Clean Labeling & Your Coffee Shop Menu

Natural and organic foods have been touted for over two decades, but 2016 is bringing in a natural food sea change of epic proportions. The shift is toward clean labeling, which translates into food and beverages that are less processed and more nutrient-rich. And importantly, clean labeling means offerings that are void of extra salts, sugars, colors, flavors, hormones, antibiotics or any other additives.Clean menu clean labeling coffee shop stockton graham organic coffee roaster

In fact, clean labeling as it is called has become so important that it is transforming big manufacturers like Mondelez, Kellogg and Heinz Kraft. And FoodBusinessNews named clean labeling the #1 menu trend of the year.

“Big Restaurants are all-of-a-sudden dumping some artificial (and other bad-for-you) ingredients from their menus,” reported international food and restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman. “We’re looking at the ‘healthification’ of fast- and fast-casual food.”

Food industry observers are quick to say that the clean labeling trend is not a fad, but rather a long-lasting shift in consumer attitudes away from highly processed foods, especially among the coveted baby boomer generation. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 76% of baby boomers look to clean label or unprocessed products due to concern about their health while 69% of Millennials also site health concerns as the reason they would buy clean products.Smoothies, Stockton Graham & Co., Breakfast

Now’s the time for coffee businesses to get in front of one of the biggest food trends that can impact your business in 2016 and beyond. Here are some ideas from Stockton Graham & Co. to help you lean into the clean label trend.

  1. Assess your customer base
    If your store is on a college campus, in a college town or near a university, in a high-tech corridor or near an active adult retirement community, chances are your customers will gravitate toward clean labels. If in doubt, do an informal survey of your regular customers. One approach, “We’re thinking about adding a small menu that focuses on clean ingredients – that means we’ll look at beverages without added salts, sugars, flavors and the like. Is this something you’re interested in buying from us?”
  2. Know that “clean means clean”
    Replacing “artificial” additives with “natural” additives means you are still using additives: “natural raspberry flavor” shares no genes with real raspberries and customers know it. If you’re committed to a clean menu then look for products that are 100% fruit or ones that contain no added flavoring or preservatives. Click here for simple Green Menu recipes for your coffee shop.
  3. Start with your coffee
    Adding organic coffee to your menu is a simple, inexpensive way to lean into the clean menu trend. Plus, its a simple way to gauge your customers’ affinity for clean labeling. Raleigh coffee roaster Stockton Graham & Co. offers several organic single origins like Organic Fair Trade Guatemala, Organic Mexico Chiapas and Organic Sumatra. We also offer roast-to-order organic blends and espressos.
  4. Buy local
    Let’s face it, in foodservice avoiding all additives can be nearly impossible. And until you see how your customers will react, there’s no need to completely switch your menu over to 100% clean. You can take small steps across the board by implement more natural ingredients, like pesticide-free organic produce or foods with no added chemicals or hormones. One trick is to look for local suppliers of milk, cheese, butter, meats, vegetable and breads: when you buy local, foods get to your business faster so there is less need for preservatives or chemicals to maintain freshness on long cross-country journeys.
  5. Add USDA-certified OrganicMonin Organic Vanilla Syrup
    According to Food Navigator, 81% of American families purchase organic foods at least some of the time, and this is a good place to start. Plus, the price differentials between USDA-certified coffee, milk, soy milk, syrups and sauces and non-certified products are now fairly minimal. In addition to offering several USDA-certified single origin coffees, espressos and blends, Stockton Graham & Co. carries a wide variety of USDA-certified Organic and clean labeled products for your store.

If you’d like to discuss options for your menu, feel free to call us at 800 835 5943.


Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide and Tea Recipes

With Two Leaves and a Bud founder Richard Rosenfeld visiting this week, we were inspired by the many gourmet tea options available to passionate tea drinkers. From Earl Gray to Tamayokucha or Chamomile, tea can be transformational.

Like coffee, tea tastes better when properly brewed, and there are many things that can influence a brew. This includes the tea varietal, tea quality, tea type (leaf, bag or powder), water temperature, steep time and even vessel type.Two Leaves TeaPot and Black Cup

As a general rule, we recommend steeping your tea in a ceramic vessel, but glass is also a great option as well. Metal is best to be avoided as it can give an unwanted taste to your teas. We suggest you use filtered water and avoid tap water. Tap water has chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine to treat it and those can alter the taste

A guide for steeping tea
Stockton Graham & Co Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide

Download steeping guide.

When deciding what you want from a cup of freshly steeped loose tea there are a few choices you will have to make. Choices such as what type of tea do you want. For a single serving you will use 1 to 1.5 heaping teaspoons of loose tea (hence the name teaspoon!).

