Shade Grown Coffee and Its Role in Coffee Production
One of the most popular beverages worldwide is coffee, which boasts a distinctive and complex flavour profile. But many coffee drinkers might not be aware that a variety of environmental elements, such as elevation and longitude, have an impact on the quality of the coffee they enjoy. The interaction of these elements may significantly affect the development, maturation, and general quality of the coffee beans. Understanding the relationship between elevation, longitude, and shade grown coffee is important when simply looking at these terms exclusively alone.
Why is the Elevation of Coffee Farms Important?
Elevation and longitude have a significant impact on the quality of coffee. Elevation affects the temperature and other environmental factors that influence the growth of coffee plants. Coffee plants grow best at specific temperatures, and too much heat or too much cold can negatively impact the quality of the coffee beans. At higher elevations, temperatures are typically cooler, making high elevation coffee-growing regions ideal for growing high-quality coffee.
Coffee farms located near the equator are often located at elevations of over 1500 meters, while coffee farms further away from the equator, such as in Central America, are typically located at elevations of around 1100 meters. This difference in elevation is due to a combination of factors including tectonic activity, global weather patterns, and the intense solar radiation at the equator. We go deeper into this conversation about High Altitude Coffees in an older blog post “High Altitude Coffee : What’s The Big Deal”
Why is Shade Grown Coffee Important?
Cloud cover, which offers natural shade and aids in temperature regulation, frequently benefits coffee farms located at higher elevations nearer the equator, thus negating the need for shade trees. This cloud cover is caused by moist air rising from the nearby lowlands coming into contact with the chilly, high-altitude air and condensing into clouds. In contrast, coffee plantations farther from the equator and at higher elevations, like those in Central America, may require the utilization of shade trees to control the temperature and provide a better environment for coffee growth.
It is crucial to remember that while shade and temperature regulation are crucial for coffee quality, other elements like soil quality, the local microclimate, and coffee varietal also affect how best to grow coffee. It depends on the exact region and its particular environmental elements whether shade trees are required or not. Depending on the region, several things are considered "high elevation" for coffee region.
The regulation of temperature and shade are essential factors in determining the quality of coffee. At higher elevations, coffee plants are exposed to cooler temperatures and more moderate climate conditions. The coffee cherries may grow slower and mature over a longer length of time as a result, giving the coffee beans more time to develop their intricate flavour and aroma characteristics. The general temperature of the farm trees would be too cold to grow coffee if these places also have shade trees.
However, excessive sun exposure can result in overheating of the coffee plants, which can harm the coffee beans and lower the quality of the resulting brew. Additionally, because coffee plants require a constant temperature to survive, excessive temperature variation can stress plants, which lowers the coffee's overall quality. Shade trees are used in some areas to help control temperature, lessening the effects of heat stress on coffee plants.
In conclusion, the use of shade trees in coffee cultivation aids in temperature regulation and guards against overheating, minimizing the effects of heat stress on the coffee beans and enhancing their quality. In addition to offering shelter for wildlife, shade trees preserve soil moisture and fertility, which benefits the ecosystem's ability to grow coffee.
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.
Drinking Coffee and 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!
Matcha Powder - Delicious Caffeine Fix Packaged with Health Benefits￼
Green Tea Matcha powder is a delicious and healthy caffeinated tea option that’s grown in popularity in recent years. Known for its emerald green hue and many health benefits, it makes for a healthy treat or a calming ritual.
Unlike regular varieties of green tea that are steeped, matcha powder is ground into a fine, pale green powder. The powder is then whisked into hot water, making a vibrant green, frothy tea. With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves instead of an infusion.
Many people who complain of jitters and heartburn associated with coffee turn to matcha tea as an occasional substitute. Matcha gives you a sustained caffeine fix that won’t give you that signature caffeine crash. Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants that come with several health benefits.
Matcha tea powder is the centrepiece of the traditional tea ceremony in Japan, a tradition spanning over 500 years. The ceremony is centred around mindfulness, relaxation, purity, and simplicity. Matcha can be emblematic of a new habit in your life. It can be part of changing your diet, improving your work-life-balance, or decluttering your home. You can bring the traditional tea ceremony into your own home with a bag of Idle organic matcha powder.
How it’s produced
Our Idle matcha tea is made from the Yabukita green tea variety. It is the largest cultivar in Japan due to being frost resistant and yielding a good crop size. It was originally cultivated in 1908 by tea breeder Sugiyama Hikosaburo, and has been the dominant cultivar ever since. The tea leaves are picked young, and a month before harvest, the crop is covered with a dark canopy. This helps retain the nutrients, and enriches the tea leaves with chlorophyll, which gives it that rich dark green colour. The stems and veins of the leaves are removed, and the leaves are stone milled.
Ceremonial vs. culinary grade matcha powder
There are two grades of matcha: ceremonial and culinary. Both are loaded with nutrients, but they differ in terms of their flavour and uses. Culinary matcha is mainly used for lattes or for baking. If had on its own, culinary matcha has a more bitter flavour, and as a result, it’s cheaper. Ceremonial matcha is meant to be had on its own, and is used in Japanese tea ceremonies. It has a sweet, grassy flavour, and is a bit pricier. Idle matcha is ceremonial grade.
The origins of matcha powder
The origins of matcha date back to the Tang dynasty in China during the 7th-10th century. Green tea leaves were steamed and formed into bricks, making them easier to transport. Chinese Buddhist monks later brought the tea to Japan. Today, Japan produces the best matcha in the world. Idle matcha tea is made in Nishio, a central region in Japan located southwest of Tokyo.
The Japanese tea ceremony is of huge cultural significance, dating back over 500 years ago and still practised today. The ceremony is always led by a host or a tea master. The room is sparsely decorated, and guests kneel on a tatami mat with good posture. The ceremony is centred around harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity.
The host always starts by purifying all the utensils with a silk cloth, mainly as a symbolic gesture. Before the tea is prepared, Japanese sweets, called wagashi, are laid out. After this, the host prepares the tea. Hot water is poured into the powder, and the tea is whisked vigorously until frothy. The host uses a chasen, a delicate bamboo whisk made specifically for matcha. Both the host and the guests bow before slowly sipping the tea. The ceremony can take up to 3 hours.
What are the health benefits of matcha?
Green tea in general contains antioxidants, but because matcha powder is the whole leaf, it’s loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free-radicals in the body, and free radicals cause damage to our DNA. Things that trigger free radicals in our bodies include air pollution, radioactive substances, tobacco smoke, and UV rays. Antioxidants undo the effects of these substances. Matcha contains a group of antioxidants called catechins.
Matcha contains EGCG, a type of catechin with several health benefits. Though more studies are needed, there is evidence that EGCG may prevent cancer and slow the rate of tumour growth. In addition, it may lower cholesterol, and speed up metabolism, leading to weight loss.
Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes alertness and helps avoid crashes. It also reduces stress and triggers relaxation in the brain.
How do I prepare matcha powder at home? Can I make matcha without a whisk?
Matcha is easy to prepare at home, and has many uses. If you don’t have a chasen, you can use a regular small whisk. Whisk vigorously to get a frothy texture. If you don’t have a small whisk, you can make it with a small spoon–just make sure to mix it very well. We recommend using a teaspoon of hot water, and mixing it well before adding any more hot water.
You can drink matcha on its own for a calming, healthy treat. You can also make a latte by heating up milk or non-dairy and pouring it over the matcha concentrate. In the summer months, iced matcha makes a delicious treat. Just pour the matcha concentrate over ice and your choice of milk.
You can also bake with matcha. Add a teaspoon of matcha powder to pancakes, sugar cookies and cakes for a beautiful pale green hue.
Can matcha powder go bad?
Matcha powder will stay good for a year if left unopened, but after it’s opened, we recommend consuming it within a month. After that, the flavour begins to deteriorate.
Need an alternative to your morning coffee? Check out our Idle organic matcha powder, and while you’re there, peruse the whole Idle tea collection.
5 Reasons to Upgrade Restaurant Coffee Programs
As a restaurateur, do you ever stop to think about restaurant coffee from the perspective of your patrons? Bad restaurant coffee is a common complaint on Google reviews, and it can bring down an otherwise great experience.
Put yourself in the patron’s shoes. You walk into a beautiful restaurant, noticing the soft lighting and the wonderful aroma. You’re met with friendly service, and you enjoy a superb meal, which is paired with a great glass of wine. At the end of your meal, you order a coffee. And the coffee is a let-down.
The coffee tastes stale, weak, bitter, or all of the above. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth (in the literal sense) and makes you regret ordering it in the first place. Restaurant coffee can be so much more, so why is your 5-star restaurant serving disappointing coffee?
Shouldn’t your coffee be as good as your menu, your wine selection, your service, and your ambiance? Your kitchen is stocked with local organic produce and free-range eggs. You’ve worked with a sommelier to source excellent wine. You’ve hand-picked your team of talented kitchen staff and servers. You don’t skimp on quality when it comes to the big picture, so why skimp on coffee?
You may be faced with some challenges when it comes to serving better coffee. Maybe you don’t have the budget for the overhead costs of coffee equipment. Your fast-paced kitchen environment may make it difficult to make coffee with proper attention and care. But whether your budget is big or small, you can make huge improvements to your restaurant coffee program. No more serving instant coffee and generic coffee pods. It’s time to embrace specialty coffee for restaurants that stays in line with your food philosophy.
What is specialty coffee? How do I source good coffee for my restaurant?
Specialty coffee is defined technically as coffee that scores at least 80 out of 100 on a cupping evaluation. In the general sense, specialty coffee fits a few criteria. The coffee company you source from should have an emphasis on freshness (ie. roasted within the last two weeks). You’ll want to buy from a provider who roasts and sources the coffee meticulously. A good roaster has a direct trade relationship with coffee farming co-operatives and pays a premium to protect their livelihood. The flavour of the coffee should be fresh and complex, with tasting notes from fruity to nutty to chocolatey. Lastly, the more local, the better.
