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

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

Retail Coffee Display

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

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

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

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

coffee beans display

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

How do I find a good coffee roaster?

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

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

retail coffee beans for sale

 

What type of coffee should I offer?

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

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

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

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

5 reasons to fill your shelf with retail coffee bags

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

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

2) It helps support the local economy. 

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

3) ‘Tis the season for gift giving. 

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

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

coffee sales

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

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

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

5) It can drastically increase your revenue. 

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

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

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

busy cafe

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

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

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

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

What else can I offer on my retail shelf?

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

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

Retail tea bags

Beans aplenty

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

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

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

Idle Tea Spiced Chai Latte : Our Family Recipe

Chai tea lattes are the perfect warm drink for this time of year when the temperature starts to drop. With its warm spice blend of cardamom, ginger, peppercorn, cinnamon, and other spices, chai lattes are a fall and winter favourite.

Idle Spice Chai Latte

Masala chai tea has been around for millennia. While the recipe that’s loved and enjoyed today is a little different, the foundation remains the same. Black tea, an array of warm spices, and a sweetener are still the building blocks.

As a coffee shop, it’s essential that you carry a good quality chai blend, something that’s easy to make and delicious. Our Idle Tea Chai Latte concentrate makes a perfectly sweet, aromatic chai latte. 

Let’s take a look at the origin of masala chai, what makes our blend so special, and how to prepare it using our blend. Then, we’ll finish off with a few fun variations on the chai latte. 

Idle Tea Spiced Chai Latte

Where did chai originate?

Chai originated in India somewhere between 5000-9000 years ago. Indian royalty figures drank chai, both for medicinal purposes and as a delicacy. Closer to the 19th century, it became a drink that royals and commoners alike could enjoy.

Traditionally, the Indian chai recipe is prepared by steeping black tea and whole spices in hot milk, and sweetening it with sugar or honey. The spices include (but are not limited to) cardamom, cinnamon, whole peppercorn, ginger, and aniseed.

In Indian, the word “chai” actually means “tea.” The term “masala chai” refers to the chai that we know and love, with “masala” denoting the spice blend. 

Chai culture is still hugely popular in India, and is made at home in large kettles and enjoyed in a celebratory context. It’s also popular on the streets, and street vendors, called “chai wallahs,” make hot masala chai on demand. 

Chai lattes as we know them in North America are prepared much differently, though the ingredients remain the same. Milk, black tea, a warm spice blend, and some form of sweetener are crucial for a perfect chai latte. 

For more content about tea origins, check out our previous blog post about matcha green tea powder

Spiced Chai Tea mix

What makes the Idle Tea Spiced Chai Mix special?

Our Idle Tea Spiced Chai Mix aims to replicate the authentic recipe as closely as possible. Our blend brews black assam tea with an array of warm signature spices. Those spices include Guatemalan cardamom, Asian ginger, Indonesian cinnamon, Madagascar cloves and Indonesian Lampong black peppercorn. Once the tea and spices have been steeped, we add just the right amount of beetroot sugar for the perfect sweetness.

The chai latte blend is a liquid blend that is conveniently brewed already, with the perfect level of sweetness and spice. All you have to do is combine it with milk in a pitcher, steam it, and top it with some cinnamon or nutmeg.

Our chai latte blend is the same recipe that we developed in the early 2000’s, over 20 years ago when we started making our own line of chai, syrups and smoothies. It used to be called Flavors of Eden, followed by Valleta Flavors. But now it’s under the Idle Tea line, and it now comes in a recyclable bottle. It’s the same great blend with a new look and label.

Idle Tea Chai Mix

How to make a chai latte

Our chai latte blend makes it incredibly easy to make the perfect chai latte. Pour 1 part Idle Tea Spiced Chai Mix into a pitcher, followed by two parts milk or a non-dairy substitute. Steam it in the pitcher until it reaches 140 degrees F. Pour it into a cup and top with cinnamon or nutmeg.  The same ratio can also be served cold over ice.

If you want to serve our chai latte concentrate for your coffee shop, reach out to us at .

