What’s Hot from the Specialty Coffee Expo

Specialty Coffee ExpoHundreds of exhibitors promoted all aspects of the specialty coffee industry. Thousands of attendees traveled from over 75 countries. Once again, the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle provided an unparalleled opportunity to see what’s new, connect, and learn about Specialty Coffee.

This year, our Director of Coffee Brad Kirby and Lead Trainer Brady Butler flew to Seattle to attend Expo. Here are their top five things to know from Expo:

 

  1. Brewing Specialty Coffee Better with Trusted Partners

Brewing coffee takes the right equipment. Exciting new models from Bunn-o-matic and Nuova Simonelli will make excellent additions to our equipment lineup later this year.

 

Bunn introduced a new flagship brewer line: The Infusion Series Platinum Edition. These brewers have a full-color touchscreen for easy operation and more intuitive programming. They also use redesigned spray head and SmartWAVE technology for more uniform extraction and great coffee flavor.

 

Bunn also introduced a redesign of our most popular shop grinder: The G Series. With a sleek new look and much quieter operation, the new G Series VH grinder will fit nicely in any café setting and budget.

 

Nuova Simonelli’s design department has also been hard at work, unveiling a beautifully-updated Aurelia Wave espresso machine. Improved ergonomics and energy efficiency, several unexpected new features, and a smooth, lower-profile design should keep this model at the top of café operators’ wish lists.

 

  1. Cold is Hot

Cold Brew continues to be a perennial favorite for customers. It looks like many exhibitors agreed, and we saw and tasted many new ways to make and serve it.

 

Nitro Coffee’s popularity should continue to grow thanks to a few new options that make it easier to offer. Larger-capacity brewers help operators keep up with growing demand. Countertop dispensers of various sizes were also on display, with and without kegs. Some dispensers even drew their nitrogen from the atmosphere instead of a tank.

 

Already brewing and serving cold Brew? If so, you know how important it is to keep everything clean. The coffee cleaner specialists at Urnex were back to save the day with a 2-part cold Brew system cleaner and sanitizer designed to make cleaning easy.

 

  1. Tongue Twisters

Expo attendees can always count on finding plenty of new, different and surprising drink ideas on the show floor. We saw and tasted a couple of trends worth noting for your café menu.

 

Turmeric, that brilliantly-yellow superfood superstar in a spice jar, was the star of several booths. A turmeric concentrate even won a best new product award. From golden milk to lattes to teas, 2018 seems to be turmeric’s year.

 

Many found creative ways to shake up familiar flavors with a new twist. Did you know that steaming Oregon Chai with carrot juice could taste just like classic carrot cake? Or that adding a touch of balsamic vinegar to a Torani strawberry Italian soda could create a refreshingly-tangy summer “shrub”?

 

Flavoring specialists like Torani, DaVinci and Monin featured cold brew-based cocktails and mocktails meant to keep menus cool through the heat of summer. Highlights included cold brew with horchata, white chocolate and lavender, even bourbon.

 

And when it comes to flavor, car maker Volvo stole the show with their stunning mobile espresso vehicle. It doesn’t take a custom coffee mobile to make your specialty drinks stand out. Customers love sharing their experiences with friends, so try building buzz with beautiful, unusual, highly-Instagrammable beverages.

  1. Doing Good, Specialty Coffee

From growing coffee to making lattes, the coffee industry is very dependent on natural resources. So the health of the coffee industry depends on everyone using these resources wisely. The Specialty Coffee Association recognized The Manos al Agua Project, implemented by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) as part of a public-private partnership, with its Sustainability Award 2018.

 

Founded in 2013, Manos al Agua focuses on water resources management in coffee regions. The organization has achieved important sustainability results, including installation of ecological post-harvesting and wastewater treatment systems, among other actions.

 

One of the benefits of attending the Specialty Coffee Association Expo is our ability to make direct connections with the farmers and mills. The cuppings, origin-country booths and informal after-hours mixers helps coffee roasters and growers get to know each other before booking a buying trip to origin. This more casual introduction can form the basis for direct relationships that may for last many seasons. 

  1. Got Skills

The Specialty Coffee Expo isn’t just about new products. Classes, workshops, and lectures at Expo offer a great chance for attendees to gain new knowledge. This year marked the Expo debut of the Specialty Coffee Association’s newly-revised Coffee Skills Program. As a leader in the content creation effort, our Brady Butler was invited to present the new Brewing Foundation Course.

 

The skills and knowledge learned in the Introduction to Coffee, Barista Foundation and Brewing Foundation courses form the basis of preparing great coffee. We now offer these same courses in Raleigh at the Dilworth Coffee Training Center. For more information about these courses visit our training page here or email us at Learn@DilworthCoffee.com.