What if I can’t afford an espresso machine and barista training?
While a $20,000 espresso machine tended by a barista champion would be ideal, that might not be affordable for you. We offer options of leasing equipment or helping to set up a monthly rental program like SilverChef offers you. The other option of purchasing an industrial automatic drip coffee machine is less costly. The trouble is that you’re brewing large volumes of coffee that can potentially sit in the pot for hours.
A great solution to costly equipment is going low-tech by offering pour overs or French presses. They’re very affordable, they’re straightforward to use, and they make a better tasting coffee than industrial drip machines can. Plus, your customers will be dazzled by the novelty. If someone wants steamed milk, you can offer a “café au lait.” Milk frothers won’t make proper microfoam, but they’ll emulate the Italian cappuccino experience, which many diners seek anyways. Keep non-dairy milks and quality sweeteners on hand. Offer demerara sugar and local organic honey to create a memorable experience for the customer.
In terms of restaurant logistics, you’ll want to put a restaurant staffer on coffee duty to avoid chaos. Servers don’t have time to drop everything they’re doing to make a pour over that takes upwards of 3 minutes. For equipment, you’ll need to invest in a burr grinder, pour over or French press hardware, and a weight scale. Hook up with a local coffee roaster to get fresh beans, and only grind them right before you need them. Make sure staff follow a straightforward recipe for maximum flavour and consistency. Check out our foolproof pour over recipe for a perfect cup every time!
This is a great starting point for restaurants to gauge specialty coffee enthusiasm with patrons. You can always upgrade later to an espresso machine if you feel the demand is there.
Now that we’ve gone over the “how,” it’s time to go over the “why.” Without further ado, here are our top 5 reasons why you should upgrade your restaurant coffee.
5 reasons to upgrade your restaurant coffee program
It’s the lasting impression.
Don’t let customers have a great meal and glass of wine, only to be followed by a bitter instant coffee. The coffee will be the last thing they taste, so don’t make them regret ordering it from you. Your coffee offerings should complement the entire experience, not detract from it.
You’ll create a following of loyal customers.
Word will get around quickly, whether it’s over Google reviews or word-of-mouth, if the coffee is good. Lots of foodies and restaurant goers are on the hunt for great restaurant coffee. They love it when they can enjoy their favourite coffee brand at their favourite restaurant. Serving great coffee will make you stand out from the crowd, and you can brag about it on your menu. When customers see that you’re serving an independent, quality product, they’ll be impressed by your good taste.
Supporting local small business is good for the economy.
Supporting local small business puts more money back into the Canadian economy, improving infrastructure. In addition, you’re helping your neighbours stay in business and keep their livelihood. It also has an environmental impact–going local means less transportation of goods.
Supporting independent roasters is more sustainable.
Because of their ease of use, many restaurant coffee programs are based on coffee pods. Unfortunately, the plastic pods are hard to recycle and create a lot of waste. Wholesale coffee from independent roasters comes in bulk bags, meaning less wasteful packaging. If you set your coffee program up wisely, you can knock out several pour overs at once. It may not be “press-of-a-button” fast, but it doesn’t have to slow you down if you play your cards right.
The critics will rave!
Your restaurant will become popular with the critics if you offer good coffee. Sustainability, quality, and organic farming are top-of-mind for modern restaurant-goers, so make sure to hit a home run. Make your clientele come for the food, and stay for the coffee. As the American silver screen actor Burt Lancaster aptly says, “I judge a restaurant by their bread and their coffee.”
Thinking about serving Fratello Coffee at your restaurant? Get in touch with our wholesale team for pricing and tastings. For more in-depth guidance on coffee service, book a consultation with us. Drop us a line at for more information.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home
Summer is officially here, and nothing compliments the hot summer months more than cold brew coffee. We’ll show you a few easy methods to make cold brew at home to enjoy all season long.There are lots of different variations on iced coffee out there, but cold brew is a completely different experience. It has a signature velvety-smooth flavour profile, making it a delicious iced coffee option. You’ll find it so smooth that you won’t have to add any milk or sugar to it–it’s that good!
The best part about cold brew is that it’s incredibly easy to make, with great results. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavour compared to a regular cup of coffee. We’ll show you how to make cold brew at home with basic household tools that you probably already have. But first, we’ll answer some common questions about this intriguing coffee method.
There aren’t many rules about what coffee you should use when making cold brew. If you want to amplify the smooth factor of cold brew, choose a coffee roasted on the darker side, and look for chocolate and caramel notes. A great option for a darker cold brew would be the Godfather ™ Dark Roast, featuring notes of chocolate fudge and toffee. If you want a similar flavour profile but with a bit more brightness, opt for the Godfather ™ Light Roast. The lighter roast brings out a milk chocolate and caramel profile. And if you’re feeling more adventurous and looking for brighter, fruitier profiles, we recommend the D.R. Congo, with notes of grapefruit and caramel, and the Ethiopia Guji Uraga, with tropical fruit and citrus notes.
Do I have to buy a bunch of tools to make cold brew at home?
Hardly! While most people don’t have a cold brewer, you can easily make cold brew at home with some common household supplies. All you really need is a large glass container and something to strain your coffee with. You can even make cold brew in a French press–just steep your coffee in the glass vessel, and use the plunger when it’s time to strain it. If you own a reusable cloth filter, you can fill the filter with the ground coffee and tightly tie it off with an elastic band. Just make sure you give it a few good squeezes while submerged in the water to ensure the water can saturate the grinds all the way through.
If you don’t have a French press or a cloth filter, you can also use a large glass jar, and strain the cold brew at the very end. Just pour your coffee into the jar with a litre of water, and then strain it with cheesecloth when brewing is complete.
Got everything you need to make cold brew at home? Recipe for standard cold brew:
100 grams of coffee
1 litre of cold water
Large glass jar with a lid (large enough to hold 1 litre of water + 100 grams of coffee)
Fine mesh sieve
Let’s get brewing!
Measure out 100 grams of coffee. Grind it on a medium setting, as you would for automatic drip.
Place your coffee grinds into the large glass jar. Pour 250 grams of your cold water over top, and stir gently. Make sure all the grinds are saturated. Pour the rest of the cold water in, and give it a final stir.
Secure the lid on the jar, and store it in your fridge. At the 16-hour mark, do a taste test. If it tastes weak, let it continue to brew in the fridge, for a maximum of 24 hours. Once brewing is complete, remove from the fridge.
Line a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth folded over twice, and place the sieve over a large bowl with a spout. Strain the mixture into the sieve. Once you’ve poured it all out, gather the edges of the cheese cloth, and give it a good squeeze to remove excess water. If the cold brew still looks murky, you can pass it through cheesecloth one more time.
Pour your fresh cold brew into a glass container, and store in your fridge for up to a week. If the flavour is too heavy and concentrated for you, dilute it with some tap or sparkling water. Enjoy!
How to Fix a Bad Pour Over Coffee
Have you ever been in the frustrating position where you’ve made a bad Pour Over coffee, not knowing where you went wrong? We’ve been there too–that’s why we made a comprehensive guide to show you how to fix a bad coffee.
Pour Over coffee can be delicious. It can be the last thing you think about before bed, and the first thing you think about upon waking. Then again, coffee can also be not-so-delicious. It’s discouraging when you buy quality coffee, only to make an unsavoury cup. Even the best beans won’t make a good cup of coffee if you don’t know the basics. A poorly brewed cup of coffee can taste sour, bitter, flat, burnt, or cardboard-like. Read up on how to fix a bad coffee, and you’ll never have a morning-ruining cup of coffee again!
When we say “fix” bad coffee, we don’t mean that you can alter the cup after the fact. We simply mean that you can start over and make a new, delicious cup. There’s nothing you can do to a bad coffee but accept it and move on. So cut your losses, grab a new coffee filter, and let’s get to work.
Coffee Flavour variables
First, it’s crucial to understand all the different variables that affect the flavour of coffee. Here are the main things you have control over. The main thing to start with, is fresh roasted coffee from your local coffee roaster of choice.....like Fratello Coffee Roasters.
Coffee Grind Size
Grind size is really important to making a good cup of coffee. A good cup of coffee is one that has been extracted enough–not too little, and not too much. Extraction refers to the amount of flavour and caffeine being pulled out of the coffee by the hot water.
Grind size plays a key role in extraction. When it comes to most coffee methods, a finer grind leads to a faster extraction rate. Conversely, a coarser grind leads to a slower extraction rate. For example, a pour over has a relatively quick brew time, which calls for a finer grind. You want to extract the flavours quickly. A French press, on the other hand, calls for a coarser grind, to slow down the extraction rate. Due to the longer brewing time and the immersion element, a fine grind would produce a very bitter French press.
The ratio of water to coffee will dictate the strength of your cup of coffee. The most popular, recommended ratio of water to coffee is 1:16 or 1:15. So, if you’re using 20 grams of coffee, you would use 300-320 mL of hot water. While you can play around with the amounts, try not to diverge too much from the golden ratio.
The water you use to brew coffee should be hot, but not boiling. Water straight off the boil can give your coffee a burnt taste. Ideally, it should be between 93-96 degrees C. To achieve this temperature, bring a pot of water to the boil, and let it rest for 30-45 seconds.
Coffee Brewing Gear
Changing up your coffee equipment slightly can immediately fix a bad coffee. If you’re using a cheap automatic drip machine, consider switching to a pour over dripper set. It’s inexpensive and low-tech, and it will make a better cup than your clunky old coffee maker.
