Featured Coffees from Sumatra

Sumatra coffee

Coffees from Sumatra, the western-most island in Indonesia have long been popular for their distinctive flavors. When new crops reach market, we try numerous samples to make sure we discover the very best of what the island has to offer. For 2018, we are offering Sumatra Karo Highlands, Organic Sumatra Mandheling as well as a Sumatra Decaf.

The western-most island in Indonesia, Sumatra grows coffees at altitudes of over 1000 meters on its northern end. At the green bean stage, the coffee has a distinctive bluish color which is attributed to lack of iron in the soil. Their taste can often be considered smooth, with a sweet body that is balanced and intense. Depending on the region, or blend of regions, the flavors of the land and processing can also be very pronounced. Part of this is due to the unique wet hulling technique (called giling basah) used during processing. Another factor in the diverse and intriguing nature of Sumatra coffee is the large number of small producers; even today close to 92% of production is in the hands of small farmers or cooperatives. In 2016, Indonesia ranked fourth in the world with an estimated export total of 400,000 tons of coffee. Less than 14% of that is Arabica from Sumatra, which makes it a very desirable and often hard-to-find coffee.

A Bit of Coffee History

It wasn’t until the late 17th century that the coffee plant appeared in Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company, seeking to break a monopoly on the coffee trade held at that time by Arab merchants, first brought coffee plants to the islands in a search for suitable habitats for commercial crops. The Dutch Colonial Government, which ruled much of the region, began to experiment with plantings and some of the plants took hold. In 1711, the first green coffee exports were sent home to Europe. Successes came rapidly and within ten years, exports of coffee had risen to 60 tons per year. Indonesia became the largest producer of coffee after Ethiopia and Arabia and trade in the commodity there was controlled by the Dutch East India Company until the 1790s.

By the mid 1870’s, large coffee plantations had been created around the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. As the demand for coffee grew, roads and railroads were created to transport the coffee beans from rural mountainous growing areas to ports for export. During World War Two, however, the growth of Sumatra coffee came to a standstill as many coffee plantations were abandoned. Even after Indonesian independence in the late 1940s, the coffee industry languished as farmers focused on crops such as rubber and palm oil. Slowly, beginning in the 1960s, investment in the country’s infrastructure and technological advances have helped the Sumatran coffee industry grow.

Tasting Notes for our Sumatra Coffees

Karo Highlands
AROMA: Mild Earth, Dark Chocolate
BODY: Creamy, Full-Bodied
FLAVOR: Caramel, Semi-sweet Chocolate
ACIDITY: Very Low
AFTERTASTE: Lingering, Slightly Spicy

Organic Mandheling
AROMA: Cedar, Clove, Smoky
BODY: Syrupy, Bold
FLAVOR: Baker’s Chocolate, Pipe Tobacco, Walnut
ACIDITY: Low
AFTERTASTE: Bittersweet, Earthy

For more information about our offerings from Sumatra or any of our other specialty coffees, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

Ready for The Holidays? Part 2

Are you ready for shoppers during the holidays?

(Continued from Part 1)

Back of the House

The goal of any coffee shop or retail business should be to make it easy for shoppers during the busy holiday sales period. They are often in a hurry so they are becoming less tolerant of things like lines and credit card problems so be prepared with regards to equipment, staffing and even flow of traffic.

Plan Staff Levels Carefully

Every year it seems the holidays come earlier. As soon as trick-or-treaters go to bed the holiday decorations start going up. That means shopping and early November weekends are consistently huge opportunities for stores. Unfortunately, for many retailers, their holiday staff is not yet in place. Take a detailed look at staff-by-hour for the first few weekends in November to shift hours into peak traffic times. As we mentioned, shoppers are less tolerant of things that cause them to wait, and nothing is more annoying than a business that is under-staffed.

Training is Key

Often during the holidays, new employees are part time and temporary. Build a training plan for them and stick to it. Start with the company basics and build from there, keeping things simple with “do’s” and “don’t’s.” Also, take out as much flexible interpretation as possible from policies, procedures and processes. Ensure the trainers of these new employees are adequately prepared and make them aware beforehand when they will have training responsibilities.

Make every barista an expert. And we don’t mean an expert only at working the espresso machine. The barista should have knowledge of the coffees and all of your other products in order to answer customers questions. There is no better way to sell a product than with a friendly and informative employee.

Just like staffing, make sure your inventory is maintained at the correct level. Anticipate sales and plan ahead. You definitely don’t want to run out of products you could easily sell to willing customers.

Make it Look Festive

Have a plan in place to change your visual merchandising to your holiday look–don’t just leave it until the last moment. And make your windows pop! The holiday season affords you an opportunity to get new shoppers into your store. Take advantage of the increase in traffic by designing an eye-catching, holiday-themed window display that is inviting. Once customers are in your store, it’s up to you and your capable staff to deliver that magical retail experience.

