Featured Coffees from Sumatra

Sumatra coffee

Coffees from Sumatra, the western-most island in Indonesia have long been popular for their distinctive flavors. When new crops reach market, we try numerous samples to make sure we discover the very best of what the island has to offer. For 2018, we are offering Sumatra Karo Highlands, Organic Sumatra Mandheling as well as a Sumatra Decaf.

The western-most island in Indonesia, Sumatra grows coffees at altitudes of over 1000 meters on its northern end. At the green bean stage, the coffee has a distinctive bluish color which is attributed to lack of iron in the soil. Their taste can often be considered smooth, with a sweet body that is balanced and intense. Depending on the region, or blend of regions, the flavors of the land and processing can also be very pronounced. Part of this is due to the unique wet hulling technique (called giling basah) used during processing. Another factor in the diverse and intriguing nature of Sumatra coffee is the large number of small producers; even today close to 92% of production is in the hands of small farmers or cooperatives. In 2016, Indonesia ranked fourth in the world with an estimated export total of 400,000 tons of coffee. Less than 14% of that is Arabica from Sumatra, which makes it a very desirable and often hard-to-find coffee.

A Bit of Coffee History

It wasn’t until the late 17th century that the coffee plant appeared in Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company, seeking to break a monopoly on the coffee trade held at that time by Arab merchants, first brought coffee plants to the islands in a search for suitable habitats for commercial crops. The Dutch Colonial Government, which ruled much of the region, began to experiment with plantings and some of the plants took hold. In 1711, the first green coffee exports were sent home to Europe. Successes came rapidly and within ten years, exports of coffee had risen to 60 tons per year. Indonesia became the largest producer of coffee after Ethiopia and Arabia and trade in the commodity there was controlled by the Dutch East India Company until the 1790s.

By the mid 1870’s, large coffee plantations had been created around the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. As the demand for coffee grew, roads and railroads were created to transport the coffee beans from rural mountainous growing areas to ports for export. During World War Two, however, the growth of Sumatra coffee came to a standstill as many coffee plantations were abandoned. Even after Indonesian independence in the late 1940s, the coffee industry languished as farmers focused on crops such as rubber and palm oil. Slowly, beginning in the 1960s, investment in the country’s infrastructure and technological advances have helped the Sumatran coffee industry grow.

Tasting Notes for our Sumatra Coffees

Karo Highlands
AROMA: Mild Earth, Dark Chocolate
BODY: Creamy, Full-Bodied
FLAVOR: Caramel, Semi-sweet Chocolate
ACIDITY: Very Low
AFTERTASTE: Lingering, Slightly Spicy

Organic Mandheling
AROMA: Cedar, Clove, Smoky
BODY: Syrupy, Bold
FLAVOR: Baker’s Chocolate, Pipe Tobacco, Walnut
ACIDITY: Low
AFTERTASTE: Bittersweet, Earthy

For more information about our offerings from Sumatra or any of our other specialty coffees, 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 National Coffee Day?

National Coffee DayFriday, September 29, is the holiday that honors all things coffee: National Coffee Day! That means you should have your shop ready to celebrate. So how should you do that? We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you promote this very special day.

Promote, Promote, Promote

First, nothing gets coffee lovers in your shop faster than the promise of FREE coffee. We suggest a “Buy One, Get One” promotion. Maybe buy one cup of House Blend and get another cup for free, or buy a scone or muffin and get a drip coffee for free, anything to get your guests drinking more coffee.

Another great promotion to offer is a free flavor shot with any coffee purchase. That way they still get the flavors and specialty they want, and you are driving sales. You can also promote whole bean sales during National Coffee Day by offering a “Buy One, Get One” half-off on bags of your specialty roasts, or having a whole bean setup next to the register to promote impulse buys. Remind your guests that when you are closed they can still enjoy a cup of your coffee at home. The cooler it becomes, the more home brewed coffee will be enjoyed, so make sure to target this market with promotions this National Coffee Day.

Education Leads to Greater Appreciation

National Coffee Day is about celebrating all things coffee, and the best way to go about that is really exploring the smell, taste and attributes of our favorite beverage. Why not celebrate by hosting a cupping of your three most popular roasts? Evaluating coffee is done through a process of adding hot water into a cup or a glass of freshly ground coffee, known as a coffee cupping. In a traditional cupping, you could compare and contrast the qualities of different coffees from different countries or even different regions of the world. While cupping coffee, there are five key elements to consider which affect the character of each specific coffee. These attributes are aroma, acidity, body, flavor and aftertaste. Help your guests understand their coffee, and they will become more passionate about coffee, your coffee in particular. (The Specialty Coffee Association Flavor Wheel might be useful with this. You can download it here.)

Highlight Different Brew Methods

An event you can have Friday to help your guests and drive sales is a “brew bar.”  Single cup brewing and brewing stations are popular all over the country. Set up a pour-over station with Chemex brewing, V60 or even a brew rail, use steeping methods like French Press and Toddy, and show your guests what making a good cup of coffee is all about. Remind them they can do this at home and to purchase some of your wholesale beans to experiment with.

