When our friends at Sprudge went looking for coffee companies to donate proceeds to the ACLU in opposition to the President’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries, we were intrigued. But of course there’s more to it. Of all the worthwhile causes and needy organizations and people, should this in particular be a big focus of our fundraising efforts for 2017? Do we want to insert ourselves into what will likely be viewed as a divisive political debate?

Ultimately, my answer is yes. We support this movement. We support these people. We oppose a ban on a particular group of people on the basis of their religion and country of origin. We believe this action weakens our moral standing in the world and goes against the very essence of what America stands for.

In brief, those denied their travel visas have been both refugees and green card holders from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Iran is somewhat unique, but every other country has seen significant suffering from internal conflict. We have all seen the footage from Aleppo in Syria. As horrible as that is, it’s not so different from the aerial bombardment Yemenis have suffered at the hands of Saudi-led forces. Libya is in chaos. The US role in Iraqi instability needs little introduction. I would stereotype Iranians as intellectual and urbane lovers of liberty who happen to have authoritarian leaders. Sounds like me.

The point of all of this is that these are victims and not perpetrators. These people are suffering and dying under horrific circumstances. Most have undertaken more than two years of already extreme vetting at considerable expense and against great odds to gain their travel visa. Many need medical care. Many more risked everything to align themselves with US forces in Iraq as translators and guides.

We are not wholly unaffiliated with these myriad conflicts and I have yet to hear a credible foreign service professional say that we are safer because of the immigration ban. Witness the 1000 signatures on the State Department’s dissent cable on Trump’s ban. You’ll find no US attacks from these seven countries in this century. This ban on Muslim immigrants makes us less secure, a boon for recruiting those who wish to do the United States and our allies harm. It’s about petty populist xenophobic politics and it’s about cruelty and it’s a stain on our flag and a source of internment-camp-era shame.

So, yes, we support the ACLU using our nation’s courts to fight this misguided Executive Order. I will also try to keep an open mind to those with contrasting views and believe that civil engagement with you, who dissent from my dissent, is a critical exercise in keeping our communities from deeper fracture.

Kevin McGlocklin

Just FYI: We also intend to donate similar resources to the needy in our own community and find an additional avenue for supporting coffee growers in need beyond paying high prices for delicious well-produced coffee beans.

February 3rd, 2017 — 1:25am

Comments Off on #REFUGEESWELCOME | america

The Dieline Coffee Lover’s Dream

We were thrilled to have the package design standard bearers at The Dieline feature our retail packaging in a recent write up on their site. And we are equally excited to be a part of their decision to go Oprah with a coffee giveaway featuring Bluebeard Coffee Roasters and a couple of other upstart coffee companies like Verve and Starbucks. Never heard of them!

It’s the Dieline Giveaway Series: Coffee Lover’s Dream and you can be a part of it here, and here, and over there. There are multiple ways to win, the coffee is clearly gonna be stellar (if you are willing to rip open those priceless works of art!) and Tacoma is representing!

As always, big praise and thanks to Partly Sunny, whose designs are being celebrated here. We are super proud of our work together, Pat. Here’s to much more to come!

October 2nd, 2015 — 5:04pm

Comment » | Coffee Packaging, The Dieline

La Marzocco Roaster Showcase

LaMarzoccoShowcaseLast week we found ourselves at the epicenter of Northwest coffee, pulling shots for friends and LM employees at La Marzocco’s Lab in Ballard. We go back a bit with the crew at La Marzocco, having gained a deep respect for the people and craftsmanship of their beautifully made espresso machines in Kevin’s time at Lighthouse Coffee Roasters in Seattle.

We had a generally excellent time, pulling shots of our Narrows Espresso and a natural Misty Valley Aricha Ethiopian. We followed with a couple of small-lot chemexes, two cold brews and an affogato paired with Tacoma’s Ice Cream Social ice cream. We sung the praises of our fair city in the 206 for good measure, as you might expect.

La Marzocco’s Lab is a great place to extract coffee, both for its wealth of toys (Hello, Linea PB) and the deep knowledge and coffee appreciation of their people. Big thanks to Carolyn Reddy, Tom Buckley and Kent Bakke for their help, warmth and conversation. And to Team Bluebeard — Gabe, Mitchell, Lizzie, Rockford and Nate — who pulled it off with style.

September 1st, 2015 — 6:04am

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Feliz Ano Novo

With a very nice retail holiday season in the rear-view mirror — thank you for buying so many bags of coffee, people! — we get back to our regular scheduled programming: New coffees. With freshly picked and processed Colombians and lower grown Central Americans starting to present themselves and a fairly new Rwanda Abakundakawa Rushashi at Bluebeard HQ.

