Clean Labeling & Your Coffee Shop Menu

Natural and organic foods have been touted for over two decades, but 2016 is bringing in a natural food sea change of epic proportions. The shift is toward clean labeling, which translates into food and beverages that are less processed and more nutrient-rich. And importantly, clean labeling means offerings that are void of extra salts, sugars, colors, flavors, hormones, antibiotics or any other additives.Clean menu clean labeling coffee shop stockton graham organic coffee roaster

In fact, clean labeling as it is called has become so important that it is transforming big manufacturers like Mondelez, Kellogg and Heinz Kraft. And FoodBusinessNews named clean labeling the #1 menu trend of the year.

“Big Restaurants are all-of-a-sudden dumping some artificial (and other bad-for-you) ingredients from their menus,” reported international food and restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman. “We’re looking at the ‘healthification’ of fast- and fast-casual food.”

Food industry observers are quick to say that the clean labeling trend is not a fad, but rather a long-lasting shift in consumer attitudes away from highly processed foods, especially among the coveted baby boomer generation. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 76% of baby boomers look to clean label or unprocessed products due to concern about their health while 69% of Millennials also site health concerns as the reason they would buy clean products.Smoothies, Stockton Graham & Co., Breakfast

Now’s the time for coffee businesses to get in front of one of the biggest food trends that can impact your business in 2016 and beyond. Here are some ideas from Stockton Graham & Co. to help you lean into the clean label trend.

  1. Assess your customer base
    If your store is on a college campus, in a college town or near a university, in a high-tech corridor or near an active adult retirement community, chances are your customers will gravitate toward clean labels. If in doubt, do an informal survey of your regular customers. One approach, “We’re thinking about adding a small menu that focuses on clean ingredients – that means we’ll look at beverages without added salts, sugars, flavors and the like. Is this something you’re interested in buying from us?”
  2. Know that “clean means clean”
    Replacing “artificial” additives with “natural” additives means you are still using additives: “natural raspberry flavor” shares no genes with real raspberries and customers know it. If you’re committed to a clean menu then look for products that are 100% fruit or ones that contain no added flavoring or preservatives. Click here for simple Green Menu recipes for your coffee shop.
  3. Start with your coffee
    Adding organic coffee to your menu is a simple, inexpensive way to lean into the clean menu trend. Plus, its a simple way to gauge your customers’ affinity for clean labeling. Raleigh coffee roaster Stockton Graham & Co. offers several organic single origins like Organic Fair Trade Guatemala, Organic Mexico Chiapas and Organic Sumatra. We also offer roast-to-order organic blends and espressos.
  4. Buy local
    Let’s face it, in foodservice avoiding all additives can be nearly impossible. And until you see how your customers will react, there’s no need to completely switch your menu over to 100% clean. You can take small steps across the board by implement more natural ingredients, like pesticide-free organic produce or foods with no added chemicals or hormones. One trick is to look for local suppliers of milk, cheese, butter, meats, vegetable and breads: when you buy local, foods get to your business faster so there is less need for preservatives or chemicals to maintain freshness on long cross-country journeys.
  5. Add USDA-certified OrganicMonin Organic Vanilla Syrup
    According to Food Navigator, 81% of American families purchase organic foods at least some of the time, and this is a good place to start. Plus, the price differentials between USDA-certified coffee, milk, soy milk, syrups and sauces and non-certified products are now fairly minimal. In addition to offering several USDA-certified single origin coffees, espressos and blends, Stockton Graham & Co. carries a wide variety of USDA-certified Organic and clean labeled products for your store.

If you’d like to discuss options for your menu, feel free to call us at 800 835 5943.