Chai latte variations

The flavours of masala chai pair wonderfully with other flavours, so you’re not just limited to chai lattes alone. Here are 3 popular takes on the classic drink.

Dirty chai latte

A dirty chai latte is simply a chai latte with an espresso shot added. With familiar warm spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, it’s almost reminiscent of a gingerbread latte or a pumpkin spice latte. 

To make it, just steam the correct ratio of milk and chai mix until it reaches 140 degrees F. Then, pull an espresso shot into a cup. Pour the steamed chai over the espresso shot, and top with cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Chai tea mix

Chai apple cider

Apple cider beautifully complements the flavours of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. 

Simply pour 2 parts apple cider with 1 part Idle Tea Spiced Chai Mix into a pitcher, and steam until it reaches 140 degrees F. Pour into a cup, and top with cinnamon.

Chai hot chocolate

The chai hot chocolate is an experience similar to a spicy hot chocolate. The ginger and black peppercorn add a spicy, zesty kick. 

To make it, pour 1 tbsp of chocolate syrup into a cup. Into a metal milk pitcher, pour one part Idle Tea Spiced Chai Mix and 2 parts milk or non-dairy alternative. Steam it until it reaches 140 degrees F. Pour a small amount over the chocolate syrup, mixing well. Then, pour in the rest of the steamed chai. Top with nutmeg. 

Warm, spicy, and irresistable

Spiced Chai Latte

There’s nothing more comforting and warming than a chai latte with a dash of cinnamon on top. It’s the quintessential cozy drink, perfect for the colder fall and winter months. 

Make sure to seize the opportunity and offer this incredibly popular drink to your customers. It’s easy and quick to make, it makes for a perfectly balanced drink, and best of all, it’ll keep your line moving while keeping your customers in good spirits. Happy chai season!

Need the perfect chai latte blend for your coffee shop? Drop us a line at

 

How to Clean and Maintain Your Espresso Machine

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

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

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

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

Espresso being extracted

 

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

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

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

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

How to descale an espresso machine

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

How often do I need to clean my espresso machine?

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

Espresso machine steaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Espresso machine group head

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

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

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

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

Espresso machine steam wands

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

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

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

espresso cup

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

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

 

Drinking Turmeric for Health Benefits

We all know turmeric as that vibrant golden-yellow spice used in curry dishes. But did you know that turmeric is loaded with health benefits? Turmeric contains antioxidants that fend off diseases, slow the aging process, and reduce inflammation. Best of all, it makes a delicious herbal tea.

Let’s face it: sometimes we have to go off coffee for a while. If you overdo it, coffee and caffeine in general can be addictive and lead to withdrawal and headaches. For some, it can also cause heartburn and jitters if you’re drinking multiple cups a day. If you need to lay off coffee for a while, our Idle Golden Turmeric Latte powder could be the fix for you. Just mix it up in some hot milk or a non-dairy alternative, and you’ll have a perfectly sweet and savoury warm bevvy. 

Let’s take a quick look at the main ingredient of our herbal tea blend: turmeric.

Turmeric health benefits

Turmeric contains high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances found in plants that reduce oxidative stress in the human body. Oxidative stress leads to cell damage, and over time, cell damage in our bodies can lead to disease. Oxidation is caused by free radicals that roam around our bodies. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals, halting the oxidation process.

If you live in the big city, trying to get antioxidant rich foods in your diet is a great idea. Big cities expose us to poor air quality, as we walk past traffic-dense areas and inhale second-hand tobacco smoke. Poor air quality is one of the biggest causes of oxidative stress. You can combat it, in part, by eating antioxidant rich foods.

Curcumin

The active ingredient in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant called curcumin. This particular antioxidant is an anti-inflammatory. While inflammation in the body is a natural occurrence, it’s chronic inflammation that we want to avoid. When we get an infection or we’re hurt, inflammation kicks in to speed up the healing process. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, causes a number of diseases over time. It can lead to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and regenerative conditions.

Health experts are particularly interested in the effects of turmeric on cancer patients. Early trials show that curcumin contributes to cancer cell death, reduced growth of blood vessels in tumors, and reduced metastasis (spread). While studies are still underway, there is evidence that curcumin neutralizes free radicals that cause cancer. 

