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.
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.
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.
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.
I just got back from my first Roasters Guild retreat in Skamania, Washington, which is the most beautiful area I have ever seen in the U.S. I had a great time, met so many new people and learned so much. It was amazing to see that many people in one place with such a passion for coffee, learning, and sharing with one another. I took the opportunity to go down because I wanted to see what could be learned so that we could make changes that would improve quality and consistency here at Fratello.
I arrived at the retreat on Thursday and after getting settled we did a orientation tour and a cupping of the coffee we would be using for the roast challenge. (mmm Brazil….)
On Friday we got to start roasting the Brazil to try to bring the best out of it. We got to try a wide variety of roasters from around the world, it was interesting to see how they all worked and how all the manufactures of them approach their roasts, with some making it necessary to adjust airflow and others that were just full burner control and some giving you the option of doing both (like our roasters do!). After many many roasts of Brazil we did a round table discussion of industry sustainability as well as a few other topics. The next session was the effects of packaging roasted bean in relation to staling, it was interesting to taste the differences that nitrogen flushing made, I was very surprised that I didn’t really notice a difference between flushing and not flushing until the coffee got quite old. (close to 3 months) It was nice to see that we were well beyond industry standards for freshness as we don’t sell anything over 21 days old, so its always fresh.
Saturday we re cupped our Brazil’s and made a few changes to the roasts and then it was off to class! The classes there were very informative, showing us things like how such minuscule changes in a roasting profile, like a change in transition point or a slight speed change at the end, can have such a huge effect on the cup, changes like a full chocolaty body from one roast to a sweet citrus like cup in another using the same green coffee. Now knowing this we can implement changes with roast logging software that will improve consistency, so that every roast will be best product we can put out to our costumers! Saturday night we had our bonfire and the winners of the roast challenge were announced. (my team came in 4th of 12 from what I’m told).
The best part of the whole experience was to sit down with other roasters, importers and coffee farmers and see the industry from a wider perspective, it really makes me appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating a fantastic product!
I’m very excited to be back home trying all the little things I heard other roasters are doing, like restricting some of the airflow at certain times and changing the transition point at the start of the roast in an effort to make a better product. I’m not sure how it will all work out, but I will be trying it all and hopefully we can make a great product even better! Fratello Coffee has 26 years experience with roasting, and I find it so cool that we are still pushing the boundaries on what our roasting equipment can do. We never stop trying to learn more about our equipment and coffee in hopes of producing a continuously better coffee year over year.
Written by: David Schindel
It’s like a chicken or the egg thing; what came first – the great coffee house or the great city? At Fratello we’re obviously biased, but we believe that you have to have great coffee houses to make a great city. And just look around, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver and Seattle – they all have remarkable cafes. Take it a step further. How many movie sets or TV shows profile coffee shops? Tons of them, and there is a reason for that. Because great coffee houses bring out the very best in us. They allow us to appreciate the good things in life; things that often get missed in the hurly burly of our daily existence.
In a great coffee house we socialize, we think, and we somehow become instantly gracious and appreciative. Perhaps it’s the magic aroma of magnificently roasted coffee, or the professional skills of your barista, but somehow a good coffee shop ‘brings you inside’ and gives you as much value from the experience of the place as from the taste of the product.
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).
With the upcoming fall 2012 opening of our flagship store on 17th Ave and 7th Street we’ll be in the heart of the action, helping to sustain the pulse of that vibrant part of town. Again, great café help build great cities.
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.
Coffee should be all about the people. The people who produce it, the people who roast/find it, the people who serve it and most importantly at Analog Coffee, the people who come in to enjoy it. And, great people make a great city!
It is not typical of us to introduce 2 coffees from the same growing region at once, but this is something new for us starting this year. We have 2 (soon 3) Costa Rican’s and 3 El Salvador offerings coming in the next few weeks. We find it’s such a great opportunity for you 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.
Before we made this decision, we would often have to decide not to purchase an amazing coffee because we already had an offering negotiated from that region. Well luckily, not anymore. What we have to show you from Ethiopia this year are 2 coffees from Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe growing region. Our first offering is the Ethiopian Top Lot ECX which is a fully washed coffee and we’re pairing this with a natural processed Typica from the Wote Cooperative which we are calling Ethiopian Konga.
