Restaurant Coffee Shouldn’t Suck

The truth is, customers want to spend their money on quality coffee. And if your restaurant serves poor tasting coffee, customers will spend their money somewhere else. To put it simply, you are throwing away real dollars and depressing your average ticket sales by not making your coffee program the best that it can possibly be.

Craft Roasted Coffee From Stockton Graham & Co.In celebration of International Coffee Month — we think coffee deserves a month of celebration instead of just a day — two Stockton Graham & Co. coffee experts explain how restaurant owners can see over 1000% return on investment (ROI) simply by modernizing their coffee program.

It’s the same presentation that our coffee experts Thom Swain and Brady Butler delivered at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo (NCRLE) on September 22 for hundreds of North Carolina restaurant, bar, hotel and foodservice operators.

At Stockton Graham & Co., Thom and Brady both focus primarily on helping our customers succeed through smart, effective and efficient specialty coffee and beverage programs. Occasionally, in order to do so they must be brutally honest and forthright. Their presentation, titled Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks, was exactly that. The audience was visibly curious, maybe even a little offended, but everyone listened closely and walked away with a sure-fire way to boost their restaurant profitability.

Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks

Thom started by outlining the causes for bad coffee. Things like coffee quality, water quality, and freshness, which are all results of either poor training, apathy, or general cheapness. “I happen to think the most problematic factor is the recipe. A lot of restaurant operators aren’t willing to put enough coffee in the pot to give it the flavor that it needs,” said Thom, who began working in the coffee industry in 1998 and has lead concept development and franchise operations for several well-known beverage brands.

Drip vs Espresso Methods Stockton Graham & Co.Brady, who previously worked at Dilworth Coffee and his family’s Matthews, NC-based store The Coffee Garden, countered. “I tend to lean more towards cleanliness and improper cleaning methods than coffee quality,” Brady said. “Fact is, there are a lot of things that contribute to bad coffee. Let’s understand them so we know how to avoid these things.”

At this point, pockets of the crowd were growing visibly anxious. They were probably realizing that their very own coffee programs might be hindering their business’s potential. But they were in luck, because this was the good part. “Quality is not an act; it is a habit,” Thom quoted Aristotle before showing some tips for achieving the best coffee:

  • Coffee quality – good quality beans
  • Water quality – appropriate filter
  • Freshness – rotate stock and store properly.
  • Recipe – Golden Cup 3.25-4.25oz coffee/half gallon
  • Consistency – weigh coffee or use a timer grinder
  • Cleanliness – everything that touches the coffee
  • Equipment – properly set up and serviced
  • Holding conditions – time and temperature

Why Better Coffee Matters

Brady easily held everyone’s attention, explaining exactly how better coffee directly translates to higher profits. He referenced some impressive data, reflecting how coffee is the fastest growing item on a restaurant’s beverage menu and proving that people spend their dollars on quality.

Coffee vs Espresso Cost Stockton Graham & Co.

  • Coffee is the FASTEST GROWING item on a restaurant’s beverage menu, growing from 10% of all restaurant beverage sales to nearly 15% today.
  • An average of $1,111 is spent on out-of-home coffee by each coffee drinker annually, whether at your establishment or somewhere else.
  • Coffee sales in restaurants reached $23.4 BILLION in 2014 and sales are growing at a more rapid pace in 2015

In modern commerce, which is increasingly driven by customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social networks, customer opinions matter more than ever. According to the National Coffee Association, 68% of customers say coffee QUALITY and TASTE are the reasons they choose one eatery over another. Less than 1/3 of coffee drinkers are price sensitive and would prefer lower-cost coffee to higher-quality coffee, the NCA research said.

Celebrity chef, restaurateur and Food Network star Robert Irvine, who delivered the NCRLE Keynote address, noted that socially networked consumers demand quality and will call out restaurants that don’t deliver.

“People come to you for quality,” Robert Irvine said. “When you do not deliver the quality, you suck.”

“And since every diner has two or three devices these days,” Robert Irvine continued. “The first thing they do when they have a bad experience at your restaurant is message their friends and post it on social media. Bad reviews on social media can kill a restaurant.”

Drip vs Espresso ROIWe couldn’t agree more. But just because the customer is not complaining on social media, doesn’t mean that everything’s good enough. “You need to strive to delight,” Thom advised.

“Positive customer feedback doesn’t come easily, but it is well worth the work. Especially the feedback of a particular type of customer – Millennials,” Brady said. “They are now the largest demographic, and they’re willing to spend their money on quality experiences.”

“The total satisfaction experience is hard to get, it’s hard to replicate, and you can’t cheat at it,” Thom said. “But that’s where you’re going to grow, that’s where customers become loyal to you, that’s when they come back and talk about you in a good way.”

