Restaurant Coffee Shouldn’t Suck

The truth is, customers want to spend their money on quality coffee. And if your restaurant serves poor tasting coffee, customers will spend their money somewhere else. To put it simply, you are throwing away real dollars and depressing your average ticket sales by not making your coffee program the best that it can possibly be.

Craft Roasted Coffee From Stockton Graham & Co.In celebration of International Coffee Month — we think coffee deserves a month of celebration instead of just a day — two Stockton Graham & Co. coffee experts explain how restaurant owners can see over 1000% return on investment (ROI) simply by modernizing their coffee program.

It’s the same presentation that our coffee experts Thom Swain and Brady Butler delivered at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo (NCRLE) on September 22 for hundreds of North Carolina restaurant, bar, hotel and foodservice operators.

At Stockton Graham & Co., Thom and Brady both focus primarily on helping our customers succeed through smart, effective and efficient specialty coffee and beverage programs. Occasionally, in order to do so they must be brutally honest and forthright. Their presentation, titled Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks, was exactly that. The audience was visibly curious, maybe even a little offended, but everyone listened closely and walked away with a sure-fire way to boost their restaurant profitability.

Why Restaurant Coffee Sucks

Thom started by outlining the causes for bad coffee. Things like coffee quality, water quality, and freshness, which are all results of either poor training, apathy, or general cheapness. “I happen to think the most problematic factor is the recipe. A lot of restaurant operators aren’t willing to put enough coffee in the pot to give it the flavor that it needs,” said Thom, who began working in the coffee industry in 1998 and has lead concept development and franchise operations for several well-known beverage brands.

Drip vs Espresso Methods Stockton Graham & Co.Brady, who previously worked at Dilworth Coffee and his family’s Matthews, NC-based store The Coffee Garden, countered. “I tend to lean more towards cleanliness and improper cleaning methods than coffee quality,” Brady said. “Fact is, there are a lot of things that contribute to bad coffee. Let’s understand them so we know how to avoid these things.”

At this point, pockets of the crowd were growing visibly anxious. They were probably realizing that their very own coffee programs might be hindering their business’s potential. But they were in luck, because this was the good part. “Quality is not an act; it is a habit,” Thom quoted Aristotle before showing some tips for achieving the best coffee:

  • Coffee quality – good quality beans
  • Water quality – appropriate filter
  • Freshness – rotate stock and store properly.
  • Recipe – Golden Cup 3.25-4.25oz coffee/half gallon
  • Consistency – weigh coffee or use a timer grinder
  • Cleanliness – everything that touches the coffee
  • Equipment – properly set up and serviced
  • Holding conditions – time and temperature

Why Better Coffee Matters

Brady easily held everyone’s attention, explaining exactly how better coffee directly translates to higher profits. He referenced some impressive data, reflecting how coffee is the fastest growing item on a restaurant’s beverage menu and proving that people spend their dollars on quality.

Coffee vs Espresso Cost Stockton Graham & Co.

  • Coffee is the FASTEST GROWING item on a restaurant’s beverage menu, growing from 10% of all restaurant beverage sales to nearly 15% today.
  • An average of $1,111 is spent on out-of-home coffee by each coffee drinker annually, whether at your establishment or somewhere else.
  • Coffee sales in restaurants reached $23.4 BILLION in 2014 and sales are growing at a more rapid pace in 2015

In modern commerce, which is increasingly driven by customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social networks, customer opinions matter more than ever. According to the National Coffee Association, 68% of customers say coffee QUALITY and TASTE are the reasons they choose one eatery over another. Less than 1/3 of coffee drinkers are price sensitive and would prefer lower-cost coffee to higher-quality coffee, the NCA research said.

Celebrity chef, restaurateur and Food Network star Robert Irvine, who delivered the NCRLE Keynote address, noted that socially networked consumers demand quality and will call out restaurants that don’t deliver.

“People come to you for quality,” Robert Irvine said. “When you do not deliver the quality, you suck.”

“And since every diner has two or three devices these days,” Robert Irvine continued. “The first thing they do when they have a bad experience at your restaurant is message their friends and post it on social media. Bad reviews on social media can kill a restaurant.”

Drip vs Espresso ROIWe couldn’t agree more. But just because the customer is not complaining on social media, doesn’t mean that everything’s good enough. “You need to strive to delight,” Thom advised.

