In 1997, owners and brothers Jason, Chris and Russ Prefontaine – fratello means brother in Italian – took over their parents’ coffee roasting business, which had been operating since 1974, and renamed the company
They recently downsized what was becoming a wide-reaching coffee business to concentrate on importing and roasting more specialized, quality coffee beans for the Calgary market.
This move marks a shift away from working with big powerhouse coffee chains toward supporting independent, artisan cafés. According to Russ, these smaller cafés, “are essentially raising the bar on quality by offering specialty beans, and investing in proper equipment and barista training.”
Fratello buys some of its beans directly from Rainforest Alliance-certified farmers in South and Central America to ensure the farms meet high environmental and human rights standards and employees have access to health care and education. Through direct trade, farmers receive 25 to 30 per cent more money than with fair trade alone because they are paid market value for their beans. Fratello also works with the farmers to develop taste profiles for the beans they order, making
their coffee exclusive to the company.
Fratello coffee is served at Good Earth Café and Caffe Beano, among many other coffee houses throughout the city. (403-265-2112, fratellocoffee.com)