This past month, CoffeeCollective featured local and favourite Calgary roaster, Fratello Coffee Roasters. After 30 years in the industry, with knowledge and premium standards passed down from father to sons, Fratello has shown how conscious and responsible decisions can result in the best quality of coffee.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Fratello for an unforgettable and delicious experience. The smell of freshly roasted coffee and welcoming café set up was all I needed to be convinced of Fratello’s charm; nevermind the numerous smiling faces that greeted me upon walking in. Clearly, the staff had already had a few cups of coffee themselves.
Soon after, sales representative John Mitchell, made me the #bestlatteever before taking me on a tour of the roasting house and sharing the philosophies that Fratello follows with care.
Similar to wine, coffee in its many varieties plays out the characteristics of land, climate and soil in its flavour, density, acidity and aroma. Fratello experts, including co-owners and brothers Chris and Russ Prefontaine, search far and wide, largely in South America and Africa, for coffee that is distinctive and complex prior to the roasting that takes place at this mom ‘n pop house.
However, even before taking a look at the beans in farms across the world, Fratello seeks out socially responsible growers to partner with. In ensuring these coffee farms work with a positive influence to the environment, Fratello is proud to roast and brew only ethically sourced beans.
The standards at Fratello, along with their direct trade with farmers, John says is “enhancing the coffee environment.” Coffee farmers produce and provide quality coffee in exchange for 30% – 40% more profit and thus Fratello serves and distributes only the best. For everyone, from farmer to roaster to consumer, the trade is a win-win.
In December, CoffeeCollective members received Fratello Los Pirineos Natural Bourbon Elite, from El Salvador. This coffee gave aromas of raisins with berry sweetness, while on the palate, the smooth blend hinted notes of almond with a vanilla finish. The second package was Fratello Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Aricha, which took on completely different characteristics including an ice-wine body with a black tea finish.
Tasting the differences in coffee qualities is not an easily acquired skill. Fratello’s professionals use cupping practices to determine each profile of coffee at its peak in freshness. They also offer seminars and in-house lessons in coffee for those looking to expand their coffee knowledge.
Unlike large coffee companies, each of Fratello’s roasts remains authentic to the essence of one particular variety of bean, and at its best quality. Instead of forcing a bean to suit a specific roast or category, Fratello enhances the characteristics of the coffee by searching for the roast that suits the particular bean.
“We may want to change the acidity or body,” John says. “We can do that by changing how fast the bean gets to a certain point or roast.” Roasters at Fratello are able to play with the variables of the bean until they zone in on a specific profile to showcase the coffee. However, regardless of the roast or variety, John says coffee should be enjoyed in which ever way suits the consumer.
In wanting to provide the best quality experience of coffee to the Fratello fan, Analog Café, located in uptown 17th Avenue, was opened late 2012. John says, “Analog shows Calgary how we intend our coffee to taste.” By delivering to consumers in every aspect, including single cup pour-over techniques, this café is providing an ultimate coffee experience that others are not. While these methods may take more time and energy, John says those looking for quality and care will find it at Analog. Due to the overwhelming popularity of Analog, as well as an increase in in-house sales, we’d say John knows what he’s talking about.
From my visit to Fratello, one thing became clear. From receptionist, to roaster, the Fratello team truly does care for their coffee at every stage, especially the drinking part. While John enjoys roughly 10 cups per day, I highly recommend you start with your first. Check out Fratello Coffee Roasters or Analog today and experience for yourself their heartwarming and premium coffee.