Visit Stockton Graham Three Ways At SCAA Main Event

Stockton Graham at SCAA Main Event with Torani and Grounds for HealthWhen it comes to developing and promoting the specialty coffee industry, there are few organizations more respected than the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). And the SCAA Main Event is the most attended coffee event of the year. If you’re headed to Atlanta on April 13-17 for the event, there are three ways you can visit with Stockton Graham & Co. Raleigh coffee roasters, baristas, marketing guru and sales team during your time there.

Pathway Class: Golden Cup Brewing (CP 158)

Stockton Graham & Co.’s Brady Butler, who is Chair of the Brewing Pathway Committee for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, will lead the Brewing Pathway course on Friday, April 15.

Brady has been in the coffee business for over a decade. He started as a barista at Dilworth Coffeehouse in Matthews in 2006. He then joined his family in opening their own coffee shop called The Coffee Garden in Stallings, NC. He then started his own business called Carolina Espresso Services, where he advised coffee shop owners on how to brew the best coffee.

Stockton Graham SCAA Brewing Pathway“The class is a must for any coffee professional who is serious about their drip coffee, whether you use a commercial batch brewer, Chemex or Hario V60,” Brady Butler said. “It builds on great brewing fundamentals and gives everyone the tools and knowledge to make their coffees shine.”

The SCAA offers the Brewing Pathway because competence in brewing coffee is essential for industry professionals. CP158 is the third of four classes that make up the Golden Cup Technician Certificate.

Grounds for Health Booth 1524: Every Sip Can Save a Life

Stockton Graham will be showcasing our Grounds for Health Blend coffee in booth 1524 at the SCAA Main Event. Created in partnership with international non-profit Grounds for Health, every sip of this coffee helps provide vital health care for women in coffee growing communities.

Grounds for Health, formed in 1996, addresses the one of the most eye-opening disparities in women’s health globally: cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills more women in coffee growing communities than any other cancer, and it is expected to kill six million women in the next 15 years alone. Yet, with simple screening and inexpensive treatment, cervical cancer doesn’t have to be deadly.

Grounds for Health Blend Coffee from Stockton Graham & Co.

Stockton Graham Coffees is donating $1 for every retail bag and $5 for every 5lb wholesale bag of Grounds for Health Blend to help fight cervical cancer on coffee farms in Nicaragua, Peru and Ethiopia. Drop by booth 1524 to learn about Grounds for Health Blend and how you can help by putting the coffee on your menu.

“The health of the coffee industry depends on the health of the people who plant, harvest and process coffee at its source,” said Lane Mitchell, marketing director for Stockton Graham & Co. “Through Grounds for Health Blend, we are helping coffee businesses of all sizes make meaningful contributions to the health and wellbeing of the people who work on coffee farms. Because it costs so little to prevent and treat cervical cancer at coffee’s source, we can truly say that every sip gives Grounds for Health the opportunity to reach more women and save more lives.”

Torani Booth 829: Bringing Flavor to Life

2015 Blender SpecialsIn the center of the room, Torani will be brining real flavor to life with the help of Stockton Graham & Co. baristas. Drop by booth 829 at the SCAA Main Event and try some traditional coffee house style drinks like a vanilla cappuccino and hazelnut latte, as well as more cutting edge offerings like coconut iced coffee, hibiscus margarita and white chocolate coconut frappe.

Our SCAA-certified baristas, Alex Jeans and Chris Bennett, will be manning the Nuova Simonelli espresso machine in the booth. While Debra Dolan will be discussing how to easily implement new menu ideas at your store.

Debra boasts several SCAA certifications including in Introduction to Espresso, Hands on Espresso, Brewing Fundamentals and Comparative Cupping; she is also a SCAA-Certified Level 1 Barista. Over her decades in the coffee business, Debra has earned a BGA Certificate and a Serve Safe Certification. A frequent volunteer at industry events including the SCAA Regional Barista Championships, Debra also served as a judge at the 2013 Coffeefest America’s Best Coffeehouse competition in New York City.

