Chris’s passion for the coffee industry dates back to his high school days. Starting out with their father’s company, Custom Gourmet Coffee, Chris and his brother Jason learned the ins-and-outs of the coffee business from their dad, before beginning to strike out on their own. In 1991 Chris and Jason founded Espuccino Imports, Southern Alberta’s master distributor for Nuova Simonelli espresso machines. In a period of only three years the brothers built the company into the third largest distributor in North America.
In 1997 Chris and Jason teamed up with their younger brother Russ to purchase Custom Gourmet Coffee from their parents and eventually changed the name to Fratello Coffee. Their goal was to provide high-quality coffee and support to cafes and coffee drinkers in Calgary and the rest of Western Canada, while helping to usher in a new era in coffee culture. The brothers also had an ambitious dream to develop a revolutionary new espresso machine. That product, the Slayer espresso machine, has been an extraordinary success and is now delivering perfectly-brewed coffee to consumers around the world. Chris’s latest project is the start-up of Fratello’s retail café division through the Analog Café brand.
After growing up around his family’s work in the coffee business, Russ began his full-time coffee career in 1994 when he joined older brothers Jason and Chris at Espuccino Imports, a company specializing in Nuova Simonelli equipment, installation, and service. In 1997 the three brothers purchased their parents’ roasting company, combining all aspects of roasting, equipment, training, and service under a single banner. Russ is now the full-time coffee buyer and Director of Coffee for Fratello, frequently travelling around the world to visit the farmers that provide Fratello with its raw beans. In 2007 the Prefontaine brothers began developing the first Slayer Espresso machines, before moving that end of the business to Seattle. Russ and Chris partnered in 2011 to open Analog Coffee at the Calgary Farmers’ Market and then the stand-alone Analog Café on 17th Avenue SW in late 2012.