 

Toasted Graham LTOs for your store

Folks call it a preschooler’s breakfast in a cup. It’s that big chain’s Toasted Graham Latte, or #TGL as the Twittersphere likes to call it. Besides tasting like milk left over in your kid’s cereal bowl after she’s slurped up all the soggy Cinnamon Toasted Crunch, what does a Toasted Graham Latte really taste like? And better yet, how do you make it taste better in your store?Toasted Graham Latte from Stockton Graham

We put Stockton Graham & Co.’s master taste testers to the task of describing the mermaid chain’s drink, and then we asked them to come up with something better. And since most of the latte and frappe recipes involved two shots of expertly pulled espresso made from beans just roasted in the back of our Raleigh facility, our taste masters where all too eager to oblige.

Based on actual sales of the other hot fall beverage — pumpkin spice lattes — provided by market research firm NPD Group, it is reasonable to expect 20% of your store’s customers will try a graham flavored beverage this season. And those customers’ average ticket will be slightly higher than your normal ticket in the critical fourth quarter. So let’s get your shop started selling your own custom version of a toasted graham beverage.

Describing A Toasted Graham Latte

When it comes to describing Starbuck’s Toasted Graham Latte, our taste testers identified cream, honey and graham crackers. Some of the more poetic descriptions include:

“Warm vanilla with hints of honey and chocolate, like if you dipped a s’more into warm frothed milk.” — Bennett

 

“I think of graham cracker pie crust…mmmm… now i’m hungry for pie and s’mores!” — Melissa

 

“A box of Teddy Grahams blended into a can of sweetened condensed milk.” — Mitchell

 

“Tastes like a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.” — Blair

 

“Sugary cardboard dissolved in lukewarm water with hints of cinnamon and sadness.” — Sim

Hyperbole aside, all our taste testers commented that the Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte was okay. But overall, they all thought there was something important missing: the rich, deliciousness of just-roasted high quality coffee. So we set out to craft our own coffee-based toasted graham recipes.

Making a Better Toasted Graham Latte

Our taste makers tried to create a better version of the drink using syrups, sauces and mixes from our partners like Torani, MONIN and Big Train plus freshly roasted beans from our own roasting facility. Some of their more delicious options included a simple Honey Graham Latte featuring MONIN cinnamon and vanilla syrup and their natural honey sweetener.

“I like that you can really taste the espresso in this version,” Mitchell commented after sipping the new Honey Graham Latte. “There are two shots of espresso for a smaller latte, which makes it coffee-forward. The espresso’s dark chocolate flavors contrast nicely with the creamy sweetness of the milk, cinnamon, honey and vanilla in the drink.” Click here for the recipe.

Teddy Graham Latte from Stockton Graham & Co.The most delicious cold beverage option that our taste testers created was our Toasted Graham Frappe featuring Torani Real Cream Frappe Base, Torani Brown Sugar and Vanilla Syrup, Stockton Graham Coffee and Honey flavored Teddy Grahams.

“The Teddy Grahams have a subtle honey flavor that don’t overwhelm the coffee,” said Melissa. “The Torani Brown Sugar Syrup adds a deeper, richer flavor than the version with their Cane Sugar Syrup.” Check here for the recipe.

Nutter Butter Latte from Stockton GrahamThe most surprising recipe created by our taste testers was the Nutter Butter Latte featuring MONIN Peanut Butter and Cinnamon syrups and a freshly made latte using Stockton Graham Coffee. The combination of peanut butter, cinnamon and honey created a pleasing, rich backdrop for the baker’s chocolate flavor of the espresso. Check the recipe here.

Just the Coffee, Please

Some of our taste testers wanted to enjoy the creamy honey, cinnamon and vanilla flavors of a Toasted Graham Latte without adding extra syrups, sweeteners and creams to their coffee. That group gravitated toward some of Stockton Graham Coffee’s custom blended flavored options, which they enjoyed with a splash of half and half. Here’s a list of their favorites:

Stockton Graham CoffeesSnicker-Dandy: This coffee features the flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and cinnamon paired with a creamy butter flavor and hint of spice.

Winter Wonderland: Hazelnut and caramel sit lightly on a powdery snow of vanilla and and light coconut.