By using National Coffee Day to celebrate your shop through specialized promotions, your guests (more informed thanks to you) will be more filled with their favorite drinks, and you will have more loyal guests coming into your shop for drinks and whole beans. The more your guests are involved with the coffee, the more they will depend on you to supply it for them!

For more information about our coffee or how Stockton Graham & Co. can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

Featured Coffee: Colombia Nariño

Coffee of ColombiaNo one is sure when the first coffee plants reached Colombia but it is often though that they arrived with Jesuit missionaries in the second half of the 18th century. By the 1830s, coffee was making an appearance as a commercial product and by the 1850s it was being exported. It wasn’t until the first quarter of the 20th century, however, that coffee experienced tremendous growth. Today, perhaps no country is as associated with coffee as Colombia. This has much to do with both the high quality of the coffee and the large amount produced.

Our Director of Coffee, Brad Kirby, cupped six Colombian offerings before choosing the Colombia Supremo Nariño. “They were all very good Colombians,” he said. “But its malty arose and flavors of pear and honey, the Nariño really stood out. The entire roasting team decided pretty quickly that this would be our single-origin Colombian.”

Colombia has 32 departments (essentially states) and coffee is grown in at least 20 of them. We sourced our Colombian Supremo (the highest grade) from the country’s southernmost department, Nariño. Bordering the Pacific Ocean and the country of Ecuador, the finest grades are grown in the foot-hills of the Andes, in altitudes from 3,500 to 4,500 feet above sea level but in some places coffee is grown at elevations as high as 7500 feet. Coffee can be grown at these extreme altitudes because of the region’s proximity to the Equator (roughly 1 degree north). Temperatures in Nariño average 61-79° F with precipitation totals of around 75 inches, well distributed throughout the year. Around 700 trees are usually planted per acre, and most farms have native trees furnishing shade to the coffee plants. Many farms produce a crop year-round, with several harvest cycles in a year.

The Supremo Nariño, which we are excited to offer as our single-origin Colombian coffee, is a blend of beans from several farms, each averaging about 6 hectares with 5,000 trees per hectare. Because the farms are so small, the harvested coffee is blended together at the source and exported as one type. The quality control at source is outstanding because these smallholder farms are known for their commitment and dedication to the craft of growing great coffee. Beans are hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, wet processed using traditional fermentation and sun-dried on patios. When it reaches us in North Carolina, our team roasts it to a level determined to be optimal for flavor. The result is an undeniably delicious coffee.

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

 

Putting More Into Product Displays

Coffee shop product displaysFrom a customer’s standpoint, walking through a store can be tricky on most occasions. Not only do you have other customers barreling around from aisle to aisle, you also have to navigate your way around various displays of different products. There might be a cardboard cut-out of a football player that measures up to stacks of soda bottles or a new holiday cookie laid out on a random table. At the movies, you often can’t make it inside without making your way through a maze of candy, soda and popcorn promotions.

As you know, there is a method to the display layout madness in all stores. They are there because you, the shopper, will notice them. This simple reasoning is also much more effective than most could ever even imagine. In fact, in-store displays have been shown to be more effective than price discounting in a study by OgilvyAction.

Their research, conducted with over 6,000 shoppers in the United States during the first quarter of a recent year, showed that 29 percent of those sampled purchase things they didn’t anticipate on before they entered the store. Of that 29 percent of impulse buyers, 24 percent said that they were moved to make those unexpected purchases because of a secondary display set up somewhere in the store. That’s considerably higher than product demonstrations (18 percent) and special pricing/discounting (17 percent).

This group also conducted a survey concluding that special display set-ups fueled twice the number of impulse buys of snack food in convenience stores than low price promotions.

These statistics can be helpful when applied to the café industry. In the past, we’ve stressed the need for product demos and offering specials, but this kind of data is something that cannot be ignored. In terms of allied product offerings, a display rack can be a great way to help those retail items stand out, Mighty Leaf or Two Leaves and a Bud teas, for example. Setting something up directly at the register for that impulse shopper to grab on their way out would be a nice add-on sale.

One strategy would be to have your customer’s path–from where they placed their drink order to the register–stretch along the front of your bar. Lining the area with juices, chocolate covered espresso beans, biscotti, and whole bean retail bags of coffee would give those 29% of customers the opportunity to buy more and will generate more money for your shop.

For more information about successfully running your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

The Organic Coffee of Chiapas, Mexico

Coffee from Chiapas, MexicoThough coffee from locales such as Colombia and Sumatra may be a little more well-known, Mexican coffees from Chiapas should certainly be regarded as some of the best in the world.

A country famous for its cuisine and sunny beaches, Mexico is also famous around the world for producing delicious specialty coffee. The country is the world’s ninth largest producer of coffee and most of that coffee is grown in Chiapas, the southernmost state.

In Chiapas, an area geographically isolated from much of Mexico until the 19th century, mountain ranges rise to elevations of up to 2000 meters and run parallel to the Pacific Ocean. The highest peak in the region and the second highest in Central America, Tacaná Volcano, rises to 4800 meters (15,700 feet) above sea level. With rich volcanic soils and ideal climate, the area is perfect for growing coffee.