Curcumin may also promote brain health and reduce depression. It is shown to improve the levels of BDNF, a protein that repairs and regenerates neurons in the brain. 

There is evidence that black pepper may enhance and activate the powerful antioxidants in turmeric. Black pepper contains the natural compound piperine, which itself has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. 

Do cinnamon and ginger have health benefits, too?

Our Idle Golden Turmeric Latte powder also contains two other antioxidant rich spices: ginger and cinnamon. 

Ginger contains a natural oil called gingerol, a known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, ginger is known to help with tummy trouble, in particular indigestion, nausea, and intestinal inflammation. Ginger happens to be in the same plant family as turmeric, which may explain why the flavours complement each other. 

Cinnamon also contains antioxidants in the form of polyphenols, which perform similarly to curcumin and gingerol. In addition, cinnamon contains the natural compound cinnamaldehyde, which may fight bacterial and fungal infections. It not only provides a delicious flavour, but it also provides sweetness without any added sugar. 

This leads us to the final ingredient on the list: coconut sugar.

Is coconut sugar healthier than table sugar?

While coconut sugar has the same amount of calories, it has a few benefits over table sugar. Coconut sugar is the dehydrated sap of coconut trees, making it a natural, unprocessed form of sugar. 

It’s also lower on the glycemic index than table sugar, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar like table sugar. It contains a fibre called inulin, which is responsible for keeping the blood

sugar low. This can be helpful for people with both types of diabetes. And, unlike table sugar, it contains iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. While coconut sugar has some benefits, it’s still sugar after all, so don’t go overboard with it. 

In a nutshell

Here are your health benefits in one neat package. Turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation, slowing the aging process and preventing disease. Ginger offers antioxidants too, and maintains a healthy gut. Cinnamon also contains antioxidants, it can help us fight chest infections, and it provides sweetness without any added sugar. Coconut sugar is a natural alternative to table sugar, and it won’t spike blood sugars as high as regular sugar. 

What are some other antioxidant rich foods?

Other antioxidant rich foods that fight free radicals include blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. You can also find them in dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. If you’re looking for another antioxidant rich beverage, try out our Idle Matcha Tea Powder

How do I make a golden milk latte?

Place 1 teaspoon of the Idle Golden Turmeric Latte powder in a mug, followed by 30 ml of water. Stir it together to make a syrup, and set aside. Heat 200 mL of milk or a non-dairy alternative to 160 degrees F (hot, but not boiling). Stir the hot milk into the syrup, and mix well. Sprinkle some more of the powder on top for garnish, and enjoy.

What are some other uses for this powder?

Our Idle Golden Turmeric Latte powder can be used in hot and cold beverages. You can easily ice your golden turmeric latte by pouring cold milk into the syrup instead. The powder dissolves well in frozen smoothies as well.

You can also use the powder as a health boost to baked goods. Just place a teaspoon of the powder into shortbread cookie dough, muffin batter and pancake batter, for a beautiful, golden hue. 

Want to learn more about antioxidants and how they can benefit you? Check out our blog post about the benefits of matcha powder.





Back-to-school: Tips for Coping with Parental Burnout

The back-to-school season stirs up a lot of emotions depending on who you are. For many, it's the season of excitement, nerves, nostalgia, new beginnings, and the madness of activity. This time of year can bring joy, in the form of hunkering down on studies or reuniting with classmates. But, if you’re a busy working parent, it can mean something entirely different: parental burnout.

Mother and daughter

Sure, the smell of fresh notebooks and the first signs of autumn bring a pleasantness to the air. But it can also be a return to that familiar hamster wheel of eat-work-sleep. Between making lunches, a full-time job, preparing dinner, and taking your kids to and from soccer practise, there’s exactly zero downtime. 

Working a full-time job is stressful enough on its own, but when you add raising kids to the mix, it can be crazy-making. Not only is this compounded stress a crappy feeling, but studies show that chronic stress literally makes us sick. Constant stress leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. High amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone, has been linked to cancer. The mind and the body are more interconnected than previously thought. 

