The Calgary Food Bank Fundraiser

Over the past 11 years, Fratello Coffee has donated over 14,000 bags to help raise over $350,000 for The Calgary Food Bank.  We thank CBC Calgary for including us in this project.   We also want to thank you all for participating in your own ways:  Roasting, packaging, shipping all of the coffee each year.  For showing up early on event days and ensuring the hundreds of guests feel welcome.

CBC One Knight Only

Fratello, is proudly the longest running partnership CBC has for the Calgary Food Bank fundraiser, and we couldn't be happier to do our part and give back to our community.   A community that has supported our family for the past 37 years in Calgary.  With out the support of Calgarians enjoying our coffee, we could not do what we love doing. 

“This year, we bring you One Knight Only - an exclusive one-of-a-kind mug with Angela Knight’s personal touch.

The mug represents some of Angela’s favourite things about CBC Calgary’s Food Bank Drive and the city of Calgary. This special edition mug would be a great addition to your collection."

When are the One Knight Only coffee and mug sales happening? Mark your calendars for the dates below, because we do sell out fast:



To learn more about One Knight Only and other events and programming, visit  cbc.ca/feedyyc  “

5 Reasons Why You Should Carry Retail Coffee Bags in Your Cafe

If you’re not already selling retail coffee in your coffee shop, there are lots of great reasons to start. Fresh retail coffee bags are the perfect item to fill your shelves with. Offering them increases your average transaction to your current clients, and helps that customer who just remembered they’re down to their last few beans at home.

Retail Coffee Display

If you haven’t been offering retail coffee bags, it can be a little daunting to start. You might stop short of offering retail coffee bags at your shop for fear that people will stop coming to you for drinks. In fact, the opposite is true. Going out for coffee and making coffee at home both have their own allure. Customers will continue to want both experiences. 

You might also worry that the inventory won’t move, and the beans will go stale on the shelf. The reality is that you can make a lot more business if you sell retail coffee bags–if you do it right.

Irish barista champion and industry veteran Colin Harmon talks about this in his book What I Know About Running Coffee Shops. He encourages coffee professionals to think about the retail shelf as passive income. Harmon is famous for touting a full, plentiful retail shelf, complete with coffee gear, merch, and of course, retail coffee bags. He’s even famous for training his staff to immediately refill the retail shelf as soon as a customer buys something.

The look of abundance can have a profound psychological effect on customers and make them want to buy. You’ll be surprised at how much it can increase your café’s revenue. 

coffee beans display

In this article, we’ll go over our top five reasons to put retail coffee bags on your shelf and address common objections. But first, let’s talk about the logistics of retail coffee. 

How do I find a good coffee roaster?

When looking to offer high-quality retail coffee in your shop, it’s important to look for a local roaster with good sourcing standards. The roasters should have a direct trade relationship with their producers and pay them what their work is worth. If not, they should be able to prove that there’s an ethical supply chain that ensures the well-being of their producers. 

Dedication to good farming and processing practises should also be high-up on your priorities. 

retail coffee beans for sale

 

What type of coffee should I offer?

Figure out what audience you’re serving. Are they the type of drinkers who don’t know much about coffee, but prefer specialty coffee to grocery store coffee? Offer a great blend. Our Godfather Espresso is a total crowd pleaser with milk chocolate and caramel notes. It’s a medium roast, perfect for espresso drinks, drip coffee, and pour over style coffee.

Maybe you have a more coffee-aware audience with decent coffee knowledge. Do they order straight espresso or drink their Americanos black? In this case, offer single origin beans. Here are our latest offerings.

If your audience is a mix of both types of customers, you can offer blends and origins.

Now that you understand the “how,” it’s time to explore the “why.” Without further ado, here are our top 5 reasons why you should offer retail coffee at your coffee shop.

5 reasons to fill your shelf with retail coffee bags

1) It makes it easy for people to drink great coffee. 

People tend to not be very on-top of their coffee game. They generally do their grocery shopping at the supermarket, which doesn’t always have the best coffee options. They either settle for mediocre coffee, or they don’t buy it at all. When they step into your shop and see specialty coffee on your retail shelf, you’ll be a life-saver to them.

2) It helps support the local economy. 

Supporting local specialty coffee roasters is a great way to support the local economy. One of the best ways to do that is to offer coffee from local roasters on your retail shelf. When you support local companies, you’re putting money back into your community. Your money maintains local infrastructure and supports programs, reduces transportation emissions, and keeps your neighbours employed.

3) ‘Tis the season for gift giving. 

This time of year, people are already in preparation for the holiday season. Your customers may not have been in gift shopping mode when they entered your cafe. Offering high-quality retail coffee makes it easy for them. 

Coffee is the perfect gift because it’s inexpensive, yet high-quality. If you’re afraid that your customers won’t buy them until closer to Christmas, think again. Lots of people send early Christmas gifts, mailing packages to friends and family all over the world. It’s not too early to start stocking your shelves with retail coffee.

coffee sales

4) People are making coffee at home more than ever. 

Thanks to the pandemic, many people’s jobs have become remote, and many are working from home. As a result, more people are making their coffee at home as opposed to grabbing it on the way to work. People are still going out for coffee, but it’s more often to catch up with friends or as a weekend excursion. Offering retail coffee helps people make delicious coffee from the comfort of their own homes.

The average consumer in Canada consumes 1 x 12oz bag of coffee per week at their home.  This will really begin to add up over time as you create new purchasing habits with your customers. 

5) It can drastically increase your revenue. 

According to the aforementioned Colin Harmon, offering retail coffee bags can increase your revenue by 10-30%.

Do you ever stop and wonder why you always see cases of soda pop piled high near the grocery checkout? That’s because people are attracted to the look of abundance. According to American psychologist Barry Schwartz, plentiful retail displays can make us feel optimistic and happy. On the other hand, scarcity can make us feel defensive and frugal. If there were only one case of pop left on the shelf, it would make us feel guilty about taking the last one.

Retail displays that employ abundance perform much better than scare, dwindling displays.  We encourage our customers to stock as much of their cafes inventory of coffee in the front of their cafes as possible.  You will be surprised at how many larger bags you will sell as well. 

busy cafe

What happens if people don’t buy the coffee bags?

You might be afraid to offer retail beans for fear that they’ll go stale on the shelf. After all, roasted beans only have a shelf life of 2-4 weeks from the roast date. But don’t let this stop you.

You can always brew the coffee in your coffee shop if it’s not selling. Toss the beans into your espresso grinder hopper or brew it as drip before it goes stale. Alternatively, you can discount the bags to make them sell faster. 

You might have trouble selling the retail coffee at first. But if you’re employing abundance and moving your inventory, it won’t be long before the beans start flying off the shelf.

What else can I offer on my retail shelf?

You can also offer teas from our Idle Tea collection. Our tea line includes favourites like green tea, herbal tisanes, and black teas like Earl Grey, Assam, and chai. We also offer ceremonial-grade matcha powder and alternative lattes powder, like beetroot, turmeric, and rooibos matcha.

This will be delightful for the tea drinkers who visit you.  Very few cafe owners put much attention into this demographic, and like coffee drinkers, they like to brew high quality beverages at home.

