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.


Ride the Green Wave with Organic Syrups from MONIN

Green coffee shops are a rising star in the specialty coffee industry, offering a wide variety of environmentally and socially responsible coffee options.

Fully organic shops are generally most successful in “mature” coffee drinking markets where customer taste and income levels tend to be higher. Stockton Graham & Co. offers a variety of sustainable coffee selections for organic shops.Monin Organic Vanilla Syrup

But even if you’re not in a market that can support a fully fair-trade or green business, adding certified organic syrups to hot and cold drinks on your menu could help your store ride this wave.

MONIN Organic Syrups are certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI), certified Vegan, Kosher, Halal and are Gluten and GMO-free. A yogi’s dream. With all natural ingredients come heightened flavor profiles, and our customers typically find that less syrup is required to achieve the same flavor profile as the other syrups. MONIN Organic Syrups come in caramel, hazelnut, raspberry, chocolate and vanilla. The top flavors include:

Vanilla: Vanilla is a prized spice of the tropics, with the preeminent producer being the island nation of Madagascar. Offering a pleasant, smooth taste, vanilla is an essential coffeehouse and foodservice flavoring with endless applications.

Raspberry: The most common raspberries are red, but originally all raspberries were white. Legend says that one day, the Nymph Ida tried to pick some wild white raspberries to calm the god Jupiter who was in a rage. While picking the fruits, Ida scratched her finger on the thorny raspberry bush. According to this Roman myth, her blood forever died the raspberries a bright red color.

Caramel: The word “caramel” refers to caramelized sugar, traditionally obtained by melting sugar in a sauce pot of water. The rich flavor and color of caramel derive from the process of heating and melting the sugar. Caramel is an ingredient in many popular confections, beverages and desserts.

MONIN also makes organic sweeteners. The Organic Agave Nectar Syrup is made with organically grown agave nectar with no additives or preservatives. Agave, a succulent plant native of Mexico, the southwestern US and tropical South Africa, is a flowering plant with many culinary and medicinal uses. Each agave plant will produce several pounds of edible flowers during its final blooming season. The stalks, which are ready during the summer, before the blossom, weigh several pounds each. Roasted, they are sweet and can be chewed to extract the aguamiel, like sugarcane.The nectar is produced by filtering and processing the expressed juice from the core of the agave plant. Agave has grown in popularity in recent years because of its low glycemic index. Similar to sugar yet sweeter, with honey-nutty notes, Organic Agave Nectar Syrup contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than sugar.

For more information on MONIN’s Organic Syrups and recipe ideas, download their sales flyer.

Call a Stockton Graham & Co. Customer Care Associate in Raleigh, North Carolina at 800.835.5943 to order MONIN organic syrups and sweeteners.

A Fresh Look at Sustainable Coffee

Organic. Fair Trade. Rainforest Alliance. Bird Friendly. These are all good things to find on a coffee label. But some of the best sustainable coffee isn’t certified at all.

That’s because the crops are grown on small plots owned by farm families and communities that have worked the soil for generations, retaining the native tree cover and using traditional and natural methods of pest control and fertilization.Stockton Graham Sustainable Coffee

Farms like these can’t really afford certification and auditing fees, which can often run thousands of dollars a year. Yet they produce some of the best coffee in the world and are key to the 20-year success of Stockton Graham & Co.

“The highest quality coffee comes from farmers who are committed to the highest quality in every aspect of their business,” said Jeff Vojta, President of Stockton Graham & Co.

“It’s not only about how you treat the land, but also about how you treat the people who work the land,” Vojta said. “To really produce truly quality coffee you need experienced farmers who will stay and work the land year-after-year. To get that, you need to treat people fairly.”

This means paying a fair price for coffee, which allows the farms to pay farmers a fair wage and provide good housing, health care and education to workers and their families.

“To me, the word ‘sustainable’ means doing the right thing for the land and for the people who work it,” said Brandon Riggs, Roastmaster for Stockton Graham Coffees and Dilworth Coffees.

“We pay a fair price, and that’s the right thing to do,” Riggs said. “Paying a good price insures that 10 years down the road, we will be able to have good crops and buy quality coffee.”