If you can, purchase a gooseneck kettle. Not only do they look beautiful in your kitchen, but they also let you control the flow of the water. Pouring your water straight from a kettle can make the water flow too quickly, resulting in under extraction. If you don’t have one, consider pouring your water into a metal pitcher or a heat-proof container with a spout.
While optional, a weight scale is helpful for weighing coffee beans, and great for gauging how your coffee is going.
The most common cause of bad coffee
The biggest factor affecting the flavour of your coffee is the grind. Your coffee can be ground too fine or too coarse, and it can also be ground inconsistently. We hope that you’re not using a blade grinder, as this will result in an inconsistent grind. Blade grinders, while cheap and convenient, will most definitely produce a bad coffee. What you’ll get is a cup that’s both bitter and sour. It will also lead to a flat flavour, with not many distinctive flavour notes. As a serious coffee drinker, it’s time you invest in a proper burr grinder. If you’re not ready to invest in an electric burr grinder, consider purchasing a manual hand grinder.
If you already do have a burr grinder and you’re finding your coffee isn’t tasting great, you could be grinding your coffee too fine or too coarse. Does your coffee taste strong and bitter? Set your grinder a few notches coarser. Does your coffee taste weak and sour? Go a little finer.
Now that you understand extraction and its effect on the overall flavour, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. Try our foolproof pour over, and you’ll be an expert going forward. Make sure to read the directions from start to finish before trying your hand at this recipe.
What you’ll need:
Pour over dripper (ceramic or plastic works fine). We like to use theHario.
Weigh your beans. Pour your beans into your grinder, and grind on a setting that’s finer than drip. Set aside.
Bring your water to a boil. Set aside for 30-45 seconds. Place the paper filter in the pour over dripper, and place the dripper on top of a medium-sized mug. Pour hot water all over the empty filter until the whole filter is wet. Discard the water.
Place the ground coffee in the filter. Give the dripper a tap to level out the coffee bed. Place the mug and dripper on a weight scale, and press the tare button to set it to zero.
“Bloom” your coffee. (This is the process of adding a small amount of water to the grinds and allowing the CO2 to dissipate.) Pour 50 grams of hot water over the grinds, making sure to get them all wet. Wait 45 seconds before your second pour.
Begin your second pour. Pour the water in concentric circles, starting from the centre and working outwards, until you reach 200 ml on the weight scale. Grab your small spoon, and gently mix the coffee grinds and the water. Wait until all the water has drawn down before you begin your third pour.
Begin your third pour. Moving in concentric circles, pour the remaining water until the weight scale reaches 320 mL. Let the water fully draw down. Remove the dripper and set aside. Your pour over is complete!
Tip: your pour over should take about 3 minutes and 15 seconds. If it takes longer than this, make your grind a little coarser. If it takes less time than this, make your grind a little finer. Use a timer for optimal results.
Our Father's Day - An Interview with Cam Prefontaine
This Father’s Day, we’re paying homage to Cam Prefontaine, founder of Fratello Coffee, and pioneer of the burgeoning Calgary coffee scene. From his humble beginnings selling coffee to offices and restaurants and later roasting his own fresh coffee (long before it was cool), he’s seen the industry evolve over the years from the generic, ho-hum offerings of the mid ‘70s to the third-wave specialty coffee movement of today.
It started out as a possible alternative to a dreary mechanic job, and it turned into a passion that his whole family grew to embrace. In running his coffee business, Cam unwittingly sparked an entrepreneurial streak in his three sons, Jason, Chris and Russ. Watching their dad sell and roast coffee had a profound impact on the three sons, who went on to pursue various business ventures together. The businesses ranged from flavour syrups/smoothies, to distributing and installing espresso machines, launching a world renowned espresso machine brand Slayer Espresso, to opening up a chain of cafes called Analog Coffee.
We sat down with Cam and his son Chris to hear about the inspiration behind jumping into the coffee industry, the evolution of the cup of joe, and lessons learned from dad.
Fratello Coffee: Cam, can you describe the coffee scene when you started out in the business in the ‘70s?
Cam Prefontaine: In the early days, it was, “coffee is coffee.” Only generic brands were available. It had little fresh flavour, and was anywhere from 1 to 4 months old, and always ground coarse.
FC: What drew you to coffee?
Cam: The opportunity was presented to me as an alternative to working as an aircraft mechanic for Air Canada. So I took on the product line and worked the midnight shift until we could replace our income. Barb, my bride, took care of the kids and managed the household and the books for this new small business.
Like typical new entrepreneurs, we thought it looked easy.
FC: Was there a moment that made you want to pursue a career in the coffee industry?
Cam: I loved the smell of mom’s percolating coffee each morning with breakfast. As a child, I never liked the taste of milk, so she put some coffee in my milk with a bit of sugar, and boom… I loved the aroma and taste, and its association with many pleasant memories.
So in 1974, we started selling coffee to businesses. After 3 months, I went full-time. Our parents thought we were nuts, but we made a nice living.
FC: Did you ever think that coffee would blow up in popularity the way it has today?
Cam: Never entered my mind.
Around 1984, I was looking for the freshest roasted coffee to source for my customers. We found a local coffee roaster, who would roast small batches of coffee for us to spoil our clients, and keep them from wanting that cheap taste for a cheaper price. It worked!
FC: Did you realize you were doing coffee way before it was cool?
Cam: After attending the first specialty coffee trade show in New Orleans, my wife and I recognized that this would be the future of coffee. We returned home to sell our office coffee service company and devoted our efforts to fine tuning our coffee roasting and services. New prospective café owners would need our help with the best coffee and equipment.
FC: Chris, what was it like watching your dad roast coffee as a kid? What about it made you want to get involved?
Chris Prefontaine: Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, coffee was not cool like it is now. I remember being kind of embarrassed that my dad sold coffee out of our garage. But I remember thinking it was neat when he got into roasting in 1985. I liked seeing the production process, and it got me more interested. I worked for my dad right out of high school in 1989 when coffee was just starting to get very popular.
But it wasn't until my dad suggested he help me start my own business selling espresso machines to cafés in Calgary that I really became excited. So in 1991, dad made it possible for my older brother and me to start Espuccino Imports, distributor of Nuova Simonelli espresso machines.
FC: How old were you when you started drinking coffee? You look awfully young in those photos standing next to the roaster.
Chris: I must have been 8 or 9 years old. My dad provided coffee for our church, and I would take some coffee from these large percolators, and then I would grab several sugar cubes to dissolve in the coffee! I feel sorry for my Sunday school teachers who had to put up with a super hyper kid in the class.
FC: What changes have you seen over the years in the coffee industry?
Chris: It started out in the ‘70s with my dad's cheesy mustache, selling crappy office coffee. In the ‘80s my dad started roasting many different types of coffee and supplying restaurants and mom & pop shops. At the time, it was all about having 20 to 30 different flavored coffees, like "Irish Cream," "Hawaiian Breeze," or "Toasted Hazelnut Cream." All artificial chemicals we would add to the beans. Yuck.
Coffee Storage: 5 Ways to Keep your Beans Fresh
Need to overhaul your coffee storage etiquette?
There's information out there about how to store your coffee, but not all of it is well advised. Poor coffee storage can lead to flat, uninspiring, and downright stale coffee. You may be committing some coffee storage faux-pas lately, and you don’t even realize it!
When you buy great coffee, you have a duty to keep it fresh and use it up in a timely manner to honour its innate qualities. Don’t forget that coffee is a food item, too. Just like bread, coffee goes stale. Just as you wouldn’t eat stale bread, you shouldn’t drink stale coffee. Fratello coffee bags are dosed at 340 grams for a reason–to encourage you to buy only what you need.
How long do coffee beans last?
Ideally, you will use up all your coffee within 3-4 weeks of the roast date. Don’t buy coffee in huge quantities if you’re a household of 1 and you only drink 1 cup a day. Buy enough coffee to last you 1 week, 2 weeks maximum. If you’re a family of 5 and you all drink 2-3 cups a day, it might make sense to buy it in quantities of 2 lbs, but otherwise, you should never need more than 340 grams at a time. Try to get familiar with your needs, and go from there.
Understanding the things that affect coffee freshness can help you keep your coffee tasting great. Below are the 3 main enemies of coffee.
Keep Coffee Away from:
Have you ever noticed how coffee bags are always opaque? This is by design. Light, particularly UV exposure, causes photodegradation in coffee. This causes the breakdown of chemical compounds, leading to less aromatic coffee. Keep your beans in the bag they came in or place them in an opaque container for optimal coffee storage.
When coffee is exposed to air, it oxidizes, and oxygen is what causes all foods to go bad. Never leave a bag of beans open where the air can get to it. Always close your coffee bag, and try to get as much air out of the bag as possible before closing. In addition, never grind a whole bag of coffee beans upon purchase. Only grind what you need, immediately before brewing.
Moisture can not only introduce new, unsavoury flavours to your coffee, but it can also cause the beans to mould and the oils to go rancid quicker. While it may seem like a good idea to refrigerate or freeze your coffee, this is where moisture can be introduced. We don’t recommend freezing or refrigerating as a means of coffee storage. In addition, a humid kitchen will cause your beans to go south, so make sure your coffee is stored in a cool, dry place.
We’ll debunk some coffee storage myths and show you some new ways to keep your coffee fresh. Let’s make stale coffee a thing of the past!
Top 5 coffee storage tips:
Don’t grind all your coffee at once.
When you’re purchasing coffee at a coffee shop or online, there is usually the option to have all your beans ground at once. While you may not have the means to grind it at home, don’t rely on this forever. Get yourself a quality burr grinder for home, and grind whatever you need, right before you need it. Grinding all your coffee at once brings in the enemy of air. More surface area means more air attacking your coffee, and it will begin to stale immediately.
Don’t freeze your coffee.
