EarthDay Primer: Easy Ways to Waste Less, Make More

Susatainable Coffees from Stockton GrahamLet’s face it, running a coffee business produces a lot of waste. Each one of those paper ”to-go” cups eventually ends up in a landfill somewhere. When you add the cardboard boxes, milk jugs, syrup bottles, aseptic cartons and coffee grounds, the average coffee shop could generate millions of pounds of trash each year.

As we prepare for International Earth Day on April 22, the team at Stockton Graham & Co. is thinking about ways to help coffee shops reduce waste and increase their overall profits.

We talked to Thom Swain, our Southeast Director of Business Development, about tactics he used to reduce waste as director of franchise development at a popular New Orleans coffee shop brand. His top suggestions involve saving on what’s likely to be two of your largest monthly product expenses: Coffee and Milk.

Coffee: The average coffee shop wastes as much as two pounds of coffee per week. Spillage from the espresso grinder alone can cost nearly $1000/year. Coaching staff to be more aware and avoid the spillage, or investing in an on-demand grinder would reduce this waste greatly.

Milk: Wasting as much as 1oz. of milk per drink can result in 1-2 gallons of milk wasted per day. This can easily top 700 gallons per year and cost $2000-$3000. Training staff to properly measure prior to preparation would curtail much of this waste.

“Since coffee and milk are agricultural products, waste affects availability and consequently consumer prices,” Thom Swain advised.

And since there are essentially two ways to make money in coffee — sell more and spend less — helping the environment by reducing waste can have a delightfully positive impact on your bottom line.

“If every American coffee shop were to reduce waste in these two ways, we could stop dumping 17 million gallons of milk down the drain and throwing 2.5 million pounds of coffee into our landfills,” Thom said.

For more ideas on how to reduce costs in your store, call Thom Swain or any of our Customer Care Associates at 800.835.5943.

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. 


How a Nicaraguan coffee farm is “Growing Green”

The Selva Negra in Nicaragua does things differently.

Selva Negra Coffee FarmNestled high in a mountainous region blanketed in rainforests, Selva Negra is well over 100 years old. Northeast of Volcan Momotombo, the farm is part of a larger resort that is entirely self-sustaining.

The resort provides ecolodging and includes: animal reserves, restaurants, eco-tourism and a newer wind farming initiative. The local Nicaraguans who work on the farm are providedwith housing, healthcare, schools for their children and scholarship opportunities. Selva Negra has earned international recognition for their sustainable efforts.

Selva Negra Coffee FarmThe estate is committed to economic, social and environmental sustainability through biodiversity conservation, reducing their carbon footprint and using alternative energy. In addition to these efforts, the estate recycles and reuses whenever possible and teaches other farms in the area how to be more sustainable.


Eddy and Mausi Kühl operate the estate with the spirit of Nicaragua in mind. Born and raised in the mountains of Matagalpa, Eddy is a leading historian of the region and country. He has authored the definitive history of coffee in Nicaragua and is passionate about preserving native culture. Mausi has devoted her life to producing one of the best-tasting coffees in the world through innovative and sustainable practices. She is continually improving the estate’s environmental practices by learning and exchanging new ways to save natural resources.

Selva Negra Coffee FarmWhile many coffee farms in Nicaragua utilize clear cutting techniques, Selva Negra farmers follow strict standards of shade growing; leaving the rainforest and Natural habitats intact. The award-winning farm produces delicious Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, which is available through Stockton Graham & Co.

The coffee is wet processed, highlighting a caramel and honey flavor which is balanced by moderate acidity and a full, creamy body. Find out more about this farm here.

To order this flavorful, sustainably produced coffee, give us a call at 800.835.5943.






Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits! (Part 3)

Map-photoIn Part 1 and Part 2 of “Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits in 2013!” we have discussed the importance of preparing to market your store in your own neighboring area to achieve more sales. In part 3 we are going to discuss F.A.T. and how it will help your business grow. By focusing on more Frequent visits from customers, increasing ticket Averages and attracting new customers to Try you out, you can achieve remarkable, compounding growth in your business. That is, focus your efforts and resources on the most overlooked aspect of the Pyramid of Profitability– Promotion.

By now, you have completed your Marketing Area Profile (MAP), your store has been spruced up, your staff look the part and you are aware of your customer’s needs. You are compiling an action plan to FAT-ten your bottom line. Let’s tackle each aspect of F.A.T. with some examples of how to achieve real, sustainable sales and profit growth.

