Iced Coffee for Summer

Iced coffeeWith the rising temperatures, it’s that time of year to start offering iced coffee and iced specialty drinks. Iced drinks can be an integral part of coffee sales during the warm summer seasons, allowing customers to have an opportunity to escape intense heat and cool off while getting caffeinated, especially in the South!

There are several different ways to offer iced coffee these days, and many cafes have decided to utilize the “toddy” method of cold-brewing coffee.  However, there are other methods available that can be utilized using equipment you already own in your shop.

Making concentrates is a popular way of offering iced coffee, having ultimately a concoction that is twice as potent as you would normally brew, then adding ice. Keep in mind that dark roasted coffee tends to yield a smoother and more enjoyable flavor than lightly roasted coffee.

The Toddy brewing process creates a concentrate that you can add to frappes, iced lattes, iced mochas, or just create iced coffee. In this method, which features reusable filters, you add cold water to coarsely ground coffee and allow it to steep for 12-24 hours. Watch our video on the Toddy method here.

The Japanese method is rapidly gaining popularity throughout cafes as the way to serve iced coffee.  This consists of any pour over device (Chemex, Hario V60, etc.) or batch brewers in a shop and takes only a couple of minutes to prepare. This process produces an extremely smooth and flavorful cup of iced coffee, brewing right onto ice so it is only hot for a couple of seconds.  You can also incorporate your drip brewer to produce larger quantities of iced coffee by using the amount of coffee that yields a full pot but only running the half-pot water cycle. Of course, you will still brew on top of a container that has the correct proportion of ice (the same ratio as for the pour-over method).

Iced Vietnamese-style coffee is another great method which requires a Phin filter and condensed milk. Start by pouring a small amount of condensed milk into the vessel you wish to brew into and add coffee (1 rounded tablespoon per 6 ounces at a coarse grind) to the Phin filter. Brew on top of the condensed milk, stir, and add ice. The later two methods are not concentrations, so it is important to get the right proportions every time so you do not water down the coffee.

Iced Americanos will also help increase coffee sales during the warmer months by adding a cool refreshing version of a classic coffee beverage. Simply pull the shots of espresso directly into cool water and then add ice.

From a cost perspective, Toddy produces a larger quantity of iced coffee, running at about .21 cents an ounce. The Japanese method is brewed by the cup which requires a little bit more time and skill, but runs at only about .04 cents per ounce. While the Japanese-method costs less, it does call for more time per cup whereas the toddy is already made and ready to be used.

Iced signature or specialty beverages can also help increase your profit margins during the warmer seasons while standard coffee sales tend to slow down, and also increase efficiency by adding profitable and sought after items. The best way to prepare iced lattes or signature drinks involving milk is to add the ingredients and milk into a cup and pull the shots on top of the milk, leaving room for ice. This keeps the espresso shots from melting the ice and becoming watery, thereby diminishing the full flavor of the espresso. Then all that is left is to stir, add ice and serve.

Here at Stockton Graham & Company we are always happy to share our knowledge about everything coffee related. To learn more about ways to succeed 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.

If You Want Good Coffee, Start With Good Water

good water for good coffeeWhen one thinks about a cup of coffee, the roasted bean is the first thing that comes to mind. Quality beans are certainly crucial, but equally important is the good water used because hot H2O is the solvent that leaches the flavors and oils out of those beans. A cup of regular coffee is about 98.75 percent water, leaving only 1.25 percent for the soluble plant matter, so it goes without saying poor water quality can ruin even the tastiest coffee beans. All the countless hours of work by farmers, roasters and numerous others involved in getting coffee to market are for naught if, in the end, the consumer brews their beverage with bad water.

It sounds simple to say water is just two hydrogen molecules for every one of oxygen, but the chemistry of water is actually very complex. Its makeup can change seasonally and because of other factors such as city water treatments, variable sources, nearby construction, etc. Water also has many gases and minerals dissolved in it, in addition to floating bacteria and dirt. A simple charcoal filter will remove things like dirt and odor but is not much help when it comes to mineral content. Much the same way it pulls flavors from coffee, water extracts minerals as it moves through the ground or in pipes. Some of those minerals, such as iron, can produce bad coffee tastes or colors. Some, on the other hand, can be good; coffee just tastes better when brewed with good water that has a fair amount of calcium dissolved in it. One measurement the Specialty Coffee Association of America uses to count the number of minerals dissolved in water is by measuring the total dissolved solids (TDS). calciumThe total dissolved solids are measured in parts dissolved solids, per million parts water (ppm). A TDS reading is partially a measure of whether water is what is considered soft or hard. The ideal range for TDS is between 125 and 175 ppm. Water with a very high TDS reading (hard) extracts coffee flavor less readily. The ideal range for calcium hardness is between 17 to 120 ppm. Things such as iron, chlorine and chlorinates should not be present in a reading. If your water does not fall into the desired range, the solution may be a water softening or filtration system.

