If you are a coffee lover like me, nothing compares to that smell of a great cup of freshly brewed coffee. Even before the first sip kisses your lips, the aroma fills you with warmth and pleasure. Not just any coffee can give you that feeling; it must be from exceptional beans. The coffee beans used by Gato Diablo Specialty Coffee Roasters meet that criteria!
Gato Diablo was created by Cape Vincent resident, Dan Miller. Dan, and his wife, Lynn, have lived in the Cape Vincent area since 2008. Both originally from New York State, they lived in Madison, Wisconsin, for eight years where Lynn, a computer programmer, worked, while Dan stayed home with their two children. Dan’s graduate degree is in Evolution and Ecology, and had been working toward his PhD, using his education on the Tug Hill Plateau and Irondequoit Bay prior to the move to Wisconsin. In WI, he became a stay-at-home dad, and he turned his attention to building canoes!
Dan has always appreciated a great cup of coffee. He and Lynn love to travel and finding specialty coffee shops during their excursions was an added perk. They are also avid birders. A trip to Costa Rica in 2015 combined both passions – coffee and birding – when they paid a visit to a certain coffee plantation. It was not just any plantation. Dan had done his research and prior to their visit, emailed the plantation about their exceptional coffee beans and environmentally sustainable practices. Imagine their surprise when the plantation owner greeted them upon their arrival and spent the day showing them around and discussing the benefits of growing coffee beans under a canopy of trees; a natural habitat where sloths, bats, and birds live peacefully, keeping the pests from invading the growing plants. Dan was not only impressed with the miles of canopied coffee bean plants and protected birds, but also the work of the plantation owner to advance the livelihood and education of the migrant workers, promoting fair wages, and effective farm management.
That Costa Rica trip ignited a spark within Dan. Over the years, he had roasted his own beans, using a cast iron skillet on the stove – similar to the days of caravans and cowboys, when the cook would throw some green coffee beans into a pan over an open fire until the color of toast, before crushing and running boiling water of the grounds. Dan wanted to roast environmentally friendly SMBC Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance Certified Costa Rican beans to share.
He contemplated buying a roaster for his home but considering the space it would take up on his kitchen counter, Lynn put a kibosh to that idea. Since he had worked as a curator at the museum for three and a half years and was familiar with the village, he explored renting property in Clayton, but the ambience was just not right. Then, one night, while he and Lynn were at The Cape Vincent Brewing Company, they chatted with Amanda Derouchie. She was wondering what to do with the backroom in the Cup of Joy. It was kismet!
And, in 2018, Gato Diablo Specialty Coffee Roasters was born!
The name, Gato Diablo, which translates from the Spanish to “devil cat,” and Mayan-influenced logo, is homage to the jaguar, an endangered and elusive feline predator of Central and South America.
The beans Dan roasts are certified to ensure that the coffee is shade-grown, fair-trade, organic, and grown in harmony with nature. Not all are from Costa Rica, he also roasts beans from Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Ethiopia, and Columbia. The decaf beans come from a plantation in Mexico that uses a water process to strip the caffeine from the bean rather than a chemical process.
The pre-roasted beans are delivered in large burlap bags a few times a year to Cup of Joy. They are quite large, weighing in at 69kg (152.119lbs). The beans are quite stable and could last years before roasting. (Roasted beans have a shelf life of a month and a half.)
Dan roasts beans three to four times a week during the busy months and once a week during off-season. The technology used for roasting is a simple recipe of sight, sound, smell, and temperature. Dan recently upgraded to a larger roaster! The roaster he purchased when he opened Gato Diablo roasted one kilo (2.20462 pounds) of beans at a time, but now production has increased to three kilos at a time!
You can purchase the heavenly roasted coffee beans not just at Cup of Joy, but also at the Clayton Food Co-op and the French Towne Market. If you purchase the beans on-site at Cup of Joy, the staff will gladly grind them to your preference. They are also available online at https://gatodiablo.coffee/
Pop by Cup of Joy next time you are driving, or walking, down Broadway and step into the backroom to catch Dan delighting in roasting his distinctive certified organic coffee beans. Savor the delicious aroma that wafts and entices, maybe sample a medium or dark roast and buy a bag to take home to make yourself a great cup of coffee.