Retail tea bags

Beans aplenty

Though it may sound counterintuitive to stock your retail shelf with coffee bags, especially if your business isn’t thriving, you’ll be surprised at what it does for your revenue. Of course, every market is different, and this might not work for every business. But how can you rule it out until you give it a shot?

Stick a nice percentage on your revenue, make holiday gift shopping easier, and be the lifesaver for that person who just ran out of coffee. Win, win, win.

Looking to sell retail coffee and tea at your coffee shop? Get in touch with us by dropping us a line at . We’d love to fill your retail shelves!

How to Clean and Maintain Your Espresso Machine

It may seem like a daunting task to have to clean your commercial espresso machine. With all those levers and buttons and knobs, it may look more like a fuse box than a coffee maker. But rest assured that cleaning your commercial coffee machine isn’t much harder than cleaning your drip coffee maker!

Sure, you can dig out your dusty old user manual, complete with typos and instructions that make so sense. Or, you can check out this easy guide on how to clean your espresso machine. We’ll go over how to clean an espresso portafilter, what is backflushing an espresso machine, and how to descale an espresso machine.

What happens if I don’t clean my espresso machine?

If you don’t clean your espresso machine, you risk crappy tasting coffee, bacterial build-up, and the function of your machine. While you’re using your espresso machine throughout the day, espresso grinds, coffee oil, and mineral scale from water intake build up throughout the day. 

Espresso being extracted

 

A lot of things can go wrong if you don’t clean your espresso machine, or don’t clean it properly. 

For one, your coffee will taste stale or “off.” If you’re brewing espresso from a brew head with day-old grinds, through a dirty portafilter, you’ll taste yesterday’s coffee. Not exactly what you’re going for! When exposed to air, moisture, light, and heat, coffee oils go rancid quickly.

Not only that, but you also run the risk of attracting pests. Stray coffee grounds are food to cockroaches, and they can attract mice and rats if you’re not careful. Restaurants and cafes are particularly susceptible to pests. Make sure all surfaces are wiped of coffee beans and grounds, and don’t give pests a reason to stick around. 

In general, having a visibly dirty espresso machine could make customers think twice about ordering coffee off of you.

How to descale an espresso machine

Part of cleaning your espresso machine is descaling. Descaling your machine cleans it, but it also removes mineral buildup in the hot water tanks. If mineral buildup goes unchecked, it can affect water flow and pressure in your machine. This, in turn, will affect the flavour of your espresso. Excess mineral build-up will require a professional to remove, and can even cause your machine to call it quits altogether. 

How often do I need to clean my espresso machine?

To maintain your machine properly and have great tasting espresso at all times, clean your machine at least once a day, at the end of the business day. 

Espresso machine steaming

We’ve broken down the cleaning tasks by espresso machine part.

The portafilters (the filters that screw into the group heads with handles) need to be cleaned spotlessly. Soak them in hot water and dish soap to loosen stuck-on grounds and oil. If you’re worried about a soapy flavour, you can soak them in hot water and Puro Caff.  After they’ve soaked for 10-15 minutes, scrub them vigorously, rinse them, and leave them to air dry.

Pop the basket out first before you leave them to soak in the water to get them as clean as possible. To remove the basket, pry it off with a spoon or a butter knife. 

Backflushing the machine is when you intentionally change the direction of the water flow so the machine can flush the water tank. You do this by using “blind” or “blank” baskets. Unlike regular portafilter baskets with holes, these baskets are solid, forcing the water backwards into the tank. Backflushing removes any scale, coffee grounds or sludge from the inside of the water tank.

To backflush, remove the regular basket from the portafilter, and put the blind basket in. Place ½ tsp of Urnex into the basket, and screw the portafilter into the machine. You’ll want to run 5 cycles, each with 10 seconds on, and 5 seconds off. You’ll likely see dirty, foamy liquid coming from the outlet–that’s normal. After your 5 cycles, remove the portafilter, run some water from the group head, and rinse the portafilter. 

Screw the portafilter back in, and run 5 cycles (10 seconds on, 5 seconds off), this time without the Urnex. Your backflush is complete.

NOTE: Backflushing works on 3-way valve systems. If you have a lever-style machine, backflushing isn’t necessary, and shouldn’t be attempted.

Espresso machine group head

The group heads are the brewers, ie. the part that the portafilters screw into. They’ll be covered in grounds from the day, and will need a good wipe-down and brushing. Using a group head brush, scrub the entire top of the group head while running the water. If the hot water is threatening to splash at you, just turn the hot water off while scrubbing, running it between brushes. 

After you’re done brushing, wipe the entire group head with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

The steam wands are in contact with milk all day, posing the risk of bacteria. Not only this, but if the wands aren’t cleaned regularly, the milk residue can harden over time, affecting the performance of the steam wands. They won’t make barista-worthy microfoam if they’re clogged up. 

To clean them, dissolve a ¼ tsp of Frother Cleaner in a small pitcher with hot water filled halfway. Place the steam wand in the pitcher and leave it to soak for 30-60 minutes (NOTE - Do not leave overnight). In the morning, simply wipe down the steam wands and purge them for 30-60 seconds. 

Espresso machine steam wands

The espresso machine has a tray that collects water and spilt coffee. During the day, this can get quite dirty. It’s important to clean this daily–otherwise it can clog the drain, smell foul, and attract pests.

To clean the tray, simply flush the tray with hot water until all the grounds are gone. You can also manually remove it and rinse it under the sink (just make sure you cover the hole with a damp cloth or you’ll have another mess to clean up!). 

While it’s what’s on the inside that counts, we also believe your espresso machine should look sharp on the outside, too. Make sure the tops of your espresso machine (where the cups and saucers live) and the exterior of your machine are cleaned regularly. Grinds can accumulate on top of the machine, and coffee and milk splashes can be seen on the outside of the machine, facing customers. Your espresso machine is a work of art, so make sure it always looks taken-care-of. 

espresso cup

Maintaining the cleanliness of your espresso machine should be a group effort. An espresso machine that doesn’t get cleaned regularly can make the flavour of your coffee suffer, and it can slowly degrade your machine. Espresso machines are not cheap, and neither are espresso machine technicians. Remember: a stitch in time saves 9!

Looking for more tips for masking tasty espresso? Check out our previous article on how to pull a perfect shot of espresso. If you need more guidance on the ins-and-outs of espresso, book a consultation with us–we’re here to help!

 

Tamp Like a Champ: How to Tamp Espresso

How you tamp your espresso can have a huge impact on the flavour of the coffee. If you did everything else right but your espresso is tasting sour or running poorly, your tamp could be the culprit.

Tamping espresso

When you’re leading a team of baristas, it can be common for everyone to have different ways of tamping. There are lots of wrong ways to tamp espresso, and baristas can carry these bad habits for years. 

Poor tamping is not just an issue of flavour–it’s also a health and safety issue. Tamping can cause repetitive strain injuries over time, a condition more commonly known as “barista wrist” in the industry.