Personal taste is always the most important factor when evaluating the quality of brewed coffee, but don’t forget tools can be used to help measure strength and extraction and allow for more taste control. Also, all water filtration systems have parts that must be replaced on a regular basis to ensure optimum performance. In general, replace carbon filters for in-line water filtration systems every three to six months. For reverse osmosis systems, the filters and membranes should be changed once every year. But these are just guidelines; anytime you notice debris or scale on your equipment, or detect odors or off-flavors, replace your filtering elements immediately.

waterAlways remember that with its thousands of different flavors and chemicals (such as caffeine), coffee is an extremely complex beverage. No good extraction of those desirable tastes is possible without good water. Do great coffee justice and make sure your water is held to the same high standard as your beans. For more information about using good water and proper filtration, call 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

A Visit to Nicaragua and Sustainable Coffee Growing at Selva Negra

Located in the highlands of Nicaragua, between the cities of Matagalpa and Jinotega, Selva Negra leads the way when it comes to sustainable coffee production.

The beginnings of Selva Negra stretch back to 1891, when German immigrants settled in the area. They recognized the potential of the land so planted coffee on what they named La Hammonia farm. More than three quarters of a century later, the farm was sold in 1974 to the current owners, Eddy and Mausi Kühl. Both descendants of German farmers, the Kühls refurbished the La Hammonia farm and made it totally diversified and sustainable in less than a decade. They have preserved a third of the property–renamed Selva Negra Ecolodge–as virgin forest, another third as shade sustainable coffee forest, and the last third as intensive rotational pastures for cattle and organic farming. The Kühls also built a hotel and complex of cabins for eco-tourists.

Sustainable Coffee in NicaraguaOver the last 30 years, alternative sources of production have been developed, whether for in-house consumption or income generation. These include organic meat and milk products (including cheese, sausages, eggs, etc.) as well as vegetables and fruit crops. Environmental projects are carried out each year always seeking for new, better, and more efficient systems. Some of these projects include having earth tubs decontaminate coffee wastewater, improved systems for treating sewage, reforestation, methane gas production, microorganism production to improve soil quality, etc.

Sustainable Coffee in NicaraguaFor all of their hard work and dedication, Selva Negra won the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Sustainability Award in both 2007 and 2008, the Sempervirens Award from the Environmental Protection Information Center, and has received many other sustainability accolades.

Stockton Graham coffee roster Chris Bennett was able to visit Selva Negra in January on a tour with a small group of other coffee industry professionals. He shared a few thoughts about his experiences:

“My first impression was that it was beautiful. The ecolodge part that helped sustain the whole business in general was beautiful but they do an amazing job of making everything look nice. They have a lake, beautiful orchids everywhere, banana trees and orange trees. There are some coffee trees grown close to the lodge but the main lots are a walk away. Coffee isn’t the only crop; they had a lot of sheltered growing areas for all the food they produced on the farm for the hotel as well as the workers.

Sustainable Coffee in Nicaragua

Chris Bennett tries his hand at coffee picking.

It’s a big property so they drove us around to different areas where people were picking the coffee. They let us pick coffee cherries for about an hour but we were all really bad at it. Then they had someone come show us how to do it properly and he was much faster. It’s definitely hard work.

“The sustainable coffee operation was amazing. I want to say they estimate four million coffee plants on the property, grown in the shade of larger trees. They also had a couple of greenhouses where they showed us the seedlings and small plants that they were getting ready to plant for the next season. Selva Negra wasn’t the only coffee plantation in that part of Nicaragua; when we were driving down the main road, towards Managua, we would see these massive farms and mills with coffee laid out on tarps to dry.

“I’d never been to an origin country before so it was an overall awesome experience. I’d love to go back.”