Green tea: The most popular type of tea, some loose green teas are scented with flowers or mixed with fruits. It can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Oolong: Also known as wu long, this is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet fragrance. Can be re-steeped 3-4 times to get maximum value and flavor. Boil water to 195º F and steep for 2-4 mins.

White tea: The purest and least processed of all teas.  This loose leaf-tea brews a light color and flavor. These can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Black: Known for more pronounced flavors, and, when brewed appropriately, it has a higher caffeine content compared to other teas. Most will recognize this as the tea used for most iced teas. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 3-5 mins.

Pu-erh: An aged black tea from China prized for its medicinal properties and earthy flavor. This is a very strong tea with an incredibly deep and rich flavor, and no bitterness. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 2-5 mins.

Herbal: Does not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family, these are broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, spices and fruits. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 6-7 mins.

A few “Mother, May I” tea recipesFriday Tea Recipes

Alpine Berry Tea Cosmo
1 oz vodka infused with Alpine Berry Tea from Two Leaves and a Bud
1/2 oz triple sec
1/4 oz Monin Lime syrup
1/2 oz cranberry juice

Directions: To infuse the alcohol, soak 3-4 Organic Alpine Berry Whole Leaf sachets from Two Leaves and a Bud for 4-8 hours (any more than 8 hours will make the alcohol bitter).

Remove tea sachets from infused vodka. Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.

Bourbon Blood Orange and White Peach Tea Punch
8 oz brewed Paisley Organic Tart Blood Orange Herbal Iced Tea
2 oz bourbon
2 oz Monin White Peach Syrup
1 oz Da Vinci Lemonade Concentrate
12 oz Ice
(Optional Sliced peaches to garnish)

Directions: Shake tea, bourbon, and syrups vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and garnish with a peach slice or muddle the peach slices into tea mixture, and serve.

Vanilla Honey Milk tea
16 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean
1 ½ oz Torani Real Cream Frappe base
½ oz honey
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake tea, frappe base and honey together. Pour over ice and serve.

Green-Tea Cranberry Spritzer
8 oz chilled brewed Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical
1 oz Torani Cane Sugar Sweetener
3 oz chilled unsweetened cranberry juice
3 oz chilled seltzer
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical, cranberry juice and Cane Sugar Syrup vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and charge with seltzer and serve.

Watermelon and Blackberry Iced Black Tea
12 oz Ice
1 oz Monin Watermelon Fruit Purée
7 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Wild Blackberry tea

Directions: Fill serving glass with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Stir or transfer from serving glass to other glass and back. Garnish with fresh watermelon.

For more information on brewing tea or to place an order, call a Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943.

You Have Great Coffee… What About Your Tea?

Tea guysPeople who open coffee shops or cafés are usually coffee enthusiasts who are passionate about their beans and their brews, but tend to not take tea seriously, leaving their tea drinkers with very few or low-quality options.

Although we aren’t “tea people,” we encourage our customers to offer premium teas that are on the same level of quality as their coffees. Being in the business of coffee, we hope our customers understand the importance of quality at all levels of the supply chain. The quality of coffee at origin will set the stage for its final taste. Hot Tea guyTea is similar to coffee in this way; the sourcing, processing and brewing of tea determines the flavor profile when it is brewed. Because of the similarities of the two products, the quality of tea reflects the overall quality of the business. Don’t neglect your tea drinkers.

A coffee shop with a full bar has all the equipment necessary to have a successful tea program. If you are a coffee shop with no tea program, you are missing out on business. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., over half of the American population is drinking tea on any given day. By catering to their tea drinkers, coffee shops drive more traffic and higher profits. If you are serving food options, iced teas helps up the average ticket price during lunch and afternoon day parts.

cold Tea guyWe have explored many different lines of tea and have assembled an all-star group of premium tea lines designed specifically for the specialty coffee business, including: Mighty Leaf, Two Leaves and A Bud, Paisley Brand and more. These brands are known for their quality and each offer an exceptional product to give options to the discriminating tea drinker.

Read more about our tea offerings below, and give your Customer Care Associate a call at 800 835 5943 if you are interested in receiving a sample:

Mighty Leaf Tea is passionate about creating the most incredible handcrafted tea blends found anywhere and globally sourcing the finest ingredients available. Mighty Leaf Tea offers selections of the finest teas, including black, green, white, and herbal varieties, many of which are mélanges of fruit, spices and fragrant blossoms.
 TLAB_Kettle_300 Founded in 2005, Two Leaves and a Bud creates high-quality, single-origin teas. Their whole-leaf teas are handpicked and provide the fullest flavors possible with no fillers. Two Leaves and a Bud offers black, green, white and herbal varieties with unique selections like Alpine Berry, Organic Orange Sencha and White Peony.
 PaisleyCatalog_header Meet Two Leaves and a Bud’s “slightly hipper, younger sister.” Each box of Paisley tea includes 20 traditional paper teabags full of flavorful tea that brews up bold and fast. Good lookin’ and good tasting — Paisley is high-quality tea that you can afford! This range of 8 flavors has something for everybody, every day. Not to mention, Paisley Brand Tea is Organic, Fair Trade, Non-GMO, and Kosher. It’s one “value-able” tea!