 

To learn more about how you can put these specialty coffee trends to work for you in your coffee business, call us today at 800 835 5943 or email us at inforequest@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

 

 

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.

Questions for the New Coffee Shop Owner

New coffee shop questions

When starting any new business, such as a new coffee shop, there are hundreds of things to consider and questions to ask one’s self. And of course, someone taking over anexisting café location is going to have a completely different set of questions than someone building from scratch. The list can be very long but below are just a few important ones we’ve come up with to help people get through the tricky start-up period of any coffee shop.

Leasing and Health Code Questions:

new coffee shop questions

Is electrical system up to code and can it handle all equipment? With some machines that require 110V and others 220V, the electrical load requirements for a coffee shop result in a great deal of diversity in usage. Consult with an electrician early in the planning stages.

How many restrooms are required? This will depend upon the size of your space and number of employees.

What is the state of the HVAC system? The general lifespan of an HVAC system is around 15 years. If yours is close to this, consider costs you may incur. Also, make sure your system is adequate for your amount of square footage.

Do you have adequate and nearby parking? If not, it will be difficult for customers to visit.

Do you have the correct number of exits for fire code? According to OSHA: “Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely.”

Do you have easy ingress and egress? Like parking, if it’s not easy for customers to get to you, they may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Is your signage visible? Signage is very important but it serves no purpose if no one can see it.

Have you considered build-out time including permits avg. (4 mo.) vs. free rent (average 2 mo.)? Permitting of new coffee shop construction can be very tedious and frustrating, leading to increased time of your business not being in operation. Negotiating a deal for a space that is functioning but not ideal at first could be a financially appealing way to start.

new coffee shop questions

Are you in compliance with the Americans With Disability Act? The ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

 

 

Water Questions

Has your water been evaluated? Since coffee is around 98% water, its importance to the success of any café should never be overlooked. A simple test can be performed to determine whether your water is considered soft or hard.

What kind of water treatment system do you need? There are many options in functionality, size and price.

Have you planned for treatment space in your buildout? In many coffee shops, space is at a premium. Make sure you leave enough (and in the correct location) for any filtration system you might need.

Do you need an ice machine? Some ice machines can be large so consider this when planning.

Have you considered the location of a drain? A drain, preferably in the floor, should be located as close to your equipment as possible.

We hope these questions have given you some helpful food for thought as you plan your new coffee shop. Remember, local ordinances vary so always consult your inspector and building codes. As always, we are here to help so if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

 

Ready for The Holidays? Part 2

Are you ready for shoppers during the holidays?

(Continued from Part 1)

Back of the House

The goal of any coffee shop or retail business should be to make it easy for shoppers during the busy holiday sales period. They are often in a hurry so they are becoming less tolerant of things like lines and credit card problems so be prepared with regards to equipment, staffing and even flow of traffic.

Plan Staff Levels Carefully

Every year it seems the holidays come earlier. As soon as trick-or-treaters go to bed the holiday decorations start going up. That means shopping and early November weekends are consistently huge opportunities for stores. Unfortunately, for many retailers, their holiday staff is not yet in place. Take a detailed look at staff-by-hour for the first few weekends in November to shift hours into peak traffic times. As we mentioned, shoppers are less tolerant of things that cause them to wait, and nothing is more annoying than a business that is under-staffed.

Training is Key

Often during the holidays, new employees are part time and temporary. Build a training plan for them and stick to it. Start with the company basics and build from there, keeping things simple with “do’s” and “don’t’s.” Also, take out as much flexible interpretation as possible from policies, procedures and processes. Ensure the trainers of these new employees are adequately prepared and make them aware beforehand when they will have training responsibilities.

Make every barista an expert. And we don’t mean an expert only at working the espresso machine. The barista should have knowledge of the coffees and all of your other products in order to answer customers questions. There is no better way to sell a product than with a friendly and informative employee.

Just like staffing, make sure your inventory is maintained at the correct level. Anticipate sales and plan ahead. You definitely don’t want to run out of products you could easily sell to willing customers.

Make it Look Festive

Have a plan in place to change your visual merchandising to your holiday look–don’t just leave it until the last moment. And make your windows pop! The holiday season affords you an opportunity to get new shoppers into your store. Take advantage of the increase in traffic by designing an eye-catching, holiday-themed window display that is inviting. Once customers are in your store, it’s up to you and your capable staff to deliver that magical retail experience.

Don’t forget, Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 25, two days after Thanksgiving and one day after Black Friday. This event, which began in 2010, is growing in popularity as customers come out to support small, local businesses. If you’re a small business, plan to participate and prepare in ways that will help you stand out, whether with promotional signage, social media campaigns or coffee specials. And, of course, be appropriately staffed and stocked.