If you’re not familiar with the coffee of Selva Negra, call 800-835-5943 to find out more or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Sustainable coffee form Nicaragua

12 Roasters Compete in 1st NC Statewide Coffee Competition

Stockton Graham & Co. is proud to be the exclusive sponsor for the first-ever statewide coffee competition in North Carolina. This groundbreaking event will feature 12 coffee roasters who will compete for the best coffee in North Carolina. The competition will take place on October 14 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm in the Special Cooking Contest area in the Education Building of the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This is the first statewide coffee competition on the East Coast and the second-ever statewide coffee competition in the United States.coffee competition

“We are excited to do this and bring the coffee community together. Coffee has always been a collaborative industry and this introduces a whole new group of consumers to appreciate great specialty coffee and promote North Carolina industry and jobs,” said Jeff Vojta, co-founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co.

In addition to ribbons, there will be three cash prize winners; $100 for grand champion, $75 for the reserve champion and the honorable mention will receive $50.

The competitors are:

top-anchorAnchor Coffee Company, Wilkesboro, NC

Coffee, community and lifestyle are the three guiding principles of this roasting company.

 

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Aromatic Roasters, Pittsborro, NC

Micro-roaster featuring the finest coffee from around the world. They roast to highlight the skill of farmers.

 

backalleycoffeeroastersBack Alley Coffee Roasters, Wake Forest, NC

Back Alley Coffee Roasters wants to let the bean do the talking! Each single origin coffee has something unique to contribute.

 

brclogo_rgb_fin_200x200Bethesda Roasting Company, Durham, NC 

Bethesda’s mission is to provide high quality custom coffees and give excellent customer service to individuals and businesses.

 

muertos_logo_website_glowCafe De Los Muertos, Raleigh, NC

Cafe De Los Muertos’ mission is to roast and serve great coffee. They also want to showcase other roasters as well as local food artists.

 

1470840349537Camp Coffee Roasters, Blowing Rock, NC 

Team Camp has a passion for coffee. They are always learning and looking for new ideas to make the best coffee.

 

ccrlogo1Carrboro Coffee Roasters, Carrboro, NC 

Carrboro Coffee Roasters is a premier small batch artisan roaster that has drawn international attention.

 

Larry’s Coffee, Raleigh, NC larrys-coffee-logo

Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place.

 

magic-beans-logo-100x100Magic Beans, Pfafftown, NC

Magic Beans is a North Carolina roaster based in Pfafftown near Winston Salem.

 

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Mountain Air Roasting Incorporated, Asheville, NC

Mountain Air sources coffees from East Africa and the Americas that can be generally characterized as bright, clean, and sweet.

 

mainsquarenooutlinetrans3500Pushwater Coffee, Charlotte, NC 

Pushwater Coffee is a small batch coffee roaster with a big mission. They put their farmers first.

 

unknownSummit Coffee Company, Davidson NC

Summit’s story began in 1998 and theirs is a story about coffee, adventure, and people.

 

Coffee Competition Focuses on Specialty Coffee In North Carolina

So what exactly is “specialty coffee?” And what is the process of getting to the point of having a roasted bean ready for a coffee competition?

As many coffee shop owners may or may not know, specialty coffee is defined as any coffee that scores above 80 points on a 100-point scale. Typically, specialty coffee is grown at high altitudes, with lots of attention and care from the farmers. Then, it is sold at a premium direct to coffee roasters or to coffee traders.

The roasters then create custom profiles for each coffee highlighting and showcasing the natural flavors of the bean. This is where the craftsmanship of roasting takes place and this is where we at Stockton Graham & Co. and all roasters have an opportunity to shine.coffee competition

It is clear that there is an art to the sourcing, storing and roasting that makes for coffee perfection, but this is only one side of the coin for the roaster looking to make an award-winning cup.

The next step (and this is what twelve different North Carolinian roasters set out to showcase in a coffee competition) is preparation. This will involve decisions for the competitors about water, grind and method they will use to compete.

Which brings us to another new defining factor in this new age of coffee competition and that is an attention to detail that takes coffee to a level of fussiness previously only seen in wine circles. This shouldn’t be surprising, given that coffee has two to three times as many flavor compounds as wine does.

“We are going to be judging the best coffee, best prepared,” said Brad Kirby, who is the Director of Coffee at Stockton Graham & Co. “If you are going to prepare an Ethiopia, it’s going to need to have a certain acidity and a discernable fruitiness.”coffee competition

When asked more specifically about the reason coffee is just now being noticed for the craft beverage it can be, Kirby says he believes that it has taken coffee longer to position itself in the specialty market because where coffee is grown and where coffee is roasted are so far removed from one another.

