Holiday Cheer! Ideas for your Coffee Shop

Stockton Graham & Co. Holiday HintsBelieve it or not, December is here so don’t forget to prepare your coffee shop for the festivities of the holidays! Fires in the fireplace, family coming together and colder weather will all contribute to increased sales at your shop. Even so, there are many things you can do to take advantage of this season and get more people into your cafe!

There are a few ways to really make the most of the season this year, such as rent out your space for events, plan events for your customers and create live music nights. But the most important thing is to have fun, because your customers will share in the joy.

1. Renting your space

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday Hints -Party!Decide on a price point that you want to charge to rent out your shop to a customer for his or her event. This may or may not include a drink minimum that they will be required to order. Then, advertise that you are doing this! Make it known in the shop through flyers or on an announcement board. Use social media to announce that the space is available for parties (not just during the holidays but all year long!). Give people ideas: company holiday parties, birthdays, engagements, concerts, business meetings, non-profit gatherings, etc. Make it very clear on your website that you want your customers to “Rent our space for your next party!”

Your customers will love the opportunity to have a place they already feel connected to become a part of their special event. You will need to take into consideration that, more times than not, you will want to close the shop to the public for special events if they are happening during business hours. Don’t forget to consider this when determining the amount you want to charge. Once you have a party planned, be sure to give at least a week’s notice if possible to let other customers know if you will be closed for a private party.

2. Plan events in your space

Your customers already love what you do. That is why they are your customers. This holiday season, go the extra mile with them and plan some events to host in your shop. This could be a holiday concert put on by a local choir or band or even an appearance by Santa. Consider a trivia night where you invite a local emcee to host several rounds of trivia. Games are a fun way for people to meet one another and have fun doing it in a space with which they are already familiar. You could host a tree decorating party or have your customers make ornaments representing things that they are thankful for and invite them to hang them on your tree.

Consider special promotions such as “The 12 Gifts of Christmas” in December where you promote a different drink each day and offer them at a discounted price. This not only gives your higher-margin drinks more exposure, it allows your customers to try them at a discounted rate. Guests will continue to return to your store for these seasonal treats they are sure to fall in love with.

3. Host Live music

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday HintsIf you don’t have live music already, consider bringing some in on a weekly basis. Even if it is something as simple as a solo acoustic guitar player, this will only increases foot traffic to your shop. It will also allow local artists a stage on which to perform and gain exposure. Live music is an event that your customers are sure to get excited about and make part of their weekly routine. (Hint: Christmas carols are a great form of live music this time of year!)

To advertise this, have a calendar on your website just for events. Promote these on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Have a chalkboard or white board up in your shop and also create posters to advertise (or let the artist create a poster for themselves). Post these announcements at least a week in advance to give your customers plenty of time to include your live music in their schedules.

4. Have Fun

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday Hints -Treats!Have fun and your customers will have fun with you. Whether it’s funny sweaters or stuffed antlers or Santa hats, encourage your staff to dress in holiday apparel. Play Christmas music on the PA system. If you sell food offer special holiday-themed treats. Remember, as people will be out shopping for presents, it will be the perfect time to create gift baskets that feature your personalized logo. Be sure to include coffee and other small items from your shop. If you have t-shirts, mugs, tumblers or gift cards include these and consider making different sizes to meet different needs. These will all be great gift ideas to have on the shelves during this season of festivities and events.

 

If you have any questions and would like to talk with a Customer Care Associate, please call (800) 835-5943.

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.

 

Frappes for Kidz

When many parents are deciding on which coffee shop to visit, they are often looking for a place that will keep their kids entertained while they catch up with friends, get some work done or have a few quiet moments to themselves. Transforming your coffee shop into the family-friendly hangout complete with frappes for kids will make it that much more approachable to a wider universe of customers this summer.
Frappes for Kidz

 

We recently posted a blog article on how to make your store more kid-friendly. We covered everything from modernizing your menu to creating a happy store atmosphere and kid-proofing your service.

