Winning Customer Loyalty

Win Customer Loyalty
The growing demand for specialty coffee has made the food service industry fiercely competitive. As store owners, we often focus too much on consumer acquisition: that is, getting more people in the door. Although that’s undeniably important, customer loyalty has a substantial impact on profitability; that is, getting customers to come back.

Here at Stockton Graham, we understand the importance of customer loyalty. We recently asked Consumer Research firm Mintel to help us study what keeps customers coming back.

Their answer? Coffee drinkers are not only looking for a great tasting cup but the right atmosphere, service, and convenience. By focusing on these four key drivers of customer loyalty, you will be closer to creating a distinctive coffee experience that builds customer loyalty.

Coffee Customer Loyalty


The most important aspect of any coffee shop is the coffee. Our Mintel study found forty-five percent (45%) of out-of-home coffee drinkers listed “taste” as the top reason they frequent their favorite coffee shop. With that in mind, it is very important to pick high-quality coffee beans.


Having properly trained staff is invaluable. After all, a cup of coffee is only as good as the barista making it. The Mintel study found that barista expertise can make or break a customer’s experience. Eighty-two percent (82%) of coffee drinkers surveyed said “artistry of coffee preparation” was an essential part of their coffee experience and a key driver of customer loyalty.

To help your baristas advance their coffee artistry, Stockton Graham’s specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee offers beginner and certified barista training as part of the  Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program. This includes Barista Foundation, Brewing Foundation and Brewing Intermediate courses, all of which allow participants to earn credits toward an SCA Coffee Certificate.

Great service is hospitality that wows and delights customers. Team members are your brand ambassadors and can have a huge influence on whether or not customers return. Promoting a customer-centric culture will make your customers feel valued and appreciated, increasing the likelihood they come back.


In today’s always-on-the-go coffee-drinking culture, convenience is important. That means consumers will expect a great tasting cup of coffee wherever they buy it. Yet, even if your shop has the best coffee in town, consumers will go elsewhere if your baristas aren’t efficient in building drinks and moving customers from order to pick up quickly.

There are simple ways to streamline your staff’s workflow to help them work efficiently. And most often, this begins with the layout of your coffee bar and workspace. An effective coffee bar layout will group equipment, storage and cleaning tasks by drink type, which will eliminate unnecessary steps while preparing drinks and also make the workspace safer for everyone.

On the consumer side of the coffee bar, offering mobile payments and operating separate “express lanes” for simple coffee drinks during rush times will get customers in-and-out quicker. This not only creates a positive experience for your customers, but also allows your staff to increase productivity and improves the number of customers your staff can handle each day.


The Mintel study found that atmosphere vital to building customer loyalty. Your coffee shop’s atmosphere affects how customers perceive your service and quality.

Floorplan and decor have a big impact on customer experience. Leaving clear paths to registers reduces clutter, making your shop appear airy or spacious. Lighting, color scheme, and even background music can be the difference between an environment that feels warm and relaxing or one that feels cold and sterile.

When considering your store’s atmosphere, it is essential to understand your target audience and store’s location. For example, if your store is located on a university campus, you’ll want to consider modern tech elements like touch screens and charging stations as part of your design. Whereas, if your store is located in a financial center, you’ll want to include communal tables for business meetings and televisions so your patrons can keep up with market news.

Atmosphere is one of the few elements of a great coffee experience that can, and should, change over time. Always keep an eye on consumer trends. Visit competitor shops, and regularly talk to your customers about ways to improve their environmental experience.

At Stockton Graham & Co., we blend the art and business of coffee. We are committed to empowering all of our partners to maximize their customer loyalty. For more information about our Batch 0995 coffee or the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program, email us or call us at 800 835 5943

Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta

Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta

We are pleased to announce a very limited rare harvest of Honduran coffee from the famous Finca Cual Bicicleta, which will be sold under our Dilworth Coffee brand. Founded by Oscar Omar Alonzo, Finca Cual Bicicleta produces some of the most sought-after coffee in the region, if not the world.