As a parent, it can feel impossible to find some calm. If you continually let your own needs fall to the bottom of the priority list, that’s where they’ll stay. Don’t wait for downtime to occur–be proactive and make your own downtime. 

Here are our 5 tips for beating parental burnout so you can get the school year off to a great start.

5 tips for combatting parental burnout

Meditating woman

Carve out time for meditation 

Meditation, or mindfulness, is the practise of focusing on physical sensations and senses instead of on our thoughts. If you’ve never tried meditation before, you’ll be amazed at the effects on your mind after just 2-4 weeks of doing it regularly. 

Meditation exercises create new pathways in the brain, ie. new habits, new thought patterns, etc. If you tend to catastrophize, regular meditation creates a new, more level-headed way of thinking. 

Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, meditating 5-6 days a week can greatly ease parental burnout. Common meditations you can do anywhere and anytime include deep breathing and body scans. There are several free online guided meditation courses, such as the Palouse Mindfulness course. 

Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. To do something mindlessly would be to do something physical, like walking, without noticing your surroundings or sensations. Instead of focusing on the walk itself, you’d be caught up in thoughts about insecurities, bills, health, etc. A mindful walk, however, would involve focusing on the motion of your hips or the sounds of the birds in the trees. In essence, mindfulness is the practise of living life in the present and not missing what’s around us, however ordinary. 

Fratello coffee

Develop a new relationship with coffee

Sure, coffee contains caffeine, that thing that keeps our eyes open so we can deal with the demands of parenting. But rather than be used as a drug, coffee should be enjoyed. If you’re hitting up the drive-thru multiple times a day for a large triple-triple, you might be leaning on coffee. Parental burnout and too much caffeine tend to go hand-in-hand.

Change your relationship with coffee from one of caffeine addiction to one of mindful enjoyment. Start by drinking better coffee. Use the moment of drinking coffee to fully enjoy it. If you can, take a moment to sit down and enjoy it, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Even the act of making a pour over can be meditative. To fully enjoy the alertness benefits of coffee, try not to drink more than two cups a day.

If coffee isn't your thing, try making a matcha latte at home, and read about the health benefits of matcha.

Soak up parenting wisdom

Regardless of what age your kids are, it never hurts to take parenting classes or read parenting books. Not only will it help you beat parental burnout, but it will strengthen your relationship with your kids. Parenting wisdom can teach you how to deal with tough moments. Sometimes, kids will throw food at the walls or engage in naughty or rebellious behaviour. How you respond to these incidents is what makes the difference.

Parenting wisdom can also open your eyes to some of your own bad habits that you’re not even aware of. It can also demystify how to get kids to chores and homework without antagonizing them. 

A lot of unchecked life trauma can find its way into your family dynamic, damaging relationships. In general, parents can always benefit from seeing a therapist.  Studies show that kids with frazzled parents were much more likely to be stressed themselves

Mother and child

Do fun things with your kids regularly 

A lot of times, a major factor of parental burnout is too much work and not enough play. Regularly engaging in fun activities increases serotonin levels in the brain, the chemical associated with happiness. 

Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as making cookies together on the weekend or going to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Even though it may be tempting to do nothing on the weekends after a draining week, fun is essential to well-being. It’s also a form of bonding with our family. Many parents with grown children report having regrets about not spending enough time with their kids when they’re growing up. 

Have some alone time

While it’s important to bond as a family, it’s equally important to find solitude. Solitude is important to our mental health. Being alone helps us to work through personal struggles, improve our concentration, relax, think deeply, and more. 

When you have kids, you practically never have alone time. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have it–it simply means you have to make the time. Protect this time with your life. Book off a day in the calendar to get out of the house and call a babysitter or a relative to watch your kids.

It can be as simple as going to a coffee shop to get a few chapters in or going to the art gallery by yourself. If you let quality alone time fall to the bottom of your to-do list, you’ll become irritable, depressed and anxious. 

child doing homework

Turning parenting into child’s play

Parenting is indeed hard. It requires good time management skills and being “on” more than we’d like. But the mental strain that comes with parental burnout can add an extra layer of “hard” on top of a jam-packed schedule. The key is to set boundaries around your self-care routine and to inject more joy into your life. This school year, get off to a good start, and don’t wait to start implementing self care!