“Last year, Torani won the SCAA’s Best New Product award for its Ginger Lemongrass Syrup,” said Stockton Graham & Co.’s Debra Dolan. “We can’t wait to partner with Torani to share their newest innovation. We’re sure it’s going to spice up the Best New Product category again this year.”


Registration is Now Open: Don’t Delay

Anyone can attend the SCAA Main Event. One day passes start at $150 and full three-day passes run $275 for SCAA members and $345 for non-members. All expo passes include access to the exhibit hall, lectures, competitions and networking events. Visit to register for the SCAA Main Event.


The Brewer’s Responsibility

When you stop to think about it, a great cup of coffee is pretty amazing. At least a dozen factors can seriously influence its taste as it traveled thousands of miles over many months from seed to cup. When considering the hours and hours of careful, sometimes backbreaking, work that went into growing and processing a specialty coffee and then roasting and packaging it for distribution, proper brewing can be the most crucial step in ensuring that a customer gets a delicious cup of coffee. That’s because 100% of what a customer tastes in a cup of coffee is extracted through the brewing process.Six Essentials of Brewing from Stockton Graham & Co.

Creating a masterpiece of coffee in a cup is no easy task. So Stockton Graham & Co. works with coffee shop owners, baristas and speciality beverage operators on several training modules designed to help brewers master the art of brewing coffee.

Each of these training modules is based on the six essentials to brewing coffee, created by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA), which address correct water-to-coffee ratio, proper brew method, proper equipment operation and other critical factors that effect coffee quality.

The success of your coffee shop hinges on the brewer’s understanding and mastery of these brewing skills. As an easy reference, Stockton Graham & Co. has created a summary booklet called BEAN Artist: The 6 Essentials of Brewing, which you can view here.BEAN-Booklet

Balancing Extraction and Strength

There are two fundamental characteristics of a brewed cup of coffee that effect its flavor—Extraction and Strength. A barista who understands the six essentials of brewing is well on the way to mastering the fine balance between extraction and strength that will create the perfect cup.

EXTRACTION describes the process of pulling the flavor and essence from coffee. It occurs during the brewing process when water passes over and through coffee grounds, activating gases that have built up during roasting, releasing pleasing aromatics and dissolving all types of compounds that flow into a cup. Some of those elements taste great, but others are not so great. Getting the extraction just right—which means dissolving the right amount of the good-tasting compounds and minimizing the bad-tasting compounds—is as much of a skill as it is an art.

When a coffee is brewing, the first thing to come out of the grounds are gases that we can smell called aromatics. There are well over 800 different aromatics that can be detected by the human nose—some pleasant and some not-so-pleasant. Aromatics make up a very small volume of the total amount of extracted compounds but are responsible for most of the aroma.

The next elements that are extracted are called soluble compounds, meaning they dissolve in water. These include caffeine and soluble fibers like sucrose and pectin, which effect the flavor of the brewed coffee.

When it comes to optimizing a brew, it turns out that almost everyone prefers a cup of coffee brewed by stopping the extraction at around 20% of the total bean weight. This leaves the compounds that taste the worst—tannins that often lead to a bitter or astringent flavor—in the coffee filter with the grounds.
Coffee Extraction Soluable Yield to Percentage

Of course, 20% is just an average. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends extraction rates fall between 18-22% of the total bean weight. Extract over 22% of a bean’s weight, and the coffee tastes bitter or astringent and is considered OVER-EXTRACTED or OVER-DEVELOPED. Extract less than 18% of the bean’s weight, and the coffee tastes watery and grassy to most people. This is referred to as UNDER-EXTRACTED or UNDER-DEVELOPED.

Coffee STRENGTH, which you can roughly determine by observing how much light passes through a cup of brewed coffee in a glass vessel, is a factor of the ratio of coffee to water in a brew. Some mass market coffees, especially those sold in the United Kingdom, use the word strength to describe the darkness of roast, with dark roasts scoring a 4 or 5 on the strength scale. Although roast levels do effect extraction and can impact the perception of a coffee’s strength, Stockton Graham & Co. uses the SCAA definition of strength, which is simply a brew’s concentration of coffee.