Our Batch 0995 certified organic coffee from the Chiapas region originates from the Finca El Chorro. This farm, founded in the 1930s, is located at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. It is only a few miles from the Guatemala border and around 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Since 1980, coffee production at El Chorro has been organic and the farm’s coffee has been certified Shade Grown since 2002. In 2004, the output was certified as Bird Friendly Coffee by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, due to the presence of more than one hundred bird varieties on the farm. (Hint: these are great selling points!)

CUPPING NOTES

AROMA: Nutmeg, Orange Blossom
BODY: Light, Juicy
FLAVOR: Black Tea, Fruity
ACIDITY: Balanced, Citric
AFTERTASTE: Clean, Refreshing

In the surrounding areas of Chiapas, coffee was first planted as a serious crop in the late 1800s, much of it by German farmers. By 1910 the state was the leading producer of coffee in the country. Today, the crop is grown primarily by small farmers, most with plots of ten acres or less, at altitudes that range from 500 to 1400 meters above sea level. Harvest takes place from November to January and the beans are sent to a co-op for wet processing. A sizable percentage of the crop from Chiapas is certified organic, meaning it adheres to strict USDA guidelines for number of things, including no use of pesticides. These sought-after coffees are often said to resemble the best high-grown coffees from neighboring Guatemalan in character and complexity. Described as silky bodied with a medium acidity, organic coffee from Mexico often gives a sense of chocolate on the palate and leave a touch of honey aftertaste.

For more information about our organic Batch 0995 Mexico Chiapas or any of our other coffees, call us at 800 835 5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

 

Advice From An Expert

Coffee shop advice from an expertBased on a lecture by Bruce Milletto, President of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and former retail shop owner, there is a list of 12 essentials when it comes to running a successful coffee shop. Take this advice to heart, especially when planning for the busy holiday season this year–it will be here before you know it!

  1. The first and most important is proper business planning. This is the key in any business and especially in the coffee industry. It is important to understand where the industry has come from and where it is heading, to plan and analyzing your financial potential carefully and set short and long-term goals.
  2. You also need to understand the coffee itself. Those who just jump into the industry prematurely can get into trouble fast. It is essential that you understand the nuances of coffee from seed to cup; including origins, growing practices, certification, roasting and proper preparation.
  3. Location is always an important aspect to consider when you are selling any product. As an owner, it is important to determine a location that will bring in foot traffic, provide you with the work space that you need and is easy to find. It is important to make sure the lease you sign is a good one, because signing the wrong lease can be catastrophic to your business.
  4. Your shop needs strong ergonomic design. It is important that your design works for both you and your customer’s needs. You don’t want your space too small that your baristas are running into each other, but you still want to allow your customers to feel cozy and not lost in cafeteria-sized café.
  5. Creating a unique and appealing ambiance is vital to coffee shops. From your menu to your lighting, it is important that you set yourself apart from the chains. Create an atmosphere to attract the client you want to attract.
  6. Equally important is merchandising and presentation. What else can you sell to help your bottom line? Mints, T-shirts and mugs are just a few ideas to help boost your sales and diversify your product list. As a coffee shop, you should be pushing your whole bean sales and focusing on getting your customers to drink your coffee outside your shop.
  7. Your Menu is something that allows you to stand out and draw in new clients. You should select your items and recipes carefully, and keep in mind what your competitors are serving. It is also important to display your items, whether it’s pictures on the menu, posters or displays on the front counter. Show your customers what you serve and offer advice on choices to them.
  8. One of the most important essentials is hiring the right employees. Your employees are the gears that run your shop, so when you hire consider appearance, work ethic, maturity and attitude. Do they have a strong understanding for coffee, and can they teach your customers? Poor employees are the biggest mistake that many operations make!
  9. Going hand in hand with good employees is customer service. You as an owner need to lead and teach your employees by example. Get behind the bar, give them advice and show them how to properly serve a customer, from the greeting to the money exchange. Always focus on the customer’s needs first and foremost!
  10. Something that seems obvious is managing your business. The essential part is that it’s up to you as an owner to see that quality service is produced. Stay on top of your baristas, manage waste and watch for theft. Make sure that your employees are meeting your expectations throughout the shop.
  11. An often overlooked essential is marketing. Nowadays it is imperative to have your own website, Facebook, twitter, etc. Create promotions that work in your specific situation. Point of Sale is also a great way to advertise your product, and it should be used to its fullest potential. Any way to get your logo and name to stick in a customer’s mind (in a positive way) is good.
  12. Finally, our last bit of advice relates to operational systems, budget and cost controls. Create systems for both employees and management, including a manual to read and sign upon employment. This is a positive way to learn and understand company policies and procedures. As an owner, always know your cost of goods and keep an eye on all operating expenses.

Bruce is confident that if you are on top of every area, you will succeed. He says that people will not stop drinking coffee, so stay positive! It is more important now than ever to operate smart and plan accordingly. We at Stockton Graham & Company hope this list of 12 business essentials will provide you with some helpful tips as you continue to succeed and grow in our fast growing and thrilling industry.

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