Luckily, it’s easy to learn how to tamp espresso properly and fix any mistakes. We’ll walk you through all the dos and don’ts of tamping espresso. But first, we’ll take a look at why we tamp coffee in the first place.

espresso tamper

What happens if you don’t tamp coffee?

Tamping coffee is when you apply downward pressure on coffee using a tamper. 

If you try to brew a portafilter with loose grounds, the water will move through the coffee instead of brewing it. As a result, you’ll get a watery, under extracted, sour espresso. Coffee that hasn’t been tamped has a lot of pockets of air, and the water finds an easy way to exit. 

Tamping removes these air pockets from the coffee. This helps the water move more evenly throughout the whole puck. All it takes is one loose spot on the puck for the water to find this weak spot and rush through it. This is known as “channeling.”

What are some examples of poor tamping?

Here are some common ways that tamping goes wrong. 

If you tamp at an angle and the puck isn’t parallel to the portfiler, the water will go to the lowest point. Water is always looking for the path of least resistance. Instead of brewing the whole puck, it will only brew the low part. To make sure your tamper is parallel to the portafilter, use the ring inside the portafilter basket as a guide.  

Holding the tamper incorrectly can have an impact on the flavour. Avoid holding the tamper like an ink stamp with your hand gripping the handle only. This can cause coffee grounds to jump out of the basket and cause an uneven tamp. Instead, wrap your fingers around the base of the tamp while applying downward pressure.

Tamping a mountain of coffee grounds won’t result in a level coffee bed. You’ll get a flat surface with bevelled edges–a perfect weak spot for the hot water. After grinding your beans into the portafilter, give the portafilter a good tap on the side. This helps the process along by settling the bed of coffee.

After tamping your espresso, there will usually be some loose grounds floating on the sides of the puck. The barista’s common instinct is to knock the portafilter to get the loose grounds in the middle so they can tamp again. But knocking the side of the portafilter can crack the puck, causing channeling, and it also damages your equipment.

Instead of knocking, place your tamper on top of the puck again, and spin the tamp with no pressure. This will make those loose grounds on the side co-operate. 

Barista tamping espresso

How to tamp espresso the right way: Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to tamp espresso properly.

  1. Grind your coffee into your portafilter. Once ground, tap it against the side of your hand (or on the tamping mat) to help level out the coffee bed.
  2. Place your portafilter on the tamp mat. Turn your body so that your dominant hand side is parallel with the bar counter. Place the tamper evenly on the bed of coffee so it’s parallel to the ring in the portafilter basket. Push straight down firmly until you meet resistance. (If your portafilter has a splitter, make sure the splitter is off the tamp mat. This prevents the splitter from breaking off.)
  3. If there are any loose coffee grounds, place the tamper back on. Without applying any pressure, spin the tamper to settle the loose grounds. 
  4. Brew your espresso. Easy!

Espresso tamping

How hard should I tamp?

In the coffee industry, it’s agreed upon that 20-30 lbs of pressure goes into a proper tamp. You don’t need to tamp incredibly hard to achieve this. Tamp until you feel the coffee stop. 

It can be easy to get tired at the end of the day and tamp lighter as the day goes on. Be aware of this, and try to keep a consistent tamping strength throughout the whole day.

Tamping safety

The trick to avoiding strain on your wrist is keeping it straight while you tamp and engaging your shoulder and your arm. Lifting your elbow at a 90 degree angle makes it easy to keep your wrist straight, and makes the power come from your arm.

Which is the best espresso tamper?

The most important thing when looking for a tamper is finding one that fits your portafilters. The tamp should spread to the very edges of the basket, ensuring a smooth, uniform tamp. If the tamper is too big, it simply won’t fit; if the tamper is too small, you’ll create air pockets around the edges and cause channeling. 

For newbie baristas who don’t know how hard to press, click tampers are a great option. They make an audible clicking noise once 30 lbs of pressure have been pushed into the coffee puck. 

naked portafilter

How do I know if I’m tamping correctly?

You can tell a lot about how well (or poorly) your coffee is running just by looking at your spent coffee pucks. If you see any air pockets or obvious signs of the coffee spilling over the edge of the basket, your tamp could be the issue.

If you’re still not sure, try to look at the bigger picture. Brew a shot of espresso, dilute it with some water, and taste it. If the coffee tastes unpleasant and has an edge, try again. If it tastes acceptable, or even good, you’re on the right track!

Tamp champ

Tamping isn’t complicated; it’s actually remarkably easy. But unfortunately, there are a lot of bad habits out there that seem to be contagious. Baristas learn by watching other baristas, picking up on their habits without knowing whether they’re right or wrong. But it’s not their fault–if they don’t receive the proper training, how can they be expected to do a good job?

As a cafe manager or owner, it’s up to you to set standards and catch any bad habits before they get out of hand. By teaching correct tamping, you improve your coffee, retain your customer base, and keep your team safe.

Looking for more tips to improve your espresso game? Check out our previous blog post about degassing coffee for better tasting espresso. And, if you need more support, book a consultation with us, and drop us a line at






Barista-worthy Steamed Milk : Microfoam for Beginners

There’s no experience more decadent than drinking a well-crafted latte. A good latte merries a perfectly pulled shot of espresso and textured milk. But textured milk is easier said than done. That’s why baristas painstakingly steam your milk to perfection. Properly steamed microfoam isn’t thick and foamy; it’s creamy and velvety, and its sweetness complements the espresso perfectly.

Latte Art

Proper microfoam is essential for latte art. At its core, latte art is an indication of a well-made drink. Both the espresso shot and the milk have to be executed properly, or you won’t get that beautiful latte art. The visual appeal of latte art will keep your customers coming back for more. As a barista, it’s a fun challenge that keeps you on your toes.

A note about foam

There are two main ideologies in the coffee world: Italian-style or “old-school” coffee, and third wave coffee. A lot of people order a cappuccino, expecting to see a thick cloud of foam on top. This is also referred to as a “bone-dry” cappuccino. When they get their microfoam cappuccino, they’re disappointed, and it’s not what they pictured.

The old-school coffee ideology is respected in its own right. But in this article, we’re talking about third wave coffee, to which flat microfoam is central.

What is microfoam?

Microfoam is a method of steaming milk where you inject tons of tiny bubbles into the milk, creating a textured milk. The bubbles run all throughout the milk, instead of the foam and the milk being separate from one another. Rather than having a thick foamy milk that plops right on top of your espresso, you get a continuous flow. This opens the door to latte art, and mastering microfoam lets baristas create rosettas, tulips, and even swans!

In addition, microfoam isn’t hot; it’s warm. Dairy milk has natural sugars (lactose) which complement the sweetness of espresso. Heating up your milk too much can burn and effectively destroy those natural sugars. You should aim for 120-140 degrees F. To get that optimal warm temperature, place your palm on the side of the metal pitcher while steaming. As soon as you feel warmth, stop steaming immediately. You can use a thermometer, but your hand is more intuitive.

Milk thermometer

How to make microfoam for beginners

To make proper microfoam, you’ll need a high-quality espresso machine with a precision steam wand. Pour your milk into a metal steaming pitcher until it’s about a centimetre below the spout. Place the pitcher at an angle, leaning down slightly to your right. Before you start steaming, lift the milk pitcher up to the steam wand. The steam wand should be slightly below the surface of the milk, about a centimetre.

