Gato Diablo

By: Kristie Stumpf Rork

Volume 15, Issue 9, September 2020

[Editor's Note: When I received the Cape Vincent news in my email, I recognized Dan and Lynn Miller's name and immediately said, this was news to share with all those who know Dan and appreciate all he has done in the region. Besides, I am like the author - who doesn't love that first cup of fresh brew each day!]

Cato Diablo in Cape Vincent

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 come from exceptional beans. The coffee beans used by Gato Diablo Specialty Coffee Roasters meets that criterion.

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 as a computer programmer, worked, while Dan stayed home with their two children. Dan’s graduate degree is in Evolution and Ecology, and he had been working toward his PhD, prior to the move to Wisconsin. In WI, when he became a stay-at-home dad, he turned his attention to building canoes. Upon moving to the Cape Vincent area, he continued his canoe building business and became Curator at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton.

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, he had emailed the plantation about their exceptional coffee beans and environmentally sustainable practices. Imagine their surprise, when the plantation owner greeted them upon their arrival, spent the day showing them around and discussed 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, and to promote 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 they were the color of toast, before crushing and running boiling water over the grounds. Dan wanted to roast environmentally friendly SMBC (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance Certified Costa Rican beans to share.

Dan contemplated buying a roaster for his home,  but considering the space it would take up on his kitchen counter, Lynn put a kibosh on that idea. Since he had worked as a curator at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton for three and a half years and was familiar with the village, he explored the possibility of 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 her coffee shop, the Cup of Joy. It was kismet! And, in 2018, Gato Diablo Specialty Coffee Roasters was born.

The name, Gato Diablo translates from Spanish to English as “devil cat”, and its 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 beans 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 to Cup of Joy in large burlap bags a few times a year. They are quite large, weighing in at 69kg (152.119lbs) each. 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 these 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

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.

[Reprinted with permission from What's Happening in Cape Vincent 13618
Diane Doud, co-editor]

By Kristie Stumpf Rork

Kristie Stumpf Rork admits she is a freelance writer, curve model, farmer, mother to two, and fortunately married to a chef or, she says, life would consist entirely of cold cereal and chocolate chip cookies!

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 9, September 2020, News article

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