Coffee Ergonomics

Ergonomics are important in coffee shop design.So you’ve chosen a space for a new coffee shop, what next? You’re not just going to put your new espresso machine on a counter in the corner and call it done. A lot of thought needs to go into figuring out the best workflow to create an outstanding environment for both customers and baristas. When planning the work stations of a new coffee shop, one thing to always take into consideration is ergonomics. The study of people’s efficiency in their working environment, ergonomics is crucial when it comes to organizing a coffee shop. Every location has a different shape so each will have unique requirements.

You want your shop to be busy so assume it will be when you plan the work area. You certainly don’t want employees running into each other as they try to serve customers. A well-designed work station will allow each barista to do most of their work while barely moving his or her feet. The barista should have easy access to everything they might need, especially milk, cups, grinder and beans. In addition, the countertop should be the correct height and it should have the proper amount of workspace (in other words, don’t over crowd it). Think about sink and trash location so clean up can be easy and ongoing throughout the work day. If you serve food is it easy to access for barista or cashier? If you position the cash register close to the barista it will also help with efficiency. During busy times it will allow the barista to overhear orders and perhaps get a head start on preparation. During slow times, it would easily allow a barista to work alone. If you put some thought into making your employees’ tasks easier to perform, they will be happier and everyone will benefit!

For more information about opening a coffee shop, Stockton Graham & Co. is here to help. Just call 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

A Report from the SCA Global Specialty Coffee Expo

Stockton Graham's Brady Butler at the Specialty Coffee ExpoLate last month, our Brady Butler attended the Global Specialty Coffee Expo (SCA) in Seattle. While his focus was on teaching Golden Cup Brewing classes, he did have an opportunity to walk the floor. We were glad he had the chance to cast his eye around the displays and report back on a few of the sights.

Says Brady:

“As an equipment guy, this was an interesting show. From custom machines to new brewers to gadgets, there was a lot to see.

From the SCA Global ExpoEspresso machine customization was on full display, with most of the roaster and café booths featuring beautiful signature espresso machines. My favorite was the custom Victoria Arduino Black Eagle that they’d made to celebrate Gianni’s 80th birthday. It was great to see some options for grinders too – the hand-blown glass hoppers at the EspressoParts booth were a welcome alternative to the usual plastic.

The trend of low-profile and small footprint espresso machines also continued this year. There was lots of buzz about the new under-counter espresso machine by MAVAM, with good reason. Even traditional machines manufacturers like Synesso had prototypes designed to lower the visible barrier between barista and customer.

From the SCA Global ExpoScales continue to show up in new places as well. Acai debuted a new automatic bean portioning system for café’s tired of weighing out little tins for their pour-over bars. Compak showed an espresso grinder which precisely grinds a specified amount of coffee into the portafilter, hands free. Of course, the Baratza Sette was back with their excellent grind-by-weight prosumer grinder for espresso or drip brewing.

Coldbrew was once again a major theme. BKON was back to show off their Storm, a superfast-supersized system to produce 100 gallons of coldbrew in 15 minutes. Several of our allied-products friends were sampling sweet and refreshing coldbrew-based drinks perfect for summer. Even cleaner specialists Urnex joined the party with a two-part complete coldbrew system cleaner – just the thing for nitro coffee systems.

To get a bit of a break from the middle of the show floor, I had a chance to stroll down the Design Lab wall of coffee packaging. This gallery of brightly-patterned, fully printed bags and uniquely-shaped printed cardboard containers is always a highlight. Our new Dilworth bag design would have looked right at home.

As always, there were so many great things to see and sample at this specialty coffee show. I can’t wait to share some of my favorites with our customers!”

With questions or to learn more about what might work best in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Store it Properly and Say Yes to Fresh Coffee

Fresh Coffee is the Beast CoffeeHave you ever wondered how fresh coffee can go stale? It is actually a complex process that involves a fair amount of science. It all begins when heat is introduced to the green beans. Inside the roaster the sugars and amino acids in the beans combine to begin what is known as the Maillard Reaction. This is what gives browned or toasted food its distinctive flavor and it was first described in 1912 by French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. Many types of foods, such as cookies, breads, caramel and chocolate undergo this reaction. And, of course, it is what leads to the wonderful smell, taste, and color of coffee.