Turn your steam wand on. If you’re at the correct angle, you should create a vortex effect. If you don’t see this affect, don’t panic. Gently move the pitcher side to side (not up and down), making sure the steam wand is just below the surface. Keep steaming until it starts to feel warm, not hot. Immediately switch the steam wand off.

steaming milk

The sound (or lack thereof) is everything. If the steam wand is too close to the surface, you’ll get a high-pitched screeching sound. If it’s too submerged, you’ll get a loud, low rumbling sound. If it’s in the right spot, it’ll make practically no sound at all.

It’s normal to get a few big bubbles. Let your milk sit for a few seconds and tap out the big bubbles on a hard surface before pouring.

How to make latte art with microfoam

This is probably the hardest part. Latte art takes practise. If all you can manage is a heart, you should call that a win!

Try to get better at microfoam before attempting latte art. You can’t make latte art if your microfoam is thick and foamy. It has to be thin and glossy, similar to wet paint in texture and viscosity.

Pour your microfoam directly over the espresso in a circular motion. Once your cup is about ⅔ full, pause your pour. This is when you’ll start your latte art.

Get the spout of the pitcher closer to your latte, and pour while rapidly swiveling the pitcher left and right, about half a centimeter apart.

Fratello Coffee Latte Art

Pro tip:

Pour a bit of microfoam in the espresso, stir it with a spoon, and then pour the rest of the milk. This helps prevent a bitter taste upon the first sip. The crema layer from the espresso is quite bitter, and it rises to the top when you do latte art. Integrating it early on disperses that bitter top layer.

Practising microfoam

Instead of wasting milk to practise your microfoam, practise with a pitcher of water with a drop of dish soap. When steamed, it creates a similar texture. It helps you gauge the correct position of the pitcher and the steam wand. It also helps you practise co-ordinating when to turn off the steam wand, which can be tricky at first.

pouring microfoam milk

Making microfoam with non dairy milk

Non-dairy milk doesn’t perform as well as dairy milk when steamed, but there are ways to improve the texture. Steam your non-dairy milk more vigorously than you would with regular milk. Because they have less fat content and are more watery, they heat up quicker, meaning you have to work quicker. After steaming, let it sit for a while to let bigger bubbles come to the surface. Then, tap the pitcher firmly on a hard surface to let the bubbles out and swirl vigorously to integrate.

Don’t cry over spilt milk

Creating that perfect microfoam can be frustrating at first. There are several factors that you have to be aware of, all at the same time. This includes the angle of the milk pitcher, proper submersion of the wand, temperature, and wand shut-off. It doesn’t help that a big, roaring espresso machine can be a little daunting to a newbie barista. But if you don’t get it perfect at first, the most important thing is that you try. Customers can taste care in a cup.

Looking to open a coffee shop, or just need a tune-up for your team of baristas? Get in touch with us about our cafe consultations, and drop us a line at .




Why Do I Need a Burr Grinder?

Blade grinders are not the best choice for grinding coffee beans. While they are inexpensive and easy to use, they don't produce the same quality of coffee as burr grinders.  So why do I need a burr grinder? 

The reason blade grinders do not produce high-quality coffee is because the blades heat up during operation and this causes a burnt taste. Burr grinders, on the other hand, use rotating disks that never get hot enough to cause this burnt taste.

There is only one grinder for coffee, and that’s the burr grinder. If your coffee doesn’t taste quite right on a burr grinder, at least you have the option of adjusting it. Consistency is everything when it comes to brewing good coffee.

Hand mill grinder

I can’t afford a burr grinder! I’m just a poor student.

We get it. Burr grinders can be expensive. But this is an investment, a piece of equipment that’ll make tasty coffee for years to come. A decent electric burr grinder ranges in price from $200-$1000. We recommend the Baratza Encore burr grinder as a great entry-level grinder. The conical burrs stay sharp for years with excellent precision. If you’re on a smaller budget, the Timemore Chestnut C2 grinder delivers the same quality. The only caveat is that it requires good old-fashioned elbow grease. This is perfect if you only drink one or two cups a day, and as a bonus, it travels well.

If you still don’t want to buy a burr grinder, at the very least, ask us to grind it for you, but make sure to use it up quickly. When you order beans online, make sure to tell us what grind setting you want in the checkout notes.

Hand burr grinder

Why are blade grinders bad for coffee?

Here’s what blade grinders do to your coffee. They blindly cut it up, resulting in coffee particles of all sizes, from fines to boulders. When you’re brewing a particular method, whether it’s French press or pour over, you are looking for 1 particle size… not 20!

Blade grinders are particularly bad for pour overs. When you make a pour over with blade ground coffee, you’ll get a slow-pouring, clogged filter. The resulting coffee will taste bitter and sour at the same time. And, you won’t really get any resounding flavour notes. Just a flat, lifeless cup. Sounds like a waste of effort, doesn’t it?

To understand why blade ground coffee is not ideal, you need to understand extraction. Extraction refers to the amount of soluble compounds extracted from coffee in a given time period. Extraction depends on a few factors, namely temperature and grind size. Temperature is easier to control, but grind size needs a lot of attention. The finer the grind, the quicker the extraction time; the coarser the grind, the slower the extraction time. That’s why espresso pours in mere seconds and French press takes several minutes. A bitter taste indicates over-extraction, and a sour taste indicates under-extraction.

Now that you see why blade grinders can’t create consistency, it’s time to retire that sucker. You can clean it out and use it to grind whole spices, or you can donate it to someone else looking to enter the “fresh ground coffee world”.

How does a burr grinder work?

A burr grinder is essentially a coffee mill. It “mills” the coffee, much like how a pepper mill creates particles that are uniform in size. On a burr grinder, you can adjust settings from fine to coarse, and every particle will be the same size. You need a uniform grind to achieve even extraction. If your coffee doesn’t come out quite right, at least you can adjust your grind and try again. You will notice that this is especially important when brewing espresso. With a blade grinder, you don’t have this option–instead, you get what you get.

Espresso grinder

Are there ways to make good coffee with a blade grinder?

We certainly don’t recommend a blade grinder for making pour overs, aeropresses and espresso. However, some coffee methods are more forgiving than others. Immersion methods, like steep & filter and French press, tend to respond better to blade ground coffee. That’s because immersion methods eliminate that awful sour, weak taste, which is almost always down to under extraction.

If you’re using a blade grinder, grind it on the coarser side, and pause every few seconds to shake it. Immerse the grounds in the hot water for 4-6 minutes. This won’t make an incredible coffee, but it’ll make it palatable.

What to do with pre-ground coffee

Maybe you’ve decided that a burr grinder is not in your budget, and you need to rely on pre-ground coffee. In this case, we recommend using up your pre ground coffee as quickly as possible. Ground coffee goes stale very quickly, so try to use it up within a few days maximum. Store it in the bag in a cool, dark place.

Another way to quickly use up pre ground coffee is to make a big batch of cold brew so you can use your coffee up in a timely manner. Once brewed, cold brew stays good for 1-2 weeks in your fridge. This coffee method is deliciously smooth and foolproof, and it makes for a refreshing drink in the summer months. If you’re not into cold coffee, you can always heat it up later.