Six Essentials to Brewing Coffee - Coffee-to-water ratio - Stockton Graham & Co.More formally, STRENGTH is the ratio of the number of coffee compounds to water molecules in the finished brew. It may seem a little obvious to us now, but in the fifties Dr. Lockhart had to come up with and then document the idea that people have preferences for the strength of their coffee. It turned out that the average person preferred their drip coffee drinks to be about 98.8% water.

More specifically, average Americans prefer about 1.15-1.35% of each brewed cup to be comprised of the compounds from the beans themselves. So a perfectly brewed coffee with an IDEAL BALANCE will fall within the center of the SCAA’s Brew Control Chart shown above, with approximately 20% of a bean’s dry matter diluted to about 1.25% of a brewed cup’s contents. Accomplishing both of these tasks simultaneously takes a combination of knowledge, skill and experience.

For more information about brewing fundamentals or to sign up for our training programs, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Understanding Espresso

espressoWhen Jeff Vojta and his partners started their first coffee shop in 1994, he knew espresso preparation and quality would make or break it. Looking to find the perfect espresso for his customers, he began the art of roasting coffee and exploring creating his own. This was the humble beginnings of what we now call Stockton Graham & Co., and espresso quality is still at the forefront of what we strive to offer our customers.

To better understand the importance of espresso in your shop, let’s discuss what it is. Espresso is a drink made from an process that  quickly extracts the essence of the coffee flavor from the grounds by applying pressure. The ground coffee is pressed with steam through an espresso machine. This machine was created in the twentieth century by Italian inventors experimenting with perfecting coffees made with steam.

According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the proper espresso brewing ratio is defined as a shot of espresso (25 – 35 ml) prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee. Since the coffee is brewed so intensely, it only takes 20-30 seconds to get it right. There are many factors that go into good espresso besides the coffee. The machine, the grinder and the barista are the main contributors to perfection.

Some believe espresso beans come from a special “espresso” coffee plant, but this is untrue. The coffees used, in general, for espressos are regular coffee beans. Some single origins don’t make great stand-alone espresso, but when they are blended with others to bring out nuances, you can find success. Our most popular espresso blends are our Midnight Lotus, and Milano. Don’t be mistaken, there are a few single origins finding success as espressos, including our Papua New Guinea.

Our Roastmaster, Brandon Riggs, explains what makes Papua New Guinea single origin work, “The balance of sweet and acidic makes this coffee unique. It is wet processed, which is different for Indonesian coffees and makes for a good quality shot of espresso. As with any espresso, balance is key.”

Espressos are constantly evolving, and here at Stockton Graham & Co. we know our pursuit to have great quality is never ending. Our roasters put a lot of time and energy into continuously perfecting our espresso options, and always evaluate them based on SCAA standards. To get the best out of any espresso, you should strive to brew in accordance to these regulations. Our Basic Barista Certification Program teaches you how to prepare espresso within these specifications so you can serve accurate, consistent espresso shots in any specialty coffee shop.

To succeed in the world of specialty coffee, quality espresso is important. At Stockton Graham & Co., we offer the experience and dedication to assist you in finding the espresso and espresso machines best suited to your needs. To learn more, read our espresso philosphy, browse our espresso options and call 800.835.5943 to discuss more with our Customer Care Associates.

How to Stay Current on Industry News

As a member of the specialty coffee industry, it is important to stay abreast of all coffee related news. Prices, trends, customer habits and international phenomenon all affect the success of your business. Of course you can read newspapers and watch commodity prices, but it can be difficult to form a complete view of the coffee industry with so many different sources of information.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America makes it easy to stay on top of things with a quarterly update of industry news and trends. At the beginning of each financial quarter, the “SCAA Quarterly Sector Report” is released, and valuable data is organized into one, easy to chew document. Information about sales trends, pricing trends and even a breakdown of drink popularity in the United States is included in this report. Stockton Graham & Co. utilizes this report to keep our company current and to ensure that we are meeting the requirements that our customers set. Stockton Graham & Co. has also been a proud member of the SCAA for many years.