Stockton Graham & Co. has been supporting sustainable farming since its founding in 1994, even before most certifications were started. Depending on the harvest, between 65% and 80% of all coffee the company imports today qualifies as sustainable, Vojta said. Although only 10%-15% of the coffee carries an official sustainable certification.

Some of our more popular un-certified sustainable coffees are:

Brazil Alta Mogiana Sao Francisco
These carefully selected beans really add to the complexity of the coffees flavor. This is a very approachable and well-rounded coffee that can be appreciated by even the novice coffee consumer.

Brazil Alta Mogiana Peaberry
This Brazil Peaberry provides a departure from other Brazilian varietals.  This bean is packed full of soft, sweet flavors balanced nicely with hints of dried apricots and other stone fruits. The body is exceptionally smooth, and provides a nice base for the building acidity and clean finish

Sumatra Silimakuta
This coffee varietal, Sumatra Silimakuta, has been selected for its unique flavor of sweet spice, cocoa and soft hints of tangerine. To bring out the unusual flavor and it’s low-medium, tangy acidity and silky body, this coffee is roasted at a medium-dark level.

Stockton Graham & Co. also carries coffees that are certified both organic and fair trade. The most popular are:

Organic Fair Trade Guatemala San Juan Utapa
A smooth creamy body matched with a bright acidity make this classic Central American varietal one of our more popular organics. When brewed, you can look forward to a sweet caramel flavor accompanied by a full, creamy body.

Organic Fair Trade Mexico Chiapas
Expect to taste the sweet chocolate and cinnamon flavors, while a full creamy body stabilizes the cup. A bright acidity helps to accentuate the nuances of this coffee, and notes of spicy cinnamon will linger on your tongue from the very first sip.

Organic Fair Trade Sumatra Mandheling Triple Picked
This coffee has a reputation as one of the highest quality organics available in Indonesia. It is roasted at a dark level in order to omit winey flavors in favor of milk chocolaty notes and a balanced body.

And our organic blends include:

Organic Blue Moon Blend
This organic blend of Central American varietals and Indonesian offers the perfect balance of mild chocolate notes and spicy indulgence. Aromas of chocolate and sweetness draw you into the silky body that is balanced nicely with the subtle acidity and spicy notes in the finish.

Organic French Roast Blend
Organic Sumatra beans and Organic Latin American beans roasted in a darker French roast style. Though a dark roast, its notable acidity resonates through the flavor profile, brightening towards the end of the tasting experience.

Organic San Remo Blend 
Organic Sumatra Mandheling is combined with Latin American beans and precisely roasted. The Sumatran element of the blend introduces dark chocolate notes and deep earthy tones. The Latin American component enhances the flavor with sweet caramel and a dense, satisfying crema.

“Stockton Graham & Co. is dedicated to higher quality coffee where the whole sensation of the experience is optimized,” Jeff Vojta said. “Higher quality coffee comes from sustainable farming practices, and we need to pay a fair price to sustain quality over the long term.”

For more information on our sustainable coffees and to place an order, call our Customer Care Associates at 800.835.5943. 


Coffee Rust Causing Concern in Specialty Coffee Industry

rust-photoA coffee rust fungus is generating a lot of discussion in the coffee world. Coffee trees from Mexico to Panama have been attacked by this orange, rust-looking fungus, Hemileia Vastatrix. In April 2013, The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) discussed and explored this issue at their annual Symposium. There was also an International Coffee Rust Summit that month to do the same. The future of specialty coffee could be at a major risk.

Roya, the Spanish word for the fungus, grows on the underside of the leaf on the coffee tree.  The fungus will continue to spread throughout the leaves, preventing the tree from receiving nutrients.  Without the nutrition from the leaves, the cherries that contain the “coffee bean” will not fully mature, and when brewed as coffee, it will lack much of its typical flavor.  The outbreak was fueled by excessive amounts of rain in Colombia in 2008, which spread the disease throughout the country and into more Central American countries. While Colombia is on the mend with the help of various preventive measures, countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras are suffering. When the rust attacks half of a tree’s leaves, the farmer is forced to cut the tree down, leaving it unusable for 3 years and the farm in economic turmoil.