Coffee Burr Grinder

Is a burr grinder a good investment?

If you’re the type who drinks 4-6 coffees a day with lots of cream and sugar, you might not notice the difference. But, if you drink coffee more for the flavour than for the caffeine, a burr grinder is a good investment. When it comes to specialty coffee, it doesn’t make sense to ruin

it with a blade grinder. Specialty coffee is pricier than other coffees on the market, in part because of the complex flavour. Only a burr grinder will unlock those tasting notes!

Want to put your burr grinder to the test? Check out our foolproof pour over guide!



Can Coffee be TOO Fresh? The Importance of Degassing Coffee

We’ve talked about the importance of fresh coffee ad nauseum here at Fratello Coffee. It’s coffee 101 to use up your beans within 2-4 weeks of roasting. But did you know that coffee can actually be too fresh? It may sound a little contradictory, but drinking too-fresh coffee can be less than tasty. This is where degassing coffee comes in.

Probat coffee roaster

In the coffee world, degassing is crucial after roasting. Coffee straight off the roaster can taste a bit jarring. Hardcore coffee lovers find extra-fresh coffee exciting, but the average coffee drinker will be a bit offput by the flavour.

Whether you make filter coffee at home or work in the coffee business, degassing coffee is key to making tasty coffee. Let’s take a look at the composition of fresh coffee and explore why it’s so important to give coffee a rest.

Why degassing coffee is necessary

When coffee beans are being roasted, the beans produce and trap carbon dioxide. Most of the CO2 dissipates from the coffee while it’s being roasted, but the coffee will retain a significant amount of it. CO2 is a natural byproduct of roasted coffee, but in large amounts, it can make the coffee taste bad. Extra fresh coffee will have a sour, vegetal, even carbonated taste. This can distract from the desirable flavour notes of the bean. 

After roasting, experts in the coffee industry recommend you rest, or “age”, your coffee for a few days before brewing. Lighter roasted beans are denser, and therefore retain a lot more CO2 than darker roasts. The lighter the roast, the longer it needs to rest.

There will still be CO2 in coffee even after the coffee has rested, but in smaller amounts. Have you ever wondered why pour over recipes tell you to “bloom” your coffee? It's because pouring a bit of hot water on the grinds allows the gasses to dissipate, improving the flavour of the coffee.

Slayer Espresso

Does aged coffee make a better espresso?

While degassing is important no matter what method you’re using, it’s particularly important for espresso. Because espresso introduces pressure, it’s a lot easier for those gasses to end up in the shot, altering the flavour. And, because third-wave espresso bars tend to serve light and medium roast espresso, aging is crucial.

Giving the coffee time to degas will let you taste the true characteristics of the coffee. You won’t have that overpowering CO2 flavour distracting your taste buds.

It’s important to realize that the “crema” layer (the caramel-coloured layer on top of the espresso) is overrated. While it may look delicious and make stunning latte art, it can make a bitter tasting drink. An ultra-thick crema layer indicates right away that your beans are still too fresh. Aging the coffee will make for a thinner crema layer, but the flavour will be much better.

How to degas coffee after roasting

Degassing coffee is simply a question of resting the coffee and leaving it alone for a few days. There’s no special technique–just let it sit undisturbed with minimal exposure to light, heat, and moisture. It should be left in an opaque container with a clearly-marked roast date so you know when to start using it.

espresso shot

How long should I degas the coffee?

How long you age your coffee depends on two things: the brew method you’re using, and the roast level.

When it comes to drip or filter coffee, it’s a good idea to rest your coffee for 2-8 days before using it. Lighter roasts can rest for 4-8 days, and darker roasts can rest for 2-4 days.

When it comes to espresso, you’ll want to wait longer. If you’re using a light roast, you’ll want to rest the coffee for 10 days. If you’re using a medium roast, rest it for 8-10 days. If you’re using a dark roast for your espresso, it should only rest for about 2 days. Dark roast coffees are porous, and you should be more concerned about using them up before they go stale. 

For further information on coffee storage, please refer to our blog post: 5 Ways to Keep your Beans Fresh

How can I degas coffee quickly?

We don’t recommend trying to speed up the degassing process. If you try to prematurely degas the coffee by exposing it to air and light, you’ll only damage it and make it go stale. Have patience!

If you run an espresso bar and you want to serve perfectly aged coffee at all times, do a bit of planning. It’s a good idea to have extra stock of your most popular espresso blend so you don’t have to wait for it to degas. 

espresso shot

What’s the point of the degassing valve?

On most coffee bags, you’ll see a circle with holes. That’s the degassing valve. While most people think that’s some kind of gadget for smelling the coffee, it actually serves a very important, practical purpose. It stops the bag of beans from exploding!

Freshly roasted beans contain enough CO2 to puff, and even explode, the bag. The valve is a one-way channel, letting CO2 exit without allowing outside air to enter the bag.

The purpose of degassing valves became abundantly clear after a 2019 incident with a popular California roaster. The renowned Blue Bottle Coffee had to recall their coffee, which was packed in airtight tins, after 13 people were injured. 

coffee beans

Fresh to death

Degassing your coffee is a great tool to have in your back pocket if you run an espresso bar. It’s a system you can implement early on to take your espresso from good to great. When it comes to making great coffee, there’s no one single recipe for perfection. Making great coffee requires curiosity, and it’s a journey of learning as you go.

If you’re looking to improve your overall espresso game, check out our previous post about pulling a perfect shot of espresso. If you’re in the coffee business and need more support, book a consultation with us by dropping us a line at




How to Read a Coffee Label Like a Pro

Do you ever go to buy a bag of quality coffee, only to stare blankly at the information on the label? Maybe you see “elevation: 1600 masl” or “varietal: SL-28.” What the heck does “honey process” mean? If you don’t know what it all means, it can make your head spin. You’re not alone. The world of coffee is vast and can be complicated. If you want to get the best coffee around, it starts with understanding what you’re buying.

Don’t let complicated labels plunge you into imposter syndrome! Great coffee is for everyone, and it’ll take some time to get acquainted with the specialty coffee label. Maybe you’re searching for particular tasting notes, or just want to learn more about specialty coffee. Or, maybe you just want to impress your friends with your knowledge! Either way, you’ll find that this tidbit of information isn’t so trivial afterall. Learning how to read coffee labels is not only important for understanding the journey the beans have taken before ending up in your cup, but also for being able to make educated purchase decisions.

Why should I read the coffee label?

If you’re becoming a real coffee lover, understanding the coffee label will take your passion to the next level. Plus, it’ll help you spot ethical coffee right away. Ethical coffee is coffee produced with the wellbeing of farmers in mind, and it’s more expensive as a result. Most coffee on the market today is incredibly cheap, and farmers don’t get a fair share.

You won’t find a comprehensive coffee label on bags of poor quality coffee. That’s because poor quality coffee companies don’t want you to see the ugly side of the coffee industry. Read any Fratello coffee label, and you’ll find the country, region or farm, process, roast date, and roast level. If you check out our online coffee collection, you’ll find even more information about the producers. Coffee labels aren’t just for laughs–they’re for traceability and transparency.