Crème Brûlée: The elegant flavors of sweetened cream, caramelized sugar and hints of vanilla taste like dessert without all the calories.

Danish Pastry: The coffee tastes like a sweet, buttery pastry from the corner bakery topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

To get started with your own Toasted Graham Lattee, contact our Customer Care Associates at 800 835 5943.

It’s Pumpkin Palooza – Fall Coffee Review

Fall officially arrives September 23, but the pumpkin lovers got a head start!

The flavor is already showing up in coffees, chai teas, lattes, smoothies, muffins, yogurt and cookies in coffee shops, restaurants and cafes across the country. In fact, the flavor is so popular this year that industry observers expect U.S. sales to reach $400 million in 2015, with a 15%+ increase over 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Stockton Graham & Co. Pumpkin

At Stockton Graham & Co., orders of pumpkin spice and pumpkin pie flavored coffee, syrup, sauces and latte mixes are flying out of the warehouse at a record pace.

Part of the allure of the flavor is that it is both comfortable and comforting so it appeals to Millennial and Boomers alike. “It’s a flavor line that’s appealing across all age groups,” says MaryAnne Drake, a professor of sensory analysis and flavor chemistry at North Carolina State University. “It transcends demographics.”

So whether you operate a small coffee kiosk or a multi-unit specialty retailer, offering pumpkin spiced anything will help sweeten your fall profits.

For the Love of …

Our combined love for everything flavored with pumpkin go back to Medieval times. That’s when cooks and primeval culinary luminaries waxed poetics about cinnamon spiced and sweetened pumpkin slices baked in pastry like a calzone.

Le Vrai Cuisinier FranciosThe first-ever recipe for pumpkin pie can be found in 1651. Francois Pierre la Vareene, a famous French chef and author of one of the first celebrity cookbook authors, included a recipe for Tourte of Pumpkin in his quintessential French recipe book Le Vrai Cuisinier Francios (The True French Cook).

La Varenne, the foremost member of a group of chefs who codified French cuisine for the court of Louis XIV, published a pie recipe that started with boiling pumpkin fruit with milk. The fruit was then passed through a strainer and mixed with an abundance of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter and baked in a pastry shell.

Pumpkin Pie Comes to America

Across the pond, settlers in the early American colonies relied on the fruit’s long shelf life to keep them alive during the brutal northeastern winters. It was such an important element of the pilgrims’ diet that several Odes to Pumpkin Pies were written such as this:

“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.”
Pilgrim verse, circa 1633

The early American settlers were also known to make a thick pumpkin beer. In large barrels, they fermented pumpkin, hops, maple sugar and persimmons to make this early colonial brew that provided some of the requisite calories and revelry needed to survive some mighty bitter winters.

The Accomplisht CookA generation later, in 1685, chef Robert May published his more-savory version of pumpkin pie that resembles something you might find on the menu at IHOP. His best known cookbook, The Accomplisht Cook (sic), published in 1660 featured this pie recipe:

“To make a Pumpion Pie.
Take a pound of pumpion and slice it, a handful of thyme, a little rosemary, and sweet marjoram stripped off the stalks, chop them small, then take cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and a few cloves all beaten, also ten eggs, and beat them, them mix and beat them all together, with as much sugar as you think fit, then fry them like a froise … Take sliced apples sliced thin round ways, and lay a layer of the froise, and a layer of apples with currants betwixt the layers. While your pie is sitted, put in a good deal of sweet butter before your close it. When the pie is baked, take six yolks of eggs, some white-wine or verjuyce, and make a caudle of this, but not too thick, … stir them well together whilst the eggs and pumpion be not perceived, and so serve.”

POMPKIN PIE

Over a century later, American Cookery, the first known cookbook written by a chef born in America, featured two recipes for Pompkin Pudding baked in a crust. Each of Chef Amelia Simmons pudding recipes were resplendent with artery clogging and waist bulging butter, sugar and molasses, poured over dough and baked in an oven until set.

