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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Even if you don’t have extra cash to advertise, there are always other things you can do inside your café’s walls to make things happen for your business. In addition to old fashioned elbow grease, try these simple (and cheap) ways to increase sales.

Be there

Equate your business to a child needing a parent. It can’t grow and thrive without your steady hand to guide it. Being there behind the counter also lets you build instant relationships with regular customers. They will feel connected with you (and dedicated) in a way they would never feel in a more corporate store.

But while being there is very important, a good owner will also know when not to be there. If you need a break, take one. If you need a day off, take one. A stressed-out owner is not going to provide the incredible customer service that is needed. The staff will thank you, too. Trust them to handle things. A mental health day will go a long way in keeping the head clear and can actually benefit the business.

easy way to increase sales in your cafeBus the tables

You can learn an amazing amount while cleaning up. Getting out in the store is a great way to start conversations with customers but it can also be a way to get vital feedback. Find a couple full cups? Maybe there is a problem with the coffee or equipment you were not aware of. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to ask the customer, have the barista make the same drink especially for you and pinpoint what might be wrong.

Chatting up customers as you clean is the key. Have a guest set up a small office and not buy a single thing? Go over and make a sale. Start the dialogue: “Can I get you anything? We have a great new mocha.”

Sample, sample, sample

Want to increase sales on higher ticket drinks? Sampling is the most effective method, by far. In almost every instance, if you give away samples and make one sale from your efforts, you’ve covered the cost of the sample and possibly made an exclusive drip coffee customer an occasional $4.50 smoothie customer.

Diversifying your menu is almost always a good idea, but many times after new additions are made, owners wonder why new drinks don’t move. Chances are, the customer hasn’t been made to want the drink at all, much less know that it has been added to the menu. New products, no matter how appealing in both concept and flavor, must be sampled to prospective customers if a business expects to sell them in higher volumes.

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

 

Five Ways to Reduce Your Water Footprint

Reduce Water FootprintFive ways to reduce your water footprint

Water conservation may not be the first thing on your mind but with water use in the United States increasing every year, many regions of the country will experience water shortages this year, even under non-drought conditions.

But when it comes to water, shortages are only part of the problem. Even if your shop is located in a drought-free part of the country, water bills can unnecessarily drain money from your profits. Many water-saving steps take little effort or expense and can even have a positive impact on a customer’s experience.

In preparation for Earth Day 2017 on April 22, here are five simple ideas from Stockton Graham on how to reduce your water footprint and save money:

Install low-flow pre-rinse spray valves
For as little as $60, you can switch out the valves on your dishware sink faucet. Low-flow pre-rinse spray valves get the job done just as well as standard models but save a bundle in water costs, up to $1,000 each year depending on rate of use.

Use leak detection tablets to check for toilet leaks and fix them promptly
Repairing even a small toilet leak can save you $50 or more per year through lower water and sewer bills. Many municipalities offer free leak detection kits including tablets.

Don’t thaw frozen foods under running water
Putting the food in the refrigerator gets the job done, saves water and makes the food—especially pastries, desserts and breakfast breads—taste better.

Do not over brew
Analyze sales of drip coffee during your store’s slow time. Managing brewed coffee on-hand while keeping everything fresh can save several gallons of water per day. You’ll also reduce your amount of wasted coffee dramatically, which will have an even larger impact on your bottom line.

Turn off those dipper wells
Many independent shops were built and modeled after some chain concepts. This includes the installation of dipper wells for spoons, whisks, etc. While a dipper well does keep wares clean, they also send upwards of 120 gallons of water down the drain. Try using them on a slow trickle during busy periods, and turn them off the rest of the day.

Educate your staff and guests

To reduce your water footprint it’s important to share best management practices with your staff and encourage them to implement conservation measures. Conservation at your store starts with you, but management can’t do it alone!

For more information about best practices for your coffee shop, just call one of our Stockton Graham customer service reps at 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.