Frequency of Visit:
How often do you see your most loyal customers? Four or five times a week, right?  How about customers that you know, but you do not see every day?  Chances are they still drink coffee every day, just not with you. How do you convince them to come to you every day, and what would that really mean to your sales volume?  One of the easiest ways is to offer incentives such as loyalty rewards or bounce-back offers. The most common loyalty reward is the “Buy 10” card.  After ten drinks your customer earns a free beverage of their choice, and who doesn’t like free stuff?  How about an over-achiever’s card?  This card only has to have 4 punches, but the catch is, the customer must come back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday to receive a free beverage on Friday. Another way to get folks in more often is bounce back coupons for a different part of the day.  For instance, hand out coupons in the morning valid from noon to close on iced beverages, lunch items, dinner-time options etc…

If you convince just one customer a day to visit one more time per week, your sales could increase by over $30,000 per year.

Ticket Average:
This is perhaps the easiest of the all the ways to grow your top line sales. People who are already handing you money are the easiest to convince to spend more.  Remember, “Would you like fries with that?” We are often afraid to ask our customers if they would like something else, we allow our staff to get into churn and burn mode, when really, our customers might actually have wanted a muffin, a granola bar, a cup of oatmeal or a bottle of water. If we instead spend an extra 2 seconds to make sure our customers are completely satisfied, the result could be surprising. Here are some techniques to help increase ticket averages: do not assume the smallest size, if a customer doesn’t specify, ask if they would like the large size.  Did you just bake some cookies, make sure they know these are still hot and gooey.  Offer combos, “Did you know you could get your coffee for just $1 if you buy a muffin too?”  Look for clues that will help you anticipate future needs. For example: if a customer that stops by while out on a bike ride, make sure to remind them that you sell bottled water or other forms of hydration to take with them.

If you can add just 25 cents to your ticket average, your sales would increase $25 per day for every 100 customers you have, or nearly $20,000 per year for the average café.

Trial (New Customers):
Getting a new customer through your door is the holy grail of marketing for a coffee shop.  A large portion of your marketing efforts should be focused on gaining new customers, and building your customer count.  The best opportunity is right out your front door.  Focus on people that live, work and play very close to your shop.  Consult your MAP to see where you can find these people. When you find them, your aim is to get them to try your products. The easiest way is to give it away (again, everyone loves free stuff). If you’re truly prepared with great products and great service, chances are you’ll have a new fan. Win them over with a better experience and they will come back, and who knows, they might bring others with them next time.  Always have coupons or VIP cards with you, these can be handed out at your discretion to potential customers wherever you happen to be. You and your staff should always be on the lookout for new faces, and make sure these people feel extra special the first time they come in. You may only get one chance to impress them!

Each customer can be worth $1000 or more per year, so if you can convince a new potential fan to break their routine and try you out, you have a golden opportunity to grow. Just add one new loyal customer a week and BOOM, you could see your sales grow by another $52,000 in the first year.

By setting very small attainable goals: one new customer a week, increasing visits from current customers by one a day and adding just 25 cents to your ticket average, you could see your sales increase by $80,000 or more in the first year, adding upwards of $50,000 to $60,000 to your bottom line. The amazing part is that it doesn’t stop there. If you continue on this track, your store will be as busy as you imagined, your customers will do the marketing for you, and all the small stuff you used to sweat to save a buck will be a distant memory.

To request your Marketing Area Profile, or learn more about marketing for your area, please call your Customer Care Associate at (800) 835-5943.

This blog series focuses on Promotion or marketing, one of the 5 fundamentals of our Pyramid of Profitability.

Written by: Thom Swain – Business Development Representative


New Energy-Efficient Espresso Equipment Options

la amarzocco espresso machineThe new year is right around the corner, and that means it is time to evaluate your coffee shop’s needs. It’s important to ensure that your menu offers today’s trending products and that your point-of-sale material looks better than ever, but at the beginning of every year, you also should take a look at your equipment. Is your equipment running properly? Is it meeting your shop’s needs? At the busiest time of your day, is your equipment keeping pace? You count on your equipment to serve as many customers as you can, and if these goals aren’t being reached, or your equipment is just out of service, it may be time to look at more options.

From espresso machines to blenders, new equipment models are rolling out each year, and not only does the new equipment continue to include the latest bells and whistles when it comes to features, but it is also becoming more and more energy efficient. When looking into new espresso machines, energy efficient ones should be thought of as ways to save in the future. Your energy usage will drop with these “power savers”, and this will save you money over time. In this post, we are going to look specifically at the latest energy efficient espresso machine features from two of the leading espresso machine manufacturers.

Nuova Simonelli is dedicated to helping baristas serve their customers with their craft at the highest level through the application of science and technology. The “Aurelia”, made by Nuova Simonelli, is currently the official espresso machine of Coffee Fest, the USBC and the WBC. Some of this year’s new efficient features include:

• Energy Savings: The Aurelia’s body consumes less energy while at rest by trapping the heat inside the machine’s chassis. This improvement enables the machine to achieve a weekly power consumption reduction of roughly 50% from conventional machines.
• Water Saving: The thermal insulted body work allows the machines to use minimal energy to maintain steam pressure while at rest. This greatly reduces water evaporation and therefore, total daily water consumption.
• More Recyclable Material: When possible, Nuova Simonelli uses recyclable material on all components and uses recycled material when possible. From the development and design stages Nuova Simonelli strives to attain 85% recyclability and 95% recoverability.