This coffee is from the Wote Konga Zone of Yirgacheffe. Yirgacheffe is a major town in the central southern Ethiopia, located in the Gedeo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region.
This particular coffee is naturally sun-dried on raised drying beds, separating it from some of their other washed varietals. Extra care is taken to select only the ripest/reddest cherries for this project. Careful hand sorting of these cherries happens during the long drying time. This extra care is what makes this coffee so remarkably clean and uniform in the cup.
The very respected Wote Konga Cooperative produces approximately 900 bags of coffee a year from the 600 farmers who grow them. Some other important information about this coffee:
This is a big year for Fratello and the coffees we are bringing in. We have never had quality this good, nor have we had this selection of Direct Trade micro-lots. We have been giving lots of updates over the last few months of these new relationships and we assumed that these coffees would have been in by now. It has been a very challenging year getting our coffees out of the regions we have been working with. Mills have been busy and shipping vessels have been late, but we do assure you that these coffees are coming, and will be here SOON.
Check out the offering list below of coffee which are arriving any time. This isn’t the complete list, but this does give you some good ideas as to what we have been busy doing.
Guatemalan – All Direct Trade and single estate micro-lots.
Nicaraguan – Direct Trade and single estate.
El Salvador – All Direct Trade and single estate micro-lots.
Costa Rica – All Direct Trade and single estate micro-lots.
Panama – Single estate micr-lot
On top of these which are arriving any day, we are still choosing our lots from Kenya, Colombia, Bolivia, Sulawesi and Sumatra.
In February 2012 we visited Costa Rica to see our friends at Exclusive Coffee as well as our producer partners to choose this years offerings. For the second year we will be offering Miguel Rojas coffee which are grown in the West Valley, more specifically in the micro region Llano Bonito of Naranjo. This year we will have 2 offerings from Miguel, both micro-lots grown on Finca La Palmita, but one in particular is very special.
As always, Costa Rica impresses me with their Micro-Mill revolution which continues to expand and improve. I am seeing better organization, at farm level as well as more dedication to improve quality. These producers have been getting premiums for their coffee for a few years now and are typically re-investing into their mills for efficiency’s and consistency. This is going to be a very good year for the Costa Rican coffees available from Fratello.
Miguel, his son Nelson and their 20 staff harvested a plot of his farm for us at 1700-1750 meters. This plot of land is located in a lower bowl shaped part of his farm which is protected from all sides from the Pacific & Atlantic winds. This plot of land has been called MISO and produced 15 sacks (2280 lbs) of amazing coffee. On all of Finca La Palmita is a mixture of 70% Caturra and 30% Villalobos Typica. A total of 120 sacks are produced on their farm and Fratello Coffee has the top 55 coming to Calgary (exclusive in Canada).
The most interesting geographical attribute, is that this farm is located on a calcareous deposit, which contains high levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. What you notice right away is how the soil had a “sandy-like” texture. These high levels of calcium aid in producing a very hard bean density. Miguel introduced experimental potassium fertilization into this plot of land, which boosted the sweetness of flavor profiles found the cup as well. What was most noticeable was the extreme consistency of red cherries amongst all the trees in this small plot.
Miguel brought in an extra crew of harvesters to pick this entire MISO lot over a 2 day period. After harvesting, Miguel has all of his coffee brought to the famous Helsar Micro Mill. The owner of Helsar, Ricardo Perez has won many awards for the quality of coffee they produce. The pride of his work is noticed at every step from cherry separation, the cleanliness of the mill, the organization/separation of special lots and the brand new dry mill being installed while we were there.
Both lots we have purchased are fully washed and sun dried under parabolic protection for 8 days. Ricardo has done density sorting in the parchment stage as well as after hulling the green coffee. All coffee has been shipped in Grain Pro packaging to ensure the moisture content of this green stays consistent. A LOT of work has gone into this coffee and it really shows in the cup.
Both lots are now in Calgary and will be available mid August 2012. MISO won’t last long…..sorry.