If you operate a restaurant, bar, hotel or other foodservice operation and you are looking to increase profits by updating your coffee program, give us a call at 800 835 5943. Ask for Thom Swain or Brady Butler.


Stockton Graham & Co. New Graphic Platform Wins Davey Award

SGC-Davey-webThere may not be any industries as connected as design and coffee. With many designers considering coffee to be their lifeblood, it makes sense that Stockton Graham & Co., a Raleigh based coffee roaster and gourmet beverage wholesaler, would go out of their way to appeal visually to their customers.

The new “cut paper” illustrations Hummingbird Creative Group developed to support new branding for Stockton Graham & Co. and freshen up the company capabilities brochure, social media graphics, a “6 Essentials of Brewing Coffee” booklet and retail coffee packaging recently won a Silver Davey Award.

The graphic platform was developed to support a new brand message for Stockton Graham & Co. – Blending the Art and Business of Coffee. To visually represent the Art of hand crafting specialty coffees that is at the heart of Stockton Graham & Co.’s corporate mission, Hummingbird developed the concept using an illustrative style with cut paper. To represent the Business idea, “BE-AN guy” images were developed showing different adventures, jobs and product lines related to the coffee and specialty beverage industry to reflect how the team at Stockton Graham & Co. works with their customers to not only provide great products, but also help support their business growth.

“We are so proud of the new branding – it really expresses the company’s competitive advantages,” said Stockton Graham & Co. founder and President, Jeff Vojta. “Using the cut paper “BE-AN guys” to show the seed-to-cup mentality has put into visuals what our company strives to do best everyday – create beautifully hand-crafted coffees and support our customers’ success.”

For 20 years, Stockton Graham & Co. has partnered with Hummingbird Creative Group to develop a company brand that is adaptable to the ever-changing trends in the coffee industry. Hummingbird founder and President, Wendy Coulter, says extensive research went into the implementation on this new design, stating, “In the most recent rebranding of Stockton Graham & Co. the message from customers was clear: the work they do crafting a great coffee is an ART, and combining that with their ability to help customers understand the BUSINESS of coffee is a strong market differentiator.”

The Davey awards are sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), an organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current IAVA membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms including: Code and Theory, Condé Nast, Disney, GE, Keller Crescent, Microsoft,, MTV, Push, Publicis, Sesame Workshops, The Marketing Store, Worktank and Yahoo!, and many others. See for more information. This year’s winners were announced in October 2014.

Relevant Links

Our History –

Stockton Graham & Co. Story –

Stockton Graham & Co.® to be on FOX Business Network®

 Stockton Graham & Co. to be Featured on
Manufacturing Marvels® Raleigh, NC:

Stockton Graham & Co. Manufacturing MarvelsStockton Graham & Co.®, a specialty coffee roaster and wholesale beverage, equipment and accessory distributor located in Raleigh, NC, is proud to announce it will be presented in an upcoming production of Manufacturing Marvels®, airing on The FOX Business Network® on May 30, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. CST.

Produced by award winning producers Bob and Jerry May and narrated by nationally acclaimed voice talent John Criswell, the 2-minute Manufacturing Marvels® production spotlights American manufacturers in a multitude of industries. Marvel Production Group, LLC (MPG) visited the Stockton Graham & Co. production facility on May 15th, where they were introduced specialty coffee roasting methods.

While on-site, MPG captured Stockton Graham & Co.’s barista training program and our customer service tools which will be featured in the video segment, as well as the roasting process. “When Manufacturing Marvels® approached us about featuring Stockton Graham & Co., we thought that it would be a great way to celebrate our 20th year in the business of coffee and an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the roasting process and our capabilities,” said Jeff Vojta, CEO, Stockton Graham & Co. “From sourcing and roast profile management to cupping, Stockton Graham & Co. is passionate about coffee and we exceptional pride in our dedicated team. We are very excited to be featured on The Fox Business Network.”

After its air date, the video will be featured on the Stockton Graham & Co. website and YouTube channel, where a variety of instructional videos are also available.

UPDATE 06/03/2014: 
Video available on the Stockton Graham & Co. Youtube page.


