Coffee production does not end when the coffee has been picked, processed and shipped around the world. Maintaining an efficient, productive and high quality coffee farm requires a very sizable amount of work in between the harvests.
The coffee tree is a very demanding plant. In order to keep a coffee plant “happy” you must meet its most basic needs: nutrition and a suitable environment. These factors are true of all agriculture, but are even more important when it comes to the coffee plant, as it is not simply an agricultural product, but a product where quality dramatically varies dependent on the stewardship of the tree.
Coffee was never intended to leave the forests of Ethiopia; humans planted the seeds all over the tropics. As a result, coffee is somewhat of a “fussy” plant, in that, because it is endemic to one place, the plants in Honduras, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc do not possess much genetic diversity. What does this mean? Well, the coffee plant outside of Ethiopia is extremely susceptible to a myriad of diseases, fungal infections and pests.Coffee has not been grown in regions outside of Ethiopia for a very long time either. Because of this, the coffee plant has not acquired a resistance to the unique environmental hazards that exist in the multiple countries in which coffee is currently grown. In short, it requires work to care for coffee.
Nutrition is very important for coffee trees growing in places such as Bolivia. Without adequate nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, coffee trees can not experience ample root, wood and bud development. Maintaining the topsoil, and fighting erosion from gravity and water run-off requires constant attention from the coffee producer.
In order to grow healthy, productive plants, the farmer is typically required to replenish this topsoil as needed, ensuring that the coffee tree is constantly being fed the required nutrients to produce at its expected level. This requires vigilance, you can’t just leave the trees alone. Most specialty coffee farms are produced on a slope, and thus the risk of erosion is very high, all the nutritious soil can simply fall down the hill, or be washed down. Additionally, in many coffee growing regions, the soil is very loose and silty. This unstable ground poses a risk to farm workers as well as the plants. We in the specialty coffee industry have all experienced brief scary moments where the ground gives way while inspecting a coffee tree. Maintaining the soil is a constant battle, but is vitally important for the health of the coffee tree.
Pruning is a typical activity that occurs on a coffee farm at the end of a harvest. Healthy coffee trees like to grow, especially varieties such as Geisha and Maragogype, which like to grow big, lanky branches that extend very far. Planting coffee must be done with careful consideration: if you space your trees too closely, they will grow towards each other quickly. This is a huge problem, as coffee trees need sunlight to produce fruit. A coffee tree producing less fruit than the year prior is disastrous for a coffee farmer, they will simply earn less money. Strategic pruning must be employed to ensure every tree gets the required amount of sunlight to maximize yields. This does result in a temporary loss of revenue, since you are technically removing branches that will produce fruit, but slacking on your pruning can create a disaster in the long-term, as the plants overlap each other. There is an additional benefit to regular pruning, in that the clipped branches can simply be left on the ground near the trees where they have fallen. These branches will decompose and feed nutrition back to the plant, creating a more healthy, productive tree.
Coffee isn’t just coffee anymore. Now, it’s all about the brand, the merchandise, the location, the story, but it has always been, and always will be, about the taste. Lucky for you, Analog checks off all of these boxes. Coffee has run in the Prefontaine family since 1974, when the father Cam first started a wholesale coffee company out of his home. His three sons grew up helping him with sales and watching him roast his very own coffee. The parents produced the coffee and the sons started selling all the commercial coffee equipment, making them the whole package to share their love of coffee with the world. Eventually after many years in the industry, the family decided that it was finally time to open their own shop.
With seven current locations in Calgary and one soon to be available in the University District, Analog Coffee first started out in the Calgary Farmers’ Market in 2011. As business boomed almost immediately, the company bought their dream location that we all know and love today on 17th Avenue. As the coffee’s popularity grew and more and more people fell in love with the taste, the business couldn’t help but to expand their reach and provide more Calgarians with their delicious brews. Learn more about the history of the company and see which trendy Analog Coffee location is closest to you.
To see the original article, and other winners check out The Best of Calgary website.
Photo captured by Neil Zeller
On April 18, 2018 the protests in Nicaragua first began. Spurred on by social security reforms decreed by President Daniel Ortega, demonstrations involving university students, the elderly and other activists broke out in Managua, Jinotega, Leon and other large Nicaraguan cities. The protests were violently repressed: live ammunition was fired into crowds, hundreds of protestors were killed by police and armed Sandinista militias, thousands more were wounded and tens of thousands have fled the country in exile. Nicaragua has been in turmoil for over a year now, and the end doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. Even in the relatively small and sleepy town of Ocotal, shouts of “¡Viva Nicaragua libre!” can be heard, quickly followed by the blaring of police sirens.
What amazes us the most about the Nicaraguan people, is that despite the tragic circumstances unfolding in their country, they still offer the most authentic hospitality, have the biggest hearts and have the most fun out of all the places we visit. It is nearly impossible to feel like an outsider in Nicaragua because the people simply will not let you. The amount of times we have been invited into the homes of people, who we barely know or have just met, to watch baseball or ultra-cheesy Mexican telenovelas is much higher than we ever could have expected. Nicaraguan culture is very laid back and tranquillo. In our experience, Nicaragua remains one of the most informal places we have ever been and it creates a truly relaxing and easy-going atmosphere.
