Ready for National Coffee Day?

National Coffee DayFriday, September 29, is the holiday that honors all things coffee: National Coffee Day! That means you should have your shop ready to celebrate. So how should you do that? We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you promote this very special day.

Promote, Promote, Promote

First, nothing gets coffee lovers in your shop faster than the promise of FREE coffee. We suggest a “Buy One, Get One” promotion. Maybe buy one cup of House Blend and get another cup for free, or buy a scone or muffin and get a drip coffee for free, anything to get your guests drinking more coffee.

Another great promotion to offer is a free flavor shot with any coffee purchase. That way they still get the flavors and specialty they want, and you are driving sales. You can also promote whole bean sales during National Coffee Day by offering a “Buy One, Get One” half-off on bags of your specialty roasts, or having a whole bean setup next to the register to promote impulse buys. Remind your guests that when you are closed they can still enjoy a cup of your coffee at home. The cooler it becomes, the more home brewed coffee will be enjoyed, so make sure to target this market with promotions this National Coffee Day.

Education Leads to Greater Appreciation

National Coffee Day is about celebrating all things coffee, and the best way to go about that is really exploring the smell, taste and attributes of our favorite beverage. Why not celebrate by hosting a cupping of your three most popular roasts? Evaluating coffee is done through a process of adding hot water into a cup or a glass of freshly ground coffee, known as a coffee cupping. In a traditional cupping, you could compare and contrast the qualities of different coffees from different countries or even different regions of the world. While cupping coffee, there are five key elements to consider which affect the character of each specific coffee. These attributes are aroma, acidity, body, flavor and aftertaste. Help your guests understand their coffee, and they will become more passionate about coffee, your coffee in particular. (The Specialty Coffee Association Flavor Wheel might be useful with this. You can download it here.)

Highlight Different Brew Methods

An event you can have Friday to help your guests and drive sales is a “brew bar.”  Single cup brewing and brewing stations are popular all over the country. Set up a pour-over station with Chemex brewing, V60 or even a brew rail, use steeping methods like French Press and Toddy, and show your guests what making a good cup of coffee is all about. Remind them they can do this at home and to purchase some of your wholesale beans to experiment with.

By using National Coffee Day to celebrate your shop through specialized promotions, your guests (more informed thanks to you) will be more filled with their favorite drinks, and you will have more loyal guests coming into your shop for drinks and whole beans. The more your guests are involved with the coffee, the more they will depend on you to supply it for them!

For more information about our coffee or how Stockton Graham & Co. can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

Featured Coffee: Colombia Nariño

Coffee of ColombiaNo one is sure when the first coffee plants reached Colombia but it is often though that they arrived with Jesuit missionaries in the second half of the 18th century. By the 1830s, coffee was making an appearance as a commercial product and by the 1850s it was being exported. It wasn’t until the first quarter of the 20th century, however, that coffee experienced tremendous growth. Today, perhaps no country is as associated with coffee as Colombia. This has much to do with both the high quality of the coffee and the large amount produced.

Our Director of Coffee, Brad Kirby, cupped six Colombian offerings before choosing the Colombia Supremo Nariño. “They were all very good Colombians,” he said. “But its malty arose and flavors of pear and honey, the Nariño really stood out. The entire roasting team decided pretty quickly that this would be our single-origin Colombian.”

Colombia has 32 departments (essentially states) and coffee is grown in at least 20 of them. We sourced our Colombian Supremo (the highest grade) from the country’s southernmost department, Nariño. Bordering the Pacific Ocean and the country of Ecuador, the finest grades are grown in the foot-hills of the Andes, in altitudes from 3,500 to 4,500 feet above sea level but in some places coffee is grown at elevations as high as 7500 feet. Coffee can be grown at these extreme altitudes because of the region’s proximity to the Equator (roughly 1 degree north). Temperatures in Nariño average 61-79° F with precipitation totals of around 75 inches, well distributed throughout the year. Around 700 trees are usually planted per acre, and most farms have native trees furnishing shade to the coffee plants. Many farms produce a crop year-round, with several harvest cycles in a year.