The fourth quarter is the most critical quarter of the year for all coffee shop owners, so make sure you are doing what it takes to help your 2017 go out with a bang. Happy Holidays!

For more information about how we can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

Featured Coffee: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

Considered by most to be the original home of the coffee plant, it makes sense that Ethiopia produces some of the very finest beans available.

Coffee, which still grows wild in Ethiopia’s mountain forests, was discovered many hundreds of years ago, legend has it, by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.

According to the story, he noticed his goats becoming surprisingly active after eating coffee cherries. One thing led to another and after some experimentation, the coffee cherries were turned into a beverage.

From Ethiopia, coffee made its way across the Red Sea to Yemen, where it was first grown as a commercial crop. From the Middle East, the popularity of coffee as a beverage spread to Europe. In the colonial empires of European countries, in places such as Indonesia and the Americas, new locations were soon identified that were ideal for the growth of the coffee plant.

Today, after lagging behind many of the other big growing nations for years, Ethiopia is Africa’s top coffee producer. The unique (and delicious) flavors of its crops have helped the country rise to become the world’s seventh-largest coffee producer.

Our new coffee originates from Ethiopia’s Kochere area within the district of Yirgacheffe. Kochere is home to many family farms and this coffee is a blend of lots from several hundred small regional farmers. In the region, coffee is grown at elevations from 1,700 to 2,200 meters above sea level in the reddish-brown clay soil of the high hills. It is hand-picked between October and January, washed and processed using spring water within 12 hours, and then naturally dried in the hot African sun. The result is a fragrant and flavorful coffee that is sought after around the world

“Our Ethiopia offering this year marks a return to a more typical washed flavor profile,” says Brad Kirby, Stockton Graham & Co.’s Director of Coffee. “We chose this Kochere due to its complexity and clean cup. Its balance between tartness and sweetness was immediately apparent on the cupping table and we think this offering will appeal to a wide range of coffee lovers.”

CUPPING NOTES
AROMA:  Lemon Drop, Floral
BODY:  Light
FLAVOR:  Black Tea, Lemon, Honeyed Sweetness
ACIDITY:  Pleasantly Tart
AFTERTASTE:  Sweet, Juicy

For more information about our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere or any of our other specialty coffees, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

 

Ready for The Holidays? Part 1

The Holidays mean big salesIt’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays. Believe it or not, the most important retail season of the year is almost here so it’s time to plan how you can make this busy time a success.

The holiday season can be a challenge for all retailers. There are lots of long hours, more than enough stress and–we hope–lots of shoppers. But, before you get overwhelmed, remember to focus on the opportunity the holidays present. Studies show that 40% of sales during the six weeks prior to Christmas are a result of retail purchases and you don’t want your business to miss out. 

A few things to keep in mind as we approach the holidays:

  • Thanksgiving used to be a weekend of sales and promotions but now it is now much of a month.
  • Thanksgiving is on the 23rd, so that leaves 31 shopping days until Christmas.
  • Week 3 and 4 of November will be big.
  • Hanukkah is earlier this year: December 12-20.
  • Black Friday has been surpassed by 12/23 as the biggest shopping day of the season.

Last year Christmas was on Sunday so it affected shopping a bit. This year it is on Monday so the Friday and Saturday before (the 22nd and 23rd) will be huge shopping days. People will be out and about so give them a reason to stop in and visit you. A break for coffee is a perfect way to make a hectic shopping day more enjoyable. The day after Christmas is also expected to be big but the remainder of that week will be insignificant.

There are so many things to consider during this season we have broken this article into two parts: front of the house issues and back of the house issues.

Front of the House

Host an Open House

Though retail sales are at their highs during the holidays, they don’t generate themselves. Promoting bulk coffee and retail coffee sales is key. One great way to do this is by hosting a pre-holiday open house to showcase upcoming seasonal features to your customers. Begin promoting your pre-holiday open house in October, with a plan to hold the event in early November. This gives your customers time to become aware of the event. A few weeks prior to the event, have employees remind customers of the time and date as they come in each day. Also, advertise your event details with signage near the entrance so everyone sees it as they come and go. Lastly, be sure to post it on your shop’s website and social media page. Social media is the easiest way to reach out to your whole customer base, so it is critical to have all details and updates posted on Facebook and/or Twitter. While promoting, consider mentioning free samples and giveaways and/or raffles which will take place at the event to help encourage your customers to attend.