We don’t recommend freezing your coffee, and we especially don’t recommend refrigerating it. Freezing your coffee not only alters the chemical compounds (ie. flavours) in your coffee and dries up the oils, but it introduces moisture, one of the key enemies of coffee. What happens when you freeze your coffee is that condensation accumulates around the jar. As soon as you take it out of the fridge and open the container or jar, the condensation rushes in, introducing moisture. While freezing your coffee is a common piece of advice, we don’t recommend it as a means of coffee storage.
Keep your coffee out of direct light.
Coffee bags are opaque for a reason–to keep light out, a major coffee enemy. The best container to store your beans in? The bag they came in! While it may be tempting to store your beans in a glass mason jar on the counter, this will quickly lead to flavour degradation. The same goes for storing beans in the hopper of your grinder. It may look nice as a way to display them, but it isn’t proper coffee storage. Avoid leaving beans in your hopper, and if you must, leave a small amount. If you’re going to buy a container for your coffee beans, make sure the container is opaque (black is best) and has an air-tight seal.
Keep coffee away from heat sources.
Avoid leaving your beans near heat sources, such as on top of the fridge or next to the stove. This is an improper means of coffee storage, and it will quickly degrade your beans. This goes for brewed coffee as well. While it may seem nice to have a hot pot of coffee all morning, this is going to singe all those delicate flavour notes in your coffee.
Learn to accept when your coffee is stale.
Once your coffee has gone stale, learn to accept it. There’s nothing you can do to bring back stale coffee. Don’t try to add fancy flavour syrups to it to bring it back to life. It’s time to move on, and vow to change up your future coffee storage habits. The only thing you can do with stale coffee beans is grind them up and use them for compost.
A Fresh Start
While you may have been committing some coffee storage no-no’s, it’s never too late to change your ways. Fratello Coffee is sourced meticulously, and roasted carefully. We want you to get the best out of our coffee, and taste the difference. Want to learn more about how to perfect your home brew? Check out these useful tips about buying and using coffee!
Antigua, Guatemala | Sourcing Trip and Direct Trade Process
Bright red cherries hanging off of shady coffee trees are a beautiful sight for coffee enthusiasts. But that wasn’t what brought Russ Prefontaine to Antigua, Guatemala this past February. The Fratello Coffee president and co-owner has been sourcing coffee at origin for the past 17 years, and he’s seen it all. At this point, he’s after one thing: great coffee.
In conversation with Russ Prefontaine, president and co-owner of Fratello Coffee, about his most recent sourcing trip to Guatemala
But great coffee isn’t just about flavour; it starts with great people. We sat down with Prefontaine to chat about his most recent origin trip to meet the producers at San Miguel Coffees in Antigua and check out their coffee farm. He was impressed with what he saw, and tasted.
Apart from producing some of the world’s best coffee, Antigua, Guatemala is a popular tourist destination. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site, with wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial architecture. In Antigua, you’ll find enchanted cobblestone streets with candy-coloured buildings, ancient church ruins, views of the surrounding volcanoes, and the ever famous pastel-yellow Santa Catalina Arch. Not to mention, incredible authentic culinary favourites, like tamales, sopas and caldos (soups and stews), fried plantains, and spiced mangoes to name a few.
Prefontaine got to bring his two children, aged 8 and 10, along for the ride. When he wasn’t busy cupping coffee and observing the operation of the farm, he was taking his kids to enjoy the essential tourist sites, like riding up the volcano on horseback and roasting marshmallows over red-hot lava.
But tamales and marshmallows aside, Prefontaine was on serious business. He spoke about the ethos behind visiting the origin and meeting the producers, what he looks for, and what direct trade looks like to him. A healthy coffee community not only puts care and passion into growing and processing, but takes great care of its farmers.
Fratello Coffee: Why is it important to you to visit the origin before purchasing?
Russ Prefontaine: I visit origins when I want to start establishing relationships. When I start getting more serious about sourcing larger volumes of coffee, I want to really find out who they are as business people. I consider coffee a very important business, and I want to work with people who see it the same way. The producers are passionate, they’re knowledgeable, they’re educated.
FC: Why do you have direct relationships with these producers? Why don’t you just entrust a third-party importer to the job of sourcing? Why do you have to see it with your own eyes?
RP: You can look around and see the overall organization, the cleanliness. Are they taking care of the environment? Are they taking care of waste water, the trees? How does everything look? We can have conversations about their overall operations, if they have programs within their operations that benefit their employees. Do the people look happy? I get an idea of who they are and if they are running the operations in a way that we can trust working together and get a consistent product.
I like to see education programs where the producers have schooling systems on their farms. Because these farms are very remote, accessing education is almost impossible for the people that live around there. Schooling is mandatory, but not always enforced. What you might see in coffee growing communities is that families aren’t encouraging their kids to go to school because they don’t have a way to get them there. So when you’re driving around the towns near the farms, what are you seeing? Do they have any services? Do the people look healthy? Is there a store around there? What is there for them?
I like to see healthcare programs. San Miguel has a dental clinic and a healthcare centre right on their facility. So you start to see differences between producers who are truly investing in the people and the community to improve it. My job is to support the people who are doing that. I have the choice. I can work with nice people! [Laughs] I get to work with people who are passionate about coffee, business people who get this.
I feel great about who we’re buying from. They’re taking care of any wastewater and environmental issues that they can. And the coffee tastes great! When everything’s working together, I say, “Now I consider you a direct trade partner.” But it doesn’t happen in a year. It’s a very long process to build that trust.
Anyone can just throw “Direct Trade” on their bag. All you have to do is fly down there and take a couple of pictures, and there you go.
FC: Do these producers face any of the common hardships of coffee producers, ie. leaf rust, financial difficulties?
RP: Every year there’s something. In Brazil last year, they had huge floods followed by frosts that they’ve never had so bad. This year, winter season is just starting in Brazil (end of May), and already they have had mild frost damage. Last year it destroyed approximatly 30% of their coffee harvest. Within Central America, more and more, leaf rust is showing up at higher elevation, which is unique. Initially it was just a lower elevation where it was really warm. But what that's showing is that the overall temperatures are increasing, creating the possibility for rust to enter a higher elevation. So that really affects the coffees that roasters like us are purchasing. In addition, fertilizer costs have sky-rocketed more than 3 times the regular price this year alone.
Giving Back to our Local Community
Did you know that your friendly neighbourhood coffee roaster has been silently donating and giving back to local charities for decades? Fratello Coffee Roasters is heavily involved in the Calgary community, donating funds and supplying hundreds of pounds of fresh coffee every month to a host of different charities whose causes range from homelessness, to food insecurity, to addiction.
Coffee With a Conscience
Co-owner Russ Prefontaine says it’s a way to give back to a community that has supported the company from the start. It was his father, the founder of the company, that started the tradition. “We were raised with the attitude of giving back […] it makes us feel good. If we want the local Calgary community to support us, we should then be the first in line to be supporting the local community when we can. That is what it truly means to Support Local….it needs to be a full circle.”
Roasting and sourcing ethically has always been top-priority, but the company’s generosity is yet another reason you can feel good about drinking Fratello coffee. Here are just a few of the wonderful causes the company donates to every year.
Calgary Food Bank
Every year, Fratello takes part in the Calgary Food Bank fundraiser in partnership with the CBC, which happens around the holidays. The Calgary Food Bank is the city’s main charitable food hub, serving families, individuals and organizations. Their programs include emergency food hampers, food linking (making sure food gets to the people who need it), and rescuing perfectly good food that would otherwise go to waste.
Fratello has taken part 10 years in a row, and has donated close to $300,000 total. In December of 2021, they donated 1,400 bags of coffee and raised just over $59,000 in coffee sales.
Calgary Dream Centre
The Calgary Dream Centre is an organization dedicated to helping people overcome addiction and homelessness, two interrelated issues. They offer resources specifically geared towards men and women, and their approach is to pair individuals with case managers who guide them along their journey. The programs include mindfulness training, professional counselling, and life skills mentoring (cooking, driving, and job interview preparation). They also work hard to provide transitional and community housing to homeless and precariously housed people.
The Seed is a Christian non-profit organization founded in 1984 on a mission to care for individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty. They cover basic needs like emergency shelter and meals, and also offer programs for health & wellness and employment guidance. The organization also has a waiting list for supportive housing. Fratello has been making significant coffee donations to this organization for 30 years.
Alex Community Food Centre
The Alex is a food program offering free healthy meals on a drop-in basis, and hosts an affordable produce market every Friday morning. Their New Roots program is geared towards new immigrants facing food insecurity and hosts culturally themed affordable food markets. Other programs include cooking and gardening classes for kids and adults, and community projects to advance Truth & Reconciliation.
The Calgary Drop-in serves adults at risk of experiencing homelessness. They offer emergency shelters, meal programs, health clinic services, permanent housing, and hygeine and laundry services. In addition, they offer the Free Goods program, where new and lightly used goods (such as furniture, clothing, electronics and cookware) find their way to low-income & no-income Calgarians.
Iced Vietnamese Coffee
Iced Vietnamese Coffee featuring our French Saigon Dark
There’s no treat more elegant than Vietnamese coffee. Strong coffee is brewed directly over sweetened condensed milk, stirred, and poured over ice in a rocks glass. It’s a small but mighty pick-me-up that’s at once indulgent and sophisticated.
It’s time to dust off this classic coffee recipe–we’re bringing it back! For Vietnamese coffee, you’ll want to use a full-bodied dark roast. We recommend our French Saigon Dark blend. Its full-bodied smoothness and dark chocolate notes compliment the sweetened condensed milk perfectly. It’s our oldest blend, pioneered in 1985 specifically for iced Vietnamese Coffee, and it remains one of our bestsellers to this day.
