The World of Fratello Coffee: A Journey of Quality and Ethical Sourcing
Coffee, with its diverse flavours and rich history, is more than just a beverage: it’s a cultural experience that goes beyond borders. For over 37 years, Fratello has dedicated itself to sharing this experience with coffee lovers throughout Calgary and Western Canada.
The story of Fratello is rooted in the commitment and passion of the Prefontaine family. When founder Cam Prefontaine first started selling coffee it was out of his garage and basement where his three young sons watched their father grow his business. Chris, Jason, and Russ have been involved since their high school days, earning their allowances by helping their dad service coffee.
In 1997, the brothers teamed up to purchase their parents’ roasting company, which later became known as Fratello. (Which actually means” brother” in Italian!) Their mission was clear: provide high-quality coffee and support cafes and coffee enthusiasts.
It doesn’t stop there though, Fratello believes in the concept of Direct Trade, not just as a method for acquiring beans but as guiding philosophy for their business. Direct Trade means forming direct relationships with coffee farmers which they have been doing for over 25 years ensuring sustainability and an ethical chain from farm to cup. That’s why we love using Fratello here at Egg & Spoon because they share the same vision.
Four entire years of work go into a coffee tree before you can pick even one bean from it. They start by producing white blossoms and eight months later, coffee cherries will appear, and the cherries contain coffee seeds (also known as coffee beans!) Calgary is Fratello’s home base and final testing ground for the coffees where they profile each varietal with great detail and finetuning the roast to unlock its full flavour potential.
When the coffee arrives at Fratello’s facility it has already been sampled once to make sure it meets their standards of quality. Coffee is then put through many profile roasts before going into production. A production roast is started by loading green coffee beans in the hoppers. Once the roaster is at the temperature they want, the green coffee is released, and the job is on the roasters. They amount of heat is adjusted depending on how the coffee is reacting that day and the roaster makes sure the timing on everything is perfect. Computer software aids the coffee roasting to track the curve, but the roaster always relies on the sight, smell and sound the coffee is making as it roasts.
Dark Roast vs. Light Roast
Whether you’ve been drinking coffee for years or are a newcomer to the coffee scene, you probably have noticed that there are light roasts and dark roasts of coffee, but what’s the difference? Fratello tells us the easiest way to explain is a dark roast is taken to a higher temperature than a light roast. This forces the coffee to go through a chemical change and darkens the colour and the bean! Light roasts are roasted for a shorter amount of time and at a much lower temperature than dark roasts. This leads to light roast coffee having a much more complex flavour while dark roast coffees have a more straightforward flavour profile.
One of the final steps to the Fratello process is cupping. There is so much that goes into roasting a perfect cup of coffee and Fratello takes it to the next level. Every bag of coffee that hits the shelves or winds up at Egg & Spoon is sampled with the cupping process. This ensures the high-quality Fratello demands. For more information on cupping, check out this story about cupping on Fratello’s blog.
Fratello has been our coffee vendor since we opened almost a year ago in 2023. They bring us weekly coffee that is always fresh and delicious. If you have never tried Fratello coffee, we recommend trying the blend “Godfather.” It’s Fratello’s top seller and truly is God sent with thick caramel aromas and milk chocolate to balance out the flavour, it’s a fan favourite at Egg & Spoon!