Congratulations to Brad Kirby for 10 years with Stockton Graham & Co.!

Brad-kirby-picking-coffeeApril marks the 10 year anniversary of our Head Roaster, Brad Kirby, joining the Stockton Graham & Co. team! We are proud to have such a dedicated, loyal and hardworking employee within our company. Brad is a necessity to what we do every day here at Stockton Graham & Co. – roasting great coffee. He is an integral part of our team, and we could not have grown so much without him.

Brad began working in shipping and receiving in 2003, and the warehouse immediately became more organized and efficient. Brad’s interest soon began to develop more in the coffee industry, and he moved into the roasting area permanently.  Brad’s eye for detail and passion for coffee has made him an excellent roaster and bestowed onto him the title of “Head Roaster”.

Brad-kirkby-smilingHaving a natural knack with machinery, Brad has become a Factory Trained Equipment Tech for La Marzocco, Franke, Astoria, Rancilio and Fetco brand coffee equipment while working at Stockton Graham & Co. He keeps all of our production equipment operating efficiently, and teaches Stockton Graham & Co.’s Coffee College class on Equipment Cleaning & Maintenance. Brad also has developed, implemented and maintains our associate safety program to ensure a safe, secure workplace.

Brad has worked with Brandon to share roasting knowledge with their roasting peers in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. They also discuss the best practices to further the development and use of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) standards through the Southeast Roasters Cult, Gulf Coast Roasters and Mid-Atlantic Roaster groups.

While working at Stockton Graham & Co., Brad has served as a SCAA Workshop Volunteer (for Gold Cup Certification labs and Brewing & Grinding labs), completed both Beginner and Intermediate SCAA Barista Classes and passed the SCAA Sensory Skills Test. Brad has traveled to coffee farms to learn more about the growing process, and he recently enjoyed a visit to the Selva Negra farm, where he got an in-depth look into the facilities there.

Brandon Riggs, Stockton Graham & Co.’s Roastmaster and Green Coffee Buyer works with Brad the closest. They spend every day artisan roasting Stockton Graham Coffees and hand packaging them for our customers. Brandon has only appreciation and praise for the work Brad does here at Stockton Graham:

“Customers should know that the consistency of their coffee is due to Brad’s attention to detail and passion for great coffee. Brad has helped the company grow so much, and was instrumental with the profile software for all the roasters. He has grown in his cupping knowledge, and his espresso and machine knowledge is invaluable. He also provides tremendous insight into the coffees we purchase and the best profile for roasting them.  Brad is great at what he does and is truly appreciated!”

President and Co-Founder of Stockon Graham & Co. Jeff Vojta, sings Brad’s praises as well:

“It has been an honor and pleasure to be able to work alongside Brad for these past 10 years. I have learned a great deal from him, and we have learned a lot together.  He has been an integral part of the company and he has worked hard to ensure that we roast and package the best coffees for our customers.  He and Brandon have worked very hard to ensure that our coffees are exceptional in taste and quality. Brad is also an instrumental member of our overall good manufacturing processes and compliance programs. He is a true asset to our team.”


For 10 years Brad has done so much for Stockton Graham & Co., our staff and our customers. No one can fully express the appreciation we have for our Head Roaster. Brad’s knowledge and gained experience is essential to good roasting, and his hard work is always appreciated. The whole team would like to congratulate and thank you for 10 years of valuable service, Brad!

The Basics of Evaluating Coffee

Evaluating the different components of coffee can be beneficial for a number of reasons. It can help you discover a preferred single origin, understand what you like and don’t like in terms of a coffee’s profile, and it can strengthen your palate. Evaluating coffee is done through a process of adding hot water into a cup or a glass of freshly ground coffee, known as a coffee cupping. In a traditional cupping, you will compare and contrast the qualities of different coffees from different countries or even different regions of the world. While cupping coffee, there are five key elements to consider in every brew, which affect the character of each specific coffee.

Aroma: The mouthwatering scent of brewed coffee. Aroma is an integral part of the coffee experience and is especially apparent when the coffee is first ground, and it sets the stage for the coffee’s flavor. Examples of aromas expressed by coffee include flowers, citrus fruits, caramel, fresh bread, and more. The scent of coffee before brewing is also called its fragrance.

Acidity: The perceived “brightness” of the coffee when tasted. Acidity usually determines the coffee’s overall character: lively, subdued, flat, round, sharp, tart, dry, crisp, and so on. Note that this “acidity” is a quality of the sensory experience—it’s felt on the tongue, not in the stomach.

Body: The weight of the coffee in the mouth, also called mouthfeel. It’s the tactile sensation of fats, oils, and sediment from the coffee suspended in the brewed solution. Coffees may feel heavy, light, buttery, thick, syrupy, watery, winy, and more.

