Bluebeard Coffee Roasters
Busting onto the 2011 scene in Tacoma Washington, Bluebeard Coffee Roasters brings 253rd wave coffee to the world and makes it a little less sleepy every day.
Ray: I’m Ray.
Kandace: I’m Kandace.
Ray: Welcome to Unpacking Coffee. This week-
Kandace: Bluebeard Coffee Roasters from Tacoma. First of all.
Ray: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kandace: New set.
Ray: Oh, yeah.
Kandace: This is amazing.
Kandace: It’s pretty fun.
Ray: Where’d the set come from anyway? What’s this doing here?
Kandace: I built it with my hands with my friend Amy Ruppel.
Kandace: We cut this wood, it was a pretty amazing experience.
Ray: How am I doing? I didn’t even-
Kandace: We match.
Ray: I really like my flannels. This brings me back to high school.
Kandace: It’s very Tacoma of you.
Kandace: Yeah. I went to high school in Federal Way.
Kandace: Which is very close to Tacoma. I grew up driving to Tacoma to get single cassettes at the Tower Records.
Ray: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kandace: So, I chatted with Kevin McGlocklin, who’s the founder of Bluebeard, when he was here in Portland. So, he came into our studio at 8:00 a.m. after a long night of hanging out with other coffee folks.
Kevin: My … Basically, my wife got pregnant and it was like, “Oh shit. We either need to do this now, or we may never do it.” My name is Kevin McGlocklin. I’m from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters in Tacoma Washington.
How did you find your way to coffee?
Kevin: I was a Latin Americanist in school, international studies. Always kind of liked coffee, but it was always kind of tertiary. I ended up working with Ed Leebrick of Lighthouse Roasters.
I’d talked to Ed for years (Ed’s my first cousin). Got my hands on the roaster and felt like … I just kind of pushed myself at every part of the process as fast as I could. I learned a ton, but we’d had our eye on Tacoma. We moved from Seattle to Tacoma and started a coffee company.
Kevin: I was interested in the community, and I’d always been a reader of politics and a follower of that. But, I’d never paid … I never did anything in Seattle. And Tacoma’s small enough that I think just by being there and being engaged it’s like we kind of get to be a part of the process.
And I would just drive around the city and kind of get lost. Find these little neighborhoods and found that space.
At that point we didn’t know very many people. But then once we opened our doors it’s like, it’s such an easy way to get to know a community. It’s a city of 200,000, which is … I mean, Portland’s not that much bigger. But Tacoma feels-
Kandace: Tacoma feels-
Kevin: A quarter … I mean, it seems like such a small community comparatively.
Tell us about your roasting.
Kevin: For a lot of people we’re light. But, compared to some of your Portland roasters, we’re like a full medium roast. We’re developing sugars and really, I mean, there’s enough roast that you’re getting some of that chocolate, caramel and sugar development.
In Tacoma, it’s not like people aren’t doing it and doing it pretty well. But, there’s a need for what we’re doing. Everybody was doing full city, or full city plus.
The perfect medium.
Our roasting style is shooting for balance. We want, you know, bottom, middle, top. You actually, I think, met Rachael.
Kandace: Yes. Yeah.
Kandace: That’s right.
Kevin: She’s our roaster. And I’m still a part of the process and how we’re developing coffees and what we’re buying.
Kevin: I always thought, “Oh, we’re going to roast coffee and we’ll build this big wholesale coffee roastery. And I’ll live Ed Librick’s life of golf and running around the world.” I mean, like, the Tao of Ed, or the Zen of Ed, is it something that I think that those of us that have been in coffee for a while, we talk about it and we laugh about it and we admire it. But nobody else really has that, because everybody else has to have a marketing and sales team.
We have a branding guy that isn’t just thinking about the weight of the logo. But, how it should be weighted different in different … So, I kind of had all these things out of the box really well done. Pat Snavely, Partly Sunny in Ballard Washington.
People are always like, “Why Bluebeard?” And it’s kind of good to have a name where people are … They want to know why. You know, is it a pirate.
Bluebeard was my cat growing up.
Or, there’s this sordid French folk tale. It’s this love story, and then he leaves and he’s like, can’t go into this room. If you do it’s like it would ruin everything. So she goes into the room, and then he comes home and he finds her and he’s like, “You’ve ruined everything.” Then she runs up and signals her brothers, then the come and they kill him.
It’s this love story gone awry. Like, every body loses. I don’t know. Every folk tale has this, like, pleasant morality take away, kind of. And Bluebeard does not.
That’s a wrap.
Kandace: Do you remember when we met Kevin?
Ray: I think we met him through Ed right?
Kandace: At the La Marzocco 90th Anniversary party last year at SCA.
Ray: Right. We had actually seen this design, yeah, definitely a year or two before we met him. The design is really nice. Simple, iconic design. I love the dark blue and the silver combination. It seems really fresh. The way that the label wraps around a little bit, with the little rough edge is cool. There’s a little bit of like a matte sort of blind embossing going on.
Kandace: Stop touching it.
Ray: It’s a little one way valve with the Bluebeard on it. Bluebeard Coffee Roasters of Tacoma Washington.