Nicaraguan Coffee buying trip - 2011
We have successfully completed another buying trip in Nicaragua and this year we have done something a little different. We are still working with Erwin Miersch and his family who have farms in both Jinotega and Matagalpa, but for the first time we aren’t focusing on just a single lot of coffee. Instead we wanted to taste coffees and approach this up coming year with a variety of Estates, processes and varietals. This is going to be a fun & exciting year filled with selection. (more…)
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.
Direct Trade Coffee - Nicaraguan Los Placeres Estate - Rainforest Alliance
We are pleased to introduce a new Direct Trade Nicaraguan coffee: Los Placeres Estate, which is replacing the Finca Limoncillo Estate, is officially available on our on-line store.
100% Caturra, Honey Prep. Aromas of caramelized cherries, a delicate butter body, flavors of milk chocolate & pecans with a clean lingering grape acidity. Cupping Score 90.00
Los Placeres Estate is from a different area on the farm, however from the same farmer as Finca Limoncillo. We have been working with Erwin Mierisch and his family for 3 years now. They are still dedicated more than ever to quality, evidenced by winning another Cup of Excellence award. This is their 4th year in a row receiving this prestigious award and currently hold the record for the most money received per pound at auction.
- 2010 - Cup of Excellence Winner – Lot #5
- 2009 – Cup of Excellence Winner – Lot #7
- 2008 – Cup of Excellence Winner – Lot #2
- 2007 – Cup of Excellence Winner – Lot #27
Here is a link from our farm visit with them in January when we visited Nicaragua in order to source this coffee.
Direct Trade Coffee - Guatemalan Montecristo Rainforest Alliance Estate
After 16 hours of traveling from Calgary to Guatemala, Nan, Gerry (of Good Earth Cafes), Chris and myself arrived in the San Marcos region where Neuva Granada Estate is located. At the highest elevation of 5200 feet, you will find a micro lot of 100% Bourbon coffee called Montecristo. This small lot of coffee is exclusively prepared for Fratello Coffee in the North American market.
After spending a few days with Johann and his wife Holly Nottebohm I come away with a renewed energy towards supporting there coffee. Johann is a 3rd generation coffee farmer who has been committed to the quality of not only the coffee they grow, but also the life styles of their workers and community around them. This farm is meticulously keeping up with, and surpassing the standards of Rainforest Alliance certification.
When we last visited this estate, we saw first hand the activities and investments Johann was doing to improve the lives of their workers, but this time, we got to see how far his progress has come. Not only does he have free health care and school for the 60 children that live full time on the estate (grades 1-6 as well as computer class), he is almost ready to open his 3rd class room which will host grades 7-9. What excites us the most is that he is now going to open these classes up to the families that do not live on the farm. This proves his commitment to continually improve the community which lives around the estate.
Costa Rican Cup of Excellence - Lot #3
Fratello Coffee just won the # 3 Lot of Costa Rican Celle de Copey - Cup of Excellencetoday. This was a HUGE achievement and the highest ranking coffee Fratello has every won. Jason was part of the jury down in Costa Rica this year and helped approving this coffee as being one of the top 5 that Costa Rica has to offer this year.
You can read more about this coffee here:
Look for this coffee to be available late this summer/early Spring. Some incredible coffees are available now and coming soon to Fratello…..a few of these are:
- Brazilian Daterra Sweet Blue
Available now (and selling fast): READ more.
- Ethiopian Idido Misty Valley - Organic
Available now: READ more.
- Guatemalan Montecristol - Rainforest Alliance, Direct Trade, MicroLot
Available July: READ more.
- Colombian Villarrica - Cup of Excellence #4
Available July/August: READ more.
- Costa Rican Celle de Copey - Cup of Excellence #3
Available August/September: READ more.
These coffees are all limited quantities, so enjoy them while you can. There are a few other origins we are working on, each as exciting as the ones above. Looks like its going to be a tasty summer.
Guatemalan Montecristo - Coffee Buying Trip
We have been buying direct trade coffee since 2013, which means we have years of experience in understanding the best practices in coffee production and purchase. We go to Guatemala once a year to learn more about our producers and their families, to understand their challenges, and to stay up-to-date on their successes
On January 17th my brother’s Jason & Chris joined my self to travel to Guatemala to visit our friend Johann Nottebohm and his wife Holly at their farm Nueva Granada. Our journey began in Guatemala City when we traveled 7.5 hours by car to the far North West corner of Guatemala which is known as the San Marcos region.
The drive was long, but beautiful as the landscape of Guatemala is very mountainous and boasts 38 volcano’s which is the most in all of Central America. When we reached the town of El Rosario and turned off the highway El Rodeo thinking we reached our destination, however, we had 167 more curves & turns in bumpy rock road before reaching the elevation of 4300 feet, the base of Nueva Granada. This farm has views Volcano Tajumulco the tallest Central American volcano at 14,440 feet, and Volcano Tacana which is half in Mexico.