To combat the Roya, farmers are using excessive fungicides and planting rust-resistant, genetically altered plants. This puts a heavy strain on organic coffees, leaving many specialists to doubt organic coffees’ survival.  The focus of the meetings in April were solving this issue, and the UN is even looking to hire a “Leaf Rust Response Coordinator” who will lead the fight against this damaging fungus.

Being the second most valuable trade commodity in the world, coffee’s survival for economic stability is very important.  Some farms have seen as much as 70 percent of their crops affected by this fungus. Central America is already expected to have losses up to $500 million this year alone, which is why the governments of these countries are supplying aid so heavily to coffee farms in their area.

How does this affect us?  Well, first we could see a lack of coffee quality from the Central American region, then very likely a rise in coffee prices.  Jeff Vojta, Co-founder and President of Stockton Graham & Co., says, “Our biggest concern is for the future of our quality Central American coffees. Climate change, in addition to the Roya, is causing even more damage.  Hopefully they have caught this in time, and high quality coffee will still be available to market.”  While we are currently not affected, we have already begun to see the prices on certain coffees from Central America start to rise, which could affect our prices in the future.

For more updates on the coffee fungus crisis, or other news in the specialty coffee world, be sure to check out our website.  If you are not currently signed up to receive our monthly newsletter, register on the website or give us a call at 800.835.5943 to have one of our customer care associates add you to our mailing list!

Information Sources:
Coffee-Leaf Rust is Tough Enemy to Attack – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/13
Fungus Wreaks Havoc on Coffee Crop – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/2013
Coffee Workers Unemployed as Fungus Hits Central America: Jobs – Anna Edgerton, Adam Williams and Marvin G. Perez – Bloomberg Businessweek 4/23/2013
Overheard at the First International Coffee Rust Summit – Michael Sheridan- Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 4/22/13
United Nations Hiring Leaf Rust Response Coordinator -Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 5/8/2013


Earth Day Promotions for Your Cafe

EarthdayThe spring season brings beauty to our surroundings, creating a sense of renewal, restoring color and life to plants and livening spirits. Show your appreciation for nature with some environmentally friendly promotions this Earth Day: Monday April 22nd!

If you don’t already offer discounts for people who bring in their own mugs or other reusable beverage containers, Earth Day is a great day to consider doing this promotion. Not only does this decrease paper waste but it also saves you money on the cost of cups! Have a sale on your personalized tumblers or ceramic mugs to promote decreasing your waste output. This also gets your brand more exposure as your customers continue through their day.

Offer discounts on coffees, signature beverages or smoothies for cyclists who visit your cafe during April. This could range from your road-riders to your daily commuters who choose to be environmentally conscious, and reduce their carbon footprint! Make sure you let your customers know about these promotions with flyers and a social media campaign.

Collaborate with your roaster to promote an organic, fair trade, rainforest alliance or other specialty coffee in your cafe. Not only does this benefit the environment and coffee farms, but it would also give you an opportunity to educate customers on the significance of these coffee options. Here at Stockton Graham & Co. we offer a few sustainable coffees that your customers would love!

Contact your local ecofriendly groups and see if you can sponsor one of their Earth Day events with your coffee! This is a great way to show your community, not just your customers, that you are helping out. Many groups do park and river cleanups, planting trees events and educational festivals to promote environmentally friendly thinking. Your coffee would be a welcomed contribution, and could open the doors to new customers for your shop!

Coffee is a plant that needs a healthy environment to grow strong and produce the delicious beans we brew into our cup. Here at Stockton Graham & Co. we encourage you to make this delicious beverage available for years to come by helping to take care of our world. Promoting your environmentally friendly ways within your community can bring in new ecofriendly customers into your shop and give you a sense of joy for doing good. It’s not easy being green, but taking care of our environment will offer so much more in the long run. If you are looking for more ideas to celebrate with this April 22nd give us a call at 800.835.5943 and our Customer Care Associates can discuss more options with you!

Check out other things you can do in your shop to be more “green”, in this blog.

Save up to $18 a case on Jet Arctic Lemonade, Margarita and DaVinci Single Origin Naturals Syrup!

