El Salvador Coffee Sourcing Trip 2015

El Salvador

We are very excited to bring you some of the great El Salvador coffee’s that will be arriving in July, we recently visited 3 producers in El Salvador, two that we have worked with before, Mauricio Salaverria and the Dumont family, and one producer that will be brand new to Fratello, Café Pacas. Though this is new to Fratello this is by no means a new producer as the Pacas family has been cultivating coffee for over 150 years. If the name sounds familiar there is a good reason for it, they were the ones to discover the Pacas varietal, a natural mutation of the bourbon. Known for it’s slightly larger bean and tastes similar but generally brighter than bourbon it is a fantastic coffee. This was also one of the varietals that were combined to make the Pacamara varietal, along with the Maragogype. And that brings us back to what we have coming this year, we are very excited to offer 2 Pacamara’s this coming year, one a fully washed 5 Bag lot from Malacara B and one a 3 bag Fully natural lot from Finca Himalaya. Although both are fantastic lots we are particularly excited for the Full Natural lot.

El Salvador 1

Micro lot of Natural Pacamara

While we were visiting Mauricio’s drying patios we came across a fully natural coffee (pictured below) that smelled liked dried blueberries, as luck would have it this coffee had just finished drying and both Mauricio and I were very excited to try it. Mauricio took a small plastic bag of it, had it processed and roasted so we could try it. Although it was a blind cupping there was no mistaking this coffee on the table, as soon as it was ground it filled the room with the fragrance of blueberry candy, and that delicious fragrance carried right through to the taste, even beside other very good natural coffee’s this one stood out with the sweet caramel and blueberry taste a full rich body and a slight tangy tartness of blackberries on the aftertaste. This was just an experiment of Mauricio’s which is why it is such a small lot but we are thrilled to be the exclusive roaster of this coffee.

El Salvador

Fully washed, honey and natural Bourbons drying

Watch for this coffee in Mid-July I am sure it will not last long!

We also have another rather interesting pair of coffee’s that will be coming from Finca Joaquim of the Pacas family , We have a Red bourbon from there which by itself is great but we are also getting the Peaberry selection of the very same coffee!

A Peaberry is a slightly mutated bean, it is still a Red Bourbon but instead of having two beans growing in a cherry the Peaberry is a just a single bean in the cherry. This allows it to soak up all the deliciousness of the cherry giving it a generally sweeter taste with more intense characteristics. This is another very small lot (2-3 Bags) but if you get the chance we would definitely recommend trying the Red Bourbon alongside the Peaberry to really experience how even the smallest change can vastly affect the taste.

Nicaraguan Java: From Coffee Plantation to Palate

Fratello has a brand new coffee in the works and you’re about to get the inside scoop.  The Nicaraguan Java, sourced by Fratello’s head roaster David Schindel, is on its way to being in a coffee cup near you! I sat down with David to learn a bit more about his recent trip to Nicaragua and how this coffee travelled from farm to Fratello.

Kwin Dean: Hey David, sounds like your recent trip to Nicaragua was pretty productive! How many farms did you visit while you were there?

David Schindel: I visited 5 farms total on my trip to Nicaragua; the Mama Mina farm, the Los Placeres farm, two other smaller farms and finally the Limoncillo farm, where I found the Nicaraguan Java, or Nica Java for short. Finca Limoncillo was probably one of the most beautiful places that I visited on my entire trip, as you can probably tell from the pictures.

KD: What stood out to you about this particular farm?

DS: The huge waterfall right in the middle! And the large size of the farm…it’s 171 manzanas; or close to 300 acres. The Nica Java lot made up only a few acres of the entire farm.

Nicaragua-4

KD: Tell me a little bit about the background of Finca Limoncillo and Fratello’s relationship with the farmers.

DS: This farm is owned by the Mierisch family, whom we’ve been working with for 6 or 7 years now. They also own the Mama Mina and Los Placeres farms that we’ve gotten some really nice coffees from in the past. The Mierisch family is pretty well established in the coffee community. They have 9 farms, with some in Honduras as well. Their website, fincasmierisch.com, is a really good source of information on each farm and can give people a broader idea the coffees that are grown there and the teams that work there.

KD: What are the working conditions like at Finca Limoncillo?