“Positive customer feedback doesn’t come easily, but it is well worth the work. Especially the feedback of a particular type of customer – Millennials,” Brady said. “They are now the largest demographic, and they’re willing to spend their money on quality experiences.”

“The total satisfaction experience is hard to get, it’s hard to replicate, and you can’t cheat at it,” Thom said. “But that’s where you’re going to grow, that’s where customers become loyal to you, that’s when they come back and talk about you in a good way.”

If you operate a restaurant, bar, hotel or other foodservice operation and you are looking to increase profits by updating your coffee program, give us a call at 800 835 5943. Ask for Thom Swain or Brady Butler.


Chefs, Restaurateurs Enjoy Stockton Graham Coffee

Hundreds of chefs, restaurateurs and hospitality executives poured into the Raleigh Convention Center to sample Stockton Graham’s craft roasted coffee.

Stockton Graham & Co. sampled several types of our coffee brewed using several methods at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo (NCRLE) on September 21 and 22 in downtown Raleigh.Craft Roasted Coffee From Stockton Graham & Co.

Lead Barista Alex Jeans brewed our Kenya AB Lenana and Costa Rica Tarrazu in Hario V60 set ups for expo-goers who dropped by our booth to sample coffee. These are just two of the eleven single-origin coffees we roast regularly at our Raleigh, NC facility.

When sampling our Kenya AB, conference-goers were taken by the intoxicating floral and fruity aromas that are typical of coffee from Kenya. The Lenana goes a step further, though, with a dry acidity that reminds tasters of a fine champagne. Its taste of soft berries and sweet tangerine flavors are layered with a subtle flavor of tobacco and are resolved with a well-balanced, but gentle finish.

By contrast, our Tarrazu features the aroma of sweet fruit and vanilla with hints of spice. It has a creamy and silky body that most coffee drinkers find familiar and comforting. The aftertaste is well balanced, if a bit sweet, with some lingering spice notes.

“Our Tarrazu from the Don Roberto Estate is a little unusual for Costa Rica,” explains Roastmaster Brandon Riggs who was on hand to answer questions. “It has more nuances, but still contains the vibrant and clean acidity you expect in a high grown Costa Rica bean. The Tarrazu region also received much cooler temperatures at night during this year’s harvest cycle, thus creating a more complex and sweet coffee flavor.”

Expo patrons often commented on the coffee’s clean, fresh taste. All Stockton Graham & Co. coffee is roasted to order at our Raleigh, NC facility, which enables us to provide fresh and tasty coffee to every one of our customers.

Sneak Preview of New Coffee for Restaurants and Hotels

Those who stopped by our booth had the opportunity to preview our newest coffee uniquely designed for restaurants, hotels, bars and other foodservice operations.

The coffee, called Batch 0995, is craft roasted coffee in convenient pre-measured packs. Batch 0995 is artisanal coffee. It starts with high quality 100% Arabica beans, craft roasted in small batches to achieve the fullest flavor. Once cooled, we artfully blend and package the coffee in perfectly measured pouches for operator convenience.

Batch 0995 commemorates Stockton Graham & Co.’s entry into craft roasting (we started craft roasting coffee for customers in September 1995). It comes in nine popular options. At the expo, visitors had the opportunity to sample three options: Colombian Supremo, Colombian Decaf and our House Blend, which is rich, bold and exciting.

“Our House Blend has an inviting aroma and flavors that feature hints of cocoa and dried fruit,” said our Lead Barista Alex Jeans. “It is definitely a first choice for coffee drinkers that prefer a bold and dark cup.”

Since the portion packs are conveniently ground and pre-measured, we did not have to grind and weigh Batch 0995 on site, as we did for the Kenya and Costa Rica coffees we served. This allowed customers to enjoy “coffee shop quality” coffee with minimum fuss on the part of operators.

Batch 0995 is gently rolling out to customers across the United States and should be fully available to operators by the end of the year. Watch our blog for more details.

Why Craft Roasted Coffee is So Important to Restaurants

Two of our coffee experts, Thom Swain and Brady Butler, presented a roadmap to help restauranteurs upgrade their coffee to meet customer demand. The hour-long presentation featured case studies and ROI breakouts of both drip and espresso coffee options. Look for more detail on their presentation in the coming weeks.

