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.
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:
The path of coffee from seed to cup
Taste characteristics of different coffee and roast levels
The seven essentials of coffee brewing
How to pull an espresso shot and steam milk
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holiday flavored coffee is here! We at Stockton Graham & Co. have been buzzing about getting ready to introduce to you our Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Winter Wonderland Coffee and our Gingerbread Coffee. This is a great addition to your coffee shop for the holidays. Mintel Research tells us that flavored coffees are preferred at the top of the list of menu options after pastries, espresso and espresso beverages!!!
The History of the Flavored Bean
Flavored coffee beans are coated with flavor compounds to supplement coffee beans’ natural taste. Flavored coffees in one form or another have been used for centuries, but the gourmet coffee boom of the 1990s resulted in an increased interest in exotic flavors of coffee. With current technology, the beans can be produced with almost any flavor imaginable.
Although many people regard flavored coffee as a modern invention, its roots are almost as old as the beverage itself. History tells us that a few hundred years ago in the Middle East, people enjoyed drinking coffee blended with nuts and spices. In modern times, creative marketers have taken advantage of coffee drinkers desire for more flavor than nature yields and have found ways to introduce flavoring into coffee. It began with flavored syrups to spike brewed coffee with a flavor. More recently, food science has given us tools to introduce flavor onto the bean without the calories or the sugar. This is done as part of the post roasting process.
The raw beans which are processed, either naturally or using the wet method to wash away the cherry from the seed (or the bean), are then ready to be roasted. The appropriate amount of flavoring to be used must be determined before flavor oils can be added to the roasted beans. The formulation process is similar to the way one decides how much sugar to put into a cup of coffee or tea. Once the precise amount is set, the dosage is held constant for that particular flavor oil and roasted bean combination. It is interesting to note that the flavor can be added to the beans while they are whole but also after they have been ground. The method for introducing flavor into ground coffee is different. We at Stockton Graham & Co. always introduce the flavor post roast and whole bean and we delight in bringing you flavors of holiday cheer.
All of our holiday flavored coffee is made with natural flavors. What a great way to market these coffees at your store. This is something that is important to many health conscious consumers of all ages. It is also important to note that the flavor added to the beans do not add calories to the average of three calories a cup of black coffee has.
Pumpkin Spice – Out of all Stockton Graham & Co.’s holiday flavored coffee, Pumpkin Spice is our most popular fall offering. With its aromatic blend of autumn spices such as nutmeg, clove, and hints of cinnamon, this 100% Arabica coffee is the perfect pairing for chilly evenings and crisp autumn air.
Winter Wonderland – In celebration of the holiday season, we’ve put four outstanding flavors together in an enticing medley: a winter wonderland of hazelnut and caramel blanketed by a powdery snow of vanilla and coconut. It’s guaranteed to keep the cold away and warm your spirit with holiday cheer!
Gingerbread – The spicy-sweet confections of Eastern Europe inspired this coffee. We’ve captured the scent and flavor of warm loaves of gingerbread fresh from the oven and complemented it with our own blend of cinnamon and hazelnut for a uniquely snappy taste!
Call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email email@example.com
Millennials are experiencing the holidays differently than generations before them. This shift means (among many things) that millennials are seeking experiences that enrich and fulfill as opposed to objects that clutter and collect dust. One of the key ways that millennials are seeking to have these experiences is through technology.
Have you stopped to consider how your coffee shop can meet the needs of millennials for experiences? It is important to take these young consumers into account as you strategize attracting more business this holiday season.
We have some ideas that will help you invite and keep this demographic that is now more than one-quarter of the nation’s population. Although in general they are more reserved in their spending, there is one time of the year millennials are leading the charge in spending: the holidays; And there is one item that millennials can’t get enough of: coffee. Buying coffee nearly twice as often as older generations, young people spend about $80 per month on cups of Joe, well above the overall average of $67.
1. Partner with a Cause for the Holidays
Millennials want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. In fact, fifty percent of millennials would be more willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause. The holidays are a great time to celebrate goodwill and compassion for humankind.