During roasting, carbon dioxide also forms inside the beans. As soon as the beans are dumped into the cooling of tray of the roaster, however, the release of this gas begins. In this process, which is called degassing and can last over a week, the carbon dioxide is slowly replaced by oxygen. Though oxygen is a very good thing in many situations, it can also be one of nature’s most destructive forces. When it comes into contact with some materials, such as organic matter and some metals, oxygen alters their molecular makeup. Known as oxidation, it is a process in which oxygen actually pulls electrons away from another molecule, making it unstable. The results are things like rusting, browning or staling. So, the processes that make a bright copper penny turn dark, a cut apple become brown or–yes–coffee become stale, are all related. In coffee, oxygen reacts with the oils and solubles that give the coffee its unique taste. As time passes, flavors become less pronounced, resulting coffee that tastes flat and stale. There is no getting around this natural process but it can be slowed; if at all possible, store your fresh coffee in an airtight container to prolong its taste. It will remain fresh until your next order arrives and allow you to serve customers the best beverage possible.

To learn more about the best ways to store your coffee, call 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Even if you don’t have extra cash to advertise, there are always other things you can do inside your café’s walls to make things happen for your business. In addition to old fashioned elbow grease, try these simple (and cheap) ways to increase sales.

Be there

Equate your business to a child needing a parent. It can’t grow and thrive without your steady hand to guide it. Being there behind the counter also lets you build instant relationships with regular customers. They will feel connected with you (and dedicated) in a way they would never feel in a more corporate store.

But while being there is very important, a good owner will also know when not to be there. If you need a break, take one. If you need a day off, take one. A stressed-out owner is not going to provide the incredible customer service that is needed. The staff will thank you, too. Trust them to handle things. A mental health day will go a long way in keeping the head clear and can actually benefit the business.

easy way to increase sales in your cafeBus the tables

You can learn an amazing amount while cleaning up. Getting out in the store is a great way to start conversations with customers but it can also be a way to get vital feedback. Find a couple full cups? Maybe there is a problem with the coffee or equipment you were not aware of. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to ask the customer, have the barista make the same drink especially for you and pinpoint what might be wrong.

Chatting up customers as you clean is the key. Have a guest set up a small office and not buy a single thing? Go over and make a sale. Start the dialogue: “Can I get you anything? We have a great new mocha.”

Sample, sample, sample

Want to increase sales on higher ticket drinks? Sampling is the most effective method, by far. In almost every instance, if you give away samples and make one sale from your efforts, you’ve covered the cost of the sample and possibly made an exclusive drip coffee customer an occasional $4.50 smoothie customer.

Diversifying your menu is almost always a good idea, but many times after new additions are made, owners wonder why new drinks don’t move. Chances are, the customer hasn’t been made to want the drink at all, much less know that it has been added to the menu. New products, no matter how appealing in both concept and flavor, must be sampled to prospective customers if a business expects to sell them in higher volumes.

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

 

Five Ways to Reduce Your Water Footprint

Reduce Water FootprintFive ways to reduce your water footprint

Water conservation may not be the first thing on your mind but with water use in the United States increasing every year, many regions of the country will experience water shortages this year, even under non-drought conditions.

But when it comes to water, shortages are only part of the problem. Even if your shop is located in a drought-free part of the country, water bills can unnecessarily drain money from your profits. Many water-saving steps take little effort or expense and can even have a positive impact on a customer’s experience.

In preparation for Earth Day 2017 on April 22, here are five simple ideas from Stockton Graham on how to reduce your water footprint and save money:

Install low-flow pre-rinse spray valves
For as little as $60, you can switch out the valves on your dishware sink faucet. Low-flow pre-rinse spray valves get the job done just as well as standard models but save a bundle in water costs, up to $1,000 each year depending on rate of use.

Use leak detection tablets to check for toilet leaks and fix them promptly
Repairing even a small toilet leak can save you $50 or more per year through lower water and sewer bills. Many municipalities offer free leak detection kits including tablets.