Temperatures are still up, and we’re offering some great specials to cool your customers down with frozen drinks featuring Jet Frozen Beverage Mixes and DaVinci Gourmet Single Origin Naturals Syrups! We suggest mixing Jet Arctic Lemonade with the DaVinci Pacific Northwest Raspberry Syrup. Just add 3 pumps of syrup prior to blending to make a 12 oz drink. With the Raspberry syrup, the drink becomes a sweet and sour combination to rival any strawberry/lemonade frozen drink. Also add the raspberry syrup to Jet Margarita for a refreshing summer drink!  Give your customers something new and interesting to keep them coming back!

Save on Jet’s Arctic Lemonade and Margarita Frozen Drink Mix Flavors with Stockton Graham & Co.  We are offering this great special to end out the summer season:

$12 off a case or $2 off a 64oz carton after mail in rebate.
$6 instant savings a case!

 That’s up to $18 dollars off a case of this summer staple!

Don’t forget to add syrups to your frozen drinks! DaVinci Gourmet Single Origin Naturals has a promotion as well!

$12 off a case or $1 dollar off a bottle after mail in rebate.
$6 instant savings a case!

Offers expire: Mail in rebates 12/31/2012, Instant savings 9/30/2012.
Don’t miss out on these savings, call us at 800.835.5943 today to place your order!

Jet Arctic Lemonade Rebate, Jet Margarita Rebate, DaVinci Naturals Syrup Rebate


A Guide to Understanding Sustainability

In today’s world, there are several different sustainability certifications, especially in terms of coffee. A specific type of coffee can be classified under one or many categories, including, but not limited to Organic, Kosher, Fair Trade, Bird-Friendly, Shade Grown, and Rainforest Alliance. Due to the fact that there are several different certifications, trying to remember or distinguish them can become very confusing, so consider this to be a guide of labels and definitions in the world of coffee sustainability certifications!

Organic: Organic products are developed with an approach that views the farm as an integral part of the global ecosystem. Emphasis is placed on recycling, composting, soil health and biological activity with the goal of long-term protection of the farm environment. Synthetic chemicals are rigorously avoided. In accordance with the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act, effective October 21, 2002, the US Department of Agricultural regulated which products can be labeled “organic,” “made with organic ingredients” or “100% organic.” Only products that meet the organic foods, production, processing and handling criteria are eligible to be labeled as USDA Certified. Stockton Graham & Co. is a certified organic handler per the USDA National Organic Program and we are inspected annually.

Kosher: There are many different kosher certification agencies whose principal objectives are to ensure the ingredients used in a product; the processing methods; and handling of the product meets strict Jewish dietary guidelines. Kosher certified products offer assurance to the consumer about the purity of the ingredients used to make it. Stockton Graham & Co., based upon an annual inspection and records review, maintains a kosher certification on our coffees through the Atlanta Kashruth Commission.

Shade Grown: A coffee that is shade grown is one considered to be grown in the canopy of taller, shade trees. These trees can be a variety of species and with a variety of sparseness and heights. Not only does coffee thrive in shaded areas, but the acidic soil that the coffee plant grows in also acts as a natural fertilizer for these trees which provide ideal habitats for several native birds, bats and insects.

Bird Friendly: Coffees produced in a shade canopy that offers habitats for native and migratory bird populations are considered Bird-Friendly™. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) has developed a set of strict criteria for evaluating shade coffee farms. An independent, third party inspector determines whether a farm meets these criteria or not. Only those farms that also meet organic certification standards are eligible to be certified as “Bird-Friendly”™ companies.

Fair Trade: In its simplest form, Fair Trade means that the producer of the coffee receives a price sufficient to cover their costs of production, and provides a reasonable return on their invested capital. The words “fair-trade” are used by several different organizations that may or may not be governed by FLO (the Fair Labeling Organization International) which provides guidance and audit trails to ensure the price paid to the producer is indeed fair.

Rainforest Alliance: The Rainforest Alliance (“TRA”) works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The Rainforest Alliance works with people, whose livelihoods depend on the land, while helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, TRA involves businesses and consumers worldwide in efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily.

Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we offer a selection of sustainable coffees in our NCompass line which contains coffees with one or more of the above certifications. With these coffees, your customers can feel good that with their purchase, they will help support a healthy environment and enhance the worldwide ecosystem. For more coffee information, please give us a call at 800-835-5943, and we’d be glad to assist you!

Matt Hogan
Stockton Graham & Co.