Don’t forget, Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 25, two days after Thanksgiving and one day after Black Friday. This event, which began in 2010, is growing in popularity as customers come out to support small, local businesses. If you’re a small business, plan to participate and prepare in ways that will help you stand out, whether with promotional signage, social media campaigns or coffee specials. And, of course, be appropriately staffed and stocked.

The fourth quarter is the most critical quarter of the year for all coffee shop owners, so make sure you are doing what it takes to help your 2017 go out with a bang. Happy Holidays!

For more information about how we can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

Featured Coffee: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

Considered by most to be the original home of the coffee plant, it makes sense that Ethiopia produces some of the very finest beans available.

Coffee, which still grows wild in Ethiopia’s mountain forests, was discovered many hundreds of years ago, legend has it, by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.

According to the story, he noticed his goats becoming surprisingly active after eating coffee cherries. One thing led to another and after some experimentation, the coffee cherries were turned into a beverage.

From Ethiopia, coffee made its way across the Red Sea to Yemen, where it was first grown as a commercial crop. From the Middle East, the popularity of coffee as a beverage spread to Europe. In the colonial empires of European countries, in places such as Indonesia and the Americas, new locations were soon identified that were ideal for the growth of the coffee plant.

Today, after lagging behind many of the other big growing nations for years, Ethiopia is Africa’s top coffee producer. The unique (and delicious) flavors of its crops have helped the country rise to become the world’s seventh-largest coffee producer.

Our new coffee originates from Ethiopia’s Kochere area within the district of Yirgacheffe. Kochere is home to many family farms and this coffee is a blend of lots from several hundred small regional farmers. In the region, coffee is grown at elevations from 1,700 to 2,200 meters above sea level in the reddish-brown clay soil of the high hills. It is hand-picked between October and January, washed and processed using spring water within 12 hours, and then naturally dried in the hot African sun. The result is a fragrant and flavorful coffee that is sought after around the world

“Our Ethiopia offering this year marks a return to a more typical washed flavor profile,” says Brad Kirby, Stockton Graham & Co.’s Director of Coffee. “We chose this Kochere due to its complexity and clean cup. Its balance between tartness and sweetness was immediately apparent on the cupping table and we think this offering will appeal to a wide range of coffee lovers.”

CUPPING NOTES
AROMA:  Lemon Drop, Floral
BODY:  Light
FLAVOR:  Black Tea, Lemon, Honeyed Sweetness
ACIDITY:  Pleasantly Tart
AFTERTASTE:  Sweet, Juicy

For more information about our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere or any of our other specialty coffees, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

Ready for The Holidays? Part 1

The Holidays mean big salesIt’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays. Believe it or not, the most important retail season of the year is almost here so it’s time to plan how you can make this busy time a success.

The holiday season can be a challenge for all retailers. There are lots of long hours, more than enough stress and–we hope–lots of shoppers. But, before you get overwhelmed, remember to focus on the opportunity the holidays present. Studies show that 40% of sales during the six weeks prior to Christmas are a result of retail purchases and you don’t want your business to miss out. 

A few things to keep in mind as we approach the holidays:

  • Thanksgiving used to be a weekend of sales and promotions but now it is now much of a month.
  • Thanksgiving is on the 23rd, so that leaves 31 shopping days until Christmas.
  • Week 3 and 4 of November will be big.
  • Hanukkah is earlier this year: December 12-20.
  • Black Friday has been surpassed by 12/23 as the biggest shopping day of the season.

Last year Christmas was on Sunday so it affected shopping a bit. This year it is on Monday so the Friday and Saturday before (the 22nd and 23rd) will be huge shopping days. People will be out and about so give them a reason to stop in and visit you. A break for coffee is a perfect way to make a hectic shopping day more enjoyable. The day after Christmas is also expected to be big but the remainder of that week will be insignificant.

There are so many things to consider during this season we have broken this article into two parts: front of the house issues and back of the house issues.

Front of the House

Host an Open House

Though retail sales are at their highs during the holidays, they don’t generate themselves. Promoting bulk coffee and retail coffee sales is key. One great way to do this is by hosting a pre-holiday open house to showcase upcoming seasonal features to your customers. Begin promoting your pre-holiday open house in October, with a plan to hold the event in early November. This gives your customers time to become aware of the event. A few weeks prior to the event, have employees remind customers of the time and date as they come in each day. Also, advertise your event details with signage near the entrance so everyone sees it as they come and go. Lastly, be sure to post it on your shop’s website and social media page. Social media is the easiest way to reach out to your whole customer base, so it is critical to have all details and updates posted on Facebook and/or Twitter. While promoting, consider mentioning free samples and giveaways and/or raffles which will take place at the event to help encourage your customers to attend.