Consider partnering with a local non-profit and donating a portion of your sales of a particular item towards a good cause. This could be a local homeless shelter, clean water in underdeveloped nations or an organization you believe in and are passionate about.
A good example of this is the partnership that Stockton Graham & Co. has formed with Grounds for Health. In this partnership, $1 from each purchase funds life-saving health care for women in Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Peru. Tis the season to give (and in giving, millennials will continue to return to your shop to cheer you on as you cheer others on).
2. Advertise your space
The holidays are a time for coming together and celebrating friends and family. Millennials value experiences over having material goods. Many millennials are far from home and looking for a place to connect during the holiday season. Consider renting out your cafe space for events or even planning events yourself. This could be a holiday party, a local church choir concert or celebrating holiday birthdays.
By renting your space out you are making deeper connections with your millennial shoppers who are longing to connect on a more substantial level. You are investing in relationships that will continue to grow as you create a space for them to have more experiences. It is also great exposure for people who have never set foot in your shop to become familiar with you.
Gift cards are big with millennials so as you are renting out your space for that gingerbread decoration, be sure to have your gift cards displayed front and center.
3. Tap the Technology Trend
Lastly, the best way to reach the next generation of consumers is through their smart phone. Millennials are nearly two times more connected through technology than any other generation. This translates to 13 percent of millennials using a mobile app to determine their venue.
To get and keep their attention, you have to offer a service, product or information while making it easy to connect to your establishment.
“Technology is changing the way that people are buying their coffee,” said David Sprinkle, Research Director, Packaged Facts, during a recent National Coffee Association (NCA) webinar on food service coffee. But avoid a straight sales pitch he advises. “Don’t just hawk your product, but provide information and services that are of interest to your consumers.”
Are you pairing items that are popular with millennials and posting it on Facebook? Use social media to let them know what is new and why you are offering it. Technology is a great tool to sell that new pumpkin spice latte, or the gingerbread mocha. Millennials are already online, meet them there.
Phone ordering is a new way of ordering coffee as well. This is a reflection of the on the go mentality of many millennials. Consider having an app created for your coffee shop that would allow your consumer to order and pay for the coffee before they get to your counter. You could roll this out just in time for the holiday season when consumers will be busy spending and shopping.
In general, the holidays are a time of cheery vibes and increased spending. Your younger consumers will appreciate the fact that you have shown that you care about them. This will also help to create a sense of relationship (which is exactly what the millennial is looking for) between you and your millennial shoppers.
To speak with a customer service associate please call 800 835 5943.
If you own a coffee shop, you know that the key to profitability is keeping sales up and costs down. But coffee shop profitability is a very tricky equation. The factors driving sales and costs are wide-reaching and often daunting for a small business owner. Consider the complexities of juggling things like rent and utility costs, menu and product mix, pricing, staffing, customer taste preferences, store marketing and more.
As former coffee business owners, managers and marketers, the team at Stockton Graham & Co. has simplified the profitability equation. We call it our F.A.T. Philosophy; F.A.T stands for FREQUENCY, AVERAGE and TRIAL.
F.A.T. is a decidedly customer-oriented approach. At the heart of the philosophy is the realization that the only way to sustainably make money is to focus on the top-line while making sure everything else in your P&L is reasonable. If you do this, the bottom line will take care of itself.
Businesses that align to the F.A.T. Philosophy get more customers in the door, get them coming back more often and get them spending more during each transaction.
To help our coffee business customers understand coffee shop profitability, it often helps to see how frequency, average and trial or F.A.T. work in a real coffee business situation.
Daryl Parker, Schoodacs Owner
Our Director of Sales Thom Swain had the opportunity to chew the F.A.T. on coffee shop profitability with Darryl Parker, owner of Schoodacs Coffee & Tea in Warner, NH, which opened in September 2015.
Schoodacs Coffee is a Stockton Graham & Co. customer whose successful and well-respected coffee shop was voted “Best Cup of Coffee in Concord, NH” by the readers of the Hippo Press and “#2 Coffee Shop in Concord, NH” by the readers of the Concord Monitor. Darryl also owns website maintenance companyParker Web and is a business advisor with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Babson College.”