Specialty Coffee Label Specifics

Here are the most common pieces of information you’ll see printed on a specialty coffee label.

Coffee origin

It’s not enough to know which country your coffee came from–you should know the origin, and ideally, the farm. You can even get information about the microlot. For example, with our Guatemala Montecristo, “Montecristo” refers to the microlot where the coffee was grown. If you read the label further, you’ll find that it comes from the San Marcos region of Guatemala.

Even if you’re buying a coffee blend, you should know which origins make up the blend. Don’t be fooled by flowery language that describes the coffee with no information about where it comes from.

Coffee elevation

Coffee elevation is everything in specialty coffee. Quality arabica coffee is a delicate plant, and it likes to grow in cool, shady conditions. Growing coffee at higher altitudes achieves this. Lesser quality coffees are grown in full sun and on lower elevations. Although sun-grown, lower elevation coffee makes for a big yield, the quality of the coffee suffers.

When you see “1600 masl” on a coffee label, that means that it’s grown at 1600 metres above sea level. You might also see altitude in feet.

Tasting notes

Good coffee doesn’t need artificial flavourings to taste delicious. You’ll often find tasting notes printed on coffee bags that refer to the subtle characteristics unique to that bean. When it comes to fruit notes, you could see apple, cherry, or blueberry. For sweet notes, you could see toffee, caramel, or molasses. You could even come across notes like nutty, chocolatey, floral, earthy, and even smokey.

As a newbie coffee enthusiast, these flavour notes can be daunting. You may be thinking, “the bag says floral, but all I taste is coffee!” Remember, it takes a long time to develop a flavour palate. If you want to speed up the process, purchase two coffees with wildly different flavour notes, and try them side-by-side. For example, try our Ethiopia Guji (citrus, watermelon, bright) next to our Godfather Espresso TM Blend (milk chocolate, caramel, smooth).

Coffee process

For those who don’t know, coffee is actually the seed of a cherry. The cherries grow on shrub-like trees, and are picked ripe once they turn dark red. Farmers pick thousands and thousands of cherries, and the seeds are extracted. The extraction method is referred to as the coffee process. There are a few different processes, and different processes lead to unique flavours. Here are the most common ones.

 

Varietals

Just like with wine, arabica coffee has its own varietals. With wine, you’ll see different grapes, like merlot, chardonnay, or bordeaux. In coffee, you’ll see varietals like typica, caturra, catuai, SL-28, bourbon, and more. There are over 1000 heirloom varieties, though typica is said to be the oldest known coffee varietal.

Roast level

Roast level refers to roasted coffee, not green coffee. Roasts range from light to dark. Lighter roasts tend to have a bright, acidic, fruity flavour. On the other hand, darker roasts will have more of a bold, toasty, chocolatey flavour.

 

 

 

Roast date

Make sure to buy beans that have been roasted within the past two weeks. Roast date is extremely important if you want to drink fresh coffee. Many coffees sold at the supermarket will have coffee that’s been roasted months ago and vacuum-packed. Specialty coffee roasters will never offer stale, months-old coffee. Just say no to stale coffee!

The cream of the crop

Coffee is one of the top most traded commodity in the world, along with sugar, corn and oil. As a result, there’s a lot of bad coffee out there. You can dodge a bullet by only purchasing coffee with information about process, elevation, and more. Life is too short to drink poor quality coffee. So do yourself a favour, and learn to read coffee labels like a pro!

Want to learn more about specialty coffee? Check out our blog post about new crop coffee.



How to Pull a Perfect Shot of Espresso

There’s nothing worse than going to a renowned coffee shop only to receive an espresso drink that’s bitter and undrinkable. Poorly made espresso-based drinks are more common than you might think. Even the best beans, espresso machine, and grinder can’t guarantee a good shot of espresso.

Slayer Espresso

A big challenge for cafe managers and owners is getting their large team of baristas to make good-tasting espresso. A lot of newbie baristas don’t know what to look for when dialing in espresso and lack the confidence to calibrate it.  This is why we offer complimentary ongoing training and consultation for our wholesales clients.

By putting certain practises in place, you can show your whole team how to pull a perfect shot of espresso. First, we’ll show you how to lead an espresso tasting session with a team of baristas. Then, we’ll show you how to ensure the espresso is always running well.

The building blocks of good espresso

It may sound obvious, but you need to start with great coffee and great equipment to make great espresso. Make sure you have all of these in place first before you troubleshoot your espresso.

Make sure to source roasted beans from a high-quality, specialty coffee roaster. They should have an emphasis on ethical sourcing, meticulous roasting, and freshness.

A high-quality espresso machine with enough pressure and stamina is crucial for great espresso. We recommend the Slayer espresso machine, which was produced by the fine folks here at Fratello!

A good espresso grinder allows you to micro-adjust the grind setting. It should have a timed doser to provide consistency. We recommend Mahlkonig espresso grinders. 

If you have all of that already, let’s get into it!

coffee grinder

Leading an espresso tasting with your team

It’s always a good idea to do an espresso tasting session with your team. This allows you to answer any questions and try different espresso shots side-by-side for comparison. When guiding your team through a tasting, here are some common things to look for.

While not all coffees have a sweet profile, you should aim for a sweet shot. Sweetness is detected on the tip of the tongue. Unlike an unpleasant sour flavour, you’re looking for a sweetness akin to fruit or sugar.

A good shot of espresso should never taste unpleasantly bitter or sour. You can assess this more broadly when you try the espresso by asking yourself, “Is this pleasant?” “Is this acceptable to serve?”

Bitter and sour notes can be part of the inherent flavour profile of the coffee, like rich cocoa and lemon. Don’t get confused by desirable flavour attributes. 

Get your team familiar with the flavour wheel. It’s not cheating to fill your head with all the possibilities of what coffee can taste like. It helps your team by giving them a vocabulary to describe coffee.

TIP: It’s easier for newbie baristas to taste coffee that’s cooled down and/or diluted with a bit of water.

cappuccino

Creating an espresso calibration system

After you’ve done your initial group tasting session with your team, it’s time to create a calibration system.

The best way to calibrate espresso is by tasting it and adjusting it as needed. However, most newbie baristas won’t have the skills or the confidence to do this. This method also takes more time, and when you’re trying to move a lineup, it isn’t practical. A calibration system is easy-to-follow, keeps your coffee tasting great at all times, and doesn’t disrupt your flow.