Flavor: Perhaps the most important part of the coffee-tasting experience. Coffee’s flavor is determined by the beans’ organic makeup, nutrients supplied to the beans by the cherries, the caramelization of sugars during roasting, roast levels and more. Specialty coffee has an incredible range of flavors such as; berries, fruits, flowers, chocolate, spices, etc.

Aftertaste: The taste sensation that lingers on the tongue after drinking the coffee, also known as the finish. Coffees with a heavy body tend to have a more pronounced aftertaste. Aftertaste is often described in general terms, like spicy, smoky, woody and so on.

Cupping is something that requires practice, and with time your palate will strengthen. It is a great way to explore what specifically makes coffees unique from others while truly understanding what characteristics in coffee you are especially fond of. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we hold a cupping each month in our Coffee College, where students will cup with our roastmaster, and will learn how to develop strong palate for hundreds of profiles that coffee can offer. For more information on coffee cupping, give us a call at 800.835.5943.

To see detailed descriptions of our coffees, take a look at the flavor profile panel on our  coffee description page.


House Blend Deconstruction at Swift Creek Coffee House

Stockton Graham & Co. will be at Swift Creek Coffee House in Garner, NC on Thursday, October 14th at 7:00 PM.

We’ll start the event with a history of coffee and move into cupping the various single-origin varietals that make up Swift Creek’s famous house blend lead by SGC Roastmaster and Green Coffee Buyer Brandon Riggs. It promises to be an educational and fun experience for all!

If you’d like to attend, please contact Swift Creek at 919-773-2001. They are located at 1350 Fifth Ave. in Garner, 27529.

We hope to see you there!

Michael Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.


You’ve requested an espresso sample…Now what?

So, you’re interested in receiving a sample of a new Stockton Graham espresso blend to evaluate with your customers. We try to base our suggestions on what your customers are looking for, so we tend to ask a lot of questions like, “Do you have a lot of straight shot coffee geek customers?” or “Do you tend to sell mostly mochas or flavored lattes?” These questions help us tailor the best solution for your business.

While not all espresso blends are created equal, here are some general questions you’ll want to ask when familiarizing yourself with an unfamiliar blend, assuming all equipment is clean, calibrated and in proper working order:

1. What is the volume of the shot?
SCAA standard is 0.75 oz. – 1 oz. for a single; 1.5 oz. – 2 oz. for a double.

2. How long is the extraction time?
The shot should run between 20 – 30 seconds.

3. What does the shot look like?
Your espresso should have the viscosity of warm honey with a thick, dark golden crema. When the volume and extraction time are correct, the visual characteristics will often follow suit.

Additionally, here are some things to keep in mind:

-Grind coffee to order
-Try sample 1-2 days after receiving it
-Use about 8-10 grams for a single; 18-20 for a double
-Flush your grouphead before inserting the portafilter
-Keep portafilter hot

It’s important to remember also that there are no hard and fast rules that can be applied to every espresso blend. In the cupping room at our roasting facility, we taste together once a week and your customer care associate would be happy to pass along tips and additional cupping notes for specific coffees to help guide you along the way.

And, as always, we appreciate your feedback, so be sure to take notes to pass along to us!

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

Pics from the Grand Opening of Beyu Caffe

Stockton Graham & Co. had a great time visiting Beyu Caffe for a coffee cupping and their Grand Opening. What a great stop right smack in the middle of downtown Durham! Not only was the coffee tasty (we are a little biased), but the food was excellent, too. The Bull City is lucky to have Beyu. The cafe makes for a great stop before and after seeing a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Here are some photos from our visit:

The entrance to Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham, NC

Beyu owner Dorian Bolden steams milk for a latte

Behind the Beyu bar...

The breakfast crowd at Beyu Caffe

Stockton Graham's Brandon Riggs (left) and Thom Swain (back) give a brief background of the varietals making up the Beyu House Blend

A loyal Beyu customer enjoys the smell of the coffee

SGC's Laura Heyda and her daughter Sarah prepare to break the crust

Congrats to Beyu Caffe on a great Grand Opening! We were thrilled to be apart of it all.

If you are a Stockton Graham & Co. coffee customer (or would like to be) and you’d be interested in holding a cupping in your cafe,  please contact me at 800.835-5943, ext. 3552.  If you’d be interested in learning to host your own, SGC’s Coffee College offers a “Cupping for Coffee Shop Owners” class. Schedule your spot today!

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

Grand Opening at Beyu Caffe in Durham, NC this Sat. @ 10 AM

Stockton Graham & Co. will be holding a cupping this Saturday, January 16th at Beyu Caffe in Durham, NC at 10:00 am in honor of their grand opening! 

We’ll start with a history of coffee and move into cupping Beyu Caffe’s House Blend, hosted by SGC Roastmaster and Green Coffee Buyer Brandon Riggs.

If you’d like to attend, please contact Beyu at (919) 683-1058. They are located across from the Marriott Convention Center and just down from the new Durham Performing Arts Center. We hope to see you there!

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.