DS: In comparison to the quality of life that most Nicaraguans lead, I’d say the working conditions there are definitely above average. The farm workers live in the area and have access to school facilities and an on-site medical care office year round, even though the harvest is seasonal; usually December to February.

KD: How are the coffees picked and milled at Finca Limoncillo?

DS: The coffee cherries are hand-picked, then milled and dried about one hour from the farm. This is also where the cupping lab is.

Nicaragua-3

The Mierisch family has adopted a new parabolic drying chamber which is in its first year of use at the mill. Essentially it consists of African raised beds that are stacked on top of each other in a green- house-like environment that controls humidity as the beans dry. The beans start at the top of the stack and are lowered down level by level as they dry. This allows for a slower drying time, which helps to close up the cell walls of the bean more consistently and leads to a harder bean that is better for roasting.

Once dried, the beans are sorted by density, then sorted again by hand to ensure that only the best beans make the cut.

KD: You ended up choosing two different coffees from this farm to import to Fratello. How did you go about choosing these coffees?

DS: I did an extensive cupping over the course of two days. I tasted about 40 coffees each day for a total of close to 80 different coffees. This farm is pretty large with around 3 full containers, or about 900 sacks, produced each year. This means that there is a wide variety of coffees to try in the cuppings.

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In the end I chose two coffees: the Nica Java natural and the Nica Java pulp natural. This is the exact same coffee bean, just processed in two different ways. In this case, Java simply refers to the varietal of the bean. It is characterized by being a little bit more elongated and oblong-shaped than some other varietals.

KD: What is the difference between a coffee that is naturally processed and a coffee that is processed using the pulp natural method?

DS: A naturally processed coffee means that the coffee is dried with the coffee cherry still on the bean. This type of processing generally gives the coffee more fruity flavours.

A pulp natural is dried with the mucilage or pulp still on the bean, but NOT the full coffee cherry. So this type of processing supplies a bit less fruit flavour to the coffee than the natural processing does.

Nicaragua-1

KD: What sort of tasting notes made you choose these coffees?

The natural had a fruity berry note. I could taste a bit of strawberry and blackberry. It was much heavier on the palette.

The pulp natural had notes of lemon and black tea, a citrus acidity and a nice natural sweetness.

In general, I was looking for a coffee that had a little something different, or a unique-ness about it. A lot of coffees have chocolate or nut flavours and they aren’t necessarily bad coffees; they’re just plain. At Fratello, we want a coffee with personality.

KD: What would be considered a bad tasting note, or something that would cause you to low-score a coffee?

DS: These could be things like: carbon flavours, which might indicate an issue with the roasting; metallic flavours, which might indicate a hard bean defect, or simply just a bland, uninteresting taste on the palate.

KD: Once you chose these two coffees and had the lots shipped to the Fratello roastery, how did you go about developing the profile of the coffees?

DS: The idea was to use roasting techniques to try to re-create those amazing flavours that I had tasted at the cuppings in Nicaragua. I’m working with the pulp natural right now. So far I’ve tried about ten different profile roasts and I think I need about one or two more just to refine the final profile.

I started by trying to highlight the acidity. To do this, I tried speeding up the first crack stage with higher temperatures at the beginning of the roast. I was still missing the lemony-ness, so I continued to play with the development times and bean colour. Eventually I made a happy mistake…I was trying for a 9 minute crack time; however the roaster was cold since it was the first roast of the day. I ended up with a crack time of just over 10 minutes, so I tried the same development time afterward and ended up finding the lemony notes I had been looking for! Now it’s just a matter of lightening up the roast a bit without losing those flavour characteristics.

KD: What flavours are you aiming for in the final cup?

DS: I’m looking to fine-tune the profile to a smooth lemon tea flavour with lots of brightness.

KD: What is the expected release date of the Nicaraguan Java?

DS: This coffee should be profiled and ready for distribution by the beginning of next week, so around September 22, 2014.

KD: How do you think this coffee ranks among our other Fratello coffees?

DS: Personally, I’d say it ranks among our top two coffees right now, along with the Costa Rican Gamboa Pastora. When I was cupping in Nicaragua, I scored these coffees around an 87 out of 100, which is pretty high.

KD: How long can we expect these coffees to be available?

DS: In terms of green beans, we brought back 2 sacks of the natural and 16 sacks of the pulp natural. This translates to just under 1200 2 pound bags of roasted coffee, so I’d say this will last us about 3 or 4 months. Hopefully less if everyone likes it as much as I think they will!