So, what do pre-holiday open houses usually consist of? As mentioned before, this is a great time to emphasize your bulk bean program. Let guests know that a retail bag makes a perfect stocking-stuffer or a gift basket item. Also, people tend to do a lot of entertaining this time of year, whether it is hosting holiday parties or hosting relatives. A fresh roasted retail bag of coffee or two would certainly be a great thing to keep on hand. Live music is always a nice touch during the holidays, especially if you can have some during shopping hours. It’s a perfect way to attract the attention of passing shoppers.

Introduce Your Seasonal Specials

Hosting an open house is also a great way to introduce your upcoming seasonal features to customers. If you plan to bring in seasonal coffees, arrange for samples to be available and brew a few pots so your customers can taste-test what you plan to bring in. This allows you to receive feedback, as well as collect pre-orders from customers who don’t want to miss out on your limited-time offer. If you’re a bakery, perhaps consider having apple pie or other baked goods available so customers can sample and pre-order their baked goods to pick up the week of Thanksgiving. The main objective of any pre-holiday open house is to get your customers excited about the upcoming holiday features you will be offering, while also convincing them to come to your store, as opposed to competitors, during the season.

Show Appreciation for Your Regular Customers

Business aside, an open house get-together is a perfect opportunity to have fun in a laid-back environment and to say “thank you” to the people who generate a large portion of your sales. Let them know that this is not something that is designed to pressure them in to buying more, but a time to relax while enjoying a friendly, entertaining atmosphere with you, the shop owner. Nothing grows business better than strengthening relationships with customers.

Stockton Graham & Co.’s founder and former retail coffee shop owner, Jeff Vojta, said he would always hold a pre-holiday open house during this time of the year. “There is no better way to make your customers aware of what seasonal products you will be offering,” he says. “Make the most of this opportunity to promote your retail program while it’s at its highest potential.”

To be continued…

For more information about how we can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Whole Beans at your Coffee Shop

Whole Beans at your Coffee ShopAre you selling coffee as whole beans in your café? You should be.

Whole bean sales have the potential to dramatically increase your total sales, yet ironically it remains one of the most underrated and missed opportunities by many specialty coffee retailers.

 

One of the most common misconceptions, when it comes to selling retail coffee, is that it is encouraging customers to stay at home and not come into your shop. The reality is this: of the 300 million cups of coffee Americans drink each day, about three quarters are brewed at home. This means that if customers are inevitably going to drink someone’s coffee at home, it might as well be yours. This also does not replace the fact that customers will still need to come to your shop for espresso-based and other specialty drinks, which they are typically unable to make at home. A successful retail program does not require a lot of extra time, work or marketing. A simple countertop or shelf display will draw the attention of your customers and have them asking questions in no time!

Survey says...

So, what type of revenue can a retail program bring in? The Specialty Coffee Association found in a study that 54% of the adult population of the United States drinks coffee daily (typically in the morning). So, if you have 150 customers a day, then about 75 of them drink a minimum of seven cups of coffee a week and it could very well be at home. This statistic really gives you an idea of the amount of sales you can acquire, even when the customer is at home.

A weaker whole beans program probably sells around 15 pounds per week (with an average retail sales price of $15.00 per pound), which translates to about $225 per week and about $900 per month in whole bean sales alone. A stronger retail program has the potential to bring in upwards of $4,000 a month.

Loyalty equals guaranteed sales

Apart from an increase in your bottom line, another major aspect that a successful retail program can bring is customer loyalty. It’s no secret that there are a lot of choices when it comes to coffee. So anytime one of your customers is not invested in your coffee, you are at risk of your customer being poached by a competitor.

The best way to avoid this is to keep them invested in you, even when they walk out of your door. A simple way to think of it is; each time they drink a cup of your coffee at home, that’s one less cup of someone else’s coffee that they’re drinking. Like any product, the more and more a customer gets comfortable with it, the more likely they will continue to purchase it.

What’s the best way to set up a retail coffee program in your shop? As mentioned before, it does not take much. Start small, with a few choices (perhaps your house blend, a popular flavor and a favorable single origin) — there’s no need to overwhelm or confuse your customers right from the get-go.

Once you notice trends or your customers start making requests, feel free to make additions to your selection. Display your beans in a noticeable area, but make sure it’s not too obnoxious – the goal is to use your whole beans program as an up sell. You don’t want it to distract your customer from the rest of your menu. Most importantly, educate your staff. It is likely your customers will ask questions or recommendations before they pull the trigger on a purchase, so make sure your employees are knowledgeable about all the blend components, origins, taste profiles, etc.

Stockton Graham & Co. recommends our specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee for customers looking to add a whole bean program. Started in 1989 in Charlotte NC, Dilworth Coffee is one of the leading independent coffee brands in North Carolina, according to a 2016 study by Mintel.

To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.