So, what do pre-holiday open houses usually consist of? As mentioned before, this is a great time to emphasize your bulk bean program. Let guests know that a retail bag makes a perfect stocking-stuffer or a gift basket item. Also, people tend to do a lot of entertaining this time of year, whether it is hosting holiday parties or hosting relatives. A fresh roasted retail bag of coffee or two would certainly be a great thing to keep on hand. Live music is always a nice touch during the holidays, especially if you can have some during shopping hours. It’s a perfect way to attract the attention of passing shoppers.

Introduce Your Seasonal Specials

Hosting an open house is also a great way to introduce your upcoming seasonal features to customers. If you plan to bring in seasonal coffees, arrange for samples to be available and brew a few pots so your customers can taste-test what you plan to bring in. This allows you to receive feedback, as well as collect pre-orders from customers who don’t want to miss out on your limited-time offer. If you’re a bakery, perhaps consider having apple pie or other baked goods available so customers can sample and pre-order their baked goods to pick up the week of Thanksgiving. The main objective of any pre-holiday open house is to get your customers excited about the upcoming holiday features you will be offering, while also convincing them to come to your store, as opposed to competitors, during the season.

Show Appreciation for Your Regular Customers

Business aside, an open house get-together is a perfect opportunity to have fun in a laid-back environment and to say “thank you” to the people who generate a large portion of your sales. Let them know that this is not something that is designed to pressure them in to buying more, but a time to relax while enjoying a friendly, entertaining atmosphere with you, the shop owner. Nothing grows business better than strengthening relationships with customers.

Stockton Graham & Co.’s founder and former retail coffee shop owner, Jeff Vojta, said he would always hold a pre-holiday open house during this time of the year. “There is no better way to make your customers aware of what seasonal products you will be offering,” he says. “Make the most of this opportunity to promote your retail program while it’s at its highest potential.”

To be continued…

For more information about how we can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Whole Beans at your Coffee Shop

Whole Beans at your Coffee ShopAre you selling coffee as whole beans in your café? You should be.

Whole bean sales have the potential to dramatically increase your total sales, yet ironically it remains one of the most underrated and missed opportunities by many specialty coffee retailers.

 

One of the most common misconceptions, when it comes to selling retail coffee, is that it is encouraging customers to stay at home and not come into your shop. The reality is this: of the 300 million cups of coffee Americans drink each day, about three quarters are brewed at home. This means that if customers are inevitably going to drink someone’s coffee at home, it might as well be yours. This also does not replace the fact that customers will still need to come to your shop for espresso-based and other specialty drinks, which they are typically unable to make at home. A successful retail program does not require a lot of extra time, work or marketing. A simple countertop or shelf display will draw the attention of your customers and have them asking questions in no time!

Survey says...

So, what type of revenue can a retail program bring in? The Specialty Coffee Association found in a study that 54% of the adult population of the United States drinks coffee daily (typically in the morning). So, if you have 150 customers a day, then about 75 of them drink a minimum of seven cups of coffee a week and it could very well be at home. This statistic really gives you an idea of the amount of sales you can acquire, even when the customer is at home.

A weaker whole beans program probably sells around 15 pounds per week (with an average retail sales price of $15.00 per pound), which translates to about $225 per week and about $900 per month in whole bean sales alone. A stronger retail program has the potential to bring in upwards of $4,000 a month.

Loyalty equals guaranteed sales

Apart from an increase in your bottom line, another major aspect that a successful retail program can bring is customer loyalty. It’s no secret that there are a lot of choices when it comes to coffee. So anytime one of your customers is not invested in your coffee, you are at risk of your customer being poached by a competitor.

The best way to avoid this is to keep them invested in you, even when they walk out of your door. A simple way to think of it is; each time they drink a cup of your coffee at home, that’s one less cup of someone else’s coffee that they’re drinking. Like any product, the more and more a customer gets comfortable with it, the more likely they will continue to purchase it.

What’s the best way to set up a retail coffee program in your shop? As mentioned before, it does not take much. Start small, with a few choices (perhaps your house blend, a popular flavor and a favorable single origin) — there’s no need to overwhelm or confuse your customers right from the get-go.

Once you notice trends or your customers start making requests, feel free to make additions to your selection. Display your beans in a noticeable area, but make sure it’s not too obnoxious – the goal is to use your whole beans program as an up sell. You don’t want it to distract your customer from the rest of your menu. Most importantly, educate your staff. It is likely your customers will ask questions or recommendations before they pull the trigger on a purchase, so make sure your employees are knowledgeable about all the blend components, origins, taste profiles, etc.