Although we obviously can’t grow coffee here, North Carolina is rooted in agriculture. It is our leading industry. We are number one nationally for flue-cured tobacco and sweet potatoes and we are second in the nation for Christmas trees, hogs and pigs, trout, and turkeys. There are about 48,000 farms in North Carolina and agriculture alone is an $84 Billion industry.

Globally speaking and when it comes to coffee there are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world. Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries.

Coffee is the US’s largest food import and second most valuable commodity only after oil. In recent years, new cafés have been opening at an explosive rate, making specialty coffee mainstream and increasing profit margins for specialty coffee roasters and retailers.

 

 

Welcome Back Papua New Guinea Mile High Coffee

Nothing beats consistency! Especially when it comes to coffee. This is how we at Stockton Graham & Co. feel about Papua New Guinea Mile High Coffee. Making its mark in Pacific coffees, a noteworthy attribute of this particular coffee is that it is unusually consistent with the crops previously brought in. This is so exciting because consistency is a key reason customers return – they know what they are getting.

This is great for the independent coffee shop owner too because your customers will fall in love with the PNG and keep coming back for it. In fact, when surveyed, 86 percent of respondents in the Charlotte, NC area said “consistent service or quality” was most important in a recent survey we conducted with Mintel.

PNG_Mile High 500x400Originating in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Mile High is the grade A coffee from the Arokara Co-op. Mile High gets its name because it is grown on the outskirts of the mountain town Kainantu, exactly one mile above sea level. Surrounded by mountains reaching staggering altitudes, the Arokara Co-op is made of plantations such as Gadsup and Tairorasta. Arokara has been processing and growing coffee for over 20 years. No chemicals or fertilizers are used by the landowner clans who now own and run Arokara.

papua new guinea coffee

The entire clan hand picks and pulps the Mile High cherries on the same day. Then, the fresh cherries are fermented for approximately 36 hours in cement vats. Next, they are cleaned in crisp, clear mountain water from the nearby Aru River. Lastly, they are left to dry in the sun for 7-12 days, slowly taking on a lovely bluish color. Mile High is carefully wet-processed to produce a consistently high-quality bean.

Gentle Flavors with an Undeniable Quality from a Versatile Bean

I sat down with our Head Roaster Brad Kirby and resident Barista Alex Jeans to explore this exceptional coffee and hear what they had to say about our Papua New Guinea (or PNG) Mile High.

They all commented on the slight, yet fruity malt softness of the bean that makes Mile High particularly drinkable. Its enjoyable aftertaste lingers on the tongue to be relished.

“As espresso, this coffee’s attributes are amplified in all the right ways,” said Kirby. “If a customer is looking for something different but instantly loveable, PNG Mile High is the way to go. Thanks to its creamy body and fruity sweet notes, this particular coffee does extremely well in small and medium sized milk-based drinks.”

papua new guinea coffee

To really get at the coffee’s unique flavors, our SCAA-certified barista Alex Jeans suggests brewing Mile High using the V60 pour over method, which really highlights its silky smooth body.

“The V60 method really highlights the coffee’s subtle acidity and fruit flavors along with a milk chocolate aftertaste,” Jeans said. “If you want to feature the coffee’s tangy, bright plum notes, then preparing it as an espresso is the way to go.”

When brewing PNG, it’s important to use the right coffee to water ratio—roughly 1:16 or 1 gram of coffee per 16 milliliters/grams of water or in other words 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water—and the appropriate grind for your brew method. For more information see our Brewing and Grinding Guide. Here you will find specific measurements and grinds for your particular brew method.  

Coffee Growth in Papua New Guinea

Occupying the eastern half of the island New Guinea in the Pacific region of Melanesia, Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. There are 848 languages spoken there and thousands of independent indigenous communities. This said, Papua New Guinea is still one of the world’s least explored countries.

PNG Illustrated Map-01

Nearly 40 percent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle, and the entire nation relies heavily on customary subsistence-based agriculture. In the mid-1920’s when Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seeds were planted, Coffee production in the country started. This made PNG a closely connected descendent of one of the most luxurious and sought after coffees in the world.

The first coffee plantations were established in the moist Sangara foothills in 1926. During the 1980’s coffee production expanded away from the plantations and more into the hands of local farmers who are now responsible for over 85 percent of total national production. After palm oil, coffee is the country’s second largest agricultural export. Additionally, coffee is responsible for employing over 2.5 million people. Most of their coffee is grown in the highlands, where 70 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture.

