundance and plenty. Initially, COPIA products were not gluten-free or made with organic ingredients. Customers asked if I could make our products gluten-free because they could not find clean food products that were gluten-free, nourishing and tasty for their family and friends who were gluten intolerant. I went exploring and purchasing gluten free products only to find that most of the products tasted like cardboard or were filled with preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and the like. I now had a mission to produced a good healthy gluten-free product. COPIA now specializes in products that only contain gluten-free, non-genetically modified, and organically nutrient rich ingredients. The two products are granola energy bars which contain 6-7 grams protein and granola which contains 4 grams protein per serving. COPIA’s protein is sourced from tree nuts and ancient seeds. Both products come in three flavors, pistachio almond, cranberry cashew, and hazelnut fig.
Price and addressing allergens is the biggest struggle. When I began, clarification of what was considered a safe gluten-free product was hard to find. In the past two years the FDA has finally suggested guidelines; no more than 20 parts per million. However, this guideline is not good enough for persons with severe gluten intolerance. Therefore, COPIA products have much lower levels in an attempt to serve the greater good. The cost of organic gluten-free ingredients are considerably much higher and therefore, the cost of the finished product is also. This is why COPIA products are also nutritious which serves a double purpose: Gluten-free with nourishment and good taste. COPIA also tries to address other allergies as they are dairy free and soy free too. COPIA contains clean nut/ancient protein and therefore, a healthy meal replacement or snack. What I love about being in business is that the decision making is in my control. Currently we have 4 to 5 part-time student employees. COPIA considers giving back to the community-at-large.
4. What precautions do you take to ensure your products are gluten free and free from cross contamination.
Our products are handmade on the North Fork of Long Island at Stony Brook University Business Incubator at Calverton. All COPIA Granola products are produced in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. Since the Incubator is a shared facility, I rent a private office to segregate COPIA’s gluten-free organic ingredients and equipment. Ingredients purchased are certified gluten-free and organic by the distributing/producing companies. Bia Diagnostics, leaders in food allergen analysis, analyzed COPIA Granola Energy Bars and Granola as having a calculated concentration of less than 5 parts per million (ppm) of gluten protein. The FDA has set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods that carry the label “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten.” Another analysis will be performed by Bia Diagnostics in May. I will also be purchasing an Allergen testing kit for on site tests. I am constantly reading and researching information about gluten intolerance. I still consider myself a public servant… it is my obligation to provide a safe product. Our products are part of the clean food movement, back to basics… non-genetically modified, free of preservatives and artificial anything.
5. What is your favorite gluten free product that your company makes and why?
My favorite product is the energy bar. Packed with protein (6-7 grams nut), our Gluten-Free COPIA Granola Energy Bars are a great snacking option on the go and, because of their high protein content, can act as delicious meal substitutes that will keep you going all day long. When I feel like having hot oatmeal, I drop one bar in my coffee. My coffee becomes lightly sweeten and at the bottom awaits my oatmeal. Cranberry Cashew is my favorite flavor.
6. Do you have any other favorite gluten free products from other companies? If so what?
Copia does not carry any other company’s product. I do recommend: Dragon’s Nest Baked Goods. It is a local company with excellent products, @dragonsnestbakedgood. Dawn is the owner/baker.
One of the best gifts Governor Andrew M. Cuomo gave to the Long Island Community is the ‘Taste New York Welcome Center’ on the Long Island Expressway, eastbound between exits 51 and 52. The Welcome Center is managed by the Nassau County Cornell Cooperative Extension Center. Here you will find many products from Long Island. Farmers’ Markets are wonderful places to visit and purchase locally produced products.
8. Based on your experience with making gluten free products and engaging with gluten free customers what is your top suggestion to help someone live a great gluten free life.
To read ingredient labels very carefully. To subscribe to blogs, and to gluten-free magazines such as ‘Gluten Free & More’, to keep abreast of new information. To consult with their physician on a regular basis.
9. Please provide your website, social media, contact details and where people can purchase your products:
Facebook: Copia Granola
Online Orders are shipped United States Postal Service Priority Mail to the entire Continental United States, with a 2-3 day turn around time. COPIA products can be purchased at:
1. Long Island Aquarium 431 East Main Street Riverhead, NY 11901
2. Taste New York Welcome Center on the Long Island Expressway, eastbound between exits 51 and 52
3. Westhampton Hampton Coffee Company 194 Mill Rd, Westhampton Beach, New York 11978
Southampton Hampton Coffee Company 749 County Rd 39A, Southampton, NY 11968
Water Mill Hampton Coffee Company 869 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, NY 11976 (next to The Green Thumb Farmstand)
Aquebogue Hampton Coffee Company 272 Main Road, Aquebogue, NY (east of Goodale Goat Farm)
4. Pike Farm Stand 82 Sagg Main Street Sagaponack, New York
5. Naturopathica Chelsea 127 West 26th Street New York, NY 10001
6. Blue Duck Bakery 309 E Main Street Riverhead, NY 11901
Blue Duck Bakery 30 NY-27A, Southampton, NY 11968
Blue Duck Bakery 130 Front St, Greenport, NY 11944
Blue Duck Bakery 56275 NY-25, Southold, NY 11971
7. Tate’s Bake Shop 43 North Sea Road Southampton, New York 11968
8. Cornucopia Natural Foods 39 N Main Street Sayville, NY 11782-2507
9. Cheese & Spice Market The Shoppes at East Wind 5768 Route 25A, Suite D, Wading River, NY 1179
10. Wine Country Deli & Caterers 3674 Middle Country Rd Calverton, NY 11933
11. Brinkmann’s 900 Route 25A Miller Place, NY 11764
Brinkmann’s 15 Foster Ave, Sayville, NY 11782
Brinkmann’s 125 Montauk Hwy, Blue Point, NY 11715
Brinkmann’s 999 Main St, Holbrook, NY 11741
12. Tend Coffee 924 Montauk Highway Shirley, NY 11967
13. Westhampton Beach Farmers’ Market 85 Mill Rd, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 Every Saturday 8am – 1pm
14. Babylon Village Farmers’ Market LIRR Parking Lot North Call Avenue, Babylon NY Every Sunday 8am – 1pm