Johann’s is now the 3rd generation coffee farmer in the Nottebohm family. His great grandfather, originally from Germany, moved to Guatemala in 1894. Nueva Granda was the 3rd farm in Guatemala to become Rainforest Alliance certified, and their family tradition continues today of striving for better quality, consistency, improving environmental techniques and educating the families that live on their farm.
The pride in this farm is shown on every level. It starts by watching their team pick only the ripest red cherries. Every 2 weeks, each tree will have hands sort through their branches choosing the best coffee, for a total of 15 passes per harvest! Most farms will only have 4 or 5 passes per harvest forcing them to choose over & under ripen cherries each time.
Once picked, cherries are brought immediately to the wet mill located on the farm. (more…)
As seen in Avenue Magazine
Check out the write up done in Avenue Magazine this month.
In 1997, owners and brothers Jason, Chris and Russ Prefontaine - fratello means brother in Italian - took over their parents' coffee roasting business, which had been operating since 1974, and renamed the company
They recently downsized what was becoming a wide-reaching coffee business to concentrate on importing and roasting more specialized, quality coffee beans for the Calgary market.
This move marks a shift away from working with big powerhouse coffee chains toward supporting independent, artisan cafés. According to Russ, these smaller cafés, "are essentially raising the bar on quality by offering specialty beans, and investing in proper equipment and barista training." (more…)
Brazil Sete Cachoeiras Estate wins first place at SCAA 2008
I wanted to let you all know that the Brazil Sete Cachoeiras Estate - Rainforest Alliance coffee was given an award at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) this year to recognize their quality among all the Rainforest Alliance Coffee produced.
When I went out for dinner with Renato Farhat Brito and his father Marcel Renato Brito, the owners of this estate, they had mentioned that when they entered this contest, they entered the exact same Lot of coffee we chose to import.
Why Fratello Chooses to Support Rainforest Alliance Coffee?
Fratello Coffee has wanted to support a greater cause when purchasing our coffees. We are choosing to work directly with farmers, and when possible purchase Rainforest Alliance Coffee (RFA) products. This does not mean we are not going to continue to source Organic and Fairtrade Organic products, it just means we would rather choose the RFA Certification on our coffees.
I have had some issues in the past bringing in Organic certified coffees, not because I don't agree with organic certification, but simply because I know most coffee farms are indeed organic. A lot of farmers don't use pesticides, chemicals and un-natural fertilizers because they can't afford them. These same farmers can't afford the to undergo certification to become "Organic".
(Healthy envoirnment in Bolivia)
While I agree that farmers should be paid more for QUALITY products, and agree with the philosphy's surrounding Fairtrade. I've always wondered at the track-ability of the funds so that I can ensure they are reaching the actual farmers and workers on the farm.
To me, it is much more important to get funds directly to a farmer, the workers and their families, than it is to pay a premium which goes to the Fairtrade certified Co-op that purchases coffees from the farmers. I do know that Fairtrade has made huge living and working improvements to many area's in the world, but I'm unable to trace our funds directly to the source. Accountability is very important to us.
Fratello wants to support our partners in the coffee growing comunities, and we want to ensure that the farmers and workers are not only paid well, but are well looked after. We also want to ensure that the total environment is looked at, not simply that they are organic.
Rainforest Alliance auditors measure farms against ten key principles of sustainable agriculture. These 10 key factors were designed by Rainforest Alliance and other members of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) - a coalition of nonprofit conservation organizations that work together to promote socially responsible and environmentally sustainable agriculture.
(healthy coffee farm and enviornment in Brazil)
For more information on the 10 key factors, please read below. (more…)
Rainforest Alliance - Sete Cachoeiras Estate Coffee in Brazil
We recently had the pleasure of touring Brazil, and one of our main objectives was to visit Renato Farhat Brito and his father Marcelo Renato Brito who own and operate the Sete Cachoeiras Estate Coffee, Rainforest Alliance farm in Sul De Minas Brazil (Sul De Minas is one of the largest coffee growing areas in Brazil).
The reason we wanted to visit this farm in particular is because it is one of approximately 15 farms in Brazil that are certified Rainforest Alliance. What makes Sete Cachoeiras unique over the other Rainforest Alliance farms is that they go well beyond their requirements for certification, and when they originally applied for this certification, it took very little effort to accomplish this goal as Renato and Marcelo already believed and practiced the philosophy’s of protecting the environment and treating their employees with the respect and compensation that they deserved. This farm is also Utz Kapeh Certified.