What is Direct Trade to Fratello Coffee Roasters?

You have probably heard about it, and seen many people promoted/talk about it, but what is direct trade?  One of the issues with direct trade, is that it does not have the same meaning to every coffee roaster.  It is NOT a certification, it is a purchasing philosophy.   Below is our ideas around it and why we do it.

Direct trade coffee is a relatively new term which referring to the purchasing practices of coffee roasters who chose to make a direct relationship with the farmers they buy from. Also known as "Relationship Coffee".

Fratello Coffee Roasters is choosing to work directly with our coffee growers for a few reasons:

This allows us to work with the farmers at origin to produce flavor profiles which are unique and stand out from what is available through the open market. Through working directly at the farm, we are able to find unique coffees before it is mixed in with other coffee at Cooperatives. Cooperative coffee has its place in the market (Eg. Fairtrade Coffees are Cooperative coffee), and most roasters only have access to this type of coffee. Often this is considered "commodity coffee" due to its pricing being based on the commodity market versus agreeing to a price with the farmer. Cooperatives buy coffee from many people, blend this coffee together and sell to mills/brokers/greenies. Brokers then sell this coffee to roasters. We find that the end result produces a "Style" of coffee instead of a "Profile" of coffee. When you are working with a famers, or a single estate, you are able to pick specific areas of the farm which is being harvested a specific way, growing a specific varietals of coffee, and then processed a specific way. Each of those choices are equally important and produce a unique flavor profile in the finished cup.

Fratello is able to go to the farms/Estates we work with to see the impact our purchases make. One of the issues we have always had with certifications that "give back" is that we were unable to follow the extra money we paid for coffee to see the impact, and ensure that it is being used properly. Its not that we disagree with those certifications, we just feel that there are better ways to impact the communities we want to work with. Through going to these farms, and paying these extra funds for the coffee, we impact those farmers, employees and families immediately. As a roaster, this takes a lot of extra effort as well as a lot of expense due traveling, but the value our partners receive is well worth it.

We can ensure that their staff are cared for and that they are following proper environmental practices. One of the key things we look for when visiting our farms, is that the owner of the farm is doing what they can to help the community around them. We look to ensure that there is health care for the workers, that there is adequate food and shelter provided for the employee's, that the employee's are paid well for what they do, and that the workers families are taken into consideration. Often woman on the farm will need to bring their children, so it is important that they are never exploited, and that they have care and access to education.

We get to work directly with farmers who are passionate about growing coffee, and who want to produce the best coffee they can. We agree to pay them premiums for this quality. Really its comes down to quality green coffee when you are doing what you can to roast the best tasting coffee. We will pay our partners more money for better quality green. What many certifications will do is pay the farmers more money for environmental practices (which are important!!); however, the taste of the coffee seems to come second. We want to work with farmers who are as passionate about coffee as we are. We are choosing to work with farmers that are 100% dedicated to growing coffee, not farmers who merely look at this as a secondary cash crop they can grow beside their bananas. We grow the best coffee needs constant care, so we work with farmers who are artisan's at this craft. We want to work with farmers who are following their green coffee not only through the growing and harvesting process, but who take that same care and attention at the wet and dry mills. It is only this care and attention that can guarantee the best green coffee available in the market today.

Fratello's direct trade partners receive approximately 25% (and up) more money for their coffee than what Fairtrade's published rates.  It is going to be an on-going process to expand our relationships to more regions and greater selections from within the regions we already work.

Our goals are simple.  Financially reward the coffee producers we work with for the quality they produce, in order to bring you better quality coffee each year with the hopes of establishing a long lasting relationship.

Espresso & Coffee Machines in Calgary and Edmonton

Since 1991, we have been importing Nuova Simonelli espresso equipment from Italy, as well as a selection of other commercial coffee equipment.   Our core business is roasting and supplying coffee houses and new cafes in Calgary and Edmonton with the training and consultation they need to run a successful business.  We are eager to work with people that share our dedication to coffee.

Aurelia Nuova Simonelli 2 group

We want to share our passion with you and help you learn to present coffee at its finest in your business.  Fratello has been roasting coffee for over 27 years, but we are more than just a coffee roaster. Our consultants are experienced professionals that will guide you in all aspects of your business.   From initial consultations around opening a new location to getting into the details of selecting products and equipment for your business, you will have access to our team of coffee professionals.