Oscar Omar Alonzo is a celebrated coffee farmer known for his passionate approach to producing high-quality, sustainable organic coffee. While many neighboring farms have experienced reduced production due to coffee rust, Finca Cual Bicicleta, which means “which bicycle” keeps pedaling to successful harvests.

Oscar Omar Alonzo follows a holistic approach to farming that has produced some of the best tasting coffee in the world. As part of his farm’s sustainability efforts, he utilizes old coconut husk from nearby lakes and buries them next to his coffee plants. The coconut husks soak up water and provide much-needed moisture and nutrients to the growing coffee trees.

Honduras is a leader in Central American coffee production. Known for its wide variety of flavor profiles, coffee from Honduras is usually very balanced with sweet and mild tasting notes. Although much of the Finca Caul Bicicleta coffee is either full natural or wash processed, Dilworth Coffee’s Finca Cual Bicicleta beans are honey processed.

Honey processing is a drying method that’s gaining popularity in the coffee world. Using this method, farmers remove the skin of the coffee cherry and various amounts of fruit pulp before drying. This allows extra fruitiness and sweetness to transfer to the beans as they dry.

As a result, our Finca Cual Bicicleta features sweet notes of honey, florals, and lemon-raspberry.


AROMA: Nutty – Honey – Floral
BODY: Medium – Silky
FLAVOR: Lemon-Raspberry – Honey – Caramel
ACIDITY: Balanced – Lively
AFTERTASTE: Floral – Clean – Smooth

To order Dilworth Coffee Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta, please call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email us. Or if you are a retail consumer looking for beans to brew at home, you can order online at here!

Buyers Guide: Arabica vs Robusta

Arabic infographic

Arabica vs Robusta?  Specialty coffee has become a leader in category growth and profits for food service providers. In the last year, major players have spent millions to upgrade their coffee quality and marketing campaigns.

As consumer palates have become more discerning, coffee quality has come under the microscope. Coffee blends with lower-quality Robusta coffee just aren’t cutting it anymore. Coffee-forward operators are upping their game to blends with 100% Arabica coffee. Here is an overview of what customers are looking for in food service coffee.


When it comes to coffee, the nose knows. When consumers enter your store, they expect the same aromatic qualities they’d enjoy when entering a craft coffee shop.

Arabica beans contain almost 60% more lipids and almost twice the concentration of sugars than Robusta beans. These play an important role during the roasting process, helping several key aromatic compounds.

So while Arabica coffee often smells sweet and fragrant after roasting, Robusta coffee tends to smell more like raw peanuts.


Although the taste of coffee can vary widely due to the skill level of the roaster, Arabica coffees usually have the advantage.

Arabica coffee retains more flavor and sweetness after roasting than Robusta. An Arabica taste profiles are complex and distinctive, often Including tones of fruits, florals chocolate and nuts with a delightful balance between natural sweet and tangy flavors.

Even high-quality Robusta can’t match Arabica’s flavor profile. The best Robusta beans have very neutral flavors, almost “oatmeal-like” flavors with notes of earthier chocolate.


When brewed, a Robusta bean will produce more crema, which is the light, airy cream on top of a brewed espresso. For this reason, traditional Italian espresso blends historically contained Robusta beans.

Most roasters now understand that they can produce excellent crema using high-quality Arabica coffee. The result is a beverage that has all the visual appeal of a traditional Italian espresso with more of the balanced, sweet and pleasant taste notes desired by today’s specialty coffee drinker. When evaluating Arabic vs Robusta, there’s no more important factor in consumers minds than visual attributes.


With a higher emphasis on health, today’s coffee drinkers are increasingly concerned about caffeine. One reason that the taste of Robusta coffee is not as desirable as the taste of Arabica coffee is that Robusta has almost double the amount of caffeine. This may sound like a positive thing to those trying to jump-start their day or fuel up for their workout routine, but caffeine carries a bitter taste which becomes unpleasant at higher levels

At Stockton Graham & Co., we are focused on quality coffee. That’s why all coffees in our Batch 0995 food service line are made from sweet, fragrant, and delicious 100% Arabica coffees. Learn more about arabica vs robusta or Batch 0995, call us at 800 835 5943 for more information.

