March 2014 Marks 12 Years For Roastmaster and Green Coffee Buyer, Brandon Riggs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis month we celebrate the 12th anniversary of one of our key associates, Brandon Riggs. As our green buyer, roast master and director of operations, Brandon is an instrumental contributor to the success of both Stockton Graham & Co. and our customers. It is an honor and pleasure for me to be able to celebrate this milestone for all of us. Not only have his contributions been critical to our success, but he has become a personal friend. His skills, ideas and consul have helped me through the many cycles of business and life’s challenges and joys.

Like at any company, a lot can happen over the years, and we are proud to say a monumental step towards our success began the day that Brandon joined the team. Due to the fact that Brandon plays such an iconic role here, we wanted to take this opportunity to share Brandon’s journey, so you too can grasp the incredible milestone that he has reached!

Brandon’s story began in Kansas City, MO in 1999. As a young product out of the University of Kansas, he accepted a summer job at The Roasterie, a local, independent coffee roasting company. At that time, Brandon was not a coffee drinker and only had the intention of working in the coffee industry temporarily. After working there for a short time, an opportunity arose that allowed Brandon to serve as the assistant to the roastmaster at The Roasterie, and his career in coffee began. Brandon was taught everything from roasting to cupping to green coffee buying by one of the industry’s most skilled experts. With this experience, he not only quickly learned the skill of roasting high quality coffee, but also developed a deep passion for it.

In 2002, Brandon wanted to stay in the coffee industry but be closer to the coast, so he joined our team of coffee professionals. The past 12 years has been a time of growth and transformation for the specialty coffee industry and Stockton Graham & Co. Brandon has helped us hone our sourcing and roasting skills, while modernizing our production and equipment to meet the increased needs of our customers and the varieties of coffees we produced. Brandon has not only been instrumental in our production, but in developing and disseminating coffee knowledge to our team, customers and industry. He and Thom Swain, SE Director of Business Development, developed and instructed our first coffee college modules and industry events, including the Southeast’s first Barista Jam in 2005, regional barista competitions and the Southeast Roasters’ Group. In this time, Brandon has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients to develop custom and house blends, develop and lead onsite training at SGC’s Coffee College and even host special events.

Brandon is continuing to educate others about coffee and brewing techniques. He has played a major role in developing our Barista Certification Program and many internal staff training programs. He has participated in SCAA Roaster Guild Origin trips to further producer knowledge about specialty coffee quality and how to help improve their techniques to achieve higher average selling prices for their harvests.

Brandon has built many close business and friendship relationships over the last 12 years, and here are a few words those who he has had the opportunity to work with have said about Brandon:

“I have enjoyed Brandon’s commitment to the highest quality coffee and determination to satisfy customer expectations. His creative nature can turn a stated taste profile into an actual great blend of coffee. All of this is done in pleasant and fun style, making business enjoyable and productive. “–Don Keen, Dilworth Coffee

“Brandon is more than just a talented roaster – he is great friend and respected ally! Inman Perk Coffee is literally built on his patient guidance and gifted taste. We’ve been proudly runnin’ on Riggs’ Roast since day one!” -Guy Ettinger, Inman Perk Coffee

“Brandon is a roastmaster extraordinaire! In 2006, while at the beginning stages of opening my coffee lounge in Maryland, he worked with me for an entire day to come up with the perfect organic blend. We tried a myriad of blends. It was like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except it was coffee – not too strong, not too weak, and just right! My customers absolutely loved my coffee, and I was able to steal a significant amount of business from the local Starbucks. Although I have since closed my establishment, I can still count on Brandon to periodically roast up a few pounds of my More Than Coffee! Lounge house blend. Now, that’s customer service! Friends forever…congratulations! Luv ya….Michelle (aka Sybil)” – Michelle Wiggs, More Than Coffee

“I first met Brandon in Costa Rica on a buying trip when he was working for The Roasterie. I could see through Brandon’s quiet humbleness that he had quite a bit of coffee knowledge and a desire to learn more about coffee. I had no idea that a year later, he would be on our Stockton Graham & Co. team. It’s been over 12 years, and this short quote cannot express my admiration and appreciation for him as a friend, co-worker and coffee expert. Our success today is directly attributable to not only his coffee skills, but calm, humble manner of working with me, our customers and fellow team members. Perhaps the best evidence of my trust in Brandon is that I have entrusted the sourcing and roast development to him and am no longer allowed to operate his “roasters”. I am always confident that he will ensure that our customers have incredible coffee for their business. The past 12 years has been enjoyable and educational, and I am confident that our next 12 years will be even better. Thank you Brandon.” – Jeff Vojta, Stockton Graham & Co.

It is almost impossible to put into words the magnitude of the impact that Brandon has made on this company. Thousands upon thousands of hours put in, coming in early, staying late and even traveling overseas in search of the best of products, he has sculpted Stockton Graham & Co.’s coffee offering into what it is today.

When asked to reflect on the last 12 years, Brandon said, “I can still smell the coffee every morning when I come in and remove the lids from our containers, and it is as strong and as satisfying as it was on the first day. That is something I love so much, and I hope never changes.”

From employee, to customer, to friend, we would all like to congratulate and thank you on 12 years of a job well done, Mr. Brandon Riggs!

Jeff Vojta, Co-Founder & President
Stockton Graham & Co.