Meet Kevin McGlocklin of Bluebeard Coffee Roasters

Richard Smaby

Meet Kevin McGlocklin
Meet Kevin McGlocklin
I enjoy the coffee at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters. I buy their roasted beans to brew at home and sample their roasts in a pour-over in the café. I connect with their Wi-Fi. I have had meetings in the café with two different groups. Recently I talked with Kevin McGlocklin about how he started and is managing a coffee roasting and café business.

Kevin’s passion for coffee fits well with his formal education. He has a degree in international studies with a concentration in Latin America. He knows Spanish and traveled in Latin America. He likes the idea of connecting a community locally with communities in Latin America. He buys from sources like Atlas Coffee Importers in Seattle, Royal Coffee in Emeryville, CA, and Café Imports in Minneapolis, MN. These organizations work directly with the producers teaching them about the specialty market in the U.S. and encouraging good labor practices.

Prior to starting Bluebeard Coffee he was a writer and editor for ESPN.com. He left ESPN to work for Ed Leebrick at Lighthouse Roasters in Fremont in marketing. He left Lighthouse in 2010 to start his own coffee business in 2010. He has been in Tacoma for almost three years – the first year doing the preliminary work of finding a space, buying equipment, building out the space, getting permits from the city, writing a business plan, and finding finances.

What the Cafe Offers. Can you spot the bit of whimsy?
What the Cafe Offers. Can you spot the bit of whimsy?
Kevin likes the challenge of starting a business: reading books about how to write a business plan, figuring the costs, and estimating the start-up time. He designed and built out the interior himself. Friends helped. Since banks feel that coffee houses are high risk, he and his wife put in their own money. His wife is half-owner. The positive side of that is that they don’t have much debt to carry. His business philosophy is to grow organically.

Kevin describes his roasting philosophy as bringing out the nuances in each different kind of bean from different parts of the world. As we talked, we were drinking an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, which Kevin described as raspberry and mandarin orange with caramel in the finish.

Kevin sees liquidity as the challenge for growing a small business. All plans depend on having the money to do them. He is currently working to build his wholesale business – supplying restaurants and coffee shops with his beans. It scales up more easily than retail. He currently has six employees. Most of them are full-time or near full time – 2 on during the day and one in the evening.

On 6th Ave
On 6th Ave
He picked his 6th Avenue location, because it is a busy corridor through Tacoma and it is zoned for coffee roasters. There are sizable residential areas both north and south of 6th. He has a diverse mix of types of customers: business people, artists, political groups, book clubs, college students, and families. He likes being able to provide a comfortable space for people to hang out.

Visit the Bluebeard Coffee Roasters website. It is informative, well-written, and gives a window on Kevin’s personality. Kevin wrote the content himself.