Featured Coffee: Brazil Cerrado Natural

Brazil Cerrado Natural

Our Brazil Cerrado Natural is imported from one of the most delicate regions of Brazil, the Cerrados. The Cerrado accounts for over twenty percent of the country and is home to some of the moister savanna wetlands of the world. Tropical climates of the Cerrado region enables it to produce a pleasurably balanced coffee.

Coffee is Brazil’s largest export, accounting for around one-third of the world’s coffee production. Quality Brazilian coffees often have a balanced flavor profile with a smooth, subtle level of sweetness. For that reason, high-quality Brazilian beans are preferred for specialty espresso blends because they stabilize the flavor acting as a delicious backdrop for beans from other regions.

We selected this coffee bean because it is a “full natural” or dried-in-the-fruit coffee. Brazilin farmers process the coffee similar to drying grapes into raisins. The best quality coffee fruit is selected and allowed to bask in sunlight until the cherry turns from red to deep brown. This meticulous drying process grants the bean more sweetness. As a result, the Brazil Cerrado Natural produces a light, silky cup with a sweetness balanced by its delicate notes of berries.

AROMA: Nutty – Notes of Berries
Body: Light – Silky
Flavor: Nutty – Honey Sweetness – Berry Undertones
Acidity: Mild
Aftertaste: Slightly Tart – Clean

When you drink our Brazil Cerrado Natural, you can expect a light, but developed cup with a satisfying level of acidity.

To order our Brazil Cerrado Natural, please call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email Or if you are a retail customer, you can order online here!



Training for Common Goals

Every day the coffee trainers at Stockton Graham & Co. are working with our wholesale and distributor customers. They are training for common goals, which means providing the knowledge and expertise required to deliver an outstanding coffee experience with every cup.

And that means that our coffee trainers are very busy people. They are the team our wholesale and distributor customers count on to teach café managers, baristas and employees the essentials of coffee and espresso.

While converting coffee enthusiasts to budding coffee professionals in six hours flat is rewarding, it’s also a very big task. Interest from large multi-unit foodservice organizations now means they’re taking our Coffee College 101 course on the road too.

Between reviewing the anatomy of coffee fruit (skin, pulp, parchment, seed) and practicing proper milk steaming (and why a latte is different from a cappuccino) – we seldom have time to talk about WHY coffee training is important anyway.

But it is very important. Here’s why.

Quality & Service

Primary to any coffee business is the reality that there are literally millions of places that serve coffee, and every day consumers make a choice. Do they have time in the morning to park the car and walk into a coffee shop for a latte? Are they driving through for a 32oz cup of brew? Did they put a pod in their home brewer, or did they take the time to grind their own beans for a French Press?

With so many choices, the coffee business that provides the best quality product and service is sure to win. In a recent survey of out-of-house coffee drinkers, the most important consideration when choosing a place to buy their coffee beverages was consistent service or quality (86%).

But what does that mean?

When we asked coffee shop patrons to break it down for us, a few words kept coming to the top: “knowledge,” “friendliness,” “confidence,” “competency” and “consistency.”

When it comes right down to it, consumers will bypass places that sell inexpensive or speedy coffee in favor of the comfort of knowing that their favorite coffee beverage will be prepared properly and served with a smile.

In short, what’s best for the consumer is best for the business. The most successful coffee businesses know that training is the key to achieving these common goals.

Training for Common Goals

Whatever level of service your business provides — from wholesale distribution to serving prepared beverages — Stockton Graham & Co. believes all coffee professionals should be aware of these fundamentals:

  1. The path of coffee from seed to cup
  2. Taste characteristics of different coffee and roast levels
  3. The seven essentials of coffee brewing
  4. How to pull an espresso shot and steam milk
  5. Basic food safety, cleaning and maintenance

With the guidance of a professional coffee trainer, these five essential coffee topics are best introduced and explored in a hands-on lab setting. In this type of setting, conventional book training is reinforced by hands-on practice in basic coffee and espresso skills. The biggest benefit of this dual-approach is the opportunity for repeated practice with expert guidance. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent a participant has, they can still improve in a skill by practicing.