Visting Expocamo in Nicaragua - Direct Trade Trip

On April 18, 2018 the protests in Nicaragua first began. Spurred on by social security reforms decreed by President Daniel Ortega, demonstrations involving university students, the elderly and other activists broke out in Managua, Jinotega, Leon and other large Nicaraguan cities. The protests were violently repressed: live ammunition was fired into crowds, hundreds of protestors were killed by police and armed Sandinista militias, thousands more were wounded and tens of thousands have fled the country in exile. Nicaragua has been in turmoil for over a year now, and the end doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. Even in the relatively small and sleepy town of Ocotal, shouts of “¡Viva Nicaragua libre!” can be heard, quickly followed by the blaring of police sirens.

What amazes us the most about the Nicaraguan people, is that despite the tragic circumstances unfolding in their country, they still offer the most authentic hospitality, have the biggest hearts and have the most fun out of all the places we visit. It is nearly impossible to feel like an outsider in Nicaragua because the people simply will not let you. The amount of times we have been invited into the homes of people, who we barely know or have just met, to watch baseball or ultra-cheesy Mexican telenovelas is much higher than we ever could have expected. Nicaraguan culture is very laid back and tranquillo. In our experience, Nicaragua remains one of the most informal places we have ever been and it creates a truly relaxing and easy-going atmosphere.

Our partners in Nicaragua are having a tough time right now. Financing from the government, which was once available, is now gone and it’s becoming harder to plant new trees, rebuild drying beds and fertilize and spray crops to prevent roya. In response, we have committed to helping our partners at Expocamo by paying for several new drying beds, to replace some older, heavily used beds. These beds will improve the quality of the coffee not just for us, for but all the people around the world who buy coffee from Expocamo. We are super proud to do this for all Nicaraguan coffee lovers and to raise the profile of Nicaraguan coffee, which we feel is underappreciated.

Direct trade is so important to us because it gives us the opportunity to identify people like Rony Herrera and Francisco Valle Garcia, who are incredibly passionate farmers. Entering a partnership is incredibly beneficial for both sides. Buying coffee in 2019 is tremendously easy and convenient: many reputable companies have very easy to navigate websites, offering dozens and dozens of different types of coffees. It’s trivially easy to select 3 or 4 coffees, have samples delivered to the roastery and then purchase them with little-to-no direct interaction with the coffee farmers. Truthfully, many of these coffees, sourced by third parties, are incredibly delicious and affordable. But this is a lazy way to source coffee and deprives us of important relationships, unique flavors and great memories. Travelling to origin and developing friendships and partnerships feels like the right way to buy coffee for us.

Beyond coffee, the people of Nicaragua are simply good and we really like them a lot. We have been invited into their homes, dined with their families and watched many baseball games with them. The friendship we have developed is incredibly meaningful to us and every year we are so excited to go and see them again. We genuinely feel like part of the family in Nicaragua, which is honestly the typical treatment of foreigners by the Nicaraguan people, the hospitality is unmatched. Despite the hardships the people of Nicaragua are facing, they show every day that they still have some of the strongest hearts in the world. Saludos Nicaragua, te veo pronto.

Costa Rica Miguel Rojas & MISO micro-lots, Direct Trade Coffee

Miguel Rojas

In February 2012 we visited Costa Rica to see our friends at Exclusive Coffee as well as our producer partners to choose this years offerings.  For the second year we will be offering Miguel Rojas coffee which are grown in the West Valley, more specifically in the micro region Llano Bonito of Naranjo.  This year we will have 2 offerings from Miguel, both micro-lots grown on Finca La Palmita, but one in particular is very special.

Miguel and Nelson Rojas with Russ

As always, Costa Rica impresses me with their Micro-Mill revolution which continues to expand and improve.  I am seeing better organization, at farm level as well as more dedication to improve quality.  These producers have been getting premiums for their coffee for a few years now and are typically re-investing into their mills for efficiency’s and consistency.  This is going to be a very good year for the Costa Rican coffees available from Fratello.