The Stockton Graham & Co. Story: 20 Years and Counting

The year was 1994… back then, cell phones were bigger, gas was cheaper, and Classic Coffees had just opened its doors for business. The quaint little shop off of Six Forks Road in Raleigh, NC was founded by two friends looking to own their own business. Little did they know, twenty years later the small business would still be an adventure never anticipated.

stockton graham & co. turns 20

It all started with a bag of beans. While working as an accountant, Jeff Vojta, co-founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co., received a bag of gourmet coffee as a gift. After sipping a cup of the gourmet brew, Jeff was astonished to find that the coffee actually tasted good, better than he ever thought coffee could taste! So when he and a friend started talk of going into business together, they decided to go into the business of coffee. The pair chose to open their own coffee shop, not only because of the profitability of coffee, but because coffee is something that people are passionate about. They felt that coffee brings people together, not only in cafés, but as a globally traded commodity. Jeff has said, “Coffee is a unifying force, bringing people of all cultures and backgrounds together to do business and create something special.”

stockton graham & co. turns 20


In May 1994, Classic Coffees was a 744 sq. ft. store that featured local artists’ work, gourmet desserts, and of course, specialty coffee. The dream was to become a national retail store. After asking customers, friends and family what they liked and disliked about coffee, the business partners realized the market demanded craft-roasted, specialty offerings. In 1996, the founders opted to expand the original store to nearly 2,000 sq. ft. to include a 12 kilo Petroncini roaster. Jeff roasted the first batch and learned by trial-and-error what worked and what didn’t. He even remembers setting the cooling tray on fire! They eventually got the hang of roasting after going to lots of trade shows, trading knowledge with other roasters and experimenting in their shop.

During the next several years, the company expanded into four retail locations operating in Raleigh and landed wholesale accounts throughout North Carolina and Virginia. They began selling their coffee to other coffeehouses, gourmet specialty stores, fine dining and other establishments wanting to serve craft-roasted coffee. Due to the high demand of wholesale coffee, Classic Coffees Roasting Company was created as a wholesale roaster and distributor.

While running their growing business, the partners had to find the right products to satisfy their café customers’ demands. The specialty beverage industry was growing, and customers wanted unique, tasty drinks. Jeff remembers, “This was back before Starbucks had frappes. It was summer time, and we were wondering where all our customers had gone.” They realized they needed cool and refreshing beverages to drive traffic during the warmer months, so they started offering blended beverages and iced drinks. As they diversified the products they offered, they ran into a new challenge: tracking down the right product mix. Twenty years ago, securing product included a lot of time on the phone with multiple vendors and a lot of hassle. The entrepreneurs had to jump through hoop after hoop to make sure they had the quality product they wanted for their business. They started buying products in bulk and would sell what they didn’t use to other stores in the area that wanted the same high quality products.SGC

Thus, the wholesale business was born. By mid 1999, the four “Classic Coffees” retail locations were sold to focus shifted to the the growing wholesale coffee and specialty beverage product business. In 2001, the name of the company was changed to Stockton Graham & Co and the company settled in at the 4320 Delta Lake Drive address in Raleigh.

Today, the company owns the entire building and the roaster is a bit bigger. They upgraded to include 30 and 60 kilo Ambex roasters to provide artisan roasted coffees to customers across the United States. Stockton Graham & Co. has also assembled a team with over 100 years combined experience in the coffee industry that offers business advice in addition to providing high-quality coffee and beverage products.

photo 33While the company has grown in size and capabilities, the core values and vision remain focused on offering customers the highest quality specialty coffees, knowledge and tools. This enables our customers to offer superior hand-crafted espresso and specialty, made-to-order drinks. Stockton Graham & Co. prides itself on blending the art of coffee roasting and drink preparation with the business of coffee including: consultation, equipment, advice and specialty products to help build superior and successful coffee businesses.

Jeff’s “Keys to Success” After Twenty Years in the Business of Coffee:

  • Listen to your customer.
  • Surround yourself with a good team.
  • Treat your staff and customers fairly, and work with people with the same goal.
  • Stick to your values and quality of product.
  • Business is about people. Keep them at the heart of your decisions.

Specialty Coffee Roaster, Stockton Graham & Co., Turns 20

STG513-ID-stickerJeff Vojta, co-founder and President of Stockton Graham & Co., a specialty coffee roaster and wholesale beverage, equipment and accessory distributor located in Raleigh, NC, announced that the company will celebrate 20 years in the business of coffee on May 12, 2014.

Stockton Graham & Co. started as a coffee shop, Classic Coffees, on Six Forks Road in 1994. The single store grew to include roasting and the business evolved into Classic Coffee Roasting Company. As the wholesale and distribution business grew, the business moved to the current 4320 Delta Lake Drive, Raleigh address in 1999.

To better reflect the wholesale mission and values, the name of the company was changed to Stockton Graham & Co. Today, their mission of roasting great coffee and helping customers succeed in the business of coffee is still a reality.

