Earth Day Focus: Sustainability

On April 22nd, more than one billion people around the globe will celebrate the 48th annual Earth Day. Since coffee, of course, is an agricultural product, the state of the environment is fundamentally important to producing quality coffee.

There is no denying the environment’s effect on taste. The crop to cup journey is one of the earth’s many miracles, and even the slightest climate change could greatly alter a harvest’s quality. The fact is, we all agree that our planet is precious.  As the global climate changes, it becomes ever more import for each of us to do our part in protecting it.

Since being founded in 1994, Stockton Graham & Co. has been committed to purchasing green coffee from farms, co-ops and other organizations that take care to protect the environment through sustainable agricultural practices.

“We work closely with farmers both directly and through our importers to ensure coffee growing and harvesting practices protect the earth and, indeed, the future of the coffee industry.”

Jeff Vojta, Founder and CEO of Stockton Graham & Co.

As Earth Day 2018 approaches, we wanted to spotlight the impact of some of our local sustainability projects.

Our Director of Coffee Brad Kirby spearheaded these initiatives to help two neighboring sustainable farms, the Farm at Penny Lane and Paz farm. “These farms are mission-driven and make a big impact my community,” Brad said. “I also love that they are so close to me, I can hear when they have tractors running, so it’s easy donating to them.”

Farm at Penny Lane

Sustainable project: Burlap for farming

The Farm at Penny Lane partners with individuals with mental illness to grow nutritious food for themselves and others. Penny Lane provides integrated, community-based programs in a therapeutic inclusive farm setting. The farm’s sustainable accommodations include a community garden also offers Horticultural therapy.

Stockton Graham & Co. donates used burlap to Penny Lane. Burlap is the fabric sack used for shipping green coffee beans. Using burlap in farming helps reduce the growth of weeds and is biodegradable—meaning it eventually decomposes and contributes to garden soil.

We caught up with Jessamine from Penny Lane, to see how the burlap project was going.

“Things are going well here,” Jessamine reported. “The crops are growing a little slowly, but the weeds are not, and we are dutifully clearing them out of pathways and spreading out the burlap.  The real test of the experiment will be midsummer when we see how well the burlap keeps down the weeds, but for now, we love having it. It’s so much nicer to work with than cardboard!”

Paz Farm

Sustainable project: Chaff for chicken coups

The Paz Farm is a small-scale farm located in Chapel Hill, NC. They produce range free eggs and seasonal produce. The Paz Farm uses sustainable growing practices, which means they avoid synthetics, pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.

Chaff is the byproduct of roasting coffee beans. The roasting process causes the thin, dried skin around the green coffee bean to come off. Chaff has many uses in farming; it is excellent for composting but can also be mixed into the soil.

Stockton Graham & Co. regularly donates chaff to Paz Farm. We asked Nancy from the farm about the chaff donation.

“We’ve used the chaff as bedding for our chicken coups, and it is working well,” Nancy said. “We saved money, the coups smell better, and our chickens have been cozy since we started using your chaff, Thanks Stockton Graham & Co.”

At Stockton Graham & Co., we take sustainability seriously. We all play a role in preserving our planet. For more information about our sustainable initiatives or any of our sustainable coffees, call 800 835 5943 or email us.

Featured Coffee: Organic Carolina Rain

Organic Carolina RainWhen it comes to April’s featured coffee, our Organic Carolina Rain, I’m reminded of one of the universe’s most fundamental truths:

Sometimes two vastly different things come together in harmony to create a perfect combination. When done right, this produces amazing results.

Let’s take second to think about some of the most iconic food pairings.

Milk & Cookies, Peanut butter & Jelly, Coffee & Doughnuts are only a few examples of dynamic duos that reach culinary synergy.

Organic Carolina Rain from our Dilworth Coffee brand is another great example. It is a blend of beans grown only 300km (186 miles) from each other in two different countries: Guatemala and Mexico. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe these neighboring beans are alike, but they each have very unique qualities that blend together to make one of our most popular USDA-organic certified coffee blends.

Cupping Notes
AROMA: Citrus, Floral
BODY: Light
FLAVOR: Caramelized Sugar, Orange Citrus
ACIDITY: Bright, Lively
AFTERTASTE: Tangy, Sweet

Sourcing
The first component of our Organic Carolina Rain are beans from the Chiapas region of Mexico. These beans, grown in one of the premier regions of the country, provide a smooth and balanced sweetness with subtle floral notes.