Some of the more popular ideas included a designated kids area for scheduled activities like a balloon artist or coloring class. Hosting a Saturday morning story time, a sing-a-long or other weekly kids entertainment is a great way to get the community involved; and the more local families that participate, the more word of mouth will help boost your sales.

Be sure to tweet your Saturday schedule as early as Thursday and Friday nights so parents can make plans, and post pictures of the play space and kid-friendly activities on your Facebook page (secure parent’s permissions for posting children’s photos) to get the word out.

And if you are really interested in building your business in the family-friendly niche, try listing your store on mommaps.com or carolinaparent.com.

Expanded Menu Ideas Featuring Big Train
When deciding what to serve to your pint-sized patrons there are many options to consider from milk shakes to frappes and smoothies. If you are considering adding more kid friendly options to your menu why not try a line that is made specifically for younger palates?

Big Train has with a child friendly drink mix that is marketed directly to kids. The Kidz Kreamz® line offers frappe mixes with nostalgic flavors that will appeal to tiny tots and tweenies alike. These make creamy, light drinks that are full of flavor and are also caffeine free.

Available in several fun and fancy flavors such as Bubblegum, Cotton Candy and Orange Cream—or new flavors or Wild Berry Burst and Banana Splitastic—these gotta-have-it beverages couldn’t be easier. They’re shelf-stable so there’s no need to waste valuable space in your refrigerator. They’re Gluten-free, Certified Kosher and contain no hydrogenated oil.

What’s best, they’re simple to prepare: Just pour over ice and either milk or water and blend.

Here’s a summary of some Big Train kid-friendly options:Kids Creams from Big Train

Cotton Candy Kidz Kreamz: Imagine a State Fair in a cup. The sweet, sugary cotton candy taste may remind you of that airy bagged confection, but it won’t turn to sugar on the tongue.

Orange Cream Kidz Kream: Orange creamsicles, just like the ones you got from that wacky, beat up ice cream truck that drove through the neighborhood after dinner; that’s the orange cream flavor the kids crave!

Bubble Gum Kidz Kreamz: Just like you remember: Classic pink bubble gum flavor blended into sippable and frozen fun. Unlike the gum, this flavor will stay with you as long as you drink.

Wild Berry Burst Kidz Kreamz: Make with yogurt, this is a healthy fruitful sin. Ripe raspberries tangle with sweet blueberries and tangy strawberries for a menage à trois that you’ll always remember.

Banana Splitastic Kidz Kreamz: Another option made with yogurt, Banana Splitastic is like throwing ice cream, whipped cream, caramel and fresh bananas into a blender and pressing START.

Cookies ‘N Cream Blended Crème Frappe: Award-winning chocolate Oreo flavor meets a vanilla milk shake without the ice cream. Kids and parents alike love it.

Cake Batter Blended Crème Frappe: Almost as hot as S’Mores this summer, cake batter gives your customers to indulge in the delight of birthday cake without all the calories.

Health it Up!
These Big Train options are great on their own. But you can easily wipe away any of the guilt of drinking a dessert by mixing in a few healthy ingredients. Two tablespoons of yogurt blended into Orange Cream, Cake Batter or Cookies ‘N Cream will be virtually undetectable, but add some healthy pre- and pro-biotics, calcium and protein.

Another option would be to ramp up the fruit. Add some strawberry fruit smoothie mix to flavors such as Cotton Candy or Bubble Gum to create fruity versions of the originals, adding vitamins and tons of flavor. A tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter compliments a wall of Banana Splitastic or Cake Batter flavor while adding healthy proteins.

These Big Train Kidz Kreamz mixes are not just for children either. These nostalgic flavors are great for anyone who would like to take a time out and travel back to their childhood summers. The flavors are attractive to children and adult alike.