Pumpkin Pie Becomes Big Business

Pumpkin-flavored beverages have become the American consumers’ most sought-after fall indulgence. According to DataSsential Menu Trends, sales of pumpkin-inspired limited-time offers (LTOs) were up 234 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Market Research company, NPD Group, tracked the pumpkin-inspired beverage purchases at an undisclosed major chain last fall and winter. NPD found that a vast majority of consumers — about 72 percent — purchased the beverages at least once during the offer period. About 20 percent of customers purchased the item twice, and about 8 percent made three or more purchases during the offer period.

NPD Group reported that customers who purchased a pumpkin spice latte spent an average of $7.81, compared with an average check of $6.67 for those who ordered non-pumpkin items.

According to several analysts in the food industry, the flavor’s staying power should be attributed to its association with comfort food in the minds of consumers. And what’s more, there is no evidence of it losing steam.

“In our current culture, in which there’s been a loss of traditions, people are seeking out forms of comfort and security that they had as children,” writes Beth Kowitt of Fortune Magazine who reported a spicy hypothesis of Alan Hirsch, founder and director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. The smell of pumpkin spice brings them back to those moments.

Pumpkin Options for Your Business

Stockton Graham & Co. offers the following options:

STOCKTON GRAHAM & CO. COFFEE

Stockton Graham Pumpkin Spice CoffeePumpkin Spice: With spices like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, this 100% Arabica coffee is the perfect pairing for chilly evenings and crisp autumn air

Pumpkin Cream: This 100% Arabica coffee features the traditional spicy sweetness of pumpkin pie enveloped in a thick French vanilla

Pumpkin Cheesecake: Cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and cloves combine with sweet pumpkin in this 100% Arabica coffee

Pumpkin Hazelnut: Like the name implies, this 100% Arabica coffee combines spicy pumpkin with rich hazelnut flavors

Monin Torani DaVinci Pumpkin

MONIN

Pumpkin Spice Syrup: Authentic pumpkin pie aroma and taste with a spiced touch – predominant nutmeg

Pumpkin Pie Syrup: A scrumptious combination of pumpkin and baked pie crust flavors accented with nutmeg and cinnamon

TORANI

Pumpkin Pie Sauce: Cinnamon and nutmeg spiced, creamy pumpkin wonderland

Pumpkin Pie Syrup: Nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices murmur softly in the background of a creamy pumpkin pie

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Syrup: The same flavors as the regular syrup, but sweetened with Splenda®

Pumpkin Spice Syrup: A version of pie with more spice like ginger and cloves in a robust pumpkin-flavored syrup

DAVINCI

Pumpkin Pie Syrup: Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger and is reminiscent of the popular holiday dessert.

Pumpkin Pie Sauce: Delicious blend of pumpkin and spices, tastes just like a slice of pie

BIG TRAIN

Pumpkin Pie Chai Tea Latte Mix: Delightfully delicious blend of honey, creamy pumpkin, black tea and exotic spices

Pumpkin Spice Blended Iced Coffee: Artfully blended mix of Arabica coffee, pumpkin and spices
For recipes featuring pumpkin sauces, syrups and coffee, visit our recipes center. To order, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Watermelon LTOs for Labor Day Weekend

Watermelon Limited Time Only Drink SpecialsWith the Unofficial End of Summer just around the corner, we’re all looking for ways to prolong the laid back feeling of the season. Watermelons are at their most flavorful this time of year, and the upcoming Labor Day weekend is a perfect opportunity for customers to chill in your coffee shop or smoothie store with a watermelon flavored beverage.

That’s because few other fruits scream “Summer!” like the thirst-quenching watermelon. Although watermelons can now be sourced throughout the year, in North Carolina where Stockton Graham & Co. is located, the season for watermelon starts in July and ends in September when the fruit is sweet and of the best quality.