The second component of the blend is organic Huehuetenango from Guatemala. Farmed from the lower slopes of the Sierra de Los Cuchumantanes mountain range in the western part of the country, our organic Guatemala adds depth and character with lively flavors of citrus fruit.

When drinking Organic Carolina Rain, expect subtle sweet and floral notes complemented by flavors of citrus and caramelized sugar. While outstanding for drip coffee and especially single-cup pour over methods, Carolina Rain also makes a refreshingly light and tangy iced coffee.

Organic Carolina Rain is also uniquely adaptable. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold, making it a perfect coffee to enjoy from April showers through May flowers and beyond.

For more information about our Organic Carolina Rain or any of our other Dilworth Coffees, call 800 835 5943 or email us today.

Winning Customer Loyalty

Win Customer Loyalty
The growing demand for specialty coffee has made the food service industry fiercely competitive. As store owners, we often focus too much on consumer acquisition: that is, getting more people in the door. Although that’s undeniably important, customer loyalty has a substantial impact on profitability; that is, getting customers to come back.

Here at Stockton Graham, we understand the importance of customer loyalty. We recently asked Consumer Research firm Mintel to help us study what keeps customers coming back.

Their answer? Coffee drinkers are not only looking for a great tasting cup but the right atmosphere, service, and convenience. By focusing on these four key drivers of customer loyalty, you will be closer to creating a distinctive coffee experience that builds customer loyalty.

Coffee Customer Loyalty

Taste

The most important aspect of any coffee shop is the coffee. Our Mintel study found forty-five percent (45%) of out-of-home coffee drinkers listed “taste” as the top reason they frequent their favorite coffee shop. With that in mind, it is very important to pick high-quality coffee beans.

Service

Having properly trained staff is invaluable. After all, a cup of coffee is only as good as the barista making it. The Mintel study found that barista expertise can make or break a customer’s experience. Eighty-two percent (82%) of coffee drinkers surveyed said “artistry of coffee preparation” was an essential part of their coffee experience and a key driver of customer loyalty.

To help your baristas advance their coffee artistry, Stockton Graham’s specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee offers beginner and certified barista training as part of the  Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program. This includes Barista Foundation, Brewing Foundation and Brewing Intermediate courses, all of which allow participants to earn credits toward an SCA Coffee Certificate.

Great service is hospitality that wows and delights customers. Team members are your brand ambassadors and can have a huge influence on whether or not customers return. Promoting a customer-centric culture will make your customers feel valued and appreciated, increasing the likelihood they come back.

Convenience

In today’s always-on-the-go coffee-drinking culture, convenience is important. That means consumers will expect a great tasting cup of coffee wherever they buy it. Yet, even if your shop has the best coffee in town, consumers will go elsewhere if your baristas aren’t efficient in building drinks and moving customers from order to pick up quickly.

There are simple ways to streamline your staff’s workflow to help them work efficiently. And most often, this begins with the layout of your coffee bar and workspace. An effective coffee bar layout will group equipment, storage and cleaning tasks by drink type, which will eliminate unnecessary steps while preparing drinks and also make the workspace safer for everyone.

On the consumer side of the coffee bar, offering mobile payments and operating separate “express lanes” for simple coffee drinks during rush times will get customers in-and-out quicker. This not only creates a positive experience for your customers, but also allows your staff to increase productivity and improves the number of customers your staff can handle each day.

Atmosphere

The Mintel study found that atmosphere vital to building customer loyalty. Your coffee shop’s atmosphere affects how customers perceive your service and quality.

Floorplan and decor have a big impact on customer experience. Leaving clear paths to registers reduces clutter, making your shop appear airy or spacious. Lighting, color scheme, and even background music can be the difference between an environment that feels warm and relaxing or one that feels cold and sterile.

When considering your store’s atmosphere, it is essential to understand your target audience and store’s location. For example, if your store is located on a university campus, you’ll want to consider modern tech elements like touch screens and charging stations as part of your design. Whereas, if your store is located in a financial center, you’ll want to include communal tables for business meetings and televisions so your patrons can keep up with market news.

Atmosphere is one of the few elements of a great coffee experience that can, and should, change over time. Always keep an eye on consumer trends. Visit competitor shops, and regularly talk to your customers about ways to improve their environmental experience.