The common goal, of course, is that every training participant is “on the same page” when they return to the business, confident in their understanding of the skills learned in training. This knowledge and confidence will translate into the friendliness, consistency and service quality that will drive repeat business and long-term coffee profits.

Training for common goals is important. To explore coffee training options for your business, please call our Authorized Specialty Coffee Association Trainer, Brady Butler, at 800 835 5943 or email us at

The Bulaago Coffee Project

Uganda Bulaago ProjectOur Uganda Bulaago coffee comes from a small village in the Buzabiti District, part of the larger Bugisu region of Uganda. Despite being one of the smaller countries in Africa, Uganda ranks second in the continent’s coffee production as well as seventh in the world.

Unfortunately, getting this fine coffee to consumers and maintaining consistent growing standard has long been difficult. That is changing, however, thanks to companies like Crop to Cup Importers.

To get our Uganda Bulaago coffee to market, Crop to Cup works with the 140-member BuCoFa farmer group, which is home to the Bulaago Coffee Project. This is an important collaborative project that helps farmers in Bulaago receive pre-crop financing, higher compensation, and additional training in exchange for taking the extra steps to produce high-scoring, specialty-grade coffee.

Crop to Cup Coffee Importers was founded to assist farmers through collaborations like the Uganda Bulaago Coffee Project. Together, they work to ensure fair compensation as well as production of better crops. This, in turn leads to better lives for the country’s numerous small-lot farmers, as well as great coffee.

On our end, Dilworth Coffee works with Crop to Cup to bring delicious Uganda Bulaago to this side of the Atlantic and share it with customers.

When you drink our Uganda Bulaago coffee, you can expect a terrific cup.

AROMA: Apricot, Candied Lemon
BODY: Silky
FLAVOR: Raisin, Apricot, Cacao Nibs
ACIDITY: Medium, Tangy

To order our Uganda Bulaago, please call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email Or if you are a retail customer, you can order online at

Questions for the New Coffee Shop Owner

New coffee shop questions

When starting any new business, such as a new coffee shop, there are hundreds of things to consider and questions to ask one’s self. And of course, someone taking over anexisting café location is going to have a completely different set of questions than someone building from scratch. The list can be very long but below are just a few important ones we’ve come up with to help people get through the tricky start-up period of any coffee shop.

Leasing and Health Code Questions:

new coffee shop questions

Is electrical system up to code and can it handle all equipment? With some machines that require 110V and others 220V, the electrical load requirements for a coffee shop result in a great deal of diversity in usage. Consult with an electrician early in the planning stages.

How many restrooms are required? This will depend upon the size of your space and number of employees.

What is the state of the HVAC system? The general lifespan of an HVAC system is around 15 years. If yours is close to this, consider costs you may incur. Also, make sure your system is adequate for your amount of square footage.

Do you have adequate and nearby parking? If not, it will be difficult for customers to visit.

Do you have the correct number of exits for fire code? According to OSHA: “Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely.”

Do you have easy ingress and egress? Like parking, if it’s not easy for customers to get to you, they may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Is your signage visible? Signage is very important but it serves no purpose if no one can see it.

Have you considered build-out time including permits avg. (4 mo.) vs. free rent (average 2 mo.)? Permitting of new coffee shop construction can be very tedious and frustrating, leading to increased time of your business not being in operation. Negotiating a deal for a space that is functioning but not ideal at first could be a financially appealing way to start.

new coffee shop questions

Are you in compliance with the Americans With Disability Act? The ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.



Water Questions

Has your water been evaluated? Since coffee is around 98% water, its importance to the success of any café should never be overlooked. A simple test can be performed to determine whether your water is considered soft or hard.

What kind of water treatment system do you need? There are many options in functionality, size and price.

Have you planned for treatment space in your buildout? In many coffee shops, space is at a premium. Make sure you leave enough (and in the correct location) for any filtration system you might need.

Do you need an ice machine? Some ice machines can be large so consider this when planning.

Have you considered the location of a drain? A drain, preferably in the floor, should be located as close to your equipment as possible.

We hope these questions have given you some helpful food for thought as you plan your new coffee shop. Remember, local ordinances vary so always consult your inspector and building codes. As always, we are here to help so if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us 800-835-5943 or email