Iced Vietnamese coffee history
Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by French settlers. Since then, Vietnam has taken off as a major coffee producer, and today is responsible for 20% of the world’s coffee production. Coffee culture is massive in Vietnam now, and ca fe sua da (which translates to coffee with milk and ice) is a common order at coffee houses.
Because fresh dairy is not readily available in Vietnam, canned sweetened condensed milk has increased in popularity due to its long shelf life and easy transportation.
Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is made with a coffee brewing tool called a phin, a metal contraption with several filters. This ensures a slow brew time and a strong coffee.
Make sure to get a head start on the warm weather by perfecting your Vietnamese coffee game. Before long, everyone will want one!
How to make Vietnamese coffee using a phin (single serving):
Measure a heaped tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk into a glass. Set aside. Weigh 20 grams of Fratello French Saigon Dark, and grind fine (as you would for an Aeropress). Boil water to 93-96 degrees C.
Place the filter plate over the glass containing the sweetened condensed milk. Place the brewing chamber on top of that, followed by the ground coffee. Then, drop the press filter (the piece with the handle) on top of the grinds.
Pour about 20 grams of hot water over top of the press filter to bloom the coffee grinds. Let it sit for 30 seconds.
Slowly, and in concentric circles, pour enough water into the chamber until you reach the top. Place the lid on top, and let the coffee slowly brew until it stops dripping.
When it stops dripping, set your phin aside, and stir the hot coffee with the sweetened condensed milk until well combined. Fill a rocks glass ¾ full of ice, and pour the coffee-milk mixture over the ice. Enjoy!
If you don’t have a phin or you can’t source one, you can simply sub out the phin for the Aeropress method instead. Pour a heaped tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk in a glass. Prepare an aeropress coffee, and plunge the coffee directly into the glass. Stir and pour over ice. If you want a frothier consistency, you can pour the coffee-milk mixture into a cocktail shaker full of ice, along with a splash of hot water. Shake for one minute, and pour into a tall glass with a metal or paper straw.
Mothers Day Sale - April 29 - May 3
This Mothers Day, make her an offer she can’t refuse. Our Godfather blend is 20% off for a limited time only starting April 29th (for online orders only). This includes the Classic Light Roast Espresso, the Dark Roast Espresso, and the newly introduced Natural Decaf. This best-selling Classic blend is a crowd-pleaser, for both the casual drinker and the coffee connoisseur. As a light roast, it imparts flavours of caramel and milk chocolate, and as a dark roast, we taste chocolate fudge and dark toffee. The Godfather collection works well as drip coffee, espresso, or french press, and pairs well with milk.
The Godfather Espresso Collection is 20% off–just in time for Mother’s Day
Make sure to get your orders in by Tuesday, May 3rd at midnight, so you can give the gift of fresh coffee. Order directly off our website to have it shipped to your door.
Mum’s more of a tea drinker? We also have a line of our very own Idle Teas. Nothing is more classic than Cream of Earl Grey, a full-bodied, organic black tea with notes of citrus and lavender, and pure bergamot oil from Calabria. For something a bit more exciting, gift her the Rooibos Matcha powder–just like green matcha powder, caffeine-free rooibos tea is ground into a rich, amber-toned powder. Just whisk it up with a bit of hot water to make lattes, hot or cold, or add the powder directly to smoothies. For a burst of colour, gift her the Beetroot Latte powder. It makes the perfect caffeine-free latte with earthy sweetness and a hint of ginger.
Just one more trip to the flower shop, and you’re all set!
Coffee Farm Care and Maintenance
Coffee production does not end when the coffee has been picked, processed and shipped around the world. Maintaining an efficient, productive and high quality coffee farm requires a very sizable amount of work in between the harvests. Coffee farm care and maintenance are key to producing consistently good coffee every year.
The coffee tree is a very demanding plant. In order to keep a coffee plant “happy” you must meet its most basic needs: nutrition and a suitable environment. These factors are true of all agriculture, but are even more important when it comes to the coffee plant, as it is not simply an agricultural product, but a product where quality dramatically varies dependent on the stewardship of the tree.
Coffee was never intended to leave the forests of Ethiopia; humans planted the seeds all over the tropics. As a result, coffee is somewhat of a “fussy” plant, in that, because it is endemic to one place, the plants in Honduras, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc do not possess much genetic diversity. What does this mean? Well, the coffee plant outside of Ethiopia is extremely susceptible to a myriad of diseases, fungal infections and pests.Coffee has not been grown in regions outside of Ethiopia for a very long time either. Because of this, the coffee plant has not acquired a resistance to the unique environmental hazards that exist in the multiple countries in which coffee is currently grown. In short, it requires work to care for coffee.
Nutrition is very important for coffee trees growing in places such as Bolivia. Without adequate nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, coffee trees can not experience ample root, wood and bud development. Maintaining the topsoil, and fighting erosion from gravity and water run-off requires constant attention from the coffee producer.
In order to grow healthy, productive plants, the farmer is typically required to replenish this topsoil as needed, ensuring that the coffee tree is constantly being fed the required nutrients to produce at its expected level. This requires vigilance, you can’t just leave the trees alone. Most specialty coffee farms are produced on a slope, and thus the risk of erosion is very high, all the nutritious soil can simply fall down the hill, or be washed down. Additionally, in many coffee growing regions, the soil is very loose and silty. This unstable ground poses a risk to farm workers as well as the plants. We in the specialty coffee industry have all experienced brief scary moments where the ground gives way while inspecting a coffee tree. Maintaining the soil is a constant battle, but is vitally important for the health of the coffee tree.
Pruning Coffee Trees
Pruning is a typical activity that occurs on a coffee farm at the end of a harvest. Healthy coffee trees like to grow, especially varieties such as Geisha and Maragogype, which like to grow big, lanky branches that extend very far. Planting coffee must be done with careful consideration: if you space your trees too closely, they will grow towards each other quickly. This is a huge problem, as coffee trees need sunlight to produce fruit. A coffee tree producing less fruit than the year prior is disastrous for a coffee farmer, they will simply earn less money. Strategic pruning must be employed to ensure every tree gets the required amount of sunlight to maximize yields. This does result in a temporary loss of revenue, since you are technically removing branches that will produce fruit, but slacking on your pruning can create a disaster in the long-term, as the plants overlap each other. There is an additional benefit to regular pruning, in that the clipped branches can simply be left on the ground near the trees where they have fallen. These branches will decompose and feed nutrition back to the plant, creating a more healthy, productive tree.
Analog Coffee Named Best Coffee Shop
Coffee isn’t just coffee anymore. Now, it’s all about the brand, the merchandise, the location, the story, but it has always been, and always will be, about the taste. Lucky for you, Analog Coffee checks off all of these boxes. Learn more about the history and creation of Analog Coffee below.
Coffee has run in the Prefontaine family since 1974, when the father Cam first started a wholesale coffee company out of his home. His three sons grew up helping him with sales and watching him roast his very own coffee. The parents produced the coffee and the sons started selling all the commercial coffee equipment, making them the whole package to share their love of coffee with the world. Eventually after many years in the industry, the family decided that it was finally time to open their own shop.
With seven current locations in Calgary and one soon to be available in the University District, Analog Coffee first started out in the Calgary Farmers’ Market in 2011. As business boomed almost immediately, the company bought their dream location that we all know and love today on 17th Avenue. As the coffee’s popularity grew and more and more people fell in love with the taste, the business couldn’t help but to expand their reach and provide more Calgarians with their delicious brews.
A few notes from our recent trip to Nicaragua. We have traveled to Nicaragua many times and have always enjoyed the culture, the people, food and of course the coffee. Below we write about more of the cultural experience this year and some of the issues they are facing.
On April 18, 2018 the protests in Nicaragua first began. Spurred on by social security reforms decreed by President Daniel Ortega, demonstrations involving university students, the elderly and other activists broke out in Managua, Jinotega, Leon and other large Nicaraguan cities. The protests were violently repressed: live ammunition was fired into crowds, hundreds of protestors were killed by police and armed Sandinista militias, thousands more were wounded and tens of thousands have fled the country in exile. Nicaragua has been in turmoil for over a year now, and the end doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. Even in the relatively small and sleepy town of Ocotal, shouts of “¡Viva Nicaragua libre!” can be heard, quickly followed by the blaring of police sirens.
What amazes us the most about the Nicaraguan people, is that despite the tragic circumstances unfolding in their country, they still offer the most authentic hospitality, have the biggest hearts and have the most fun out of all the places we visit. It is nearly impossible to feel like an outsider in Nicaragua because the people simply will not let you. The amount of times we have been invited into the homes of people, who we barely know or have just met, to watch baseball or ultra-cheesy Mexican telenovelas is much higher than we ever could have expected. Nicaraguan culture is very laid back and tranquillo. In our experience, Nicaragua remains one of the most informal places we have ever been and it creates a truly relaxing and easy-going atmosphere.
Our partners in Nicaragua are having a tough time right now. Financing from the government, which was once available, is now gone and it’s becoming harder to plant new trees, rebuild drying beds and fertilize and spray crops to prevent roya. In response, we have committed to helping our partners at Expocamo by paying for several new drying beds, to replace some older, heavily used beds. These beds will improve the quality of the coffee not just for us, for but all the people around the world who buy coffee from Expocamo. We are super proud to do this for all Nicaraguan coffee lovers and to raise the profile of Nicaraguan coffee, which we feel is underappreciated.
Why is Direct Trade so Important?
Direct trade is so important to us because it gives us the opportunity to identify people like Rony Herrera and Francisco Valle Garcia, who are incredibly passionate farmers. Entering a partnership is incredibly beneficial for both sides. Buying coffee in 2019 is tremendously easy and convenient: many reputable companies have very easy to navigate websites, offering dozens and dozens of different types of coffees. It’s trivially easy to select 3 or 4 coffees, have samples delivered to the roastery and then purchase them with little-to-no direct interaction with the coffee farmers. Truthfully, many of these coffees, sourced by third parties, are incredibly delicious and affordable. But this is a lazy way to source coffee and deprives us of important relationships, unique flavors and great memories. Travelling to origin and developing friendships and partnerships feels like the right way to buy coffee for us.