The expo at the Raleigh Convention Center is open to all foodservice and hospitality professionals until 5pm tonight. Stockton Graham & Co. is joined by hundreds of foodservice companies, who exhibited everything from smoked fish to tequila.

As always, if you are interested in our coffees, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Our Coffee on Food Network Star’s Menu

Few things complement a world-class chef’s dinner menu better than world-class coffee from Stockton Graham & Co.

That’s why Stockton Graham & Co. has been tapped to serve our craft roasted coffee at a $100/plate dinner curated by celebrity chef, restaurateur and Food Network star Robert Irvine.

Stockton Graham & Co. serves coffee at Food Network Star DinnerYou may know Chef Irvine as the host of Dinner: Impossible and The Next Iron Chef, two of the most popular shows on the Food Network. He has authored two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy, and one healthy living book, Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life.

Stockton Graham & Co. will serve our newest craft roasted coffee, Batch 0995, as part of Chef Irvine’s North Carolina-themed menu. Batch 0995 is artisanal coffee that’s uniquely designed for restaurants, bars, hotels and other hospitality businesses—so it will be a perfect complement to Chef Irvine’s artisanal dishes.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen to participate in this event and allowed to showcase our amazing coffees,” said Thom Swain, Director of Business Development at Stockton Graham & Co.

“Chef Irvine and other great culinary artists understand the importance that quality ingredients have in ensuring an outstanding customer experience,” Thom continued. “Since coffee is often the last thing a guest tastes before finishing a meal, it is arguably one of the most important components of a complete menu. We look forward to serving our industry colleagues some great, NC-roasted coffees as the perfect end to a very special occasion.”

The dinner will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center on September 21, where Chef Irvine will be delivering the opening day Dinner Keynote Address at the 2015 North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Expo. To register for the dinner, visit

Stockton Graham & Co.’s business consultants Thom Swain and Brady Butler will also be on hand to network with attendees and to offer insights into how to add craft roasted coffee to your menu.

If you are not able to join us for dinner, stop by our expo booth #622 at the NCRLE to sample our new coffee product or contact us directly at 800 835 5943. You can also discuss your coffee needs with our roastmaster Brandon Riggs and our lead barista Alex Jeans.

Chef Robert Irvine and Coffee

Chef Irvine has recently been promoting the benefits of coffee, especially butter coffee in connection with a sound workout program. “Coffee is an actual training stimulant,” Chef Irvine said recently during his guest appearance on the Rachel Ray Show. “It helps you when you work out to have a cup of coffee before you work out.”

“After my workout, I take a protein shake or eight egg whites and two yolks with turkey bacon, two slices of dry wheat toast, and coffee,” Chef Irvine told EveryDay Health.

With more than a quarter century of experience in the culinary profession, Chef Irvine honed his culinary chops working at hotels, casinos and on cruise ships in Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, He was the Executive Chef for many great establishments including the MS Crystal Harmony and Trump’s Taj Mahal, and he served as the head chef for the 2006 Academy Awards.

Robert Irvine’s Menu for the NCRLE

Small Plate Action Stations
Soy-Collard Kimchi with Cane Syrup Braised Heritage Farms Pork Belly
CAB Spinalis with Vidalia Onion Rosemary Jam, Butter Poached Shrimp with Dill Pollen Pickled Carrots

Passed Dishes
Local Green Tomato Gazpacho with Ran Lew Buttermilk Foam Shooter Glass
Pimento Cheese Fritters

Displayed Dishes
Local Vegetable Raw Bar with Heirloom Tomato Ranch and Blue Cheese Dip
Domestic/Local Cheeses Garnished with Seasonal Fruit, Sliced Baguettes and Assorted Crackers

Baby Greens and Corn shoots with crumbled Wayne County smoked goat cheese, crackling croutons, NC grim reaper spiced pecans, shaved pear and a sweet potato vodka vinaigrette

Vanilla Porter Lacquered Coulotte Steak & Seared Sea Scallop with Anson Mill fallen grit soufflé, local pole beans with rendered Heritage Farms Applewood bacon

Dessert Station with Carolina Confections and Stockton Graham & Co. Coffee
Banana Pudding, Strawberry Mousse, Pistachio Cannoli Shooters, Mini Red Velvet Cup Cakes, Cheerwine Cupcakes, Pecan Pie Bites, Sweet Potato Pie Bites, Craft Roasted Coffee from Stockton Graham & Co.