From watermelon soda to watermelon sangria and watermelon smoothies, there are many options to consider as a Limited Time Offer over the Labor Day holiday. Some of our favorite come from Food&Wine magazine, including celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s Watermelon-Tequila Cocktail and a refreshing non-alcoholic Watermelon-Strawberry Agua Fresca.

“Late summer and early fall are great times to add creative Watermelon drinks to your menu,” said Customer Care Associate Chris Bennett. “Some of my favorite drink ideas are Watermelon Italian Sodas, Watermelon Milk Shakes and Watermelon Lemonades; all of which can be made by simply adding Watermelon syrup to drinks you may already make in your shop.”

Watermelon Limited Time Only Specials

There’s a psychology involved in Limited Time Only or Limited Time Offers (LTO) specials called Reactance Theory, which causes customers to make purchases they might not usually make to avoid the fear of “missing out.” As a store owner, you can use this customer tendency to drive sales over the often-slow Labor Day weekend by offering LTO watermelon specials.

That’s because LTO offers build excitement and create a sense of urgency, even if prices are not reduced. They tend to work on both new and current customers, and they are one of the few marketing offers that actually help BUILD customer loyalty rather than erode it.

Watermelon LTOs can work well for both your customers and your business because:

  • Customers are interested in trying new things, especially if they are staying close to home on a holiday weekend. They will tend to replace the adventure of travel with the adventure of treating themselves to a new restaurant or menu item.
  • It’s simple and inexpensive to add a splash of watermelon syrup to current menu items like iced tea or a berry smoothie to transform it into an LTO.
  • LTOs don’t need to be discounted. When customers get something that’s in limited supply, they feel special and walk away happy.
  • Limited time offers help create a sense of urgency. A three-day weekend is a perfect window to get consumers to act, rather than waffle and decide to go elsewhere.
  • When staff is excited and engaged with something new, sales generally increase. This is even more true for LTOs.

MONIN Watermelon DrinkA Bounty of Watermelon Options

Stockton Graham & Co. offers watermelon syrup options from both MONIN and Torani. Torani also offers a Sugar Free Watermelon Syrup sweetened with Splenda® brand sweetener. Both feature natural watermelon flavor, and the MONIN syrup is labeled Kosher, Halal, GMO free, Dairy free, Gluten free and Vegan.

Big Train also offers a Watermelon Blended Crème Frappé Mix that makes a delicious creamy drink when blended with ice. This coffee-free gourmet mix powder produces a delicious and fruity beverage works well on its own or with additional fruit. It makes a terrific option on a kid’s menu.

To learn more about how LTOs can drive sales or to order Torani, MONIN or Big Train, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Patriotic Recipes for Independence Day

Is there a better reason to celebrate than America’s birthday? Between the sun, fun and fireworks, customers will be dropping by your store for some refreshment (or maybe just some air conditioning) over the long Independence Day weekend.Independence Day Recipes

If your store’s #1 priority is coffee, there are several “independent”-themed coffee concepts to help you and your customer’s celebrate. And if you serve a wider variety of beverages, there are a host of patriotic ideas to try.

Either way, remember to get all your orders in early next week because there will be no freight movement and no product deliveries from Friday (July 3) through Monday (July 6). This includes both traditional overnight shippers like FedEx and larger pallet haulers like LPL. So orders placed next week on Thursday, July 2 that require shipping may not arrive to your shop before Wednesday, July 8.

If you pick up locally, we want to remind you that Stockton Graham & Co. will also be closed on July 3. Orders placed next week after 5pm on Wednesday, July 1 will not be filled until Monday.

So plan ahead to keep the celebration going with these patriotic drinks:

COFFEE-BASED IDEAS

Iced Caffe AmericanoIced Caffè Americano
2 oz Stockton Graham espresso
6 oz cold water
8 oz ice

Directions: Extract espresso into a cup as if you were making a double. Fill a 12-16 oz glass with ice. Pour water onto ice. Follow with espresso. Stir gently to maintain some crema.