Beyond coffee, the people of Nicaragua are simply good and we really like them a lot. We have been invited into their homes, dined with their families and watched many baseball games with them. The friendship we have developed is incredibly meaningful to us and every year we are so excited to go and see them again. We genuinely feel like part of the family in Nicaragua, which is honestly the typical treatment of foreigners by the Nicaraguan people, the hospitality is unmatched. Despite the hardships the people of Nicaragua are facing, they show every day that they still have some of the strongest hearts in the world. Saludos Nicaragua, te veo pronto.
El Salvador Direct Trade Coffee Farm Tours
Exploring coffee growing regions is always exciting and filled with adventure. Follow us as we visit some of the nicest coffee farms in the Conception de Ataco region of El Salvador and see why Direct Trade partnerships are so important to us at Fratello Coffee.
Inside a hostel in Ahuachapan, we relax with Mauricio Salavierra, some of his friends who run a beautiful restaurant called Tayua near Conception de Ataco and some brand-new friends from Quebec City who are in Ahauachapan for the same reason we are, to find amazing coffees. It’s late and dark and we are craving something slightly greasy and filling to eat after drinking quite a few Pilsners, so we order El Salvador’s national dish, Pupusas. The rest of the night is spent sharing food, beer and stories in Spanish, Quebec French and English.
El Salvador is often maligned as a dangerous, violent country, one that North Americans often look over when choosing a Latin American destination, and it is true that El Salvador can be a dangerous place, the most violent in the Western Hemisphere. However, no country we’ve visited in the world shares the beautiful, untouched beauty of this tiny, dense nation.
As a foreigner, it is very clear which areas are unsafe to visit, and these areas are largely within the capital of San Salvador, where gang activity is high. Like many countries in the Northern Triangle, a little common sense goes a long way in ensuing a safe and fulfilling trip. When travelling outside of the city to coffee growing towns such as Ahuachapan, Conception de Ataco and Juayua, the stunning beauty of the El Salvador landscape and remarkable hospitality and pride of the Salvadoreños is revealed. We’ve never felt more safe as travelers than when we are in these charming towns.
El Salvador remains fiercely loyal to the Bourbon coffee tree. Elsewhere in Latin America, farmers are avoiding specialty trees and have chosen to reduce their crop diversity to protect against the monstrous Roya, a crop disease that has cut through Latin America and has repeatedly devastated coffee farms. A particularly terrible outbreak of Roya in 2014 is still being felt in El Salvador and it isn’t uncommon to see old farms which have been completely abandoned. El Salvador’s response to this crop disease has been very different from other countries within Latin America, they have been pivoting very hard into the specialty coffee sector. The Salvadoran Coffee Council predicts that 80% of Salvadoran coffee exports will be within the specialty coffee sector by 2025.
For farmers such as Mauricio Salavierra, this means a very high level of risk. The danger of a massive roya outbreak on one of his farms is always looming. By carefully grooming his farm and applying fertilizer and fungicide, he manages to stave off the disease, but he must remain constantly vigilant to combat roya. Because farmers such as Mauricio have chosen to farm Bourbon and other exotic varieties of coffee, the flavours we have encountered from this country have been exceptional. As other countries pivot to roya-resistant strains such as Catuai, Catimor and Castillo, the coffee flavor in these places has become somewhat homogenized in recent years. By contrast, the coffees we have been tasting from El Salvador have been marked with massive sweetness, explosive fruit flavors and dazzling acidity. Mauricio’s coffees in recent years have been some of the most inspiring and remarkable coffees we have ever tasted. These coffees have been a true expression of the passion, hard-work and pride of the Salvadoran people.
El Salvador is a jewel of a country, one that we wish more Canadians would experience and enjoy. From the impressive volcanoes to the massive beaches, from the simplicity of the pupusa to the determination of the Salvadoreños. This is a beautiful country that we hope to return to year after year.
Artisan coffee goes to suburbs as Analog Coffee opens in Westman Village
Coffee purveyors in south Calgary can rejoice as on Monday, Feb. 18, Analog Coffee (Analog) officially opens its doors at Westman Village. This is the sixth location for the Calgary-based coffee roaster. This storefront is unique to other Analog locations as it will be home to its first in-house bakery, top-of-the-line equipment - which will be the first-of-its-kind in Western Canada - and a liquor license so Westman Village residents and neighbours can enjoy an after work or weekend drink in Analog’s hip, trendy café.
Analog Coffee’s sixth storefront in Calgary will feature an in-house bakery, a liquor license and top-of-the-line equipment
This new location will harmonize downtown-city vibes with the comforts of the suburbs, while providing craft coffee that is anything but ordinary. It joins the likes of other more urban retailers such as Diner Deluxe, 5 Vines Wine, Craft Beer and Spirits and Chopped Leaf as part of the local, gourmet offerings at Westman Village, Jayman BUILT’s one-of-a-kind lakeside community in Mahogany.
Why did you decide to build in the suburbs of Calgary?
Russ Prefontaine, president and co-owner, The Fratello Group, is passionate about providing coffee connoisseurs in the south with coffee as fuel for a busy day, or an escape from it.
“Being a native Calgarian myself, my team takes great pride in providing a variety of communities a little sense of home and a place to come together creating a fulsome experience for our customers,” says Prefontaine. “This new café is taking us in a direction where we can do more in-house, which enables us to control the quality of products we are executing. We are driven by the need to create an epic, unmatched experience for our customers and this new model of Analog allows us to do just that.”
This location will feature a unique food program that includes soups, salads, cheese boards and other treats - which is new to Analog. The liquor license will enable it to offer a small selection of wine by the glass and local craft beer. However, coffee is still a priority at this location as it will have the highest tech coffee gear in Western Canada: The Slayer Steam Espresso Machine and The Mythos 2 Gravimetric Grinders and Marcos SP9 single-serve brewers.
The vision behind Westman Village is underpinned by the values of Jayman’s founder, Al Westman, weaving convenience, diversity and accessibility into an all-inclusive community. Westman Village is the most recent undertaking by industry-leading, Calgary-based home builder, Jayman BUILT. The community is the first of its kind in Calgary, with buying and leasing options for residents of all ages, including an active adult living, retirement living and starter to estate component. Retail and commercial partners are set to open from early 2019 onward.
“We want Westman Village to be a hub for our residents. We have strategically chosen boutique retailers, like Analog, to bring our residents unique and local offerings,” says Jay Westman, chairman and CEO, Jayman BUILT. “With the opening of Analog, we are bringing an urban, artisan experience to our residents right outside their front door.”
For 38 years, Jayman BUILT has continually redefined the way new homes are built, bought and, most importantly, lived in. Participating in community developments in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Edmonton and Sherwood Park, Jayman BUILT is the largest homebuilder in Alberta. For more information, visit www.jayman.com
About Westman Village
Westman Village embodies the harmonization of the values of Jayman's Founder, Al Westman, by thoughtfully weaving convenience, diversity and accessibility into an all-inclusive suburban community concept.
About Analog Coffee
Analog Coffee is part of the Fratello Group who have been roasting coffee in Calgary since 1985, and owned by local brother’s Russ and Chris Prefontaine. Analog is well known on the local Calgary coffee scene, focusing on single estate, direct trade coffees that are acquired from grower partners around the world.
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Colombia Las Rosas Coffee Coop
Las Rosas Women's Cooperative
Recently, our President Russ Prefontaine had the opportunity to visit La Plata, located in Huila Colombia. He went to visit Las Rosas (formerly Las Marias) the women’s cooperative that we have been working with for some time.
Las Rosas was founded in September 2010 by women in the region, overwhelmed by the lack of credit available to them to use as working capital for their farms. This lack of critical credit combined with traditional household roles and duties, was weakening their families. So, they sought to change it
The major objectives are:
Gender equality and the importance of an inclusive family
Revolving credit to finance their farms
Overall cup quality and farming processes
Overall infrastructure improvements to their homes and coffee process equipment.
Las Rosas Family Training MeetingFratello started working with this cooperative in 2014. We are the majority supporter in this project. We have committed to continue working with them and are working on further incentives to improve cup quality and reward the top producers.
While there, Russ joined a family training day in the village of Monserrate located in La Plata. This lesson focused on the value and roles of women and the importance of gender equality. 40 members of Las Rosas were involved and that was inclusive of their entire family. At the end, they shared stories of how this program has literally changed their lives and transformed their village.
Nelly, the president of this cooperative just received her high school diploma at the age of 50 through this program!
Today, Fratello and Analog Coffee purchase 30% of their total production, however could reach 50% by the end of this year.
We take great pride and joy in knowing that we are making strategic decisions like this to improve the areas we are working in.
Our goal is to do a similar program in Brazil, starting in 2019.
At the forefront of bringing the café culture to Calgary
Russ Prefontaine of the Fratello Group talks about why quality, skill and hospitality are at the core of his family's coffee business
Calgary’s Business: How and when did Fratello start?
Prefontaine: Our family’s history in coffee dates back to 1974, when our dad, Cam Prefontaine, first started a wholesale coffee company, which was operated out of our garage and basement. Our parents involved all three of us brothers (Russ, Chris and Jason) in the family business from the start, earning our allowance by helping dad service old coffee brewers.
In 1985, our dad started roasting his own coffee. He was passionate from the start, experimenting and learning how to source and roast better coffee, as well as helping his wholesale customers make better coffee.
He was one of the first coffee professionals in Calgary to focus on higher-quality beans, and became a pioneer in what we now know as the modern café culture in Calgary.