Here are some recipes to try:

Strawberry Bubble Gum Milkshake
2 oz Dr Smoothie Strawberry 100% Crushed
4 oz milk
11 oz ice cream
2 scoops (80 g) Big Train Kidz Kreamz Bubble Gum
Directions: Combine ingredients. Spindle or blend together.

Cotton Candy Blended Frappe Recipe
1 Packet or 2 scoops (80 g) Big Train Kidz Kreamz Cotton Candy
12 oz Ice
5 oz water
Whipped Cream (optional)
Sprinkles for garnish

Directions: Combine ingredients and blend. Pour mixture into a cup or glass and garnish with whipped cream and sprinkles. 

Cookie Covered Matcha TeaCookie Covered Matcha
2 scoops (8 tbs) Big Train Cookies ‘N Crème Frappe
1 tbs matcha green tea
12 oz Ice
5 oz milk
Whipped Cream (optional)
Crushed cookies for garnish

Directions: Combine ingredients and blend. Pour mixture into a cup or glass and garnish with whipped cream and top with crushed cookies.

For more ideas, more frappes for kidz recipes or to order Big Train Kids Kreamz, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Smoothies for breakfast

People are switching to smoothies for breakfast as a tasty way to drink a meal and get a healthy start to their day. Smoothies are an easy way to get a low-calorie, healthy, one-cup breakfast with the right type of energy that caffeinated coffee and sugary drinks don’t have. Plus, drinking a healthy smoothie instead of eating bagels and muffins for breakfast helps customers avoid the jittery or burned-out feeling by lunchtime.

Boosted by “smoothies for breakfast” campaigns from big-name QRS chains like Smoothie King, Tropical Smoothie, Jamba Juice and regional testing programs from Burger King, McDonalds, Dairy Queen and Subway, customers are increasingly grabbing smoothies on the go.Smoothies, Stockton Graham & Co.

Perhaps demographics are at the core of the smoothies for breakfast trend. More younger coffee shop patrons are placing an emphasis on their health and well-being, so breakfast is starting to make a resurgence in popularity. Younger, go-getters have experienced the drawbacks of skipping breakfast — lower energy, less nutrients and a tendency to binge-eat later in the day — so they’re finding ways to work breakfast back into their daily routines.

According to a 2014 survey of 1,000 adult consumers by Kellogg Company, 56% of respondents said they’d prefer to eat breakfast every day, but cited a lack of time as a primary reason why it doesn’t always happen.

Drinking a nutrient-rich smoothie doesn’t take as long as most meals and many people find it easier to manage in the car or on the run than other fast-food options. Time, portability, convenience and health are the biggest factors in choosing a smoothie.

The new breakfast smoothie craze is good news for your shop. You can be one of the first in your area to offer smoothies for breakfast as a way to entice more customers into your store.

As an operator, there are several benefits to offering smoothies for breakfast:

Sales: Smoothies have become more popular than ever and have grown on restaurant menus by 9%.  Almost 90% of consumers aged 18-24 want more smoothies available. These tasty and healthier beverages keep them coming back for more! Smoothies rake in more than $2 billion each year, according to Mintel International.

Customization: Smoothies can be made on-the-fly to satisfy just about any customer’s palette with just a few basic smoothie flavor mixes (strawberry banana, mango and pineapple for instance) and a couple healthy add-ins like yogurt, chai seeds, fresh fruit, fresh kale and protein powder.

Efficiency: In most cases, the only equipment you’ll need for a booming morning smoothie business is the same blender and cups you use for your afternoon blended drink business. Your shop may even have ingredients like yogurt and fresh fruit on your current breakfast or lunch menu. If you’re already offering frappes and smoothies in the afternoon, very little additional staff training will be necessary.

Here at Stockton Graham & Co. we offer everything you need to update your menu with delicious smoothie choices. From smoothie mixes to blenders, we offer it all by carrying a variety of both Dr. Smoothie mixes in addition to DaVinci Gourmet mixes. Between those two brands, there are over 32 smoothie flavors to choose from.

