Cream, Sugar And Giving Back

It was the autumn of 2012. We were living in California where I’d taken a job with Patagonia. As was the custom, the company would pay all interested employees a full-day’s salary to leave their desks and volunteer with a chosen local group, and today’s activity was to clear out brush and trash from a portion of the Ventura River Bottom, which was a total mess. Unsightly doesn’t start to describe it. We all donned gloves and dragged our trashbags into the weeds and started picking up. 

The reason I tell this story is because by the end of our day trudging around in the riverbed, we had made progress that was sort of remarkable to me. None of us individually had done all that much (picking up trash or moving brush is just not that hard) but collectively, the effects were unmistakable. Maybe it was the first time I’d really seen how much happens when we operate on the law of efficiencies, where each does a little and together we do a lot.

This riverbed moment is part of the philosophy behind Gato’s Buck-a-Bag giving program. It’s hard for just about anyone to support all the worthy causes they’d like, especially in uncertain times of real financial worry. So why not pitch in a little as a group and maximize the effort? Coffee is a commodity. Great coffee is a privilege. We’re under no illusion that even our little company costs the earth – and we know part of doing responsible business on a beleaguered planet is to give something back. So every time you buy coffee from us, we’ll give a buck for every 16-oz bag  (75¢ for every 12-oz bag) to chosen non-profits doing things we believe in (and we’ll change those up a few times a year to spread the love).

We can only think of a few things that can make a great cup of coffee taste even better: cream, sugar — and giving back.

Our sincere thanks for your support.

Oh, Hi!

We figured a proper introduction was in order, since by launching Gato Coffee, we’ve asked to be part of what very well might be the most important part of your day. Your coffee time.

Here are a few things to know. We live, play and roast in Salida, Colorado, 7,000 feet (c. 2,130 m) above sea level. This little altitude brag doesn’t matter to the coffee all that much but it’s kind of cool. We’re a truly micro micro-roasting outfit. It’s the two of us (Sacha and Diane) and our 14-year-old kiddo who helps us out. We have big coffee dreams that we roast in small batches, in small roasters, and package to deliver swiftly and regularly right to people’s doors. Why? Because we’ve spent a lot of time personally figuring out what makes coffee time coffee time. 

Between the two of us, we’ve got a combined barista and café history of more than 20 years. Of course, that does not necessarily great roasters make — but between this experience and our perpetual travels which are always a dot-to-dot between the best coffee in any given locale, we’ve learned a great deal. The variables around coffee are enough to blow one’s mind (just punch “roasting coffee” into Google). Still, despite the fact that just raising the topic of coffee roasting can elicit a windstorm of scientific geekery enough to dry the joy out of it completely, a few simple things have remained unshakably true throughout our long relationship with coffee:  

1. Roasting it is an intersection of science and art, subject to fluctuations, configurations, preferences, palate, mood, weather. To name a few of the considerations. 

2. If it’s not painfully fresh, roasted coffee should not be ground, brewed, served, sold, purchased or consumed. Life is too short and these shenanigans are sad wastes of time. Worse, they are sad wastes of coffee time.

We began roasting our own coffee more than 10 years ago with a popcorn air popper from the thrift store (SO loud. Somehow we weren’t evicted from our apartment or run over by our neighbors). Eventually we invested in a batch roaster, figured out how to work it and get the coffee we loved, and then began inviting friends over for coffee time. This is when we realized that just maybe, people would like this coffee showing up at their own door, undeniably fresh, every week.  

Also, we thought, maybe it’d be nice for people to know that when they pay for a pound of excellent coffee, part of their money goes out into the world to do good things. Even quality organic coffee, like any sold and bought thing, costs the planet. What if we gave a buck a bag to environmental and social causes? Diane worked for nearly a decade for the clothing company Patagonia and its founder/activist/hero Yvon Chouinard, so we’d seen what a conscientious business looks like and the power it has to spread better practices that effect real change. The bar was pretty high and we weren’t about to lower it.

So this little bean of a business idea began to grow. Roast fresh coffee, wrap it up in compostable packaging, deliver it locally, ship it quickly to those further away, and keep the whole operation big enough to give some money away but small enough to still have fun. 

We’re glad you found us! Let us know what you think, and thanks for letting us be part of your coffee experience.