Blueberry Strudel Coffee (Clever Drip)
24 grams of Stockton Graham dark roast coffee of your choice
400 grams of water heated to 195F
1.5 oz Torani Blueberry Syrup

Directions: Wet filter with hot water and discard it. Grind coffee to medium, and add it to filter. Dampen grounds with hot water and allow to bloom for 30 seconds. Carefully pour remaining hot water over grounds for 4 minutes. After coffee is extracted, swirl it gently and pour it over Torani syrup in serving cup. Enjoy.

Freedom FreddoFreedom Freddo
2 lungo shots of Stockton Graham espresso
4 oz cold milk
4 oz ice

Directions: Pour freshly extracted espresso over milk and ice in a blender.  Blend until ice is integrated into beverage. Consistency will be a thick iced coffee. Pour into short cold glass. Garnish with straw flag, if desired.

COFFEE-FREE IDEAS 

Patriotic LemonadeAll-American Lemonade
3/4 oz Monin Wild Raspberry Syrup
3 oz cranberry juice
4 oz lemonade
ice

Directions: Fill serving glass with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Cap and shake vigorously, or toss it between glasses. Garnish and serve.

Sparkling Summer Spritzer
2 oz DaVinci Gourmet Blue Caracoa Syrup
8 oz ice
6 oz soda water
(1 oz cream optional)

Directions: Combine ingredients in order, allowing to layer. Top with cherry flavored whipped cream.

Top with cherry-flavored whipped cream, if desired.
1 oz DaVinci Gourmet Cherry Syrup
7 oz of heavy whipping cream

Directions: Whip cream until it holds its shape but is not dry. Gently fold syrup into cream.

Torani Popsicles4th of July Pops
Recipe is for 1 pop. Multiply as needed. 
1 oz Torani Blue Raspberry Syrup
1 oz Torani Coconut Syrup
1 oz Torani Cherry Lime Syrup
¾ cups of water, divided in three

Directions: Combine Blue Raspberry Syrup in ¼ c of water and freeze in popsicle mold. Add Coconut Syrup to ¼ c of water and pour over frozen layer. Freeze. Add Cherry Lime Syrup to Cherry Lime Syrup and pour over frozen layers. Freeze and serve.

Strawberry Lemonade
3 oz water
3 oz Dr. Smoothie Lemon-ADE Concentrate
15 oz cup of ice

Swirl: 2 oz Dr. Smoothie Strawberry Concentrate

Directions: Mix first three ingredients, in the order listed above, and blend. Pour into a tall glass. Pour 2 oz of Dr. Smoothie Strawberry Concentrate on top and use a spoon to gently swirl the strawberry into the lemonade mixture.

True Blue CosmoTrue Blue Cosmo
2 oz citrus vodka
3/4 oz Monin Blue Curacao Syrup
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz white cranberry juice

Directions: Combine ingredients in shaker in the order listed. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled serving glass. Garnish with lemon or blueberries. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Lemonade
3 oz water
3 oz Dr. Smoothie Lemon-ADE Concentrate
15 oz cup of ice
2 oz Dr. Smoothie Strawberry Concentrate

Directions: Mix first three ingredients in the order listed above and blend. Pour into a tall glass. Pour 2 oz of Dr. Smoothie Strawberry Concentrate on top and use a spoon to gently swirl the strawberry into the lemonade mixture. Serve immediately.

berry berry smoothieBerryBerry Smoothie
3 oz Dr Smoothie Berry Berry Blend
2 oz Dr Smoothie Strawberry
3 oz water
14 oz water
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries as garnish

Directions: Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into tall glass and garnish with berries.

To order coffee, syrups, lemonade or smoothie mix, call our Customer Care Associates at 800 835 5943.

Taste Kitchen Helps You Shake Up Your Menu for Profits

When it comes to running a specialty beverage business, cafe or coffee shop, there are few things more important that the quality of the espresso and the creativity of your menu. After all, your customers who spend time and money at your store are looking for an extraordinary experience that they can’t create themselves — either because they’re too busy with work and family or they don’t have the mad skills that you do.Taste Kitchen from Stockton Graham & Co.