Not all coffee is the same, but as a general rule of thumb, there’s a certain espresso recipe to follow. When it comes to brewing parameters for espresso, you want to start with a dry weight of 18 grams, a wet weight of 36 grams (ie. actual brewed espresso), and a brew time of 28-30 seconds. If you brew your espresso and it doesn’t fit within these confines, you can tweak the dose and the grind setting of the coffee.

perfect espresso

How to pull a perfect shot of espresso, step-by-step:

  1. Pop the basket out of the portafilter, and zero it out on a digital scale. Grind your beans from your timed espresso grinder, and weigh it. If it weighs below 18 grams, increase your dose by a few milliseconds. If it weighs above 18 grams, decrease your dose. Don’t worry if you’re off by 0.5 grams.
  2. Once you have the right weight, evenly tamp your espresso with 30 lbs of pressure.
  3. Have a timer ready to countdown from 30 seconds. Grab a clean shot glass or mini metal pitcher, place it on the scale, and zero it out.
  4. Place the scale and the glass under the group head, and begin brewing your espresso. Immediately start your 30-second timer. 
  5. At the 30-second mark, stop the shot and read the wet weight on the scale. If the wet weight isn’t 36 grams, make some changes and start over. If the wet weight is below 36 grams, make your grind coarser. If it’s above 36 grams, make your grind finer.

Make sure to post the espresso parameters (ie. dry weight, wet weight, brew time) where staff can see it. Have your team calibrate the espresso several times a day: once first thing in the morning, at mid-morning, and in the afternoon. For accountability, you can set up a checklist on a marker board, and have staff initial their calibrations.

Other factors affecting espresso flavour

Getting the right dose and weight is important when making good espresso, but it’s not the only thing to be aware of. Other things greatly affect the flavour of espresso. Here are some common factors:

Make sure your team is tamping properly. An uneven tamp or a cracked puck can result in uneven extraction, and thus, a sour, undrinkable espresso. Check out this video to make sure your team isn’t committing any tamping faux-pas!

 

The temperature and humidity in your cafe can instantly change how your espresso pours. If the weather suddenly changes from rainy and cold to sunny and warm, recalibrate your espresso.

A dirty espresso machine can make your coffee taste off if you’re doing everything else right. Make sure your team is cleaning the espresso machine and portafilters every night with Cafiza. Additionally, make sure your team is wiping the portafilter baskets with a dry rag between espressos. Have them purge the group heads between pours, too.

Fratello Coffee

Give it your best shot

Espresso can be intimidating for new baristas who lack skills and confidence. You can’t expect them to know everything right off the bat. The more effort you put into standards and procedures, the more likely it is that your team will get on board.

It doesn’t take long to gain a reputation as a no-fail, sure-shot espresso bar. Before long, your customers will notice, and they’ll be lining up for more. So do a little planning, schedule that espresso tasting with your team, and knock it out of the park!

We know that espresso can be a complicated beast. With decades of experience in the specialty coffee world, we have all the tools to make your cafe a success. Book a consultation call with us by emailing us at . We’re here to help!





New Crop Coffee : What is it and Why Does it Matter?

You may have heard the term “new crop coffee” in the specialty coffee sphere. But few people actually know what it means, and why it’s so important in the coffee world. Here at Fratello coffee, our work revolves around new crop coffee. While it’s important that our coffee arrives to you freshly roasted, it’s equally important that the green coffee we roast is of the utmost freshness, too. New crop coffee is essential for delivering fresh coffee with exciting flavour notes.

You may have heard the term “new crop coffee” in the specialty coffee sphere. But few people actually know what it means, and why it’s so important in the coffee world. Here at Fratello coffee, our work revolves around new crop coffee. While it’s important that our coffee arrives to you freshly roasted, it’s equally important that the green coffee we roast is of the utmost freshness, too. New crop coffee is essential for delivering fresh coffee with exciting flavour notes.

Coffee Cupping at Home: How to Identify Tasting Notes

Coffee Cupping (or tasting) at home is easy to do and a lot of fun.   When on the lookout for specialty coffee, it’s common to see tasting notes like “floral” or “citrus” written on the bag. But when you go to try the coffee yourself, and all you taste is coffee, it can be discouraging. It can make you feel like you’re just not naturally inclined to picking up flavour notes.   What we want to show you, is how you can identify tasting notes in your favorite coffee. 

Coffee cupping

The truth is, tasting coffee is a skill that you acquire over time, and it requires you to develop a flavour palette. As a beginner, the best way to do this is a coffee cupping session at home.

But don’t worry–this isn’t a test. You don’t need to pull out an official coffee cupping score sheet and mathematically evaluate each coffee. Coffee cupping at home is meant to be fun, and it’s a great place to start when it comes to identifying tasting notes. 

Before we show you how to do a cupping session, we’ll answer some common questions. We’ll go over the flavour categories that you’re assessing, the list of tools you’ll need, and the type of coffee to use. 

Coffee cupping

What is coffee cupping?

Coffee cupping is when you brew several different coffees at once and taste them all separately, recording your findings. The brewing is done quite simply by pouring hot water directly over the grounds in a cup. The coffee is sipped with a cupping spoon to assess flavour. 

Coffee cupping is an industry practise normally conducted by coffee importers to gauge coffee quality. Each coffee receives a score out of 100. By definition, specialty coffee is coffee that receives at least 80 points out of 100. 

Cupping is also done by roasters as a form of quality control, or by coffee shops when they’re choosing coffees to put on their menu.

Our previous blog about coffee cupping is based around the SCAA cupping form, but this guide will teach you how to do it at home. While you’ll be focusing on identifying flavours, you won’t need the SCAA sheet (phew!). 

Coffee cupping table

What’s the point of coffee cupping at home?

Cupping at home lets you try a whole variety of coffees at once. Trying them out side-by-side gives you a reference point, helping you spot the differences between them. This will help you develop your flavour palette.

Though there are many other factors determining flavour, every coffee origin has its own characteristic flavour notes. Trying out single origin coffees from different regions is a great place to start when identifying flavour notes. 

Coffee cupping is also fun for budding coffee enthusiasts. It’s especially fun to do with a small group of friends. Because you need a few different varieties of coffee to do a home cupping session, you can send your friends home with the leftover coffee that didn’t get brewed. 

Coffee aroma

What am I looking for when cupping coffee?

When doing your coffee cupping session, you’ll want to record your findings on a sheet of paper. Let’s say you want to try 4 coffees. Make 4 columns on your sheet of paper. Write the name or origin of the coffee, and a line for the following categories. 

Coffee aroma

What if I don’t have words to describe the coffee?

When you’re stumped for words, you can always consult this interactive flavour wheel. It’s not cheating to read up on all the ways a coffee can taste. Rather, it gives you a vocabulary to describe what a coffee reminds you of. It’ll help you in the future when you encounter challenging coffees. 

Coffee cupping tools

What do I need for coffee cupping at home?

Here’s the list of supplies and ingredients you’ll need for a successful home coffee cupping session.

Coffee cupping

What coffee should I use?

For coffee cupping at home, we recommend trying at least 4 types of coffee with different flavour notes. Great options include Ethiopia Guji Uraga, Bolivia Buena Vista, Kenya Kiambu AA, and Costa Rica El Poeta.

What ratio is best for coffee cupping?

For coffee cupping, you’ll want a weaker ratio than a pour over. The pour over ratio is 1:16, but you’ll want a 1:17 ratio (1 part coffee, 17 parts water). So, if you’re using 12 grams of coffee, you’ll need 200 mL of water. Weaker ratios help you identify tasting notes better. 

Coffee tasting

Ready to start cupping coffee? Let’s go!

