Earth Day Focus: Sustainability

On April 22nd, more than one billion people around the globe will celebrate the 48th annual Earth Day. Since coffee, of course, is an agricultural product, the state of the environment is fundamentally important to producing quality coffee.

There is no denying the environment’s effect on taste. The crop to cup journey is one of the earth’s many miracles, and even the slightest climate change could greatly alter a harvest’s quality. The fact is, we all agree that our planet is precious.  As the global climate changes, it becomes ever more import for each of us to do our part in protecting it.

Since being founded in 1994, Stockton Graham & Co. has been committed to purchasing green coffee from farms, co-ops and other organizations that take care to protect the environment through sustainable agricultural practices.

“Depending on the harvest, between 65% and 80% of all coffee the company imports today qualifies as sustainable. We work closely with farmers both directly and through our importers to ensure coffee growing and harvesting practices protect the earth and, indeed, the future of the coffee industry.”

Jeff Vojta, Founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co.

As Earth Day 2018 approaches, we wanted to spotlight the impact of some of our local sustainability projects.

Our Director of Coffee Brad Kirby spearheaded these initiatives to help two neighboring sustainable farms, the Farm at Penny Lane and Paz farm. “These farms are mission-driven and make a big impact my community,” Brad said. “I also love that they are so close to me, I can hear when they have tractors running, so it’s easy donating to them.”

 

Farm at Penny

Lane Sustainable project: Burlap for farming

The Farm at Penny Lane partners with individuals with mental illness to grow nutritious food for themselves and others. Penny Lane provides integrated, community-based programs in a therapeutic inclusive farm setting. The farm’s sustainable accommodations include a community garden also offers Horticultural therapy.

Stockton Graham & Co. donates used burlap to Penny Lane. Burlap is the fabric sack used for shipping green coffee beans. Using burlap in farming helps reduce the growth of weeds and is biodegradable—meaning it eventually decomposes and contributes to garden soil.

We caught up with Jessamine from Penny Lane, to see how the burlap project was going.

“Things are going well here,” Jessamine reported. “The crops are growing a little slowly, but the weeds are not, and we are dutifully clearing them out of pathways and spreading out the burlap.  The real test of the experiment will be midsummer when we see how well the burlap keeps down the weeds, but for now, we love having it. It’s so much nicer to work with than cardboard!”

Paz Farm

Sustainable project: Chaff for chicken coups

The Paz Farm is a small-scale farm located in Chapel Hill, NC. They produce range free eggs and seasonal produce. The Paz Farm uses sustainable growing practices, which means they avoid synthetics, pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.

Chaff is the byproduct of roasting coffee beans. The roasting process causes the thin, dried skin around the green coffee bean to come off. Chaff has many uses in farming; it is excellent for composting but can also be mixed into the soil.

Stockton Graham & Co. regularly donates chaff to Paz Farm. We asked Nancy from the farm about the chaff donation.

“We’ve used the chaff as bedding for our chicken coups, and it is working well,” Nancy said. “We saved money, the coups smell better, and our chickens have been cozy since we started using your chaff, Thanks Stockton Graham & Co.”

At Stockton Graham & Co., we take sustainability seriously. We all play a role in preserving our planet. For more information about our sustainable initiatives or any of our sustainable coffees, call 800 835 5943 or email us.

Featured Coffee: Organic Carolina Rain

Organic Carolina RainWhen it comes to April’s featured coffee, our Organic Carolina Rain, I’m reminded of one of the universe’s most fundamental truths:

Sometimes two vastly different things come together in harmony to create a perfect combination. When done right, this produces amazing results.

Let’s take second to think about some of the most iconic food pairings.

Milk & Cookies, Peanut butter & Jelly, Coffee & Doughnuts are only a few examples of dynamic duos that reach culinary synergy.

Organic Carolina Rain from our Dilworth Coffee brand is another great example. It is a blend of beans grown only 300km (186 miles) from each other in two different countries: Guatemala and Mexico. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe these neighboring beans are alike, but they each have very unique qualities that blend together to make one of our most popular USDA-organic certified coffee blends.

Cupping Notes
AROMA: Citrus, Floral
BODY: Light
FLAVOR: Caramelized Sugar, Orange Citrus
ACIDITY: Bright, Lively
AFTERTASTE: Tangy, Sweet

Sourcing
The first component of our Organic Carolina Rain are beans from the Chiapas region of Mexico. These beans, grown in one of the premier regions of the country, provide a smooth and balanced sweetness with subtle floral notes.

The second component of the blend is organic Huehuetenango from Guatemala. Farmed from the lower slopes of the Sierra de Los Cuchumantanes mountain range in the western part of the country, our organic Guatemala adds depth and character with lively flavors of citrus fruit.

When drinking Organic Carolina Rain, expect subtle sweet and floral notes complemented by flavors of citrus and caramelized sugar. While outstanding for drip coffee and especially single-cup pour over methods, Carolina Rain also makes a refreshingly light and tangy iced coffee.

Organic Carolina Rain is also uniquely adaptable. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold, making it a perfect coffee to enjoy from April showers through May flowers and beyond.

For more information about our Organic Carolina Rain or any of our other Dilworth Coffees, call 800 835 5943 or email us today.

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

Taste

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.

Service

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.

Convenience

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.

Atmosphere

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.

TASTING NOTES:

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.

Aroma

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.

Taste

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.

Visual

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.

Caffeine

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 orders@stocktongraham.com. 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 inforequest@stocktongraham.com.