Well, there you have it! The Nicaraguan Java should be available for purchase any day now. Stop by our roastery location or either of our Analog cafes in the next couple of weeks to give this unique coffee a try…it may not last long! Happy drinking!

- Kwin Dean

Fast Forward Weekly - Calgary's Booming Coffee Scene

Cream of the coffee shops  - Calgarians hungry for more than a cup of joe

Published April 11, 2013  by James Wilt in Bar & Restaurant Guide

It’s mid-week, mid-morning. A dozen or so customers are drinking espressos and lattes in Fratello’s Analog Cafe on 17th Avenue S.W. It’s decently busy, at least by the standards of many local third-wave coffee shops — a movement to promote high-quality, artisanal coffee, of which Fratello’s is an adherent. The mixture of conversation and coffee grinding is nearly constant.

But Russ Prefontaine, an owner and green-bean buyer for Fratello, is a tad perturbed. He can’t figure out why the shop is so “dead” at the moment. Standing-room only is the norm on weekends, and often during the late-morning rush, he explains. Overall sales have been increasing week by week. Needless to say, this sort of customer excitement around coffee isn’t typical for this city.

“It just goes to show how hungry Calgary is for something like this,” Prefontaine says, noting that Analog is the first café of its kind to set up in such a “mainstream” spot — it’s adjacent to the popular joints of Clive Burger, Sloth Records and The Big Cheese. “What I didn’t expect was to open the doors and be this busy right out of the gate.”

However, it’s not just Prefontaine who’s noticed the growing interest in artisan coffee. A shift has been happening across the city. It seems as though new roasters (Caffe Rosso), cafés (Savour and Gravity) and home-brewing websites (Eight Ounce Coffee) are popping up every few months. After five or so years of tillage, the scene is flourishing.

We now have the top two baristas in Canada, a huge accomplishment for a city of 1.1 million people. In September 2012, Jeremy Ho and Ben Put of Phil & Sebastian brought home the gold and silver, respectively, from the Canadian Barista Championship, earning Ho a chance to compete at the World Barista Championship in May, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Calgary’s officially on the country’s coffee map.

The Canadian champ says that he’s seen a massive shift in Calgary’s interest in coffee since he started working in the industry back in 2006. “Before, people weren’t ordering based on origin — they were ordering on roast level [light, medium or dark],” Ho says. “Now, people are starting to understand that coffees can be different depending on where they’re from, so that’s really cool.”

Of course, roasting is a fundamental part of making coffee (along with picking/processing green beans, and the physical preparation in the café), and David Crosby of Caffe Rosso is taking full advantage of the city’s new interest to teach customers about that part of the operation. Rosso has been roasting its own coffee for a few months now.

“The process of people seeing roasting in our Ramsay location is really big,” he says. “Customers are coming behind the counter and asking questions. The biggest reason that we put the roaster in our Ramsay location — instead of just in some warehouse — is for the customers to see it and be engaged with it, and to see yet another link in the chain.”

While Calgary may not have the sheer quantity of cafés as Vancouver or Toronto, the overall quality is undoubtedly comparable. As Ho puts it, “People are starting to taste distinctions between different chains and shops. And that’s huge — they can’t go back. We’re converting them.”

 

Calgary is Awesome! Great Coffee Makes for a Great City

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!

2012 Prairie Coffee Show and Barista Competition

We are very proud to announce the 2012 Prairie Coffee Show - July 13th to 16th.  This year, Fratello Coffee Roasters, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters and Transcend Coffee are taking the event to the next level.   We listened to the feedback from last year and will be expanding on the very popular customer workshops.  We also took a big step and will be taking the opportunity to bring industry folks from across the prairies and creating a forum for sharing of ideas and collaboration.

We are proud to announce that Steve Leighton of Hasbean Coffee (all the way from Stafford, UK) will be leading our industry forum.  Steve is one of the most respected coffee guys, and besides running a successful coffee roasting business, he also has a great blog (www.hasblog.co.uk), a fun and informative video coffee tasting blog called “In my mug” (www.inmymug.com) and is one of the co-creators of Tamper Tantrum - a series of on-going talks by various industry members - recorded and made public for everyone’s benefit, see more atwww.tampertantrum.com.  We are extremely grateful that Steve made time out of his busy schedule to come and lead our industry forum.   The details of the Forum are as follows:

APPEALING TO THE AVERAGE CONSUMER
Brent Fortune, Coffee Common
Discussion on Coffee Common's approach to reaching customers, what's worked, what hasn't.
Focus on connecting with customers and engaging them on an approachable level.