This planted the seeds that would eventually grow into a family of brands known for their focus on premium quality: Fratello Coffee Roasters, Corbeaux Bakery and Analog Coffee itself. These companies, and their predecessors, played a huge part in bringing café culture to life in Calgary and Western Canada.
All three of us brothers started selling commercial espresso machines in 1991, helping local entrepreneurs start their own shops. We supplied all the equipment and training, and our parents’ company supplied the coffee. We bought the roasting company from our parents in 1997 and changed the name to Fratello Coffee (fratello means brother in Italian).
Over the years, we’ve never stopped learning, expanding our knowledge of coffee, working to keep up with the rapidly-changing trends in the industry. We started travelling to the countries and farms where our coffee was grown in search of the best coffee, and to meet the farmers and families who produced the raw product.
We learned from Dad’s increasingly obsessive attention to detail, not just in the way he focused on roasting great coffee but in how he presented it. For Dad, hospitality and community became critically important. He was making the argument – with every new cup poured — that coffee could be something special. Everything had to be as good as possible. Or why bother doing it at all?
This mindset would play a key part in how we eventually built the Analog business. Over the years, we have led, pioneered and challenged a vast variety of innovative coffee and coffee-related businesses, which include the creation of Slayer Espresso machines with our brother Jason in 2007. We envisioned inventing and creating a specialized machine unlike anything else on the market. The ambitious decision to create a machine from scratch that would dramatically expand brewing possibilities was born because we knew there was specific demand from coffee professionals for a machine that could ‘flavour profile’ the unique varietals of coffee that were being produced.
Our family also owned a bottling facility for coffee chai/syrups/smoothies.
We hope you’ll quickly see how completely and totally obsessed we are with every decision that goes into our coffee and its products. It’s simple: ‘good enough’ is never good enough.
As these things often go, it was the original lessons from Dad – the ones about quality and hospitality – that would bring all the promise of our businesses, finally, into reality. We threw ourselves full-bore into expanding our knowledge of growing and roasting coffee. We travelled around the world where we found kindred spirits in farmers who cared as much about coffee as we did.
As business thrived, we started thinking more and more about how best to present the coffees we were working so hard to perfect. This was the moment we decided it was time to create a line of cafés, each reflecting everything we believed a coffeehouse could be if done right. We would take everything we had learned and become so obsessed over, and share it with our community.
CB: Can you give me a scope of your business today and what you do?
Prefontaine: We continue to focus on what we grew up doing. Sourcing and roasting exceptionally good coffee and using our expertise to help other like-minded companies achieve their goals. Our core business is wholesale roasting and now with Corbeaux Bakery, we are also offering a wholesale food solution.
This ambitious project has had a very steep learning curve. But we press on, continuing to put as much effort and intention into our food as we do our coffee. In fact, our team of chefs and master bakers make virtually everything from scratch.
Our natural sourdough bread is fermented 48 hours before baking, our pastries are made from scratch with all-natural premium ingredients, we laminate our croissant dough by hand using real butter, we slow roast our own meat, and even make our own all-natural yogurt, which is a 24-hour process. We don’t add preservatives, we only use natural ingredients.
Simply put, we don’t cut corners. This has started to get a lot of attention because it’s so unique.
Our newest customer, Calgary Co-op, recognized this passion and has begun offering our bread program in a few of their locations. They realize that this was a segment that wasn’t being offered or served in their stores, or most of their competitors’ stores. We’re excited to say that we will be expanding to most of their Calgary stores over the next few months.
Aside from working with our wholesale customers across Western Canada, we spend a tremendous amount of time with our Analog Coffee team fine-tuning our operations. Currently, our focus is on culture and our customer experience. We believe we’re all hosts, and want our Analog team members to feel the same way when greeting and serving our guests.
CB: What are your growth plans for the company in the near future?
Prefontaine: We definitely have some fun and exciting plans for growth in the next five years. Much of these plans are to expand our roasting capacity and distribution in order to make it easier for people to find and enjoy our products. This will primarily be based on where we have our brick and mortar Analog Coffee locations, which is also the perfect place to enjoy our Corbeaux Bakery food products.
One challenge for us is we don’t do anything without going all the way. This does make it challenging when looking to expand outside of Calgary, as there are so many details to systemize to ensure a successful launch. How do we bring this same attention to detail, quality and care to another city with certainty that those guests will experience everything we do in Calgary?
We have been asking this question for a few years now and we believe we are on the verge of something great.
CB: Why have you been able to be successful in a market that seems to be saturated with coffee players and big ones such as Starbucks?
Prefontaine: We’ve been successful in this competitive marketplace because I believe our customers can see we authentically love what we’re doing. Analog is the realization of everything our family has been building for over 40 years. Every detail of the guest experience is considered, calculated and very intentional, from the décor, vibe and food, to the coffee itself. It’s decades of passion made tangible.
We had thought about starting our own café since the 1990s. And in 2011, we couldn’t resist the temptation any longer and opened the first Analog Coffee in the Calgary Farmers’ Market. It exceeded our own expectations. In 2012, our dream location came available for our second shop on Calgary’s 17th Avenue, right in the heart of the city’s Beltline community. More stores followed.
Analog gives us a place where we can carefully craft our brilliant single-origin coffees for guests from across all walks of life.
Analog allows us to practise what we have been preaching with a direct voice to the community. At Analog, average is completely unacceptable. We’re always in search of the finest coffees for our customers and our community. We’re driven by the need to deliver epic, unmatched coffee experiences to our customers. Every day. In every way.
We want to share our coffee with everyone from the longtime aficionado to the newcomer who just wants something a little (or a lot) better to drink. It’s not about attitude or elitism. It’s about how everyone who orders our subscriptions deserves the best coffee we can find.
We know good coffee is everywhere. But great coffee is surprisingly rare – whether you’re drinking it as fuel for your busy day or an escape from it. So, we’re here for those who want a life less ordinary. If only for the time it takes to finish a cup of our Analog Coffee.
CB: Why has coffee taken off in recent years as a burgeoning consumer trend?
Prefontaine: We have been watching coffee grow in popularity since we first started roasting in 1985. I remember the day that Starbucks announced they were coming to Calgary. We were excited. We knew that they would bring an enormous awareness to the public on what specialty coffee is, and we knew that to compete against someone like them, that you would have to raise the bar on everything we did.
Today, truly exceptional coffee isn’t as hard to find as it used to be in most cities. It’s now expected that if you are opening a café, or serving coffee in a restaurant or hotel, that the coffee you’re serving has been given attention. Even Swoop Airlines is offering our coffee on board because they wanted to serve their guests something special.
All the fancy grinding and brewing equipment in the world won’t make a difference if we don’t first find perfectly produced coffee. That’s why our producers harvest by hand-picking. That way only perfectly ripe cherries are selected while overripe and green cherries are sorted out. Our growers spend day after day moving from tree to tree, harvesting only the best cherries. This ensures that the quality of our coffee is not hindered by any shortcuts.
Our growers utilize a variety of different processing techniques from honey processing to fully-washed and beyond – all depending on what they believe will coax the best flavour from the varietal. By the time the coffee leaves the farm on its journey to our roasterie in Calgary, hundreds of people will have contributed to its creation.
This philosophy is the same with many coffee roasters these days and this started the third wave of the coffee movement. When we roast our beans we want to create a profile that best expresses the varietal and the region where it was grown. That’s both an art and a science. We roast every offering with a custom approach, all with the goal of telling a story in every cup.
Our roasters are always on the leading edge of their trade. They’re highly skilled at managing the variables of a roast, producing beans with vibrant aromas and creating the best possible flavour for each coffee.
Skilled baristas are the last important link in this movement. They should be well-trained experts in the art of brewing. They’re working with state-of-the-art machinery and a fine eye to detail. In fact, when one of our Analog baristas is standing behind the counter brewing your coffee, you should feel confident that they’re making sure this final step is done with all the care, attention and intention shown by each and every person who has cared for the coffee bean since it was planted.
That’s how you know that when you’re handed a cup of Analog Coffee, you’re tasting some of the best coffee in the world. Every time.
– Mario Toneguzzi
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.
Analog Coffee Delivering "urban-vibe" to suburbia Calgary
Analog Coffee is well known in the Calgary 3rd wave coffee scene; particularly noted for its flagship location on 17thAvenue; which serves upwards of a thousand guests per day. Fratello Coffee Roasters has been an institution in the craft coffee roasting sector for over three decades and has been family owned for almost 40 years.
CALGARY, Nov. 23, 2017 /CNW/ - Analog Coffee, a division of Calgary's Fratello Group Inc.; continues its successful expansion with two new select upcoming locations.
Analog made its debut in 2011 at the Calgary Farmers Market on Blackfoot and also sports locations at Southcenter Mall, Bow Valley Square and at the coffee Roastery itself.
Russ Prefontaine; the group's President states that, "our choices for new locations are very specific and demographically intentional." Prefontaine revealed that a new Analog will anchor both the upcoming locations at Westman Village in Mahogany, located in Calgary's far Southeast and the new University District in the heart of Northwest.
Analog Coffee intends to take the acclaimed "vibe, culture and community" created at locations such as 17th Avenue and bring them to the emerging ultra-trendsetting new suburban experiences being developed in Calgary. "Developments such as Westman Village and the University District in Calgary's, appeal and serve many of our loyal customers in our downtown settings. We want to bring the urban-vibe home for them. These two new locations are the quintessential examples of perfect matches for us and our customers," says Prefontaine.
Westman Village - At Westman Village, in the Lake community of Mahogany states, "life happens when you open your door, look around and find so much more. We've built a resort-style community where convenience, relaxation and pleasure are found right outside your home. A place where hand-selected retail supports the community and extraordinary amenities keep it moving forward, always offering more. We believe people in a community should never be strangers – that's why we built more places to be together."
