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.

 

 

Featured Coffee: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

Considered by most to be the original home of the coffee plant, it makes sense that Ethiopia produces some of the very finest beans available.

Coffee, which still grows wild in Ethiopia’s mountain forests, was discovered many hundreds of years ago, legend has it, by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.

According to the story, he noticed his goats becoming surprisingly active after eating coffee cherries. One thing led to another and after some experimentation, the coffee cherries were turned into a beverage.

From Ethiopia, coffee made its way across the Red Sea to Yemen, where it was first grown as a commercial crop. From the Middle East, the popularity of coffee as a beverage spread to Europe. In the colonial empires of European countries, in places such as Indonesia and the Americas, new locations were soon identified that were ideal for the growth of the coffee plant.

Today, after lagging behind many of the other big growing nations for years, Ethiopia is Africa’s top coffee producer. The unique (and delicious) flavors of its crops have helped the country rise to become the world’s seventh-largest coffee producer.

Our new coffee originates from Ethiopia’s Kochere area within the district of Yirgacheffe. Kochere is home to many family farms and this coffee is a blend of lots from several hundred small regional farmers. In the region, coffee is grown at elevations from 1,700 to 2,200 meters above sea level in the reddish-brown clay soil of the high hills. It is hand-picked between October and January, washed and processed using spring water within 12 hours, and then naturally dried in the hot African sun. The result is a fragrant and flavorful coffee that is sought after around the world

“Our Ethiopia offering this year marks a return to a more typical washed flavor profile,” says Brad Kirby, Stockton Graham & Co.’s Director of Coffee. “We chose this Kochere due to its complexity and clean cup. Its balance between tartness and sweetness was immediately apparent on the cupping table and we think this offering will appeal to a wide range of coffee lovers.”

CUPPING NOTES
AROMA:  Lemon Drop, Floral
BODY:  Light
FLAVOR:  Black Tea, Lemon, Honeyed Sweetness
ACIDITY:  Pleasantly Tart
AFTERTASTE:  Sweet, Juicy

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

 

 

Whole Beans at your Coffee Shop

Whole Beans at your Coffee ShopAre you selling coffee as whole beans in your café? You should be.

Whole bean sales have the potential to dramatically increase your total sales, yet ironically it remains one of the most underrated and missed opportunities by many specialty coffee retailers.

 

One of the most common misconceptions, when it comes to selling retail coffee, is that it is encouraging customers to stay at home and not come into your shop. The reality is this: of the 300 million cups of coffee Americans drink each day, about three quarters are brewed at home. This means that if customers are inevitably going to drink someone’s coffee at home, it might as well be yours. This also does not replace the fact that customers will still need to come to your shop for espresso-based and other specialty drinks, which they are typically unable to make at home. A successful retail program does not require a lot of extra time, work or marketing. A simple countertop or shelf display will draw the attention of your customers and have them asking questions in no time!

Survey says...

So, what type of revenue can a retail program bring in? The Specialty Coffee Association found in a study that 54% of the adult population of the United States drinks coffee daily (typically in the morning). So, if you have 150 customers a day, then about 75 of them drink a minimum of seven cups of coffee a week and it could very well be at home. This statistic really gives you an idea of the amount of sales you can acquire, even when the customer is at home.

A weaker whole beans program probably sells around 15 pounds per week (with an average retail sales price of $15.00 per pound), which translates to about $225 per week and about $900 per month in whole bean sales alone. A stronger retail program has the potential to bring in upwards of $4,000 a month.

Loyalty equals guaranteed sales

Apart from an increase in your bottom line, another major aspect that a successful retail program can bring is customer loyalty. It’s no secret that there are a lot of choices when it comes to coffee. So anytime one of your customers is not invested in your coffee, you are at risk of your customer being poached by a competitor.

The best way to avoid this is to keep them invested in you, even when they walk out of your door. A simple way to think of it is; each time they drink a cup of your coffee at home, that’s one less cup of someone else’s coffee that they’re drinking. Like any product, the more and more a customer gets comfortable with it, the more likely they will continue to purchase it.

What’s the best way to set up a retail coffee program in your shop? As mentioned before, it does not take much. Start small, with a few choices (perhaps your house blend, a popular flavor and a favorable single origin) — there’s no need to overwhelm or confuse your customers right from the get-go.

Once you notice trends or your customers start making requests, feel free to make additions to your selection. Display your beans in a noticeable area, but make sure it’s not too obnoxious – the goal is to use your whole beans program as an up sell. You don’t want it to distract your customer from the rest of your menu. Most importantly, educate your staff. It is likely your customers will ask questions or recommendations before they pull the trigger on a purchase, so make sure your employees are knowledgeable about all the blend components, origins, taste profiles, etc.

Stockton Graham & Co. recommends our specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee for customers looking to add a whole bean program. Started in 1989 in Charlotte NC, Dilworth Coffee is one of the leading independent coffee brands in North Carolina, according to a 2016 study by Mintel.

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

Featured Coffee: Our New Costa Rica Tarrazú

Costa Rica TarrazuThe coffee of Costa Rica has long been considered among the best in the world. When the last crop from the country ran out and it was time to select a new one, we tried numerous samples to find one that lived up to our standards. We are excited to share our latest discovery.

“For our new coffee from Costa Rica we selected this one from La Pastora mill in the famed Tarrazú region,” say Brad Kirby, our Director of Coffee. “Clean and sweet, it has a pleasant acidity and light body, while the aroma and flavor contain notes of fine Swiss milk chocolate. We roast it to a light-medium roast to best accentuate its delicate flavors and complexities.”

Cupping Attributes:
AROMA: Cocoa, Cherry
BODY: Silky, Well-Rounded
FLAVOR: Tart Cherry, Milk Chocolate
ACIDITY: Balanced, Bright
AFTERTASTE: Refreshing, Clean

Sourcing

This coffee originates from the region of Tarrazú, which is located in the central part of Costa Rica and just to the south of San Jose, the capital city. There, coffee trees flourish in volcanic soil on slopes facing the Pacific Ocean side of the country. Coffee is grown at altitudes of 1200-1900 meters and harvested from November to March.

This coffee is grown by a number of small farmers from eight communities in Los Santos area of Tarrazú. They bring their crops to the La Pastora coop mill, which is recognized among Costa Rican producers for its coffee of exceptional quality and has been in existence for more than 50 years. With stringent quality-control measures during processing, high-quality beans are wet-processed (washed) and achieve a standard of excellence that has few equals among Central American coffees.

Heritage

The coffee industry in Costa Rica dates back to 1779, when seedlings imported from Cuba were planted in the Meseta Central region. The industry grew slowly until the 1840s, when a British sea captain sent several hundred-pound bags of coffee beans home. This led to an appreciation of Costa Rican coffee and the British developed an interest in promoting it. They invested heavily in the country’s coffee industry and the U.K. becoming the principal customer for exports until World War II. Today, the popularity of Costa Rica coffee is evident by the country’s #15 rank among coffee countries, with nearly 1.5 million 60-kilo bags exported.

For more information about carrying our Costa Rica La Pastora Tarrazú or any of the other fine offerings from our Batch 0995 line in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

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.