How to cup coffee at home

  1. Measure out 12 grams each of the different types of coffee. Be careful to purge the grinder between varieties to avoid mixing coffees. Place the grounds into 4 separate bowls. 
  2. Smell the dry grounds, and record your findings.
  3. Pour hot water (30-60 seconds off the boil) directly up to the top of the bowls, making sure to saturate all the grounds. Set a timer for 4 minutes, and let the bowls sit.
  4. After 4 minutes, the grounds will have floated to the top. Smell the wet aroma, and record your findings. 
  5. Break the crust by using a spoon to stir the grounds and let them sink to the bottom. This stops the brewing process. Use two spoons to catch the remaining grounds floating on top, and rinse your spoons. After you’ve broken the crust, the coffee will still be very hot. Wait an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Once it’s cooled to the point of being drinkable, grab your sheet of paper and pencil, and it’s time to start evaluating the coffee. Take a spoonful of the coffee, and audibly slurp it to spray it across your mouth. This helps you assess all aspects of the flavour. 
  7. Write your findings under each heading: flavour, cleanliness, aftertaste, acidity, body, and sweetness. Do this for each type of coffee until you’re done. Coffee tasting

    Not your average cup of joe

    Congratulations on your first coffee cupping! We hope you found the experience fun. You may have liked some of the coffees more than others, and you may have even disliked some of them. This is all normal–everyone has their own personal taste. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what flavours you like best.

    Cupping coffee at home is simply an exercise of curiosity. Developing your flavour palette takes time, and you have to drink many coffees before you start to notice patterns. Once you’re familiar with tasting notes, you’ll enjoy coffee so much more going forward. Rather than treating coffee like a caffeine fix, you’ll start to treat it with a sense of wonder. 

    We hope your coffee cupping journey brings you joy and intellectual stimulation. May your cup runneth over!

    Want to learn more about the ins and outs of specialty coffee? Check out our article on how to read a coffee label like a pro!



 



Can I Drink Coffee During Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is one of the hottest health trends to come out of the last decade. You may know someone who has tried it with varying degrees of success. It’s not just for bodybuilders and health nuts. Everyday people are trying it, for reasons including weight loss, improved sleep quality, better focus, and anti-aging.

You might be wondering how you’re going to go 16 hours everyday without eating. Those 16 hours can seem like an eternity at first. Your stomach will growl audibly, and you’ll likely feel irritable and “hangry.” You’ll need to find something other than calories to keep you preoccupied during the morning hours. Delicious specialty coffee, consumed black, can be a lifesaver. Drinking high-quality black coffee with complex flavour notes is a whole new experience. If you’re trying intermittent fasting, this can be a great opportunity to explore different origins with different flavour profiles.

Fasting can be tricky at first, but your body eventually adjusts, and there’s a good case to try it out. Think of it this way: it generally means no snacking after dinner, fasting during sleep, and skipping breakfast. If we fast after dinner (starting around 8 p.m.), and then for 8 hours during sleep, that’s 12 hours fasted. All you have to do is just add another 4 hours, and voilà–you’re intermittent fasting.

Before we get into coffee and fasting, let’s take a closer look at intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is less of a diet plan, and more of a lifestyle. You choose a window of time during the day, and you only eat during that window. A popular time frame is a 16-hour fast, followed by an 8-hour eating window (sometimes called 16:8). If your eating window begins at noon, you begin your fast at 8 p.m. Your eating window doesn’t open up again until the next day at noon.

There are many different types of intermittent fasting. The “18:6” fast is where you fast for 18 hours followed by a 6-hour eating window. In the “5:2” fast, you eat normally for 5 days of the week, followed by 2 days of caloric restriction. “OMAD,” or “one meal a day,” is where you eat one large meal with no caloric restrictions.

Intermittent fasting benefits

Most people turn to fasting for weight loss. The science on why intermittent fasting leads to weight loss is still unclear. Some experts say that 16 hours of fasting triggers the fat burning process, called ketosis. Other experts say the weight loss is simply down to less calories consumed. Shortening your eating window generally forces you to eat more nutrient-dense foods. It also makes you feel more full, and less likely to eat everything you’d normally eat in a day.

Many people prefer fasting to dieting because there are no restrictions on what you can and can’t eat. The only restriction is time. For people who hate counting calories and enjoy the odd slice of cake, intermittent fasting is the answer.

The most exciting science on fasting is something called autophagy. Autophagy is a natural bodily function that only occurs when we’re in a fasted state. It’s a self-cleaning process, triggered by low insulin levels, where our damaged cells are replaced with new, healthy ones. For this reason, autophagy has been associated with anti-aging, and can be a powerful tool to prevent disease. If intermittent fasting is not for you, fasting just once a month can be enough to reap the benefits of autophagy.

Aside from weight loss and autophagy, fasting comes with some other great health benefits. People who fasted for a few months reported improvements on their energy levels, ability to focus, and sleep quality. Science links fasting to significant brain function improvement. Other added benefits include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduced liver fat.

Will coffee break my fast?

The key to drinking coffee while fasting is to drink it black. Black coffee contains a negligible 2-5 calories, which isn’t enough to break your fast. Drinking coffee with sugar and cream will break your fast, so if you’re going to drink coffee while fasting, drink it black.

I don’t drink black coffee! Black coffee is bitter.

Many people can’t fathom the idea of drinking coffee without the addition of sugar and cream. Poorly brewed coffee, whether bitter or sour, is unpalatable without sugar and cream. If your coffee is so bitter that you can’t enjoy it black, maybe it’s time to troubleshoot your brewing routine. Check out our foolproof pour over guide to get the best out of your cup each time.

Take this a step further and drink the smoothest, most flavourful brew known to mankind–cold brew. Cold brew is so smooth because the cold brewing method doesn’t extract any of the unpleasant compounds found in coffee. It only extracts the pleasant compounds, leaving bitter and sour flavours behind. Check out our incredibly easy, straightforward guide on how to make cold brew coffee at home. If iced coffee isn’t your thing, try heating up your cold brew.

When choosing coffee for intermittent fasting, go for specialty coffee with an emphasis on freshness and single origin offerings. If you browse the Fratello coffee collection, you’ll see coffees from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Congo, Nicaragua, and more. These coffees have exciting

flavour notes that you would otherwise miss out on if you added milk and sugar. You’ll get the true coffee experience when you drink it black.

If you must add flavours to your coffee, add a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg, but don’t overdo it. You can also add a zero-calorie sweetener like erythritol or stevia.

Why should I drink coffee while intermittent fasting?

You don’t have to drink coffee while fasting. But a lot of people who try fasting say they aren’t willing to sacrifice their morning coffee routine. Black coffee can help if you’re finding that intermittent fasting deprives you of joy in the morning. It can be just the thing to get you through those difficult first hours of the morning when you’re “hangry.”

There is some scientific evidence that coffee’s own brain health benefits can complement the brain health benefits of fasting. Moderate caffeine intake may improve brain function and reduce your risk of long term mental decline. There are less cases of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s in people who drink coffee than those who don't. Moderation is key, however–limit your coffee intake to 1-2 cups a day to reap health benefits.

Trying out intermittent fasting and need something delicious to get you through it? Browse our coffee collection, read the complex flavour notes, and try something different!