The Business of Coffee

The Business of Coffee: Pyramid of Profitability  Building a successful coffee brand is all about blending the art and business of coffee.

In a world where private label coffee lines die out as frequently as Billboard one-hit wonders (remember Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” or James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”?), building a coffee brand that’s built to last takes more than inspiration.

Whether you’re a celebrated musician or a professional accountant looking to start your own coffee business, Stockton Graham & Co. will take you on a 5-step process that can help ensure your profitability.


Business of Coffee: Plan

One of the first serious steps you’ll take toward opening your coffee shop is creating a business plan. Take some time to think about your business strategy: what’s unique to your vision, what do you do best and what do you enjoy? Think about what you want to sell and what type of people you want as customers. Then write this down.

The business plan document sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Simply write down in bullet format the answers to these questions:

  1. What do I love doing?
  2. What can I be really good at?
  3. What can I make money doing?
  4. Who are my potential customers?
  5. Where do those people shop now?
  6. How can I be better than the place those people shop now?

To formalize your plan, ask us for our Marketing Area Profile (MAP). This free tool can help you document your current situation, competition, target market and areas for growth, as well as marketing opportunities you may be underutilizing.

If you’re eager to own a coffee business but are daunted by starting one on your own, you should consider partnering with an established coffee shop brand like Dilworth Coffee. Dilworth Coffee is a quintessential southern coffee shop with an excellent brand reputation started in Charlotte, NC in 1989. Stockton Graham & Co. began managing the Dilworth Coffee licensed concept in 2016. We believe life is better with great coffee so we are committed to making great coffee experiences accessible to both coffee shop owners and profitable coffee consumers.

In joining the Dillworth brand you will have access to our coffee, a top 3 regional specialty product. You will also benefit from our deep expertise in multi-unit coffee businesses. Partnership with our brand is less expensive than a franchise with similar support and those who do join us enjoy owner flexibility within a profitable structure.

Business of Coffee: People

No enterprise is successful without the right people. From your baristas and other staff to promoters of your shop and vendors, all the people in your circle should be committed to your vision. People who are committed to your vision are naturally committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve the skills and competencies to make that vision successful.

With more than three decades of experience running coffee businesses, the team at Stockton Graham & Co. can help you identify experts both in and out of your company. We also offer a series of coffee educational courses, including our popular Coffee College 101, to help you and your staff become experts at preparing and serving specialty coffee and operating a specialty coffee business.

Business of Coffee: Place

Whether you are opening a new store or have an existing store you want to grow, so many aspects of your location, layout and atmosphere are keys to repeat business and overall success. We can offer ideas and feedback on real estate and traffic flow, counter and work area design, back of the house layout, seating, store design and branding, merchandising and point-of-sale display, as well as creating a sensory atmosphere that guests will want to return to time and again. More importantly, you can draw on our expertise on how to position your espresso and coffee brewing stations within your space to create an extraordinary experience for your customers.

Business of Coffee: Products

When you have a good idea of characteristics of the customers you seek for your business, we can help you understand how to serve that customer segment. That’s because each customer segment has different ordering preferences and menu requirements. The team at Stockton Graham & Co. can help you understand your costs for different menu items and source everything you need from craft-roasted coffees and other specialty beverage items to the right equipment and supplies. With extensive knowledge in logistics and inventory control, our team can help you better understand how they affect your product costs, as well. We can even connect you with companies that specialize in financing for coffee businesses.

Business of Coffee: Promotions

Having operated coffee shops ourselves, we understand that building strong promotional programs can seem overwhelming. That’s why we simplify it using our F.A.T Philosophy. We start with your Marketing Area Profile (MAP) and help you set goals designed to convince your guests to visit more often (Frequency), sell them more during each visit (Average Ticket) and get new customers in the door (Trial), or “F.A.T.”, resulting in a FAT bottom line! Other promotional tools including point of sale materials, as well as retail bulk and packaged coffee programs and private labeling options such as ones we’ve done for Marcus Anderson, Perks@Belk, Inman Perk, Dilworth Coffee and Bar Cocoa at the Ritz-Carlton are also available through Stockton Graham & Co.
Our internationally award-winning in-house creative team brings a wealth of talent and experience to projects from package design to logo creation. We help customers build private brand coffee awareness and trial through development of public relations, social, digital and print media campaigns, eye-catching point-of-sale and innovative in-store displays.

Every Specialty Coffee Business is Unique

We understand that your business vision is unique and our singular focus is on your success. That’s why we focus on understanding your business and partner with you to provide the support you need.

“Unlike other vendors we had tried, Stockton Graham & Co. understood our needs immediately and did not just see us as a means to push products. They have not only educated me and my staff on how to prepare and serve great coffee, but they continue to provide me keys to running a profitable business… and, they keep us up-to-date on beverage trends and opportunities that have elevated sales.”
– Guy Ettinger, Inman Perk

Feel free to contact us to discuss your specialty coffee business in more detail and explore how we can help you succeed. For initial discussions, reach out to our Director of Business Development Thom Swain at or (800) 835-5943.