“The SCAA is pleased to be partnering with Cleveland Research Company, an independent research firm specializing in proprietary channel research with a goal to identify trends and inflections that impact the financial performance and outlook across multiple companies and industries. This partnership has allowed us to deliver more timely information and a consistent stream of reports to our members and other industry professionals. The analysis is deeper and more specific, bringing you the essential data that you need to run a successful business in the specialty coffee industry. We offer this survey in quarterly installments, with an extensive overview published at the end of the year.”

To join the SCAA or to order the next the sector report, click here
For more resources and coffee related news, click here
For any additional success tools, click here or call 800.835.5943

Three Critical Retail Coffee Trends Through 2011 & Forecasting for 4th Quarter

The Specialty Coffee Association of America recently released their Sector Report which outlines trends within the coffee house and cafe industry through the second quarter of this year. I’ve spent some time looking over the data and here’s what I think you, as an independent retailer, should pay attention to:

1) Overall coffee house sales dipped in the second quarter, but don’t panic. The first quarter was incredibly strong in terms of growth rate and that should bode well for fourth quarter. An incredibly hot spring and summer, coupled with sticker shock over commodity increases, probably kept some fringe consumers away. Many investors tend to be bullish on commodities and some see signs of improvement in that area.

2) Total sales of specialty coffee whole bean or ground at the retail level is trending up. In the last decade, retail coffee sales have increased by over five billion dollars. If a regular customer can’t come in twice a day any more, they can afford to come in once a week to brew your freshly roasted specialty coffee that they can’t get anywhere else.

The opportunity to hit a home run in 4Q is there, and retail coffee has huge potential, but now is the time to begin to execute a plan of action. Be sure to heavily market your seasonal blends and flavored coffees. This year, Stockton Graham & Co. has created some fantastic (and FREE with purchase) point-of-sale material that will help your business sell more coffee. Check out what’s available HERE and contact your customer care associate for additional information.

3) Customers continue to rank quality as the most important aspect of the overall cafe experience, postioned over price, WiFi, variety, etc. This one is critical and extremely encouraging because you promote a high-end experience. Don’t assume the customer will know your product is top notch – remind them! Your employees should be intimately familiar with each and every coffee served. All the background information on the growing region, farm and roasting notes are available in our online library. Mark the page as a favorite and have print outs of our single-origin PDFs available behind the bar.

Stockton Graham & Co. has the expertise to help guide you through the remainder of 2011 and beyond. Whether this is your first year in business or your 21st, our team is available to you. Contact us today!

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

Exploring the Flavor of Coffee

To this point, Reid and I have broken down the different components of tasting coffee. We have gone over the aroma, which is the smell you immediately pickup as your coffee is poured into a cup. We have discussed the presence of acidity in coffee, and the fact that it is a sensation detected the moment you take a sip. And we have covered the body of coffee, and more importantly how that impacts the overall taste. The next component of coffee, and the topic for this week’s “What Do You Taste?” is the flavor itself.

When describing a food or drink, one of the first descriptions someone would typically give would be the flavor. Flavor generally is easy to determine, but often times it is hard to break down. In the world of coffee, “flavor” does not have one definition that applies to every cup. In fact, when describing coffee, the flavor is determined by the specific combinations of the other components (aroma, acidity, body and aftertaste) of coffee.

To assist new and experienced coffee drinkers, the SCAA has created a coffee flavor wheel, which can be used as a helpful guide during coffee cupping. This wheel can be used when professional “cuppers” buy coffee, or it could be used for a newcomer to learn and understand more characteristics of the flavor of coffee. Regardless of your level of expertise, the flavor wheel can help every cupper determine the specific flavor profile in each cup of coffee.

When it comes to the flavor of coffee, there is no wrong answer. The bottom line is that everyone’s pallet is unique. The purposes of events such as coffee cuppings are to better educate coffee enthusiasts and allow one another to communicate and learn what others taste. Whether you pick up a hint of chocolate or a blueberry notes, hopefully you will now have a better understanding of how to answer, “What do you taste?”


Matt Hogan
Stockton Graham & Co.