SERVICE - STOP TALKING AND START LISTENING
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
Presentation on how the modern day coffee shop has forgotten to listen to its most valuable assets..

RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BY-THE-CUP PROGRAM (Round-table)
Phil Robertson, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters
Russ Prefontaine, Fratello Coffee Roasters
Poul Mark, Transcend Coffee
Discuss various perspectives of what works and what doesn't.  Try to answer the question: can it be done?

REAL INNOVATION IN SPECIALTY COFFEE
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
A presentation on what "real" innovation is in the specialty industry, and not the elephants in the room.

PRICING, PROFIT AND SUSTAINABILITY OF QUALITY (Round-table)
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
Sebastian Sztabzyb, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters
David Crosby, Caffe Rosso
Chris Prefontaine, Fratello Coffee Roasters
Pricing retail can be tricky: incumbents have setup price barriers and the cost of top quality green is increasing, so how to we create sustainability?

Finally, in an effort to build and strengthen the prairie region barista community, we will be hosting barista workshops led our past two Canadian Barista Champions: Rob Kettner 2010 and Josh Hockin 2011.

We are also honored to be welcoming back Brent Fortune of Coffee Common for the very popular coffee workshops, except they will not be workshops.  Instead of class-style demonstrations, we are going to have hands-on brewing and tasting stations, allowing you to brew your coffee alongside an experienced barista.  This interactive hands-on style worked very well in the Coffee Common NYC Pop-up this past January.

Coffee & Wine Comparison - Part 1

Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means an expert on wine and I do not know everything about coffee.  What I can lay claim to is that I have a love for both.

When I first started in the coffee industry 6 years ago I had an appreciation for and found enjoyment in coffee, but I had a definite lack of understanding and knowledge.  As I’ve grown within the industry, my knowledge, understanding, passion and respect for coffee has continued to grow.  I don’t expect this to ever stop.  Through this process, I also discovered wine.  This too I had an appreciation for but was admittedly very ignorant as to regional variations, varietal variations, terroir variations, etc…  I’ve found that interestingly in both instances these variables can have a profound impact on the characteristics of the beverage you choose.  Ultimately for me, it came down to and education in how my palette works.  This brings me to my first discovery of the cross-over between these two wonderful beverages.

The flavor-wheels of coffee & wine:

Coffee and Wine flavour wheels

Starting in the middle of each of these we work our way to the outside in order to establish a definition of what on earth we have in our mouth.  While many of the names differ, the use and understanding of them is the same.  Ultimately it’s the similarities that drew my attention.

Another interesting social observation I’ve made is that during the time we’ve seen the uprising of the so-called “3rd wave” of coffee, with its high end, made to order coffee bars serving, fantastic coffee prepared by baristas who know and understand exactly what they are serving, how it should be served, and why it’s served that way, there has been a marked increase in the number of  “Boutique” wine shops, I’ve noticed a shift in inventory of larger big box liquor stores to carry an ever increasing inventory of fine wines, and the opening of dedicated wine bars.  I find the similar evolution astounding.

The more I think about this the more I appreciate the similarities.  Coffee is impacted by climate, so is wine. Coffee is impacted by terroir, so is wine. Coffee is impacted by processing, so is wine.  You can only drink soo much wine before you don’t feel well, we all know that it’s the same with coffee.  These are emotional drinks, they can elicit fond memories, they can bring joy, and they can quite literally alter your mood.

The only real and unfortunate difference I can find is that coffee is for the impatient…  Coffee needs to be enjoyed now.  Wine on the other hand can be for the patient.  It can have a shelf life.

What is the point of this post?  I have no idea.  It’s just something I find fascinating and is a great topic to ponder over a great cup of coffee, or glass of wine…  This being said, I’ve now decided that this will be followed up with a subsequent post discussing a little more about regionality and how we fall in love…

Written by Joel May of Fratello Coffee Roasters

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony June 3rd!

Ethiopian coffee ceremony Analog Cafe and Fratello Coffee are honored to be hosting a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony this Friday June 3rd at Analog Cafe at the Calgary Farmers Market!

