Analog Coffee: Before the Beginning
We have coffee in our blood! In fact, our family’s history in coffee dates back to 1974, when our Dad, Cam Prefontaine, first started a wholesale coffee company which was operated out of our garage and basement! Our parents involved all three of us brothers (Russ, Chris & Jason) in the family business from the start, earning our allowance by helping Dad service old coffee brewers.
In 1985 our dad started roasting his own coffee. He was passionate from the start, experimenting & learning how to source & roast better coffee as well as helping his wholesale customers make better coffee. He was one of the first coffee professionals in Calgary to focus on higher quality beans, and became a pioneer in what we now know as the modern café culture in Calgary. This planted the seeds that would eventually grow into a family of brands known for their focus on premium quality: Fratello Coffee Roasters, Corbeaux Bakery and Analog Coffee itself. These companies, and their predecessors, played a huge part in bringing café culture to life in Calgary and Western Canada.
Brothers Start in the Coffee Business
All three of us bothers started selling commercial espresso machines in 1991, helping local entrepreneurs start their own coffee shop. We supplied all the equipment & training, and our parents company supplied the coffee. We bought the roasting company from our parents in 1997, and changed the name to Fratello Coffee (Fratello means ‘brother’ in Italian).
Over the years, we have never stopped learning, expanding our knowledge of coffee, working to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in the industry. We started traveling to the countries and farms where our coffee was grown in search for the best coffee and to meet the farmers and families who produced the raw product.
Growing Up in the Coffee Trade
We learned from Dad’s increasingly obsessive attention to detail, not just in the way he focused on roasting great coffee, but in how he presented it. For Dad, hospitality and community became critically important. He was making the argument – with every new cup poured — that coffee could be something special. Everything had to be as good as possible. Or why bother doing it at all? This mindset would play a key part in how we eventually built the Analog business.
The Long Inspired Journey
Over the years, we have lead, pioneered and challenged a vast variety of innovative coffee and coffee-related businesses, which include the creation of Slayer Espresso machines with our brother Jason in 2007. We envisioned inventing & creating a specialized machine unlike anything else on the market. The ambitious decision to create a machine from scratch that would dramatically expand brewing possibilities was born because we knew there was specific demand from coffee professionals for a machine that could ‘flavor profile’ the unique varietals of coffee that were being produced. Our family also owned a bottling facility for coffee chai/syrups/smoothies. We hope you’ll quickly see how completely and totally obsessed we are with every decision that goes into our coffee and products. It’ simple; ‘good enough’ is never good enough.
The Final Breakthrough
As these things often go, it was the original lessons from Dad; the ones about quality and hospitality, that would bring all the promise of our businesses, finally, into reality. We threw ourselves full bore into expanding our knowledge of growing and roasting coffee. We traveled around the world where we found kindred spirits in farmers who cared as much about coffee as we did. As business thrived, we started thinking more and more about how best to present the coffees we were working so hard to perfect. This was the moment we decided it was time to create a line of cafés, each reflecting everything we believed a coffeehouse could be — if done right. We would take everything we had learned and become so obsessed over, and share it with our community.
Inside The Dream Factory
For us, Analog is the realization of everything our family has been building for over forty years. Every detail of the guest experience is considered, calculated and very intentional, from the décor, vibe and food to the coffee itself. It is decades of passion made tangible. We had thought about starting our own café since the 1990’s. And in 2011, we couldn’t resist the temptation any longer and opened the first Analog Coffee in the Calgary Farmers’ Market. It exceeded our own expectations. In 2012, our dream location came available for our second shop on Calgary’s 17th Avenue, right in the heart of the city’s beltline community. More stores followed. Analog gives us a place where we can carefully craft our brilliant single-origin coffees for guests from across all walks of life. Now, with the launch of the Analog at Home and Analog at Work subscription services, anyone can join the Analog community and find their own place in the Analog story, which, of course, is only getting started. Analog allows us to practice what we have been preaching with a direct voice to the community.