Create an Iced Tea Program Today!

Is iced tea on your menu? It should be. It’s easy to make and can bring in extra cash in hot weather when coffee sales tend to fall. A typical café has almost everything needed to start a distinctive, successful iced tea program… here’s how to get started.

Many commercial coffee brewers can brew iced tea. You may need to program or calibrate the machine for tea, and you may need a special baskets or dispensers, but these things are much easier and cheaper than buying a seperate tea brewer. The same clear cups or glasses you use for other cold drinks are ideal for iced tea, too. Brewing is made even easier by using proportioned filter bags, which require no equipment. All that’s left is deciding what kind of tea to use.

The tea you choose to brew will influence how your iced tea program compares to others. Iced tea is available at fast food drive-thrus, nearly any restaurant, and other cafés. If you serve the same instant-brew dust teas offered for sale at burger joints and on supermarket shelves, you’ll never distinguish your tea program from more downscale ones. You wouldn’t serve instant coffee, would you?

Whole-leaf teas produce more flavorful, fresh-tasting iced tea. Mighty Leaf and Two Leaves & A Bud both offer excellent whole-leaf iced tea. Each 1-oz filter bag brews one gallon of iced tea, and we offer black and flavored tea for an average cost of around a penny per (liquid) ounce. If you serve 16-oz glasses of iced tea, 8 ounces will be taken up by ice, so you’ll be serving 8 ounces of tea per drink. One gallon yields 16 servings, so your cost per serving is about five to ten cents, plus the cost of your cups, lids, and other materials.

As you can see, high quality doesn’t necessarily mean high cost. Iced tea is a high-margin item, but high profit margins can be a double-edged sword. You can make a lot of profit from them, but only if your customers buy it. The key to building and maintaining high sales on iced tea is building your customers’ perception of its value.

Better tea demands better presentation to convey its quality. Imagine how attractive your iced tea would be in a chilled glass rimmed with sugar. Add a fresh wedge of lemon or lime, maybe even a sprig of mint. A drink’s appearance goes a long way toward making the first sale, and that’s as true for iced tea as it is for anything else. A good-looking drink that’s made from premium ingredients and tastes great is worth more than the fast food alternative, and your pricing should also reflect that.

You should also consider what position iced tea plays in your sales strategy. The corporate chains usually put their iced tea in three offers: the drink by itself, the drink with meals, and the drink in quantity. Alone, the 16-oz iced tea sells for around $1.19. But it’s offered for free with meal combos, and if you want to get a whole half-gallon, it sells for only $1.99. You can even get free half-gallons with family-sized combos. They establish the value of the tea alone then use it as an incentive to entice you to order items that build larger ticket totals. You probably do something similar with your coffees already, discounting muffins sold with cups of drip. Iced tea is a natural fit with lunch menus, particularly in warmer weather. You can even encourage group sales by offering pitchers for tables.

However you position iced tea, distinguishing the product as premium will increase sales. The secret is to offer more than one class of iced tea. You offer your basic iced tea with free refills. Ideally, this drink will have a more appealing presentation than the corporate chain’s tea—maybe you can use simple syrup instead of sugar in the sweetened version. You also definitely need to offer a specialty iced tea that customers won’t find at the typical corporate chain, and you can do that with materials that you probably have on hand. A flavored syrup like Torani Pomegranate or Raspberry can make an excellent flavored iced tea, and it’s as simple as adding a shot. You can make a wide variety of drinks with the syrups you currently have on hand.

Both classes of tea can be prepared from one batch, since you can flavor each individual serving differently. Simply charge more for the flavored tea with no refills, or charge for each flavor added. As a pleasant side effect, the option to add flavorings and garnishes gives the customer the sense of choice and control that makes specialty beverages so appealing in the first place. It’s a simple up-sell for your baristas as well: “Would you like to add some peach syrup for .75¢?”

To sweeten or not to sweeten, that is the question! The last thing you will want to consider is whether to serve sweetened or unsweetened tea. If you’re in North Carolina (or other southern states for that matter), you will definitely want to have both sweetened and unsweetened tea available. For shops north of Virginia, you may just want to have simple syrup on hand so customers can sweeten as they please. You may also want to consider offering several varieties in addition to black. Ginger-Peach, Alpine Berry and Calypso Mango are all popular choices as well.