The Supremo Nariño, which we are excited to offer as our single-origin Colombian coffee, is a blend of beans from several farms, each averaging about 6 hectares with 5,000 trees per hectare. Because the farms are so small, the harvested coffee is blended together at the source and exported as one type. The quality control at source is outstanding because these smallholder farms are known for their commitment and dedication to the craft of growing great coffee. Beans are hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, wet processed using traditional fermentation and sun-dried on patios. When it reaches us in North Carolina, our team roasts it to a level determined to be optimal for flavor. The result is an undeniably delicious coffee.

For more information about our Colombia Nariño or any of our other specialty coffees, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

Putting More Into Product Displays

Coffee shop product displaysFrom a customer’s standpoint, walking through a store can be tricky on most occasions. Not only do you have other customers barreling around from aisle to aisle, you also have to navigate your way around various displays of different products. There might be a cardboard cut-out of a football player that measures up to stacks of soda bottles or a new holiday cookie laid out on a random table. At the movies, you often can’t make it inside without making your way through a maze of candy, soda and popcorn promotions.

As you know, there is a method to the display layout madness in all stores. They are there because you, the shopper, will notice them. This simple reasoning is also much more effective than most could ever even imagine. In fact, in-store displays have been shown to be more effective than price discounting in a study by OgilvyAction.

Their research, conducted with over 6,000 shoppers in the United States during the first quarter of a recent year, showed that 29 percent of those sampled purchase things they didn’t anticipate on before they entered the store. Of that 29 percent of impulse buyers, 24 percent said that they were moved to make those unexpected purchases because of a secondary display set up somewhere in the store. That’s considerably higher than product demonstrations (18 percent) and special pricing/discounting (17 percent).

This group also conducted a survey concluding that special display set-ups fueled twice the number of impulse buys of snack food in convenience stores than low price promotions.

These statistics can be helpful when applied to the café industry. In the past, we’ve stressed the need for product demos and offering specials, but this kind of data is something that cannot be ignored. In terms of allied product offerings, a display rack can be a great way to help those retail items stand out, Mighty Leaf or Two Leaves and a Bud teas, for example. Setting something up directly at the register for that impulse shopper to grab on their way out would be a nice add-on sale.

One strategy would be to have your customer’s path–from where they placed their drink order to the register–stretch along the front of your bar. Lining the area with juices, chocolate covered espresso beans, biscotti, and whole bean retail bags of coffee would give those 29% of customers the opportunity to buy more and will generate more money for your shop.

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

Advice From An Expert

Coffee shop advice from an expertBased on a lecture by Bruce Milletto, President of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and former retail shop owner, there is a list of 12 essentials when it comes to running a successful coffee shop. Take this advice to heart, especially when planning for the busy holiday season this year–it will be here before you know it!