Our partners in Nicaragua are having a tough time right now. Financing from the government, which was once available, is now gone and it’s becoming harder to plant new trees, rebuild drying beds and fertilize and spray crops to prevent roya. In response, we have committed to helping our partners at Expocamo by paying for several new drying beds, to replace some older, heavily used beds. These beds will improve the quality of the coffee not just for us, for but all the people around the world who buy coffee from Expocamo. We are super proud to do this for all Nicaraguan coffee lovers and to raise the profile of Nicaraguan coffee, which we feel is underappreciated.
Direct trade is so important to us because it gives us the opportunity to identify people like Rony Herrera and Francisco Valle Garcia, who are incredibly passionate farmers. Entering a partnership is incredibly beneficial for both sides. Buying coffee in 2019 is tremendously easy and convenient: many reputable companies have very easy to navigate websites, offering dozens and dozens of different types of coffees. It’s trivially easy to select 3 or 4 coffees, have samples delivered to the roastery and then purchase them with little-to-no direct interaction with the coffee farmers. Truthfully, many of these coffees, sourced by third parties, are incredibly delicious and affordable. But this is a lazy way to source coffee and deprives us of important relationships, unique flavors and great memories. Travelling to origin and developing friendships and partnerships feels like the right way to buy coffee for us.
Beyond coffee, the people of Nicaragua are simply good and we really like them a lot. We have been invited into their homes, dined with their families and watched many baseball games with them. The friendship we have developed is incredibly meaningful to us and every year we are so excited to go and see them again. We genuinely feel like part of the family in Nicaragua, which is honestly the typical treatment of foreigners by the Nicaraguan people, the hospitality is unmatched. Despite the hardships the people of Nicaragua are facing, they show every day that they still have some of the strongest hearts in the world. Saludos Nicaragua, te veo pronto.
Inside a hostel in Ahuachapan, we relax with Mauricio Salavierra, some of his friends who run a beautiful restaurant called Tayua near Conception de Ataco and some brand-new friends from Quebec City who are in Ahauachapan for the same reason we are, to find amazing coffees. It’s late and dark and we are craving something slightly greasy and filling to eat after drinking quite a few Pilsners, so we order El Salvador’s national dish, Pupusas. The rest of the night is spent sharing food, beer and stories in Spanish, Quebec French and English.
El Salvador is often maligned as a dangerous, violent country, one that North Americans often look over when choosing a Latin American destination, and it is true that El Salvador can be a dangerous place, the most violent in the Western Hemisphere. However, no country we’ve visited in the world shares the beautiful, untouched beauty of this tiny, dense nation.
As a foreigner, it is very clear which areas are unsafe to visit, and these areas are largely within the capital of San Salvador, where gang activity is high. Like many countries in the Northern Triangle, a little common sense goes a long way in ensuing a safe and fulfilling trip. When travelling outside of the city to coffee growing towns such as Ahuachapan, Conception de Ataco and Juayua, the stunning beauty of the El Salvador landscape and remarkable hospitality and pride of the Salvadoreños is revealed. We’ve never felt more safe as travelers than when we are in these charming towns.
El Salvador remains fiercely loyal to the Bourbon coffee tree. Elsewhere in Latin America, farmers are avoiding specialty trees and have chosen to reduce their crop diversity to protect against the monstrous Roya, a crop disease that has cut through Latin America and has repeatedly devastated coffee farms. A particularly terrible outbreak of Roya in 2014 is still being felt in El Salvador and it isn’t uncommon to see old farms which have been completely abandoned. El Salvador’s response to this crop disease has been very different from other countries within Latin America, they have been pivoting very hard into the specialty coffee sector. The Salvadoran Coffee Council predicts that 80% of Salvadoran coffee exports will be within the specialty coffee sector by 2025.
For farmers such as Mauricio Salavierra, this means a very high level of risk. The danger of a massive roya outbreak on one of his farms is always looming. By carefully grooming his farm and applying fertilizer and fungicide, he manages to stave off the disease, but he must remain constantly vigilant to combat roya. Because farmers such as Mauricio have chosen to farm Bourbon and other exotic varieties of coffee, the flavours we have encountered from this country have been exceptional. As other countries pivot to roya-resistant strains such as Catuai, Catimor and Castillo, the coffee flavor in these places has become somewhat homogenized in recent years. By contrast, the coffees we have been tasting from El Salvador have been marked with massive sweetness, explosive fruit flavors and dazzling acidity. Mauricio’s coffees in recent years have been some of the most inspiring and remarkable coffees we have ever tasted. These coffees have been a true expression of the passion, hard-work and pride of the Salvadoran people.