We absolutely adored the 2013 Abakundakawa Rushashi Bourbon from Rwanda and so did estimable coffee reviewer Drew Moody of Table in the Corner of the Cafe, naming it one of his Top Coffees of 2013. As an upstart coffee roaster who still does too little in the way of coffee cognescenti outreach, we get excited when our coffees get noticed. And now that we have our swarthy little hands on the new crop Abakundakawa, we hope you stop in and grab and bag — it’s got a great balance of molasses, brown sugar, lemon, clove and white tea in our initial assessment (yesterday’s roast).

More spotlight coffees:
Chania Estate French Mission Bourbon from Thika, Kenya
Finca Matalapa Lot #1, Pacas & Bourbon, La Libertad, El Salvador
Finca Silencio from Henry Serrato, Timana, Huila, Colombia

January 14th, 2014 — 6:17pm

Comment » | News, Uncategorized

Tipping the Scales

A comment by a friend and regular — let’s call him Bob — got me thinking the other day. He had just returned from the Bay Area and had visited several shops, something I hear three or four times a year from him. Bob had visited a new shop he liked, and he asked me what I thought of weighing every espresso basket and resulting shot.

Bob didn’t tip his hand, I didn’t know whether he wanted to see us doing same or not. As it happens, I had just had an experience where a friend in coffee came in with a scale wanting show us that we can weigh our shots, pre and post. Really? You can do that? My cave doesn’t have batteries.

We calibrate our shots to make sure we’re on the same page, packing 20.2 grams of ground espresso into each portafilter and pull 22 second shots with 6 second pre-infusion, 1.5 to 1.75 ounce shots by volume. We taste our shots throughout each day, I sample new batches pre-production, fiddle with fine tuning ratios and espresso components weekly, pull everything as single origin for fun. The fact that we don’t do this in production does not mean we aren’t aware. Since I don’t go looking for perceived insults, I kept the “didactic prick” comeback for myself and walked away.

So my answer to Bob was, we don’t do it. I don’t dislike it. Ultimately, Third Wave coffee to me is simply the scientific method applied to coffee. It’s a good thing. A great thing in so many ways. But I’m not a guy who wants to weigh each and every shot in a production environment and I’ve probably hired and trained a crew who echo this by and large. To say nothing about whether our customers want this.

Bob’s reply was a bit of a surprise. I expected him to want us to jump on board, but he didn’t. And he didn’t want that for a surprising reason. Bob enjoys the variation from barista to barista and clearly enjoys an element of surprise. For him, rote consistency was not the only thing. Yay, Bob.

Don’t misconstrue this. We don’t have free agents doing whatever the hell they want. We aren’t nearly perfect, but we have parameters to follow. But I also want our baristas to taste the subtleties and differences in the too quick, too slow, too long, too short variables and ultimately have an opinion in what they like and want and why. Have a point of view informed by your own experience.

Variation is not coffee’s enemy. It’s a fine line between subtle variability and inconsistency, I know. But do we want every roaster and cafe doing precisely the same thing? I hope not. And do we lose something when we fly too purely on instruments? Bob mentioned that despite this new shop’s strict adherence to their weight/time/weight espresso formula, the barista walked away once the shot started and didn’t observe the extraction itself.

Let’s agree that there isn’t just the one answer. I love that folks are treating coffee like the Manhattan Project. I concede that it may just be me, but the rigid clinical adherence to formula and data gives some shops all the warmth and humanity of a trip to a Vulcan psychoanalyst. And I enjoy speaking binary.

I have a hunch that the majority of our customers, as much as they value fantastic fucking coffee, crave the community and conversation and humor as much or more. So, let’s be good to them. And let’s point and laugh more at ourselves. The conventions will be way more fun that way.

September 25th, 2013 — 12:04am

Comment » | News, rant

Best of Tacoma 2013

Ok, so we know it’s kind of a random popularity contest. And that we can name lots of instances where the best person or thing did not come out on top. But this is not one of those situations. The Best Coffee of Tacoma 2013, as voted on by Tacomans in the Weekly Volcano, is Bluebeard Coffee Roasters for the 2nd straight year!

It gets better: Amy Hiibel is Tacoma’s Best Barista, as voted on by many of the same enlightened Tacomans. These folks are clearly smarter than we normally give them credit. Hell yes, Amy! You are top dawg. And deservedly so. Amy will now greet customers each morning with “Do you know who I am?”. Awesome.

And just to cap things off, Kyle Rees, our recent Seattle transplant (by way of beautiful Auburn, WA), went and pulled off the Bluebeard trifecta by winning Espresso Parts 2nd Anniversary TNTNW Latte Art Throwdown at source in Olympia! Ok, Lacey. Kyle beat the best of the best along the way and sent some mighty big britches to the beer garden with his mindblowing espresso and milk creations. Fuck an aye, Kyle!

