American Redstarts are migratory birds native to this region. You may see them leaving town in the coming days: Each winter, they fly south and nest in coffee trees.
As an ornithology enthusiast and the founder of Redstart Roasters, Matthew Parmelee feels a connection to these winged creatures.
Established in 2017, his company sources high-quality beans from bird-friendly farms and educates consumers on the importance of sustainable growing practices in bird habitats and other ecologically diverse areas of the globe. In doing so, Redstart Roasters has earned the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird-Friendly Coffee Certification.
Parmelee, a software engineer from Brighton Heights, started roasting at home seven years ago as a way to relive his days as a barista. Friends and family members enjoyed the coffee so much, he decided to turn the hobby into a business.
He knows that coffee makes people happy.
“Coffee is just one of those things that people enjoy talking about, even if they know nothing about it,” he says. “It’s so commonplace and familiar.”
Redstart Roasters occupies 1,600 feet on the third floor of the XFactory, an industrial building turned co-working space in North Point Breeze where Black Radish Kitchen is headquartered.
Parmelee and his team — Rachel Geever and Clemmie Murdock — roast 15-pound batches once or twice a week. They offer seven different varieties of coffee and tea sourced from Central and South America and also from Africa. Their coffees are generally light to medium roasts.
In addition to being feather-friendly, many of the products have Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and USDA Organic certifications.
You can buy the coffee — either by the cup or by the bag — at several locations, including various farmers’ markets around town, the National Aviary on the North Side, HLane Dry Goods & Coffee in Swissvale and Lawrenceville’s 52nd Street Market. It’s also for sale at My Goodness in Regent Square, where a tasting event is taking place this Saturday to kick off Pittsburgh Coffee Week.
On Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., the Redstart team is hosting their own Pittsburgh Coffee Week event: Folks will flock to Redstart’s headquarters to enjoy cups of joe and treats from local bakeries and restaurants while learning about ethically sourced, bird-friendly coffee.
Eventually, Parmelee wants to have his own cafe, where he’ll continue to partner with wildlife organizations such as Humane Animal Rescue and PEARL Parrot Rescue. Until then, the self-described “bird nerd” is happy as a lark to be Pittsburgh’s source for unique, artisan coffee.