PNG landscape web

Papua New Guinea coffees come from the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which sits contentedly north of the Australian landmass. Not unlike neighboring Indonesian coffees, New Guineas tend to come either from estates with large-scale facilities or much smaller farmers using simple backyard processing methods; Both methods yield inspiring results. Because the mountainous topography of the island lends itself to endless coffee varieties, Papua New Guinea is home to some of the highest quality beans in the world.

After a turbulent history of constantly fluctuating global markets and evolving infrastructures, the Papua New Guinea coffee industry has faced countless challenges. But thanks to an increased introduction of modern processing methods, combined with an intimate understanding of the crop, PNG has continued to grow as one of the most desirable coffees on the market. Papua New Guinea is actually responsible for 1 percent of total world coffee production, and here at Stockton Graham & Co., we are thankful for that.

To order our PNG Mile High, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Stockton Graham Launches Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Stockton Graham & Co. launched nitro cold brew coffee in Raleigh on May 22 to rave reviews during the four-day local celebration of good taste called The Raleigh Food & Wine Festival. On June 10, we will launch our nitro solution nationally at Coffee Fest Dallas. Drop by Coffee Fest booth #917 to speak to our coffee experts and sample the brew.Nitro Coffee Stockton Graham & Co.

At the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival, customers lined up three-deep to taste our refreshing, sweet brew, which was featured in partnership with Café Helios. For the un-initiated, nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee that is infused with nitrogen gas. The gas transforms the cold coffee into a creamy, fizzy non-alcoholic beer-esque drink that can be enjoyed anytime of the day or night.

The Business Case for Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Nitro CoffeeOffering nitro coffee is a slam dunk for an independent coffee shop, restaurant or bar, according to Thom Swain, Director of Southeast Sales for Stockton Graham & Co. Both the Specialty Coffee Association of America expo in April and the National Restaurant Association show in May featured nitro coffee prominently and booths offering nitro coffee were packed.

It’s no wonder. There hasn’t been a alcohol-free beverage option in recent history that hit the sweet spot in terms of demand, profitability and ease of implementation. Here’s a break down of the business case for nitro cold brew coffee:

Profits: Roughly $1 in costs, which include coffee and nitrogen gas, can create a 12oz beverage that can sell at $4-$5. That’s a 400% profit.

Implementation: Simple nitro systems are readily available at craft beer supply and home brew supply stores. A basic system will cost roughly $1000, and will break even at 250 servings. Many independent shops are reporting sales of 5-10 gallons (or 50-100 servings) of nitro a day.

Differentiation: Nitro is a product that is becoming known to more customers but that is still generally difficult to find. “Shops that develop a nitro program now will be ahead of the curve, positioning yourselves as a destination for nitro even before the product becomes more available,” said Thom Swain.

Demand: Nitro appeals specifically to millennials, who according to a 2016 survey by TD Ameritrade, spend more money on out-of-house coffee than any other demographic. “Offering nitro will shore up this demographic and have this coveted demographic in your store morning, noon and night,” Thom said.

Our Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Recommendation

Through our research we have found that consumers in the 18-35 age group grew up on soda and have an affinity for the sharp, fruity flavor of phosphoric acid that gives soda its “pop.”

Nitro CoffeeWith that in mind, we recommend using East African coffees tapped with beer gas. This summer, we are recommending our Tanzania Peaberry that features juicy citrus and berry flavors. The nitrogen brings out a cane sugar sweetness that’s reminiscent of good southern-style sweet tea.

For a crisper and more fruity brew, you might try our Ethiopia Limmu. This limited-edition, natural-process, single-origin coffee provides a clean, sweet mouth feel and pops with the flavors of strawberry, raspberry and rose hips.

Both Tanzania Peaberry and Ethiopia Limmu are roasted to order at our Raleigh NC coffee roasting facilities.

When it comes to preparing and serving nitro cold brew coffee, a variety of systems are available. You may opt for a custom-made jockey boxes like the one we prepared for Café Helios at the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival. There are also relatively inexpensive countertop coolers and more elaborate full kegerator beer tap systems. Either of these options are available at places like Home Depot, home brew stores and restaurant supply stores. The team at Stockton Graham & Co. can discuss options based on your business concept and traffic and provide step-by-step guidance on brewing, gassing and serving nitro coffee.

If you are in Dallas for Coffee Fest, stop by our booth #917 to meet the team to sample our Nitro Cold Brew Coffee or call us at 800 835 5943.