Here’s how the conversation went.
Darryl: We will always be a low volume store, averaging 100 or less tickets per day. Not only does our data indicate this performance, traffic data for the area supports this conclusion. According to NH DOT, we get about 3000 cars per day in front of the store. At 1% engagement, that’s 30 checks. We obviously do much better than that, but the idea seems clear: it’s low volume. Thoughts?
Thom: The average café serving coffee and limited food should be writing somewhere between 100-150 tickets per day. So, Darryl, your business instincts are right: you are positioned at the mid- to lower end of the traffic spectrum. We expected this, though. I recall our discussions about Warner—it is a town with less than 3000 residents and a very active tourist economy—which is what drives the traffic.
The F in F.A.T. stands for frequency. I believe that your key to success is to be loved by the locals and discoverable by the tourists. You seem to be doing this, as your customer reviews indicate. Another goal would be to maximize the high traffic periods of the year, maybe to the extent that you recover an entire year’s operating costs during a few high-traffic months.
A truly loyal coffee shop customer visits between 15 to 20 times per month. To monetize that, 15 visits x $6 average x 12 months = $1080 per customer. In your case, if only 1% of your town’s population frequents Schoodacs throughout the year, your top line will be consistent and you can focus on increasing traffic during the tourist seasons.
Getting more people at your door is the hardest one of all. It involves marketing, social media, pushing for word of mouth and overall visibility. Recognizing new faces and delivering exemplary customer service is paramount; each one of those new faces could be worth over $1000 to your business.
Darryl: Our average ticket is the place where we must focus in order to improve the business income. Looking at the data since November 1, we are averaging well above $6 per ticket. This includes a mix of retail, food and drinks. I believe the only way we can grow revenue is to NOT focus on traffic, but to focus on average ticket?
Thom: The A in F.A.T stands for ticket AVERAGE. Pushing for a higher average is not only vital to coffee shop profitability, but it’s vital to good customer service. All too often staff are willing to let a customer come in, buy a beverage and leave. Asking a customer if they would like a pastry or a sandwich to go may actually remind them that they really would like more than just a drink. Also, mentioning that you have take-home coffee available is a great, gentle way to nudge a customer towards a higher purchase. You’ve already demonstrated that you know just how important average ticket is for coffee shop profitability.
Darryl: I’d like to see our average ticket at $10, or about $3 more per ticket than we are seeing right now. It appears our best opportunity to improve average ticket is to add food beyond just pastries and snack items. This would be deli type food with a limited menu. I’m very intimidated by this direction and nervous about it. My staff and my shop are not equipped for it. Do you agree this appears to be the best route? Other ideas?
Thom: I would look for a balance of foods that are quick serve and take away with some that can be enjoyed while sitting in the café. A good balance of sweet and savory is key as well. You will want to focus on any features of each option that would be a trigger word to your frequent customers and store concept like locally-baked muffins, gluten-free brownies, organic oatmeal, etc. Talk to your food reps and see about products that are top-tier quality, but aren’t highly perishable or labor intensive.
Darryl: I’ve recently done some pretty major shifting in what we offer and our food costs. We have seen food as a percentage of sales drop from averaging over 30% to now averaging only 20%. If food is currently 20% of that $7 ($1.40) and I want to get to the $10 using food (+$3.00), that means food would go to 44% of our overall revenue. That looks to me to be a fundamental shift that will impact the entire business.
Thom: You can get creative on the food, especially in your market, without implementing a true kitchen. Think about teaming up with a food truck to provide you a small menu of high-quality products at a great price for your store while allowing them to park on-site during lunch. Another idea that comes to mind is continental breakfast bar, something akin to what you would see in some hotels, which would be a real draw during the tourist season. Maybe you charge $7 or so for it, and you have options like pastries, eggs, fruit bowls, yogurt and fresh-squeezed juices. Or maybe just a DIY oatmeal bar with a variety of mix-ins for $5 or $6 including a cup of drip coffee.