“Our success has been built upon helping our customers succeed in serving exceptional coffees and handcrafted beverages, while providing outstanding customer service,” said Vojta. “Our team of dedicated coffee professionals is committed, not only to expanding our knowledge of coffee, but to help our industry further develop and promote specialty coffee standards; thus ensuring our industry and company’s continued growth and enabling 20 more years of coffee excellence.”

Stockton Graham & Co. is committed to helping specialty retailers build superior and successful coffee businesses. For more information about Stockton Graham & Co. and its products, or to place an order, call 800-835-5943 or visit

About Stockton Graham & Co.:

Founded in 1994, Stockton Graham & Co. is nationally known for roasting great coffee, developing customized specialty coffee and beverage programs, providing operators the keys to building enduring specialty coffee businesses, creating and promoting coffee industry standards and trends, and offering customers unsurpassed knowledge and tools to serve quality coffees and other hand-crafted specialty drinks. For more information, visit

Celebrating May Anniversaries

In honor of Stockton Graham & Co.’s 20th year in business, we have been celebrating important dates for the company. This May, we are celebrating two pivotal Stockton Graham & Co. team members’ anniversaries, Jeff Vojta and Robbie Oakley.

polaroid-jeffJeff Vojta is celebrating 20 years in the coffee industry! Being a part of this business since 1994, Jeff has served in many roles including, barista, coffee shop owner, roaster, delivery driver, green coffee buyer and trainer. His love for coffee lead him to start a coffee shop, “Classic Coffees” and the rest is Stockton Graham & Co. history. He started roasting his own coffees and selling to the local area and now serves as our CEO.


Jeff has traveled the world looking for great coffee and speaking on specialty coffee, including a trip to Dubai and Nicaragua. He loves learning about the different cultures involved in coffee growing as he travels and trying all the local cuisine along the way.

“This month represents twenty years of our company being in existence, and I have had the privilege of being present twelve of those years.  I first met Jeff on a buying trip in Costa Rica, and could see the passion and excitement he had not only for his company, but also for the relationships that connected his business to specialty coffee. There are far too many examples to relate as to what I have learned from Jeff, but perhaps the biggest thing is that one should never stop learning in this industry.  Specialty coffee is his passion, and while I was not here during our company’s infancy with the retail locations, the success of Stockton Graham & Co. is a testament to what Jeff built in those early days.  Here is to twenty more years, Jeff!  We are all honored to be part of this amazing team of professionals.” – Brandon Riggs, Director of Coffee

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeff since we designed the logo and corporate identity for Classic Coffees Roasting Company in 1997. He’s helped me through a lot both professionally and personally throughout the years, and has given me and my staff a lot of great opportunities to do fun, creative work from helping to name the company in the early days, to the new positioning and branding with cut paper graphics. I am thankful to have Stockton Graham & Co. as a client and Jeff as a friend, and I admire his big heart and big ideas!” – Wendy Coulter, CEO – Hummingbird Creative Group


Robbie OakleyThis May marks Robbie Oakley’s 2nd year at Stockton Graham & Co.! Starting with us in 2012, Robbie handles many tasks in the warehouse throughout the day. He considers himself responsible for accurately picking and packing each customer’s order and ensuring that it arrives in a timely and intact manner. His genuine concern for the customer makes Robbie a great member of our team. Robbie is a great worker and leader and we are glad to have him as part of our team!

“While Robbie has only been with Stockton Graham & Co. for two years, he has become an indispensable member of our team. Not only does he work hard to ensure customer orders are sent out on time and correct, he helps to build team work and spirit in the back with creative team building events.” – Jeff Vojta, CEO

“Robbie’s dedication to our customers is evident in how he has transformed our shipping/receiving department.  He has implemented several new ideas to ensure customer orders are processed and shipped correctly, and is an integral part of our warehouse team as the leader.  His vast background knowledge of deadlines and time sensitive projects has added new dimensions to our capabilities.  His creative nature and leadership inspire everyone here at Stockton Graham & Co.” -Brandon Riggs, Director of Coffee

Thank you both for your hard work!

Stockton Graham & Co. Closed on
May 26th, 2014 for Memorial Day

Stockton Graham & Co. will be closed on Monday, May 26th 2014 in observance of Memorial Day. Please allow an additional transit day as FedEx will also not pick up or deliver on the 26th.SGC-wholesale

All orders received after noon on Friday, May 23rd will not ship until Tuesday, May 27th. We invite you to head over to to calculate the transit days to your area from our ’27612′ zip code.

FOR LOCAL CUSTOMERS: All pick-ups must be made by 3:00 pm on Fri., May 23th. Pick-up orders must be placed by the end of the prior business day – Thursday May 22nd.
We will resume our normal business schedule on Tuesday, May 27th 2014.

The Stockton Graham & Co. team would like to wish you all fun, happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!