Please join us at 11am on Friday June 3rd at Analog Cafe at the Calgary Farmers Market to take part in this ceremony. We are very pleased to have Fikerte Neguisse and Maron Abera from Amharic Immersion Calgary lead us in this ancient Ethiopian tradition. They are excited to share this tradition with you. They will be roasting and uniquely preparing  our Fratello Ethiopian Sidamo Ardi right at Analog Cafe.

Fratello Coffee Roasters and Analog Cafe are honored that we can help bring this part of coffee tradition to you in Calgary and hope that you are able to join us June 3rd at 11am!

It is a great time to be drinking coffee in Calgary!

caffe crema coffee barista training Slayer barista training fratello

Over the last 4 years the number of independent quality driven cafes has grown from less than a handful to over 20 to choose from, with multiple locations opening for some companies. We have seen a greater dedication to sourcing exceptional coffee, hiring and retaining baristas that are passionate about coffee and educating the public.

One of the key distinguishing qualities in a great coffee house, is the sense of community between the customer and the employees. Baristas working in great coffee shops see their role as a sort of guide for the customer to what coffee has to offer; and by extension the customer becomes excited and engaged with the experience. Independent cafes and progressive chains are opening up to their customers and inviting them to learn about the whole seed to cup journey of coffee.

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Chemex, Hario V60, French Press and Aeropress oh my!

Please join us November 3rd 1-3pm at Fratello Coffee Roasters to explore 1 coffee brewed 4 ways!

chemex single serve coffee single serve coffee aeropress

single serve coffee french press single serve coffee hario v60

We are going to take our award winning Costa Rican Rio Jorco Direct Trade coffee and show you how to prepare it 4 different ways. This class is all about discovering some simple, easy but really great alternative ways of brewing coffee in your café or restaurant or at home. There will be a chance to taste the coffee, try the brew methods yourself and a contest thrown in as well to win an Aeropress brewer!

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Direct Trade Coffee - Costa Rican Tarrazu - Rio Jorco Micro-Mill

Fratello Coffee is proud to introduce an exclusive new coffee available from the Tarrazu Valley in Costa Rica.  Last month, we wrote about a Micro Mill Revolution happening in this region, this is one of those special micro-lots we wrote about.

The Rio Jorco Micro-Mill employees between 4-6 people & has 65 pickers during harvest season.   Rio Jorco is situated at an altitude of 4600 feet, and like many farms in Tarrazu faces the Pacific Coast.  The strong winds from the Pacific are important as they create a defined dry season.  This dryness causes a stress on trees creating extra sweetness in Tarrazu coffees, and especially in the 100% Caturra lots we chose from Rio Jorco.

Rio Jorco which was once known as Hacienda Jorco, is rich in history and has played a key role in the development of excellent coffee within the Tarrazu region. The Rio Jorco Micro-Mill processes all of the coffee from their own estate. unlike in their early historyof 1910, when the coffee had to be taken from Jorco to San Jose using Oxen or on horseback. Though the distance was only 15 miles it was a long trip up winding muddy roads. This required oxen to be changed 2 or three times and a one day trip was considered fast. (more…)

Discover African Coffee! Public cupping March 12th.

Its time for another free public cupping event which will be help this Friday March 12th at 1:30.

We are going to be tasting 13 different varieties of African's from 5 different countries:

I hope that many of you can make it as we are sure to discover some amazing flavors.  Our office is located at:

4021 - 9th Street SE in Calgary.

Taste of Fratello public cupping Feb 10th

Fratello coffee is going to be holding a casual public cupping of 10 fantastic coffees that we offer. We invite the public to come to Fratello on Feb 10th at 1:30 to taste a wide variety of offerings.

If you have not come out to one of our last cupping sessions this is a great way to learn about the distinctions amoung different coffee regions. You don't have to be an expert to join us, just an interest in learning about some great coffee!

Here are the coffees we will be cupping on Feb 10th at 1:30

Guatemalan Montecristo, Single Estate, Rainforest Alliance, Direct Trade

Nicaraguan Finca Limoncillo, Single Estate, Direct Trade

Panama Hacienda la Esmeralda - Diamond Mountain, Single Estate, RFA

Colombian Tolima Tierra, Direct Trade

Bolivian Caranavi Villa Oriente, Organic Fair Trade

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