Depending on the local regulations, your options are fairly wide without actually cooking or adding significantly to your labor costs.
Darryl: We have added significant retail options to the shop at a high cost of inventory investment. This has netted out some increased retail sales, and I do believe we can account for our higher-than-usual average ticket because of retail sales. I will continue to manage and add to this category, but there isn’t enough push there to get us to the higher revenues needed for sustainability.
Thom: I fully believe in retail for your type of business. The trick is maintaining turns and rotating product. When it comes to raising coffee shop profitability, having products that both trigger impulse buys and encourage browsing is key. You obviously want to arrange these items in appropriate areas: granola bars by the register and cookbooks on a shelf. For true retail, focus on specialty and local as much as possible. These can be things like a local maple syrup, your own branded items, non-electrical coffee apparatuses, literature, local jams/jellies, local soaps, etc. Essentially, any non-perishables that aren’t going to be found in every other shop around town.
Darryl: We have a bottled cold brew and tea that is adding business. I’ve faced as many rejections as acceptances, and I understand it is like launching an entirely new business to chase this revenue. I’m not opposed to it, but I don’t think it is going to do us much good in the short term.
Thom: We’ve gotten into the T of our F.A.T. philosophy: Trial. The Schoodac’s bottled Cold Brew and ready-to-drink Iced Tea allow you to get your name out through New Hampshire Made, Kearsarge Food and other local outlets. Potential customers who are out-and-about will see your name, try your Schoodac’s Ready to Drink (RTD) coffee or tea products and, because they like it, they will seek your shop out for more.
Retail coffee and tea are areas that need a special focus. Let’s look at coffee, and specifically packaged whole bean coffee, for your business. Recall, a loyal customer comes to you only about 1 out of 2 days. Coffee drinkers are habitual, however, and most have more than one cup. So, where does that coffee come from? Keeping a core of popular coffees, packaging them well, and making sure that each member of your team is capable of describing and suggesting coffees will push more movement.
Selling take-home coffee to just 5% of your customer base should add a minimum of $600/month to your bottom line. Just to give you a sense of the potential of packaged beans, we have a customer that sells more take-home coffee than any I’ve ever seen. I am certain he does far more business that way than in beverages and food; I’m guessing 80/20. He spends most of his time away from the service counter, talking to customers about what coffee they like and directing them to his line of packaged whole bean coffee. He sells a lot of 2lb. bags. And customers are always looking to explore new coffee regions, new roast levels and new producers, which can make a significantly positive impact on coffee shop profitability.
If you’re interested in learning more about our F.A.T. Philosophy on coffee shop profitability, feel free to contact Thom Swain at 800 835 5943.
Late spring is usually a time when customers’ beverage preferences switch from hot to cold; and if you don’t plan carefully, your traditional hot coffee menu can experience a dip in sales. There’s always iced coffee, of course, and putting a few cold versions of America’s favorite beverage on your menu (see our article here) can help even out those dips. There are other things to consider when planning your summer coffee menu.
First, don’t abandon hot coffee altogether on your summer coffee menu. Some customers simply won’t choose iced coffee in the morning, and others rely on an espresso pick-me-up to get through hot, humid afternoons. Statista reports that 84% of consumers would purchase hot coffee in spring—only 9% fewer than the 93% who say they would purchase hot coffee in winter. In summer months, three out of four customers say they would purchase hot coffee. Even customers who move to iced coffee after lunch will often drink hot coffee in the morning and late evening.
Second, expect your customers’ taste buds to change slightly as the weather warms up, which impacts your summer coffee menu. After 20+ years of roasting coffee in the seat of the South—Raleigh, NC—we’ve found that coffees roasted to accentuate their innate juicy berry and citrus flavors rise to the top during hotter weather. Our Tanzania Peaberry, with its floral Jasmine aroma and bright juicy aftertaste, is a favorite in the hotter months. And if you haven’t tried our limited-edition Ethiopia Limmu, you’ll be amazed by its aroma of ripe strawberries and watermelon. The coffee features flavors of strawberries, raspberries and rosehips that delight the tongue. Its aftertaste is clean and sweet.