The corporate chains often set new trends, but as independent operations, you have the flexibility to add new items easily and often with better quality, so keep your eyes peeled for other hot ideas from the “big boys”!

Adding Tea To Your Coffee Menu

Is hot tea on your coffee menu? It should be. Some cafe owners choose to ignore tea and it’s a detriment to their overall sales numbers. The number one reason to add tea to your coffee house menu is, well, because not everyone drinks coffee.

What are the benefits of expanding the menu for tea? For starters, offering hot tea opens up a shop to a new segment of potential customers that would normally not walk through the doors. Also, tea is a high margin item, with an average cost of goods between .30 and .40 cents.

The most common excuses for ignoring tea are:

1) “I’m not educated enough about it.”

2) “My customers don’t ask for it.”

3) “I don’t want to add another group of items to my inventory.”

These concerns simply aren’t legitimate. First of all, you don’t have to be a tea guru to sell it. Tea isn’t the focus of your business, but luckily there is enough information online to educate yourself on the basics in order to effectively market to consumers. Two Leaves & a Bud, Mighty Leaf and red espresso are the tea brands we carry and their websites are full of useful information regarding where their high quality products come from, what’s in the them, how much caffeine they contain, how long to steep them, etc. Your Stockton Graham & Co. Customer Care Associate can be a resource for you, too.

What about customers not asking for tea? Why would a person continue to come in just to check if a business has decided to carry a product? More than likely, they will go to a competitor. It’s a fact that that over 90% of customers who don’t have a good experience never complain to anyone in the store – they decide to never come back. Don’t lose any more customers by ignoring tea!

The last excuse is probably the toughest to mentally overcome. Retailers occasionally view new products as just more stuff to buy – more overhead. Certain additional expenses can be a gamble for a small business owner, but tea is virtually risk-free. Tea ages slowly, so you have plenty of time to sell through stock without having to stress over any expiration date. Also, if you own a coffee house you already have almost everything you need to brew and sell tea. Hot water dispenser? Check. Cups and lids? Check. Done and done. All you need is a tea rack which can be had for less than 60 bucks and a few teas and you’re set.

When starting out, offer two black teas (a breakfast varietal and the ubiquitous Earl Grey), one green tea and one herbal, caffeine-free tea. With all new products, it’s always best to start small and expand as customer demand dictates.

So, for less than $200.00 (which includes product) you can add an additional revenue stream that has the potential to bring in new customers every single day…no excuses!

Also, for more information on introducing iced tea to your menu, check out THIS previous post.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

All New Mighty Leaf Display Rack!

Available now, Stockton Graham & Co. is proud to introduce the all new foodservice tea display rack from Mighty Leaf! Now sporting a sleek black interface and an improved tin system, the redesigned display rack will be sure to catch you customer’s eyes faster than ever. The new display racks are in stock now, highlighting these new features:

Bold New Interface: The redesigned rack is much more prominent with a sharp new look, to help your tea selection stand out!

Interlocking Tins: The new tins are now able to snap together so you can categorize or position them as you please!

Easy Grab Dispensers: Each tin now has a fastened dispenser at the bottom, so you can grab some tea on the fly when things at the shop get a little crazy!

Color Coding System: Mighty Leaf has assigned a label color for each genre of tea (black, green, herbal infusion, etc.), to help your customers and employees easily differentiate!

Two Different Sizes: The display racks are currently available in the eight count size, and coming this November, a 12 count rack will be available!

Tidy Up Your Tea Display With The Mighty Leaf Refurbishment Kit

With the temperature dropping and the holidays right around the corner, be sure to freshen up your shop for the last few months of the year! Available November 1st, Stockton Graham & Co. is offering Mighty Leaf refurbishing kits, upon request, with all Mighty Leaf orders. At no additional charge, each kit will contain replacement tin labels for all 15 flavors as well as the latest point-of-sale materials. In the next few months, tea sales should really be picking up, so be sure to have your tea display looking its best! The fourth quarter is typically the most profitable quarter of the year, so take advantage of this free opportunity while it lasts!

It is no surprise that smoothies and other frozen drink sales will begin to decline during the fall and winter months, but tea can be the perfect upsell to fill in the gaps! So if your current Mighty Leaf display rack has seen better days, now is the time to clean it up by adding flashy, new, eye catching replacement labels and other marketing materials to draw new customers in and keep them coming back for more!

For more information on the Mighty Leaf refurbishing kit, or on how to update your other merchandising materials, give us a call today and one of our customer care associates will be more than happy to assist you!

Tips: January is National Hot Tea Month, so promoting a “house tea” or a “tea of the week” leading up until then could really stimulate your customers’ interest in tea this fall and winter!