At Stockton Graham & Co., we blend the art and business of coffee. We are committed to empowering all of our partners to maximize their customer loyalty. For more information about our Batch 0995 coffee or the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program, email us or call us at 800 835 5943

Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta

Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta

We are pleased to announce a very limited rare harvest of Honduran coffee from the famous Finca Cual Bicicleta, which will be sold under our Dilworth Coffee brand. Founded by Oscar Omar Alonzo, Finca Cual Bicicleta produces some of the most sought-after coffee in the region, if not the world.

Oscar Omar Alonzo is a celebrated coffee farmer known for his passionate approach to producing high-quality, sustainable organic coffee. While many neighboring farms have experienced reduced production due to coffee rust, Finca Cual Bicicleta, which means “which bicycle” keeps pedaling to successful harvests.

Oscar Omar Alonzo follows a holistic approach to farming that has produced some of the best tasting coffee in the world. As part of his farm’s sustainability efforts, he utilizes old coconut husk from nearby lakes and buries them next to his coffee plants. The coconut husks soak up water and provide much-needed moisture and nutrients to the growing coffee trees.

Honduras is a leader in Central American coffee production. Known for its wide variety of flavor profiles, coffee from Honduras is usually very balanced with sweet and mild tasting notes. Although much of the Finca Caul Bicicleta coffee is either full natural or wash processed, Dilworth Coffee’s Finca Cual Bicicleta beans are honey processed.

Honey processing is a drying method that’s gaining popularity in the coffee world. Using this method, farmers remove the skin of the coffee cherry and various amounts of fruit pulp before drying. This allows extra fruitiness and sweetness to transfer to the beans as they dry.

As a result, our Finca Cual Bicicleta features sweet notes of honey, florals, and lemon-raspberry.

TASTING NOTES:

AROMA: Nutty – Honey – Floral
BODY: Medium – Silky
FLAVOR: Lemon-Raspberry – Honey – Caramel
ACIDITY: Balanced – Lively
AFTERTASTE: Floral – Clean – Smooth

To order Dilworth Coffee Honduras Finca Cual Bicicleta, please call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email us. Or if you are a retail consumer looking for beans to brew at home, you can order online at here!

Featured Coffee: Brazil Cerrado Natural

Brazil Cerrado Natural

Our Brazil Cerrado Natural is imported from one of the most delicate regions of Brazil, the Cerrados. The Cerrado accounts for over twenty percent of the country and is home to some of the moister savanna wetlands of the world. Tropical climates of the Cerrado region enables it to produce a pleasurably balanced coffee.

Coffee is Brazil’s largest export, accounting for around one-third of the world’s coffee production. Quality Brazilian coffees often have a balanced flavor profile with a smooth, subtle level of sweetness. For that reason, high-quality Brazilian beans are preferred for specialty espresso blends because they stabilize the flavor acting as a delicious backdrop for beans from other regions.

We selected this coffee bean because it is a “full natural” or dried-in-the-fruit coffee. Brazilin farmers process the coffee similar to drying grapes into raisins. The best quality coffee fruit is selected and allowed to bask in sunlight until the cherry turns from red to deep brown. This meticulous drying process grants the bean more sweetness. As a result, the Brazil Cerrado Natural produces a light, silky cup with a sweetness balanced by its delicate notes of berries.

AROMA: Nutty – Notes of Berries
Body: Light – Silky
Flavor: Nutty – Honey Sweetness – Berry Undertones
Acidity: Mild
Aftertaste: Slightly Tart – Clean

When you drink our Brazil Cerrado Natural, you can expect a light, but developed cup with a satisfying level of acidity.

To order our Brazil Cerrado Natural, please call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com. Or if you are a retail customer, you can order online here!

 

 

Questions for the New Coffee Shop Owner

New coffee shop questions

When starting any new business, such as a new coffee shop, there are hundreds of things to consider and questions to ask one’s self. And of course, someone taking over anexisting café location is going to have a completely different set of questions than someone building from scratch. The list can be very long but below are just a few important ones we’ve come up with to help people get through the tricky start-up period of any coffee shop.

Leasing and Health Code Questions:

new coffee shop questions

Is electrical system up to code and can it handle all equipment? With some machines that require 110V and others 220V, the electrical load requirements for a coffee shop result in a great deal of diversity in usage. Consult with an electrician early in the planning stages.

How many restrooms are required? This will depend upon the size of your space and number of employees.