Last but not least, don’t forget the espresso on your summer coffee menu. Both the casual latte drinker and the single-shot espresso aficionado alike tend to gravitate toward single-origin options that boast juicy fruit flavors and tangy acidity when daytime temperatures jump. Our Papua New Guinea single-origin espresso fits that bill well, which is why customers seem to love it. You’ll find that by using 18-21 grams of coffee for each 1.5 – 2 ounce shot, Papua New Guinea melds distinct stone fruit flavors with a milk chocolate sweetness and mildly tangy acidity that keep customers coming back again and again.
For more ideas for your summer coffee menu and how to keep hot coffee sales robust during the hotter months, feel free to contact a sales associate or Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.
By popular demand, Stockton Graham & Co. is introducing our new Signature Iced Coffee a bit earlier this year.
This season’s Signature Iced Coffee is a result of all the tremendously enthusiastic feedback we received from last year’s Iced Coffee Blend. Customers loved the vibrant freshness of that blend and requested a coffee that would work well brewed over ice either as a commercial drip or Chemex format. So our coffee roasters and baristas got to work early.
The roasting and barista teams sampled several different single origin and blends in March; they tried different roast levels and various brew methods from toddy to drip. Based on feedback from the internal team and select customers, this year’s Signature Iced Coffee was born.
“This is a very refreshing and sweet iced coffee,” said Roastmaster Brandon Riggs, who oversees our Raleigh coffee roasting facilities. “When you serve this coffee on ice, the berry notes are a little more juicy, and you can really taste the sweetness.”
It’s no wonder. Brandon created an iced coffee that offers a Jasmine floral aroma, juicy berry flavor and a fresh, bright aftertaste that you’ll find in only the finest peaberries from the Rift Valley region of Tanzania.
“The acidity is nice and bright,” explains Alex Jeans, our lead barista. “It has a very pleasant after taste that’s light and delicate. It’s a perfect coffee on ice for a hot day.”
Iced Coffee vs. Cold Blend
You’d be hard pressed to read a copy of Coffee Talk or BusinessWeek for that matter without stumbling across an article on cold brew coffee. And other publications like The Specialty Coffee Chronicle, Beverage Industry, Restaurant Business and FoodService Director feature articles on iced coffee. So, understandably, there may be a bit of confusion in the cold coffee arena.
There are basically two ways to brew coffee that’s put over ice:
Cold brew is a toddy where coffee grounds steep for 12+ hours to create a coffee concentrate. After a time, the grounds are filtered out of the liquid. That concentrate is served with equal parts water, milk and often Nitrogen, which creates a beer-like drink called nitro coffee.
Iced coffee is created by passing hot water over a filter of ground coffee — mostly in a commercial drip machine or in a Chemex — and the hot coffee drips over cubes of ice. When brewed coffee is cooled quickly like this, flavor and acidity is locked in. This undiluted coffee is served over ice.
An emerging iced coffee brew method is called Hot Bloom Cold Brew. In this method, coffee grounds that have been placed in a large glass or plastic jug are “bloomed” with a small amount of boiling water for about 60 seconds. Ice water is then added to the vessel. The mix is swirled and placed in a refrigerator for 12-15 hours to steep. The grounds are filtered out before serving.
Although our Signature Iced Coffee will work fine using either method, it does well with the Hot Bloom Cold Brew method and virtually sings when brewed over ice in a Chemex or commercial drip brewer. Click here to view our Iced Coffee Brewing Guide.
“That’s because the coffee’s delicate flavors are enhanced when brewed over ice,” Alex explains. “Brewing over ice will retain the coffee’s inherent brightness, so you really experience the fresh acidity of this coffee. As a contrast, the toddy method is designed to take some of the acidity out of the coffee, resulting in a much different tasting experience.”
To sample Stockton Graham & Co.’s Signature Iced Coffee, contact a Customer Care Associate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800 835 5943.