Creating a stand-out menu will not only attract customers who live and work near your store, but it can also turn your shop into a beloved destination—and that can create a tremendous boost to profits.

To help our customers create a crave-worthy menu of their own, we just held our first-ever Taste Kitchen experience here at Stockton Graham & Co. During the two-week event, dubbed “Shake It Up!” we hosted several local coffee shops and specialty beverage businesses at our Raleigh, NC taste kitchen.

“Unlocking your creativity and shaking up your menu with fresh beverage ideas can excite both your staff and customers,” said Taste Kitchen host Thom Swain, Director for Southeast Business Development for Stockton Graham & Co. “Differentiating your summer drink menu from your competition and supporting it with a robust promotion can help you increase sales by $7k to $28k, with an ROI of 275% or higher.”

Denise Floyd, owner of Ollies in Wake Forest (213 S White St.), was one of the first local stores to jump at the Taste Kitchen opportunity. Denise sampled Lavender Lemonade, Churro Shake and Salted Caramel Iced Coffee and decided to put them on her menu a week later as Signature Drinks. They are terrific companions to her rotating and inventive food menu, which has featured fresh quiche, chilled Gazpacho Soup and yummy scones.Denise Floyd of Ollies in Wake Forest

“The creativity with the drinks was great and the ability to use this creativity to improve our bottom line and stay ahead of the trends is a real help,” said Denise Floyd, owner of Ollies in Wake Forest.

Staying Ahead of the Flavor Curve

An easy way to shake up your menu is to add beverages that juxtapose flavor trends from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Drinks with exotic, spiced and contrasting flavors are increasingly popular, such as salty caramel, gingery peach and tart creams. A second major trend is a customer preference toward healthy, antioxidant-rich ingredients like pomegranate, acai, spinach, Kombucha, coconut water, rooibos and Matcha green tea.

“We wanted to give our customers a comfortable place to experiment with unusual flavors so they could create signature drinks that set their shops apart from others nearby,” said Customer Care Associate and Taste Kitchen presenter Chris Bennett.

“In addition to the drinks we planned to demo at Taste Kitchen, our customers were able to create different and unique recipes with a wide variety of products we offer,” Bennett said. “They enjoyed mixing Stockton Graham’s fresh-roasted coffee with Torani syrups, for example—and then mixing MONIN and Torani syrups with Mighty Leaf teas, DaVinci Fruit Innovations Lemonade or Cafe Essentials Matcha Green Tea Latte.”

One of Chris’ customers, new coffee shop owner Yusif Sheikh of Jets Coffee in Cary Towne Center, was particularly excited by the Taste Kitchen opportunity.

“I enjoyed experimenting with the many product options demonstrated at Taste Kitchen. The recipes were really great and tasty. And it’s really helpful as a new entrepreneur to have a great relationship with my distributor and coffee roaster,” said Yusif Sheikh of Jets Coffee.

Focusing on What’s Best for Your Shop

Since Stockton Graham & Co. was founded by former coffee shop owners—and many of our staff has retail coffee experience either as shop owners, managers, franchisers or Taste Kitchen hosts Common Grounds Coffee Shopbaristas—we understand that each store is unique. And so we take a consultative approach to our customers’ businesses, helping owners focus on what’s best for their particular business model, store concept and location.

Taste Kitchen took that consultative approach a step further by working one-on-one with store managers to find recipes that would work best or them. Sue Finch, shop manager at Common Grounds Coffee in Hope Community Church (1000 Perimeter Park Suite A) in Morrisville, NC, was enthused by the personal attention to her shop’s needs and profitability.

“We came away with great ideas we can implement right away and Thom’s presentation of options made it easy to focus on what would be best for our business. He has a keen understanding of our business needs,” said Sue Finch, shop manager at Common Grounds Coffee Shop.

