Tamp Like a Champ: How to Tamp Espresso

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

Tamping espresso

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

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

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

espresso tamper

What happens if you don’t tamp coffee?

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

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

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

What are some examples of poor tamping?

Here are some common ways that tamping goes wrong. 

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

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

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

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

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

Barista tamping espresso

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

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

Espresso tamping

How hard should I tamp?

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

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

Tamping safety

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

Which is the best espresso tamper?

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

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

naked portafilter

How do I know if I’m tamping correctly?

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

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

Tamp champ

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

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

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






Why Do I Need a Burr Grinder?

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

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

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

Hand mill grinder

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

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

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

Hand burr grinder

Why are blade grinders bad for coffee?

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

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

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

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

How does a burr grinder work?

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

Espresso grinder

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

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

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

What to do with pre-ground coffee

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

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

Coffee Burr Grinder

Is a burr grinder a good investment?

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

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

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



How to Read a Coffee Label Like a Pro

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

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

Why should I read the coffee label?

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

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

Specialty Coffee Label Specifics

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

Coffee origin

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

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

Coffee elevation

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

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

Tasting notes

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

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

Coffee process

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

 

Varietals

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

Roast level

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

 

 

 

Roast date

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

The cream of the crop

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

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



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.





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.

Can I Drink Coffee During Intermittent Fasting?

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

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

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

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

What is intermittent fasting?

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

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

Intermittent fasting benefits

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

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

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

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

Will coffee break my fast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should I drink coffee while intermittent fasting?

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

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

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



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 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!

**Note

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.

Brew Ratio 

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.

Water Temperature 

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:

  1. Weigh your beans. Pour your beans into your grinder, and grind on a setting that’s finer than drip. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. “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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 

Want more tips to improve the flavour of your coffee at home? Check out our Coffee Storage guide!



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. 

What is cold brew coffee?

Unlike hot brewed coffee, cold brew is coffee steeped in cold water and refrigerated for 16-24 hours. Some of the more bitter chemical compounds released in hot brewed coffee are not found in cold brewed coffee. That’s why it has a smooth flavour, with very little bitterness or acidity. 

What type of coffee should I use?

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:

Let’s get brewing!

  1. Measure out 100 grams of coffee. Grind it on a medium setting, as you would for automatic drip.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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! 






Our Founding Father - 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:

  1. Light

    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.

  2. Air. 

    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.

  3. Moisture. 

    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:

  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.  

  4. 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.  

  5. 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!