Greens for Breakfast
With chains like Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts now offering green smoothies with ingredients like kale, spinach, beets and squash, customers are becoming more adventurous in their blended drink habits. You can ride to the top of the green smoothie wave by offering green alternatives on your breakfast smoothie menu.

The newest flavors in the DaVinci Gourmet smoothie family provide an easy way to try out green smoothies in your shop. Gratifying Greens is a mix of healthy vegetables and fruits such as spinach, pear, apple and kiwi made with only natural ingredients and no preservatives; it is the perfect way for your customers to start their day. Every flavor is gluten and lactose free, and there is a serving of fruit per glass. A second flavor, Red Harvest, is a yummy blend of super fruits such as acai berry and pomegranate with the fresh flavors of pumpkin and pear mixed in, creating a delightfully crisp taste.

The nice thing about DaVinci Gourmet’s Gratifying Greens and Red Harvest is that their healthy flavor profile is not overwhelming. So they create a nuanced foundation for the addition of healthful breakfast ingredients like yogurt, kefir, oats and almond butter.

You’ll want to experiment in your shop to create the perfect flavor profile for your customers. But here are two recipes to get you started:

Green Machine Breakfast Smoothie
6 oz DaVinci Gratifying Greens
1/4 oz Peach syrup
2 oz plain yogurt
1 T Chia seeds
16 oz. of ice

Directions: Place DaVinci Gratifying Greens in blender jar. Add yogurt and syrup. Top with ice. Blend, pour into cup and serve.

Kefir SuperFruits & Oats Breakfast Smoothie
6 oz DaVinci Red Harvest
3 oz Kefir
1 T organic oatmeal
16 oz Ice

Directions: Place DaVinci Red Harvest in blender jar. Add kefir and oatmeal. Top with ice. Blend until smooth, pour into cup and serve.

Pump up Breakfast
For an additional pump of health, add protein powder to a breakfast smoothie. Dr. Smoothie brand SmoothieCeuticals offers organic protein, vegan protein, whey protein and functional blends that are easily integrated into any smoothie recipe. Consider using Dr. Smoothie’s new Beetroot & Berries smoothie mix with an invigorating blend of tart red beets, strawberry and raspberry puree as a base. The Dr. Smoothie mixes are 100% fruit, gluten free and vegan. Each 20 oz. portion has a full day’s 5 servings of fruit and vegetables.

Red Revival Protein Breakfast Smoothie
6 oz Dr. Smoothie Beetroot & Berries
2 scoops SmoothieCeuticals Whey Protein
3 oz water
16 oz of ice
(optional) ¼ cup raspberries

Directions: Place SmoothieCeuticals whey protein in a blender and top with Dr. Smoothie Beetroot & Berries and water. Add ice blend. Pulse in raspberries for two seconds pour, into cup and serve.

New smoothie equipment, FREE product and rebates!
When your new breakfast smoothie menu becomes a hit, you may consider upgrading your blender or adding a new, super-quiet and high-efficiency commercial blender. We carry many Vitamix blenders ranging from easy blending to blast-off power. For a limited time, you can take up to 55% off the MSRP of commercial blenders from Vitamix.

Plus, as a special offer, receive up to 3 FREE cases of smoothie mix from Dr. Smoothie, DaVinci, Big Train, Caffe D’Amore, MoCafe, Monin or Torani with a blender purchase. All offers end 8/31/2015.

If you don’t need a new blender but want to try the new smoothie mixes from DaVinci and Dr. Smoothie, both brands are offering rebates on their products. Just call a Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943 to order, and we’ll email the rebate form. It’s as easy as that!

EarthDay Primer: Easy Ways to Waste Less, Make More

Susatainable Coffees from Stockton GrahamLet’s face it, running a coffee business produces a lot of waste. Each one of those paper ”to-go” cups eventually ends up in a landfill somewhere. When you add the cardboard boxes, milk jugs, syrup bottles, aseptic cartons and coffee grounds, the average coffee shop could generate millions of pounds of trash each year.