Fratello Coffee Roasters has made the choice to represent a select group of top quality equipment for your coffee hourse or restaurant.   In stocking brands we know and trust, we are able to offer expert service and advice as you look at setting up a new business and cafe, or replacing equipment as needed.

Fetco brewer

From your large equipment needs such as an espresso machine, coffee brewers and grinders right down to the details, we offer the right products.  Please browse our commercial equipment section to get an idea of the range of products offered.   We look forward to meeting you to offer a personal consultation.

We know the best coffee needs the best people and the right equipment. Call us today for more information.


Fratello's Analog Cafes and why we built them.

Calgary Farmers Market

Many people have asked us why we started Analog Coffee at the Calgary Farmers Market as well as our new flag ship location on 17th Ave SW.   Our Analog Café's were not designed to be “just another coffee house”.   They were designed and created to give Fratello Coffee Roasters a voice directly who matters most.  People who drink and enjoy our coffee everyday

The idea of having our own cafe isn't new.  We have been talking about this for over 15 years when we first purchased the roasting company from our parents in 1997.  Back in the early years of our roasting company, our father Cam Prefontaine did his best to buy better coffee from his competitors.  He would experiment with different ways of roasting this coffee with the equipment he had and would service his customers way better than his competitors.

These were also the days before “2nd Wave” coffee was the norm, and back before anyone had even heard of Starbucks.  Trying to convince the early bakeries and deli’s to buy what was “gourmet” coffee was a challenging thing to do.  It was only the early/mid 90’s that Starbucks, Second Cup, Grabba Jabba (now Timothy’s) began to pop up on every corner that the ability for us to roast/sell higher quality coffee began to become easier.

In these years, or the 2nd Wave of coffee, we began working closer with our wholesale café customers with education on what espresso based beverages were all about.  We did our best to encourage them and get them excited about wanting to sell better and better coffee.  We would offer our brand image to them in hopes that they would represent us in a way which would create recognition for quality.   This unfortunately is very challenging to do when you are required to rely on others to be your voice on the streets.

A big decision was made in 2007/2008 when we as a company decided to down-size and re-focus on what we cared most about. And what we cared about was quality. At this time we changed our name to Fratello Coffee Roasters (Italian for brother) and began to focus on our accounts who aligned with the same principles as us.  If an account didn’t “fit” we simply decided to end the relationship. Over the course of 4 years, a 50-60% reduction in business as well as an entirely new company culture was formed.   It was only during this process that we could begin our transition into becoming a “3rd Wave” coffee roaster.

chris cupping in Brazil

The Third Wave of Coffee refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity, like wheat. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee bean growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers and coffee traders and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting, at times called microroasting (by analogy with microbrew beer), to skilled brewing.

At Fratello we understand coffee because it has – literally – been our passion for over a quarter century!  Hundreds of thousands of people have tasted our coffee without ever knowing it!  With the opening of the Fratello Analog Café in the Calgary Farmer’s market in early 2011 we took the plunge into retail, and we’re delighted we did.   We continue to learn new experiences each month which empowers us with new knowledge to better train/coach our wholesale clients.   Our brand has become more recognized in this city as the leading quality coffee roaster and has enabled us to have a “voice” in the street (away from business to business) of our own, and put our brand in our own hands.

direct trade coffee sack

With the 2012 opening of our flagship store on 17th Ave and 7th Street we are again able to begin sourcing coffee an entirely new way!  It wasn’t typical of us to introduce 2 or more coffees from the same growing region at once, but this is something we are starting this year. We find it’s such a great opportunity for our customers to discover different flavour characteristics a country has to offer when you are able to taste different farm/cooperative offerings, from the same growing region, side by side.

latte art

Therefore, What makes a great cup of coffee?  Simply put, pride!  Pride in how we source our product, by knowing our producers and knowing our regions, and not being afraid to always make the call that quality is more important than quantity.  Attention to perfection then continues back here in Calgary, where we use our many years of roasting/training experience.   Lastly, the magic plays out in our cafes, Analog Coffee, where our amazing staff – who all understand and live the Fratello philosophy  – bring you the perfect cup of coffee every time you order it.  Come and check us out.