Firebat coffee roasters is a family-owned and operated, small-batch specialty coffee roaster based in Oakville, ON. Their journey began in El Salvador with a dream to provide ethically sourced, sustainably grown, and direct-trade coffee to consumers in Canada.
Co-founder Gustavo Castelar tells us more about the brand, the coffee they roast and their commitment towards quality.
RC: How did Firebat Coffee get started?
Gustavo: Our story is a blend of friendship and love for coffee. When I met Rodrigo in El Salvador in 2013 – he was already involved in the Salvadoran specialty coffee landscape. Our passion for coffee made way for a great friendship. We spent a lot of time at the farms to understand the trade and engaged ourselves deeply in the coffee-making process. So, when my wife (Leena) and I moved to Canada in 2016, we knew we wanted to bring great Salvadoran coffee here.
RC: Tell us a bit about the coffee you bring in and how you roast it?
Gustavo: We have partnered with producers that we know and trust. We source our beans directly from these farms in El Salvador and look at those coffees rooted in sustainability. These beans are slow-roasted weekly in small batches to bring out their inherent aroma and flavours.
RC: Tell us about the idea behind Firebat Coffee; what does the brand aim for?
Gustavo: Firebat is committed to sustainability and transparency. We aim to usher in a change by supporting small-scale coffee growers and bringing their coffee to a broader market that appreciates not only quality but the people, stories, and the journey behind it. Everything we do is always rooted in placing farmers and the environment first.
RC: What are some of the innovations in roasting that you have experienced?
Gustavo: There is a constant learning curve when it comes to roasting. Every bean type reacts differently, and it's been like a discovery process over the years. We focus on unique, single farm coffees as micro-roasters to offer our customers different flavours. While roasting software is available, we prefer the craftsmanship of roasting by hand.
RC: What's your recommendation on when to start using a freshly roasted bag of coffee?
Gustavo: You need to try it yourself. For instance, some coffees mature over time, so you should give them a couple of days to get the best flavours. On the other hand, you can start using some coffees right away.
RC: Do you have a favourite coffee that you're roasting right now?
Gustavo: I'd say Balam is my current favourite. It is our newest offering to the existing lineup. It's special to us since it comes from our Firebat Coffee Roasters' farm Balam. It is a light-medium roast with notes of apricot, goldenberry and nectarine.
RC: What's your favourite way to brew coffee at home? Could you pass on any tips?
Gustavo: I practically use the AeroPress every day and love the consistency it offers. A fundamental rule to brewing is to watch the water to coffee ratio. Many people don't pay much attention to grind size, and it does matter a lot. Another tip is to include a scale to improve your at-home brewing.
RC: What does the future look like for Firebat Coffee?
Gustavo: We would love the idea of having a café someday. We are focused on bringing in new blends this year and enriching our portfolio to offer various flavours to our audience.
Firebat aims to bridge the gap between producers and consumers. Their transparent process allows you to connect more intimately with the farm your coffee comes from. Gustavo and his team are committed to producing the highest quality coffee for a love of the earth and an unforgettable taste.