Nicaraguan Coffee buying trip - 2011

nicaraguan matagalapa direct trade coffee micro lot Fratello raised african beds

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.
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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.

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.

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Rainforest Alliance - Coffee farm audits

We have written and spoke a few times about why Fratello Coffee chooses to purchase Rainforest Alliance (RA) certified coffees over other certifications.  We believe strongly that RA is the most complete certification available to us today.  A certification that looks at many different levels of life and accountability on the farms we choose to work with.

Not all of our coffee is RA, however, more and more are and we will continue to source coffees that first stand out as exceptional on the cupping table; followed with the hopes that these estates are/could be certified.

Below is a short video provided to us by The Rainforest Alliance that shows a few of their objectives while auditing at the farm level.

Guatemalan Montecristo - Rainforest Alliance - Direct Trade Coffee

Last year we were offering coffee from this same estate called Nueva Granada.  This year we wanted to dig a little deeper into their farm and decided on this single varietal coffee, Bourbon.  Bourbon, an American mutation of the Typica varietal, is known for its softer, creamer cup then most other coffee varietals.

This 100% Bourbon micro-lot has a sappy maple aroma with flavor notes of brown sugar and white chocolate.  The green grape acidity finishes thick and clean.

Cupping Score - 88.5.

Montecristo is located at the highest point of Nueva Granada in the San Marcos region of Guatemala.  At 5200 feet elevation, this is San Marcos highest farm.  From the top of this farm you can see two volcano's and Mexico's boarder.

Fratello Coffee is the only roaster who had access to this coffee in the entire world as Johann D Nottebohm, the owner of the estate, did this special separation of 100% Bourbon just for us.

guat1_o

Thank you Johann, we look forward to sharing this with our clients!  To read more information about this coffee/estate, please go to: https://www.fratellocoffee.com/2009/02/05/guatemalan-nueva-granda-buying-trip/

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:

Available now (and selling fast): READ more.

Available now: READ more.

Available July: READ more.

Available July/August: READ more.

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.  

Russ

Brazil Daterra Sweet Blue – Rainforest Alliance Coffee – Micro Lot

Ok, here we go again…..We keep finding new coffees that keep blowing me away.  Fratello has a new Brazilian coffee, exclusive to us in Canada that you need to try.  Daterra is an extraordinary producer who’s plantations are located in the Cerrado region (State of Minas Gerais) and in the Mogiana region (State of São Paulo).  They were also the first to introduce Rainforest Alliance in Brazil.

 

Daterra’s Sweet Blue gave us sweet chocolate and syrupy orange aromas compliment a thick mouth feel and clean finish.  Balanced flavors of dark chocolate fudge and mild almonds.  Cupping Score: 90.

 

 

 

Daterra is a coffee grower and exporter best known for its innovative research, its respect for the environment, social responsibility and its high quality coffee.  Daterra is by no means a small coffee producer; however, they are very well known for the quality of coffee they produce.  This is evident when looking at a few of their awards:

 

  1. Cup of Excellence finalist in 2001;
  2. Best coffee from Brazil on the cupping for Quality by Rainforest Alliance in 2005 and 2008;
  3. Espresso Blend used by World Barista Champion Troels Poulsen in 2005;
  4. Espresso Blend used by World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen in 2006;
  5. Sustainable farm model by Illy Cafè in 2008
  6. Four out of the six WBC finalists used Daterra coffee in their blends in 2008.
  7. Daterra has a “Penta Pack®” packaging system (vacuum packaging) patented internationally.  This was used to ship Brazil's Cup of Excellence winner lots in 2006 and 2008.

The Sweet Blue is a Micro Lot from Daterra which produces only 5300 – 7950 lbs of coffee per year.  Sweet Blue is the Mundo Novo varietal.  Their processing methods on this coffee is a pulped natural at the wet mill, 100% sun dried and followed with their Penta System for both packaging and quality control (See bottom of this post for more information on that).

 

 

Daterra's plantations are located at an average altitude of 3,800 ft (1,150 m) under a stable temperature of around 25ºC, which constitutes the perfect environment for Arabica Coffee production.  The plantations are divided into 215 mini- farms and further subdivided into 2.816 blocks called "quadras", each of which is planted with a specific coffee variety.   (more…)

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.
Coffee Farm

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.

http://www.avenuecalgary.com/articles/page/item/brotherly-beans-and-blends

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.

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Why is Fratello choosing to support the Rainforest Alliance certification?

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 (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…)