  1. The first and most important is proper business planning. This is the key in any business and especially in the coffee industry. It is important to understand where the industry has come from and where it is heading, to plan and analyzing your financial potential carefully and set short and long-term goals.
  2. You also need to understand the coffee itself. Those who just jump into the industry prematurely can get into trouble fast. It is essential that you understand the nuances of coffee from seed to cup; including origins, growing practices, certification, roasting and proper preparation.
  3. Location is always an important aspect to consider when you are selling any product. As an owner, it is important to determine a location that will bring in foot traffic, provide you with the work space that you need and is easy to find. It is important to make sure the lease you sign is a good one, because signing the wrong lease can be catastrophic to your business.
  4. Your shop needs strong ergonomic design. It is important that your design works for both you and your customer’s needs. You don’t want your space too small that your baristas are running into each other, but you still want to allow your customers to feel cozy and not lost in cafeteria-sized café.
  5. Creating a unique and appealing ambiance is vital to coffee shops. From your menu to your lighting, it is important that you set yourself apart from the chains. Create an atmosphere to attract the client you want to attract.
  6. Equally important is merchandising and presentation. What else can you sell to help your bottom line? Mints, T-shirts and mugs are just a few ideas to help boost your sales and diversify your product list. As a coffee shop, you should be pushing your whole bean sales and focusing on getting your customers to drink your coffee outside your shop.
  7. Your Menu is something that allows you to stand out and draw in new clients. You should select your items and recipes carefully, and keep in mind what your competitors are serving. It is also important to display your items, whether it’s pictures on the menu, posters or displays on the front counter. Show your customers what you serve and offer advice on choices to them.
  8. One of the most important essentials is hiring the right employees. Your employees are the gears that run your shop, so when you hire consider appearance, work ethic, maturity and attitude. Do they have a strong understanding for coffee, and can they teach your customers? Poor employees are the biggest mistake that many operations make!
  9. Going hand in hand with good employees is customer service. You as an owner need to lead and teach your employees by example. Get behind the bar, give them advice and show them how to properly serve a customer, from the greeting to the money exchange. Always focus on the customer’s needs first and foremost!
  10. Something that seems obvious is managing your business. The essential part is that it’s up to you as an owner to see that quality service is produced. Stay on top of your baristas, manage waste and watch for theft. Make sure that your employees are meeting your expectations throughout the shop.
  11. An often overlooked essential is marketing. Nowadays it is imperative to have your own website, Facebook, twitter, etc. Create promotions that work in your specific situation. Point of Sale is also a great way to advertise your product, and it should be used to its fullest potential. Any way to get your logo and name to stick in a customer’s mind (in a positive way) is good.
  12. Finally, our last bit of advice relates to operational systems, budget and cost controls. Create systems for both employees and management, including a manual to read and sign upon employment. This is a positive way to learn and understand company policies and procedures. As an owner, always know your cost of goods and keep an eye on all operating expenses.

Bruce is confident that if you are on top of every area, you will succeed. He says that people will not stop drinking coffee, so stay positive! It is more important now than ever to operate smart and plan accordingly. We at Stockton Graham & Company hope this list of 12 business essentials will provide you with some helpful tips as you continue to succeed and grow in our fast growing and thrilling industry.

To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

How well do you know your customers?

 

Know your customers' needsMarshall Fields, a retailing pioneer, often told his staff: Give the lady what she wants!” That sounds very simple, but you need to understand your customers and what they really want, then offer it. To do this, think about who they are, what they like to buy, when they come into your shop, how they found your shop, etc. And, of course, you must always remember the customer is always king or queen and what they want or need will change over time. You need to stay abreast of these changes while still providing quality coffee, great service and maintaining the very things that make your store unique.

So, how did your current customers find your shop? Where are they coming from when they visit and where are they going when they leave? What do they buy when they are in your store? The best way to find out the answers to these questions is to ask your customers. Many will be grateful that you even asked. Understanding how they found your store (signage, location, marketing, word of mouth, Twitter, etc.) will help you direct your efforts to finding more of them, if they are profitable. Another way is just to observe them to determine how their purchase patterns change on given days or times.

Understanding where customers are coming from and where they are going should help you direct marketing efforts to those areas (e.g. maybe it’s an office building, a school or church), tailoring the products and pricing to meet their needs. It will also help you determine which community activities and promotions might better meet their needs. Perhaps there are events that are popular in your community, such as a festival. Maybe you should have a presence or sponsor on some level. Or maybe your shop is near a popular bike trail or youth soccer fields. Think about creative ways to reach those potential customers.

The most important reason to know information about your customers is that you need to have new customers coming into your shop every week. There are not standard answers or responses to any of the questions, but understanding some of the customer behavioral dynamics will help you tailor your product, price, promotions and ultimately, profit. Customers’ patterns will change over time. Attrition is part of business and you need to keep searching and to find new customers.

To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Coffee Ergonomics

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

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

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

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.