Miguel Rojas MISO micro lot

Miguel, his son Nelson and their 20 staff harvested a plot of his farm for us at 1700-1750 meters.  This plot of land is located in a lower bowl shaped part of his farm which is protected from all sides from the Pacific & Atlantic winds. This plot of land has been called MISO and produced 15 sacks (2280 lbs) of amazing coffee.  On all of Finca La Palmita is a mixture of 70% Caturra and 30% Villalobos Typica.   A total of 120 sacks are produced on their farm and Fratello Coffee has the top 55 coming to Calgary (exclusive in Canada).

Miguel Rojas harvesters

The most interesting geographical attribute, is that this farm is located on a calcareous deposit, which contains high levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals.  What you notice right away is how the soil had a "sandy-like" texture.  These high levels of calcium aid in producing a very hard bean density.  Miguel introduced experimental potassium fertilization into this plot of land, which boosted the sweetness of flavor profiles found the cup as well.  What was most noticeable was the extreme consistency of red cherries amongst all the trees in this small plot.

Miguel Rojas delivering cherry to Helsar

Miguel brought in an extra crew of harvesters to pick this entire MISO lot over a 2 day period.   After harvesting, Miguel has all of his coffee brought to the famous Helsar Micro Mill.   The owner of Helsar, Ricardo Perez has won many awards for the quality of coffee they produce.  The pride of his work is noticed at every step from cherry separation, the cleanliness of the mill, the organization/separation of special lots and the brand new dry mill being installed while we were there.

Helsar Micro Mill Parabolic dryers

Both lots we have purchased are fully washed and sun dried under parabolic protection for 8 days.  Ricardo has done density sorting in the parchment stage as well as after hulling the green coffee.  All coffee has been shipped in Grain Pro packaging to ensure the moisture content of this green stays consistent.  A LOT of work has gone into this coffee and it really shows in the cup.

Both lots are now in Calgary and will be available mid August 2012.  MISO won’t last long…..sorry.

Growing, Harvesting & Wet-Milling coffee - Training Video #1

If you frequent high end cafes, you will most likely come across or hear the term "Micro-Mill" used more and more often.   A micro-mill is a washing station called a "Beneficio" which is located on a farm.    Farms which have their own beneficio's are able to have complete control over their quality.  They are able to grow and harvest their coffee properly, wash & de-pulp their coffee, followed by drying their coffee before bringing it to the dry-mill which we discussed in our last blog post.

Through working with a properly run wet-mill a roaster is able to be more selective in the coffee we choose.  Choosing a single varietal coffee, a specific lot/area of the farm and if we prefer to have our coffee processed a certain way in order to give it a unique flavor is all possible through the micro-mill.

But, there are years worth of work before coffee is ever harvested.  Watch this new training video which walks you through the steps, and years of work required before coffee every gets tasted.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

After the Wet-mill: Drying & Dry-milling coffee - Training video #2

Coffee is one of the most complicated products in the world when it comes to consistently harvesting, processing, roasting and especially brewing.

More and more you will hear about how important it is to properly harvest coffee.  A Micro-mill is a fairly new term, which is a description for a small mill, located on the farm, which de-pulps the coffee cherries and were coffee is typically dried in the sun.

Not very often do you hear about the steps that happen after this.  These steps are briefly outlined in this video prepared by us.   It was made to help you understand that all coffee doesn't stop its journey at the farm....in fact, it still has a lot of processing to go through before reaching the roastery.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

Congratulations Joel May - 3rd place in Canada

fratello slayer mazzer

This is a quick post to say congratulations to Joel May, one of our barista trainers at Fratello Coffee, for finishing 3rd place over all in the National Canadian Barista Competition.  This is a HUGE accomplishment for Joel & Fratello.  The competition was very steep this year and to even move on to the Canadian finals was great, let alone the top 3!!

This is Joel's 3rd year in a row finishing in the top 6 in Canada.  We hope he is proud, because we sure are!

Our trip to Nicaragua - coffee

Fratello Coffee Roasters recently visited Erwin Mierisch and his family in Nicaragua to tour their coffee estates in order to choose the next Lot of coffee to bring to Calgary.
(more…)