El Salvador is a jewel of a country, one that we wish more Canadians would experience and enjoy. From the impressive volcanoes to the massive beaches, from the simplicity of the pupusa to the determination of the Salvadoreños. This is a beautiful country that we hope to return to year after year.
February 13, 2019
Analog Coffee’s sixth storefront in Calgary will feature an in-house bakery, a liquor license and top-of-the-line equipment
CALGARY (Feb. 13, 2019) – Coffee purveyors in south Calgary can rejoice as on Monday, Feb. 18, Analog Coffee (Analog) officially opens its doors at Westman Village. This is the sixth location for the Calgary-based coffee roaster. This storefront is unique to other Analog locations as it will be home to its first in-house bakery, top-of-the-line equipment – which will be the first-of-its-kind in Western Canada – and a liquor license so Westman Village residents and neighbours can enjoy an after work or weekend drink in Analog’s hip, trendy café.
This new location will harmonize downtown-city vibes with the comforts of the suburbs, while providing craft coffee that is anything but ordinary. It joins the likes of other more urban retailers such as Diner Deluxe, 5 Vines Wine, Craft Beer and Spirits and Chopped Leaf as part of the local, gourmet offerings at Westman Village, Jayman BUILT’s one-of-a-kind lakeside community in Mahogany.
Russ Prefontaine, president and co-owner, The Fratello Group, is passionate about providing coffee connoisseurs in the south with coffee as fuel for a busy day, or an escape from it.
“Being a native Calgarian myself, my team takes great pride in providing a variety of communities a little sense of home and a place to come together creating a fulsome experience for our customers,” says Prefontaine. “This new café is taking us in a direction where we can do more in-house, which enables us to control the quality of products we are executing. We are driven by the need to create an epic, unmatched experience for our customers and this new model of Analog allows us to do just that.”
This location will feature a unique food program that includes soups, salads, cheese boards and other treats – which is new to Analog. The liquor license will enable it to offer a small selection of wine by the glass and local craft beer. However, coffee is still a priority at this location as it will have the highest tech coffee gear in Western Canada: The Slayer Steam Espresso Machine and The Mythos 2 Gravimetric Grinders and Marcos SP9 single-serve brewers.
The vision behind Westman Village is underpinned by the values of Jayman’s founder, Al Westman, weaving convenience, diversity and accessibility into an all-inclusive community. Westman Village is the most recent undertaking by industry-leading, Calgary-based home builder, Jayman BUILT. The community is the first of its kind in Calgary, with buying and leasing options for residents of all ages, including an active adult living, retirement living and starter to estate component. Retail and commercial partners are set to open from early 2019 onward.
“We want Westman Village to be a hub for our residents. We have strategically chosen boutique retailers, like Analog, to bring our residents unique and local offerings,” says Jay Westman, chairman and CEO, Jayman BUILT. “With the opening of Analog, we are bringing an urban, artisan experience to our residents right outside their front door.”
For more information on Westman Village and its amenities and service offerings, please visit http://westmanvillage.com/
About Jayman BUILT
For 38 years, Jayman BUILT has continually redefined the way new homes are built, bought and, most importantly, lived in. Participating in community developments in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Edmonton and Sherwood Park, Jayman BUILT is the largest homebuilder in Alberta. For more information, visit www.jayman.com
About Westman Village
Westman Village embodies the harmonization of the values of Jayman’s Founder, Al Westman, by thoughtfully weaving convenience, diversity and accessibility into an all-inclusive suburban community concept.
About Analog Coffee
Analog Coffee is part of the Fratello Group who have been roasting coffee in Calgary since 1985, and owned by local brother’s Russ and Chris Prefontaine. Analog is well known on the local Calgary coffee scene, focusing on single estate, direct trade coffees that are acquired from grower partners around the world.
Brookline Public Relations
403-538-5641 ext. 104
Recently, our President Russ Prefontaine had the opportunity to visit La Plata, located in Huila Colombia. He went to visit Las Rosas (formerly Las Marias) the women’s cooperative that we have been working with for some time.
Las Rosas was founded in September 2010 by women in the region, overwhelmed by the lack of credit available to them to use as working capital for their farms. This lack of critical credit combined with traditional household roles and duties, was weakening their families. So, they sought to change it
The major objectives are:
Fratello started working with this cooperative in 2014. We are the majority supporter in this project. We have committed to continue working with them and are working on further incentives to improve cup quality and reward the top producers.
While there, Russ joined a family training day in the village of Monserrate located in La Plata. This lesson focused on the value and roles of women and the importance of gender equality. 40 members of Las Rosas were involved and that was inclusive of their entire family. At the end, they shared stories of how this program has literally changed their lives and transformed their village.
Today, Fratello and Analog Coffee purchase 30% of their total production, however could reach 50% by the end of this year.
We take great pride and joy in knowing that we are making strategic decisions like this to improve the areas we are working in.
Our goal is to do a similar program in Brazil, starting in 2019.