Analog Coffee will open fall of 2018.
University District - in the heart of North West states, "University District joins the ranks of campus communities around the world that combine culture and convenience with flourishing commerce and tremendous livability. An environmentally sound, socially responsible and intelligently designed 200-acre community that will change the way Calgarians live, work and play forever."
Analog Coffee will open spring/summer of 2019.
"Analog is proud to be a part of the Calgary 3rd wave coffee scene and shares the space with great fellow roasters such as Phil & Sebastian, Rosso and Monogram. We have the utmost respect for our colleagues in the community and hope we all continue to grow and prosper while raising the (espresso) bar for Calgary's coffee enthusiasts," Prefontaine concludes.
Cafe Consultation - How our Team Can Help You.
Meet one of Fratello Sales Consultants Joel May. He has been part of the Fratello team for years and is here to support clients with everything they need to run a successful cafe. If you are seeking to open a cafe or are you wanting support in your current business, we are here to help you with our Cafe Consultation. You can read below to find out more about their role and how they may serve you!
Joel May, Fratello.
What are your roles within Fratello and what do you do?
Our roles within Fratello is ultimately a wholesale sales consultant. We stay current with the newest industry trends, provide exceptional training, phenomenal coffee, and help our customers set up with the right equipment and layout. My goal is to become my customers most valuable asset, their key contact for any coffee related questions, issues or needs.
What services does Fratello offer its clients?
As a wholesaler working with independent and franchise cafe operators, we help our partners (customers) succeed through providing exceptional, high quality coffee, as well as the skills, tools, and knowledge required to showcase the best that our coffee has to offer. In addition, we consult with cafe operators to ensure they have the right equipment and flow for their particular location. Capitalizing on flow makes a world of difference to the bottom line. This ultimately creates a win win sales relationship.
- Installation and pre installation site inspections
- Help with equipment placement for optimized flow
- Help with coffee cost analysis
- Full training for all staff from Owner to Barista, from basic espresso training to advanced barista
- Ongoing training and support as required
- Coffee knowledge seminars
What advice would you give for those who want to open a cafe?
There are a lot of answers to this question, but a few of the most important points of advice I would offer are:
Location, location location! First and foremost, a great location sets you up for success, look for places offering massive amounts of foot traffic. Consider looking for foot traffic and making an offer on the right location even if its not for lease or sale. Stand alone locations with no foot traffic are always a challenge. Be wary of spaces that are too large, cavernous cafes give the impression that the cafe is not busy even if its doing well. A crowd always attracts a crowd and 1200 to 1500 square feet seems to be the winning footprint.
Be prepared to float yourself for a year, it often takes all of that to create a strong loyal regular customer base.
Do your research, understand the micro market you are looking to set up shop in.
Decor and renovation budgets are important but don’t forget to budget for your brewing and espresso gear. So often we see the gear as an afterthought, the espresso machine is the heartbeat of the cafe, get the right machine, espresso grinders, and brewing gear.
When selecting your coffee, choose quality over price every time, strong margins coupled with the high yield in coffee translates into $0.03 cents per cup for every $1.00 per lb. Not much of a savings for using a lower quality product…
Higher passionate staff, who love coffee. If your not a people orientated person, higher a great manager who is.
What is the point of difference with those who work with Fratello?
When choosing to work with Fratello it is important to know that our customers are our partners, their success is our focus. We don’t charge a fee for helping them succeed.
While our coffee is exceptional, poor brewing and extracting techniques can ruin even the finest of coffee, we offer the tools to ensure that every cup is amazing!
We are of the belief that by helping our customers becomes better café operators, offering a high level of quality beverages with a great experience, we will all benefit. We produce excellent coffee.
We also have the experience to carry blends and dark roasts along side boutique style micro lots. In many instances, a customers key demographic in their area is looking for a really good dark or medium roast that is stable and unchanging all the time, one that can work well with cream and sugar. We know this and can help.
The Farmer behind some of your favourite El Salvador coffees
Meet Rodrigo Dumont, a farmer from El Salvador that grows and provides some of Fratello's favourite coffees like the El Salvador Malacara B and the El Salvador Pacamara. We interviewed Rodrigo to learn more about his farm, community and more about the behind the scenes of what it takes to fill your cup with that flavour you enjoy each morning!
Q. How often do you grow coffee? What does a season look like?
We have a coffee renovation program for the next five years that contemplates an investment of at least 15,000 new coffee plants per year. We are growing different varieties of coffees each year, from our traditional red bourbon, to our new and exciting microlots: orange and pink bourbon, mokka, and pacamara, among others.
A season includes different activities within the coffee farm:
Coffee pruning and management, which is essential for new growth and the stimulation of new foliage, which will eventually provide more crop.
Shade pruning and its efficient management provide enough light for the coffee plants to regenerate its foliage previous to the rainy season, and as it grows back, maintains a cool temperature in the farm during summer. Shade also provides further benefits:
Organic material for the soil from fallen leaves
Canopy for a sustainable ecosystem
Less fertilizers required for coffee trees with more shade
Soil & Foliar Fertilization: coffee plants, like all plants,
require light, water, and soil to grow and bear fruit:
Quantity of light is managed by shade
Quantity of water, as of now, cannot be regulated
And the quality of soil can be analyzed and further improved with organic and/or chemical amendments and fertilizers
In our farms we provide our coffee plants both organic and chemical fertilizers: Pulp is used in a compost for new coffee plants, N-P-K formulas are created for specific soil types and at certain growth times of the plant for fertilization optimization and less waste
Picking and sorting is crucial to the quality of coffee. A cherry picked at its ripest will deliver a well-formed and larger bean, with higher sugar content, and thus a better cup.
Milling: the milling process is outsourced to Beneficio El Borbollon, even though it is an integral part of the value chain.
These are some of the most important activities that go on at the farm level. They are critical for coffee growth and coffee production. Without these we could not have a harvest at the end of the season.
Q. What makes for a good crop?
A good crop can be defined as producing what was expected, not having an environmental impact on the farm (e.g. some kind of plague, strong rains or draught), stable costs, and a secure space to work on.
The quality of the coffee can be established to a certain point by the hard work of the farm workers.
Q. Are there any unique techniques that you use for growing coffee?
We have a established a traditional method in Malacara B called agobio parra This technique was used in the Santa Ana volcano region more than 50 years ago and provided superior productions for bourbon varieties. The technique consists of bending the coffee trees when they are relatively young. With proper shade and coffee pruning, new trees will grow from the mother tree and provide additional production. Each season, the newer trees are bent and further trees grow to produce the new crop. The growing philosophy behind the agobio is to always have in one parra, three or four producing generations of coffee trees.
Q. Tell us a Little about daily life. What does your day look like?
In Malacara B, work on the farm starts at 7 am. Usually workers are divided by 20 or 30, supervised by a “Caporal”. There is a farm administrator called “Mandador”. During the year there are between 20 to 60 people working on non-harvest work. During the harvest the amount of workers can increase to 100 at a time. Each group has a specific activity to work on: shade pruning, coffee pruning, or fertilization for example. Lunch break is at noon: beans, rice and “chengas” or tortillas, which the farm provides as part of the work benefits. Work usually ends at 3 pm. If there is any work paid by the job, people choose to keep working and earn additional cash.
In my case, I visit Malacara B and the other two farms we administer, Piedra Pacha and Las Mercedes. At least once a week each.
Q. What kind of environment conditions are best for growing coffee?
Malacara B I would say has an ideal microclimate to grow coffee. It is at 1500 m above sea level, perfect temperature in El Salvador for quality coffee. It is in a side of the Santa Ana volcano where no wind hits the farm. It is always partially cloudy, so there is not too much sun or too little. The soil comes from volcanic rock. All great conditions for specialty coffee!
Q. How do you like to drink your coffee?
When I drink coffee I have two preferences.
When it is black coffee, I like to drink a Malacara B red Bourbon in a Chemex. Clean, round, balanced and sweet. I could drink that coffee on and on and on.
If there is a good barista around, and a good espresso machine, I like a good cortado: the perfect combination of sweet espresso and milk.
Coffee Cupping | A step by step guide
There is so much that goes into roasting that perfect cup of coffee, including a process known as cupping. This is a regular practice done at the roastery to ensure quality and flavour are to complete perfection. When you buy our beans or taste our coffee, we want to ensure that what you are getting is the best. Here is a step by step process known as coffee cupping.
Easy to Follow Steps For Cupping Coffee
Step 1: Weigh and grind your coffee samples. The ideal ratio is 8.25 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water.
Step 2: Evaluate dry fragrance by smelling the dry grounds within 15 minutes of grinding your coffee.
Step 3: Infuse dry grounds with hot water (200° F (93° C)) filling all the way to the brim of the cup. Let it sit for 4 minutes leaving the crust unbroken.
Step 4: After the 4 minutes is up break the crust by stirring three times allowing the foam to fall off the back of the spoon while gently smelling the back of the spoon.
Step 5: Evaluate wet aroma/fragrance of the coffee samples on your SCAA scoring sheet
Step 6: Before tasting the coffee clear off the remaining wet coffee grinds floating on top of the samples in one swift motion using two cupping spoons.
Step 7: When the samples have cooled for about 10 minutes you can begin your flavour, aftertaste, acidity, body and balance evaluation.
When tasting: the coffee should be aspirated into the mouth so that it covers as much area as possible, making a very audible slurping noise. Flavour and after taste are then rated.
As the coffee continues to cool the acidity, body, balance are then rated. Lastly, the sweetness, uniformity and clean cup should be evaluated before your samples reach room temperature.
Step 8: Add all your scores on your evaluation sheets and you’re done! Based on your scores you can now determine the best coffee suited for your coffee shop.