La Marzocco is commonly considered to be among the top rank of espresso machines, and are found in coffee shops all around the world. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1927, where the machines are still hand crafted, today. For many years, it was the official espresso machine of the WBC. La Marzocco’s latest efficient features include:

• Temperature Control: La Marzocco’s new software allows you to control temperature settings. Now, individual brew groups can be turned off for greater energy savings during slower work periods!
• Boiler Insulation: Conserving energy in your coffee shop is key. La Marzocco’s newly-designed, fully-insulated boilers increase energy efficiency by nearly 20%!
• Overall Sustainability: La Marzocco machines are designed to create a minimal impact on the environment. Sustainable materials, components and packaging make their machines almost 100% recyclable!

Stockton Graham & Co. understands that purchasing new equipment, such as an espresso machine, is a big investment. We are proud to announce that we have found a way to help make this more attainable for you! Introducing Marlin Equipment Finance and Providence Capital Funding, two prestigious leasing companies that have teamed up with Stockton Graham & Co. to assist with all your equipment leasing needs!

Marlin Equipment Finance:
– Marlin offers many options both during and at the end of the lease. You can extend the term, return the equipment or purchase it for fair market value.
– The application and decision process is short with most decisions being reached within a business day.
– Upon final payment, the customer can continue to lease the equipment, return it or buy it at 10% of the original equipment cost.
– For those who can afford to pay a 10% security deposit at the beginning of the lease, with low monthly payments, the customer can use the deposit to purchase the equipment, extend the lease or return the equipment and request a refund of the deposit.
– For those who are fairly certain they wish to purchase the equipment at the end of the term, it is simply purchased for $1.00 once the lease term expires.

Providence Capital Funding:
– PCF will finance starting at $3,000 up to several million dollars if necessary. They will do 24 month leases up to 60 month leases depending on the equipment, and have monthly payments.
– Credit approval is completed within 24-48 hours with applications taken online through their secure server, by phone or by fax.
– There are no application fees.
– PCF can finance you though one of twenty banks they work with.

To get your application for a lease agreement with one of our two providers or additional information on new equipment and financing, call us toll free at 1.800.835.5943 today!

Coffee Certifications-EXPLAINED!

There are quite a few coffee certifications out there.  A coffee can be one or many of them, including, but not limited to Organic, Kosher, Fair Trade, Bird-Friendly, Shade Grown, Utz Kapeh and Rainforest Alliance. Add to these the specific farms, auction lots, single lots, and it can be quite confusing.  Consider this your guide through the maze of labels, symbols and definitions.  Also, it is important to keep in mind that a particular coffee can carry one or more of these designations.  Given the history and economics of coffee production, not all methods or designations are able to be obtained in all countries or may not be practical for a particular growing region.

Organic:  Organic products are developed with an approach that views the farm as an 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 certifying 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 assurances to the user about the purity of the ingredients used to make it.  Stockton Graham & Co., based upon an annual inspection and records review, received a kosher certification on our coffees by the Atlanta Kashruth Commission.

Sustainable: This is a term that does not have a widely acceptable definition. For coffee agriculture and resource development, the term implies concern for the laborers’ working conditions, for trading practices and land tenure systems that do not impoverish the workers, as well as sensitivity to the environment, minimization of pollution and independence from non-renewable energy sources.

Sustainable coffees do not have to be Fair Trade certified or organically produced, but they should exhibit the characteristics described above to ensure responsible production methods for both the environment and the farmers/laborers.

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. Shade grown coffees do not have to be organically produced.

Bird Friendly: Coffees produced in a shade canopy that offers habitats for native and migratory bird populations are considered Bird-Friendly™. These coffees, generally, are organically produced.

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 received a price sufficient to cover their costs of production and provide 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.  Each organization can define their criteria for certifying.

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, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, TRA involve 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.

Utz Kapeh: UTZ CERTIFIED is a world-wide coffee certification program. (UTZ means “good” in a Mayan language). UTZ CERTIFIED’s mission is to set the world standard for socially and environmentally responsible coffee production and sourcing. The UTZ CERTIFIED program answers two important questions:  where does the coffee come from and how was it produced.  They provide a means for transparency of production and distribution while promotion sustainable farm practices from environment, social and economic perspectives.

For any coffee information, please give us a call at 800-835-5943. We’d be glad to answer any additional questions. Special thanks to the organizations for providing material on their certifications.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.