Don’t thaw frozen foods under running water
Putting the food in the refrigerator gets the job done, saves water and makes the food—especially pastries, desserts and breakfast breads—taste better.

Do not over brew
Analyze sales of drip coffee during your store’s slow time. Managing brewed coffee on-hand while keeping everything fresh can save several gallons of water per day. You’ll also reduce your amount of wasted coffee dramatically, which will have an even larger impact on your bottom line.

Turn off those dipper wells
Many independent shops were built and modeled after some chain concepts. This includes the installation of dipper wells for spoons, whisks, etc. While a dipper well does keep wares clean, they also send upwards of 120 gallons of water down the drain. Try using them on a slow trickle during busy periods, and turn them off the rest of the day.

Educate your staff and guests

To reduce your water footprint it’s important to share best management practices with your staff and encourage them to implement conservation measures. Conservation at your store starts with you, but management can’t do it alone!

For more information about best practices for your coffee shop, just call one of our Stockton Graham customer service reps at 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

Discover the Long History and Unique Flavors of Sumatra Coffee

Sumatra Coffee map

The source of our Organic Sumatra coffee.

Most of us are familiar with Sumatra coffee today but it wasn’t until the late 17th century that the 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 near Batavia (now Jakarta) and several other locations. Some of the plants took hold and 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 taken over by the occupying Japanese. Even after Indonesian independence in the late 1940s, several plantations throughout the country were abandoned or taken over by the new government when original colonial plantation owners left the country.

Near the end of the 19th century, a leaf rust disease epidemic hit coffee plants in Indonesia.  Many plantations were wiped out, leaving farmers to turn to other crops such as rubber trees and tea. The Dutch Government responded by importing and planting Liberica coffee, however this strain of coffee plants was also soon affected by leaf rust. They next turned to Robusta coffee, hoping it would be more resistant to the disease. It proved successful and today Robusta makes up over 75% of Indonesia’s coffee exports, much of it from the southern end of Sumatra.

Sumatra coffee

The source of our Karo Highlands Sumatra Coffee

Coffees from Sumatra, the western-most island in Indonesia, have a distinctive bluish color at the green bean stage 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 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 northern Sumatra, which makes it a very desirable and often hard-to-find coffee.

We have tried numerous samples of Sumatra coffee and are excited to offer the ones we feel best represent the island. Try our Karo Highlands, Tunas Indah Organic or even our Sumatra Decaf and discover their unique flavors.

A Simple Money Saving Tip: Barista Training Equals Reduced Milk Waste

Try an experiment: have your barista save all of their leftover milk during a shift (with the goal of reducing milk waste). You’ll probably be shocked at how much it is–then think about how much that milk cost you!

Coffee shops waste a lot of milk. No one should re-steam old milk, which tastes burnt, doesn’t foam right, and is just plain disgusting. Therefore, you need to use fresh milk.  The key is to manage its usage through proper training of each barista. A good one should be able to steam a perfect latte with zero waste.

Sometimes milk wastage stems from overstretching the milk, sometimes it is as simple as overfilling or using a steaming pitcher that is too large.

Says Alex Jeans, Stockton Graham & Co.’s resident barista trainer, “Always be sure to use the right pitcher for the job. Knowing which pitcher corresponds to which size drinks is always extremely helpful.”

Barista Pouring MilkTo prevent that problem, don’t let baristas use the same pitcher for a 6 oz. cappuccino that they would for a 20 oz. latte. Pouring milk and making beautiful and elaborate designs on top of coffee drinks is always an appreciated skill, but a barista should also focus on consistently stretching the right amount of milk to the exact amount needed. It makes them much more efficient as they work and no time is spent trying to figure out what to do with leftover milk.

From a training perspective, if you or your baristas are not starting and ending with the right amount of milk, it’s just not being done correctly. Training for it from the very beginning is the best. If baristas need help hitting the mark with milk, have them join you for an extra training session. Milk waste and the associated costs can definitely be greatly reduced with just a little practice!