Stockton Graham & Co. recommends our specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee for customers looking to add a whole bean program. Started in 1989 in Charlotte NC, Dilworth Coffee is one of the leading independent coffee brands in North Carolina, according to a 2016 study by Mintel.

To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Featured Coffee: Our New Costa Rica Tarrazú

Costa Rica TarrazuThe coffee of Costa Rica has long been considered among the best in the world. When the last crop from the country ran out and it was time to select a new one, we tried numerous samples to find one that lived up to our standards. We are excited to share our latest discovery.

“For our new coffee from Costa Rica we selected this one from La Pastora mill in the famed Tarrazú region,” say Brad Kirby, our Director of Coffee. “Clean and sweet, it has a pleasant acidity and light body, while the aroma and flavor contain notes of fine Swiss milk chocolate. We roast it to a light-medium roast to best accentuate its delicate flavors and complexities.”

Cupping Attributes:
AROMA: Cocoa, Cherry
BODY: Silky, Well-Rounded
FLAVOR: Tart Cherry, Milk Chocolate
ACIDITY: Balanced, Bright
AFTERTASTE: Refreshing, Clean

Sourcing

This coffee originates from the region of Tarrazú, which is located in the central part of Costa Rica and just to the south of San Jose, the capital city. There, coffee trees flourish in volcanic soil on slopes facing the Pacific Ocean side of the country. Coffee is grown at altitudes of 1200-1900 meters and harvested from November to March.

This coffee is grown by a number of small farmers from eight communities in Los Santos area of Tarrazú. They bring their crops to the La Pastora coop mill, which is recognized among Costa Rican producers for its coffee of exceptional quality and has been in existence for more than 50 years. With stringent quality-control measures during processing, high-quality beans are wet-processed (washed) and achieve a standard of excellence that has few equals among Central American coffees.

Heritage

The coffee industry in Costa Rica dates back to 1779, when seedlings imported from Cuba were planted in the Meseta Central region. The industry grew slowly until the 1840s, when a British sea captain sent several hundred-pound bags of coffee beans home. This led to an appreciation of Costa Rican coffee and the British developed an interest in promoting it. They invested heavily in the country’s coffee industry and the U.K. becoming the principal customer for exports until World War II. Today, the popularity of Costa Rica coffee is evident by the country’s #15 rank among coffee countries, with nearly 1.5 million 60-kilo bags exported.

For more information about carrying our Costa Rica La Pastora Tarrazú or any of the other fine offerings from our Batch 0995 line in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

Ready for National Coffee Day?

National Coffee DayFriday, September 29, is the holiday that honors all things coffee: National Coffee Day! That means you should have your shop ready to celebrate. So how should you do that? We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you promote this very special day.

Promote, Promote, Promote

First, nothing gets coffee lovers in your shop faster than the promise of FREE coffee. We suggest a “Buy One, Get One” promotion. Maybe buy one cup of House Blend and get another cup for free, or buy a scone or muffin and get a drip coffee for free, anything to get your guests drinking more coffee.

Another great promotion to offer is a free flavor shot with any coffee purchase. That way they still get the flavors and specialty they want, and you are driving sales. You can also promote whole bean sales during National Coffee Day by offering a “Buy One, Get One” half-off on bags of your specialty roasts, or having a whole bean setup next to the register to promote impulse buys. Remind your guests that when you are closed they can still enjoy a cup of your coffee at home. The cooler it becomes, the more home brewed coffee will be enjoyed, so make sure to target this market with promotions this National Coffee Day.

Education Leads to Greater Appreciation

National Coffee Day is about celebrating all things coffee, and the best way to go about that is really exploring the smell, taste and attributes of our favorite beverage. Why not celebrate by hosting a cupping of your three most popular roasts? 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 could 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 which affect the character of each specific coffee. These attributes are aroma, acidity, body, flavor and aftertaste. Help your guests understand their coffee, and they will become more passionate about coffee, your coffee in particular. (The Specialty Coffee Association Flavor Wheel might be useful with this. You can download it here.)

Highlight Different Brew Methods

An event you can have Friday to help your guests and drive sales is a “brew bar.”  Single cup brewing and brewing stations are popular all over the country. Set up a pour-over station with Chemex brewing, V60 or even a brew rail, use steeping methods like French Press and Toddy, and show your guests what making a good cup of coffee is all about. Remind them they can do this at home and to purchase some of your wholesale beans to experiment with.

By using National Coffee Day to celebrate your shop through specialized promotions, your guests (more informed thanks to you) will be more filled with their favorite drinks, and you will have more loyal guests coming into your shop for drinks and whole beans. The more your guests are involved with the coffee, the more they will depend on you to supply it for them!

For more information about our coffee or how Stockton Graham & Co. can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.