Stockton Graham & Co. Re-Launches Barista Certification

Basic Barista CertificationSome operators believe the only specialized training that a barista needs is how to operate an espresso machine. But think about it: Is proper operation of an oven the only specialized training a baker needs? Of course not. Excellent baristas, like excellent bakers, need to know the fundamentals of the ingredients they work with, how to measure and combine ingredients, as well as preparation and serving techniques for an optimal product.

To help operators provide the training their baristas need to deliver consistently superior beverages and great customer service, Stockton Graham & Co. recently updated our Barista Certification Program. The three-day course conducted at our Raleigh, NC facility focuses on espresso education and preparation of espresso-based beverages.

2015_Final_Coffee and Espresso BasicsThe course begins with Coffee College 101. Certified baristas are trained in the history of coffee, coffee processing and taste characteristics. They learn Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) standards for espresso extraction and milk texturizing, as well as best practices for drip or airpot coffee.

Lead by our roastmaster Brandon Riggs and our SCAA-certified barista Alex Jeans, the Barista Certification Program includes classroom training, interactive presentations, film, hands-on training, written tests and practical performance evaluations. Just like in the SCAA barista training programs, participants are required to demonstrate proficiency in pulling a perfect espresso shot and preparing several espresso-based drinks for a panel of judges.

As part of the program, our head roaster Brad Kirby and business development teammate Brady Butler run a session on equipment cleaning and maintenance. Both are factory-trained equipment technicians for makers like Nuova Simonelli, La Marzocco, Franke, Astoria, Rancillo, Fetco and Bunnomatic. Brady also serves as Chair of the Brewing Pathway Committee for the SCAA.

2015_Basic Certification Study Guide_071515-1Our Director of Business Development for the Northeast Region, Debra Dolan, provides one-on-one consultations on menu planning, customer service and maintaining quality standards. The goal is to ensure that Certified Baristas are fully equipped to deliver an enhanced coffee experience to customers.

“Barista certification is important because it instills a solid basis of coffee knowledge in trainees as well as confidence,” said instructor Alex Jeans. “Certified baristas should leave confident that they are competent to tackle any beverage that comes across their bar. This confidence will in turn lead to consistently great drinks and customer service.”

First District Barista Training

Michah Behan of First District Coffee practices texturizing milk at Stockton Graham & Co. Basic Barista Training in Raleigh.

First District Coffee Co. Completes Barista Certification

Micah and Elizabeth Behan, owners and operators of First District Coffee Co., were the first students to participate in our updated Barista Certification Program in July. First District, located in Fairview, Tennessee, is located in a renovated building that used to be a Farm Depot. Scheduled to open in the Fall of 2015, the Behans plan to serve espresso, tea, sandwiches, pastries and other light snacks. The building will also include a full catering kitchen and can be rented for group events such as wedding receptions or birthday parties.

The Behan’s two teenage children, Adonijah and Teagen, were also certified, as they will be working behind the coffee bar as business takes off.

Elizabeth Behan said that the entire family enjoyed the certification program. “There was lots of good info,” she said.

“The team was fully engaged, and we felt well educated and supported,” said Elizabeth Behan. ”We really feel much more prepared for where we are headed as a business.”

Barista Certification Training at Stockton Graham & Co.

Our resident barista Alex Jeans teaches Basic Barista Certification course participant Adonijah Behan about preparing espresso.

Skill, Practice and Understanding

Barista training is about skill, practice and understanding of preparation techniques. But it is also important for a barista to be conversant in the origins and processing of coffee. That’s because part of the barista’s job is educating customers on the differences between high-quality, craft-roasted coffee and mass-market quality coffee and helping them become smart consumers of quality coffee.

“The journey that the bean takes from seed to cup—that is, where the coffee grows, how the seed is removed from the fruit, how the coffee is roasted and how it is prepared—makes a profound difference in overall quality,” said instructor Brandon Riggs. “A really good barista will have the knowledge to translate the hard work that everyone else in the value chain contributes to an enjoyable and high-quality cup.”

Stockton Graham & Co. offers a range of training courses in addition to Barista Certification. Our Coffee & Espresso Basics, or Coffee College 101 is a fundamental course designed for any coffee business operator or team member. Brewing Fundamentals is our foundational class for coffee brewing and extraction. We also offer specialized courses on equipment cleaning and maintenance, as well as blending and cupping coffee.

For more information on our training courses, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.


Building Your Business with Frozen Blended Drinks!

frappeSmoothies and frappes are among the fastest growing segments in the specialty beverage industry.  According to our product vendors, frappe sales bloomed to $4.3 billion in 2012 alone. Smoothies are also on the rise… they are increasing at a sales rate of $2 billion per year and expected to reach the $9 billion plateau (worldwide) by 2015. There is money to be made with these blended specialty drinks, and Stockton Graham & Co. is here to help you!

Frozen coffees and frappes first hit the stage in the late 90’s when Starbucks introduced the “Frappuccino®”. From then on massive franchises and independent, locally owned shops alike have implanted these frozen treats into their beverage menus with tremendous success. The flavors available are endless, drinks can be blended with milk alternatives for those with dairy aversions, and health supplements can be easily added to every drink! Frappes also appeal to coffee lovers when the weather is warm, and hot drinks, like drip coffee or espresso, seem less appealing. With leading industry brand names such as Big Train, Caffe D’ Amore, Dr. Smoothie- Café Essentials and recently Torani Real Cream, adding frappes to your menu can nearly quadruple your margin per ounce.

Fruit smoothies are nothing new to this industry, but in the past few years, their sales have reached all-time highs. Fact is, only about half of the population in the U.S. claims to be “coffee drinkers”, so there is still a large market for alternative specialty beverages.  Smoothie sales are sky rocketing, not only due to the fact that smoothies are so delicious, but also because of the diversity of their market. The smoothie market appeals to children, adults, the health conscious, customers looking for a sweet treat, or those needing a meal replacement to get through their day. Nearly every fast food franchise has made smoothies a permanent fixture on their menu, showing how valuable they are to the specialty beverage menu. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we offer leading smoothie brands such as Dr. Smoothie, Torani, Jet, Monin and more, so be sure not to miss out this smoothie season!

Dr. Smoothie is offering a promotion right now to show you how well supplements fit into your smoothie business. If you buy 2 cases or more of Dr. Smoothie concentrate, you will receive a 3lb jar of Whey protein for free. Read more about this promotion and the benefits of supplements in our recent blog. DaVinci and Jet are also offering a promotion to show you how blended drinks can be easily flavored with syrups to add a special touch. Click here for more information. Our vendors know that blended drinks are a big seller, and they are looking to meet all your needs in this market.

If one or both of these drinks are missing from your shop’s menu, this is the perfect time to add them. For the rest of this month, Stockton Graham & Co. is INSTANTLY giving away several FREE cases of frappe powder or smoothie concentrate with ANY purchase of a Vitamix or Blendtec blender. The sales generated from the free product will cover the complete cost for multiple blender packages, so be sure to check this promotion out if a blender is (or will be) on your shopping list! For more information on our blender/free product promotion, visit our blending equipment page.

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to frozen beverage sales and the profits they can generate. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we can help outfit your store with the right frappes, smoothies and blenders. We even offer a Specialty Beverage Basics Coffee College course to assist your shop in learning to prepare these blended beverages. Adding these drinks to you menu now can be fast, easy and most importantly, profitable, so be sure to call us at 800.835.5943 to get your frozen beverage program started today!