“We will continue to participate on future events,” Sue Finch said. ” The time we spent with Stockton Graham & Co. gave us time for creative thinking away from the shop.”

If you want to shake up your menu or learn more about how Stockton Graham can help you build  your business, call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide and Tea Recipes

With Two Leaves and a Bud founder Richard Rosenfeld visiting this week, we were inspired by the many gourmet tea options available to passionate tea drinkers. From Earl Gray to Tamayokucha or Chamomile, tea can be transformational.

Like coffee, tea tastes better when properly brewed, and there are many things that can influence a brew. This includes the tea varietal, tea quality, tea type (leaf, bag or powder), water temperature, steep time and even vessel type.Two Leaves TeaPot and Black Cup

As a general rule, we recommend steeping your tea in a ceramic vessel, but glass is also a great option as well. Metal is best to be avoided as it can give an unwanted taste to your teas. We suggest you use filtered water and avoid tap water. Tap water has chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine to treat it and those can alter the taste

A guide for steeping tea
Stockton Graham & Co Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide

Download steeping guide.

When deciding what you want from a cup of freshly steeped loose tea there are a few choices you will have to make. Choices such as what type of tea do you want. For a single serving you will use 1 to 1.5 heaping teaspoons of loose tea (hence the name teaspoon!).

Green tea: The most popular type of tea, some loose green teas are scented with flowers or mixed with fruits. It can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Oolong: Also known as wu long, this is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet fragrance. Can be re-steeped 3-4 times to get maximum value and flavor. Boil water to 195º F and steep for 2-4 mins.

White tea: The purest and least processed of all teas.  This loose leaf-tea brews a light color and flavor. These can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Black: Known for more pronounced flavors, and, when brewed appropriately, it has a higher caffeine content compared to other teas. Most will recognize this as the tea used for most iced teas. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 3-5 mins.

Pu-erh: An aged black tea from China prized for its medicinal properties and earthy flavor. This is a very strong tea with an incredibly deep and rich flavor, and no bitterness. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 2-5 mins.

Herbal: Does not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family, these are broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, spices and fruits. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 6-7 mins.

A few “Mother, May I” tea recipesFriday Tea Recipes

Alpine Berry Tea Cosmo
1 oz vodka infused with Alpine Berry Tea from Two Leaves and a Bud
1/2 oz triple sec
1/4 oz Monin Lime syrup
1/2 oz cranberry juice

Directions: To infuse the alcohol, soak 3-4 Organic Alpine Berry Whole Leaf sachets from Two Leaves and a Bud for 4-8 hours (any more than 8 hours will make the alcohol bitter).

Remove tea sachets from infused vodka. Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.

Bourbon Blood Orange and White Peach Tea Punch
8 oz brewed Paisley Organic Tart Blood Orange Herbal Iced Tea
2 oz bourbon
2 oz Monin White Peach Syrup
1 oz Da Vinci Lemonade Concentrate
12 oz Ice
(Optional Sliced peaches to garnish)

Directions: Shake tea, bourbon, and syrups vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and garnish with a peach slice or muddle the peach slices into tea mixture, and serve.

Vanilla Honey Milk tea
16 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean
1 ½ oz Torani Real Cream Frappe base
½ oz honey
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake tea, frappe base and honey together. Pour over ice and serve.

Green-Tea Cranberry Spritzer
8 oz chilled brewed Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical
1 oz Torani Cane Sugar Sweetener
3 oz chilled unsweetened cranberry juice
3 oz chilled seltzer
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical, cranberry juice and Cane Sugar Syrup vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and charge with seltzer and serve.

Watermelon and Blackberry Iced Black Tea
12 oz Ice
1 oz Monin Watermelon Fruit Purée
7 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Wild Blackberry tea

Directions: Fill serving glass with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Stir or transfer from serving glass to other glass and back. Garnish with fresh watermelon.

For more information on brewing tea or to place an order, call a Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943.