What is the state of the HVAC system? The general lifespan of an HVAC system is around 15 years. If yours is close to this, consider costs you may incur. Also, make sure your system is adequate for your amount of square footage.

Do you have adequate and nearby parking? If not, it will be difficult for customers to visit.

Do you have the correct number of exits for fire code? According to OSHA: “Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely.”

Do you have easy ingress and egress? Like parking, if it’s not easy for customers to get to you, they may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Is your signage visible? Signage is very important but it serves no purpose if no one can see it.

Have you considered build-out time including permits avg. (4 mo.) vs. free rent (average 2 mo.)? Permitting of new coffee shop construction can be very tedious and frustrating, leading to increased time of your business not being in operation. Negotiating a deal for a space that is functioning but not ideal at first could be a financially appealing way to start.

new coffee shop questions

Are you in compliance with the Americans With Disability Act? The ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

 

 

Water Questions

Has your water been evaluated? Since coffee is around 98% water, its importance to the success of any café should never be overlooked. A simple test can be performed to determine whether your water is considered soft or hard.

What kind of water treatment system do you need? There are many options in functionality, size and price.

Have you planned for treatment space in your buildout? In many coffee shops, space is at a premium. Make sure you leave enough (and in the correct location) for any filtration system you might need.

Do you need an ice machine? Some ice machines can be large so consider this when planning.

Have you considered the location of a drain? A drain, preferably in the floor, should be located as close to your equipment as possible.

We hope these questions have given you some helpful food for thought as you plan your new coffee shop. Remember, local ordinances vary so always consult your inspector and building codes. As always, we are here to help so if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

 

Featured Coffees from Sumatra

Sumatra coffee

Coffees from Sumatra, the western-most island in Indonesia have long been popular for their distinctive flavors. When new crops reach market, we try numerous samples to make sure we discover the very best of what the island has to offer. For 2018, we are offering Sumatra Karo Highlands, Organic Sumatra Mandheling as well as a Sumatra Decaf.

The western-most island in Indonesia, Sumatra grows coffees at altitudes of over 1000 meters on its northern end. At the green bean stage, the coffee has a distinctive bluish color which is attributed to lack of iron in the soil. Their taste can often be considered smooth, with a sweet body that is balanced and intense. Depending on the region, or blend of regions, the flavors of the land and processing can also be very pronounced. Part of this is due to the unique wet hulling technique (called giling basah) used during processing. Another factor in the diverse and intriguing nature of Sumatra coffee is the large number of small producers; even today close to 92% of production is in the hands of small farmers or cooperatives. In 2016, Indonesia ranked fourth in the world with an estimated export total of 400,000 tons of coffee. Less than 14% of that is Arabica from Sumatra, which makes it a very desirable and often hard-to-find coffee.

A Bit of Coffee History

It wasn’t until the late 17th century that the coffee plant appeared in Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company, seeking to break a monopoly on the coffee trade held at that time by Arab merchants, first brought coffee plants to the islands in a search for suitable habitats for commercial crops. The Dutch Colonial Government, which ruled much of the region, began to experiment with plantings and some of the plants took hold. In 1711, the first green coffee exports were sent home to Europe. Successes came rapidly and within ten years, exports of coffee had risen to 60 tons per year. Indonesia became the largest producer of coffee after Ethiopia and Arabia and trade in the commodity there was controlled by the Dutch East India Company until the 1790s.

By the mid 1870’s, large coffee plantations had been created around the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. As the demand for coffee grew, roads and railroads were created to transport the coffee beans from rural mountainous growing areas to ports for export. During World War Two, however, the growth of Sumatra coffee came to a standstill as many coffee plantations were abandoned. Even after Indonesian independence in the late 1940s, the coffee industry languished as farmers focused on crops such as rubber and palm oil. Slowly, beginning in the 1960s, investment in the country’s infrastructure and technological advances have helped the Sumatran coffee industry grow.

Tasting Notes for our Sumatra Coffees

Karo Highlands
AROMA: Mild Earth, Dark Chocolate
BODY: Creamy, Full-Bodied
FLAVOR: Caramel, Semi-sweet Chocolate
ACIDITY: Very Low
AFTERTASTE: Lingering, Slightly Spicy

Organic Mandheling
AROMA: Cedar, Clove, Smoky
BODY: Syrupy, Bold
FLAVOR: Baker’s Chocolate, Pipe Tobacco, Walnut
ACIDITY: Low
AFTERTASTE: Bittersweet, Earthy

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