As we prepare for International Earth Day on April 22, the team at Stockton Graham & Co. is thinking about ways to help coffee shops reduce waste and increase their overall profits.

We talked to Thom Swain, our Southeast Director of Business Development, about tactics he used to reduce waste as director of franchise development at a popular New Orleans coffee shop brand. His top suggestions involve saving on what’s likely to be two of your largest monthly product expenses: Coffee and Milk.

Coffee: The average coffee shop wastes as much as two pounds of coffee per week. Spillage from the espresso grinder alone can cost nearly $1000/year. Coaching staff to be more aware and avoid the spillage, or investing in an on-demand grinder would reduce this waste greatly.

Milk: Wasting as much as 1oz. of milk per drink can result in 1-2 gallons of milk wasted per day. This can easily top 700 gallons per year and cost $2000-$3000. Training staff to properly measure prior to preparation would curtail much of this waste.

“Since coffee and milk are agricultural products, waste affects availability and consequently consumer prices,” Thom Swain advised.

And since there are essentially two ways to make money in coffee — sell more and spend less — helping the environment by reducing waste can have a delightfully positive impact on your bottom line.

“If every American coffee shop were to reduce waste in these two ways, we could stop dumping 17 million gallons of milk down the drain and throwing 2.5 million pounds of coffee into our landfills,” Thom said.

For more ideas on how to reduce costs in your store, call Thom Swain or any of our Customer Care Associates at 800.835.5943.

Six Ways to Freshen Up Service at Your Store

Customer service is something any business owner should always be focused on—and it’s particularly important for retail coffee businesses.

Your customers come into your shop for the local personal touch, as much as for the quality beverages you produce. It’s important to remind your staff and new hires of how important the little things are. We have provided a few tried and true ideas, to help boost your customer service levels!Improve Customer Service At Your Store

Be Yourself: Friendly greetings should carry some personality. Customers know when they are being sincerely greeted vs. just fed a forced hello. With some freedom your employees can share some of who they are with the customers, and still meet the greeting requirements for high-level customer care!

Get Feedback: Make sure your baristas, managers or servers are all listening to complaints and compliments. Huddle with your employees monthly/weekly to get their feedback on customer satisfaction. Did they over hear any complaints on something in your shop? You should know about it—and be doing your best to meet concerns. Not every customer is going to be 100% pleased, but re-occurring complaints should be addressed.

Respond Quickly and Earnestly: If a customer is dissatisfied with any aspect of your product or service, be sure to address their concerns right away. Not only will a quick solution appease the complaining customer, it will make all other customers in your store at the time feel more comfortable. You should also be checking the internet regularly for complaints/compliments on your business. Reinforce the compliments with your employees and address complaints professionally.

Show Your Personality: Encourage your baristas and servers to come out from behind the counter when it’s slow. Double check to see if the customers are doing all right, and if there is anything that can be done to make their visit better. When customers feel friendlier with your employees: they are more likely to hang around, come back or order more drinks and food.

Know the Menu: When your employees are well educated, they implement the best customer service. Give your employees all the information you can on new products so they can share this information with customers. Even have servers and baristas sample new products so they can describe them to customers. What coffee pairs best with the new granola bars you have? If your employees can answer questions about your products they can sell them.

Strive for Quality: If your employees are all creating consistently good and similar drinks, your customers will always be satisfied with their beverage experience. To help with this we offer Coffee College. Our Specialty Coffee Basics course teaches employees how to prepare espresso, as well as other hot, iced and blended made-to-order beverages properly drink-after-drink, customer-after-customer. Training ensures quality and improves productivity, sales and customer satisfaction.

For more customer service tips, contact our Customer Care Associates at 800.835.5943 and ask for more information!