False bravado aside, we are proud of these things. You’ve blessed us with your continued friendship and support, Tacoma! And we promise to reward this awesome behavior by continuing to build on two great years of roasting, extracting and presenting coffee for our friends and neighbors on 6th Ave in Tacoma, WA. Thank you ever so much.

August 1st, 2013 — 4:42pm

Comment » | bestoftacoma, News

What we mean when we say, The Narrows Espresso Blend

The garage door will open and the cold brew will flow on the 4th of July from 8am to 2pm, with Amy and Kyle assisting. The roaster may fire as well, although we are doing our best to roast in the evenings during what passes for a heat wave in Tacoma — five consecutive days of 80-degree-plus temps.

Also new around here, you’ll find our Kenya Mtaro Thika online, as well as an updated Narrows Espresso Blend recipe. It’s no great secret if you’ve been around the cafe, but what you used to find but haven’t for a couple off months is a Sumatran or Indonesian coffee in our espresso. We’ve toyed with a basic ColEthAmala (Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia) sideline espresso almost since our inception, which eventually outgrew our second Mazzer and took over the espresso blend. Today, we share the result: nice caramel, toffee, chocolate Colombias playing the role of base and mid, with the Chiapas Grapos also in the middle and Guatemala Finca Huixoc working the way up to the sweet fruity top: washed Adulina Yirgacheffe and hint of Abakunda Kawa bourbon! Who needs some?

That may be more than you need to know, but we see almost exclusively upside to coffee transparency and not much downside to divulging the Colonel’s secret recipe. Plus, we think our espresso and other coffees are in a stellar spot and need to be explored and tasted widely. If that’s up your alley, hit us up in the store. Or if you work in coffee and are interested in what we might do for you, drop us a line at wh at bluebeardcoffee dot com.

Happy 4th of July from the beautiful PNW.

July 3rd, 2013 — 5:02pm

Comment » | News, tacoma coffee

New growth at Bluebeard


After cupping oodles of pretty delicious coffees we pulled the trigger on a few new beans that are mostly now available at our cafe and roastery as well as online.

Welcome, Adulina of Yirgacheffe, Abakunda Kawa Rushashi of Rwanda, and Grapos Coop de Chiapas de Mexico. We’re very excited by the breadth and quality of our current coffee lineup. And also, we are greatly indebted to the people who plant, grow, pick, process, dry and import and warehouse so many wonderful coffees.

We are making a handful of direct connections to source which we are very excited about, but too often people downplay the importance of coffee importers, or act as if they are mere middlemen and -women who take advantage of farmers and leave them destitute and penniless. I’m sure this must happen, but from our experience, our partners at source — Atlas, Royal, Cafe Imports, to name three — are more committed to the long term well-being and development of coffee communities than anybody else we know. Really.

A relationship is more than a sticker and we trust those with long histories on hillsides far far away. Thanks guys, look forward to joining you one day soon.

June 8th, 2013 — 12:12am

Comment » | News, tacoma coffee

Beaux Arts

The cafe has great new photography from Tacoma artist Kristin Giordano. It’s Kristin’s second show at Bluebeard, making her the sole member of the Bluebeard Two Timers’ Club. Kristin’s photography replaces oil paintings by Lisa Mellinger (thanks Lisa!), and looks fantastic in the cafe but sadly cannot make up for the recent disappearance of Tacoma’s Alternative Free Weekly of record, the Weekly Volcano.

The Volcano, which chronicled many, many years of South Sound arts, politics, food, music, and coffee, will remain in the form of the arts section of northwestmilitary.com. The loss of a treasured local weekly flat sucks, and is in no way tempered by Bluebeard’s hardware from the Volcano’s 2012 Best of Tacoma Awards for Best Cup of Coffee, Best Coffeehouse and Best Place to Meet, which we now apparently own in perpetuity. Ha!

The arts in Tacoma continue to be well championed by the talented people at Post Defiance, the Tacoma Weekly, Wrist Magazine, the Broadway Center and longtime live music producers (and new LLC) The Warehouse, among many others. Support these organizations and check out Kristin’s fine work at 2201 6th Ave and kristingiordano.com.

May 8th, 2013 — 4:58pm

Comment » | tacoma coffee

Bluebeard Spring

Probat L12 circa 1987

It’s more than just a change in the weather and a chance to crack the garage door at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters. And we don’t take those two things lightly in the Northwest. In the coffee world, Spring also means the arrival of beautiful Central American and East African coffees, home to the highest concentration of fabulous coffees anywhere.

So here we are, sitting on fresh-crop Guatemala and Colombia, with Ethiopian and Kenyan samples en route, and more Latins coming in daily. And we are so thankful for this. As a little company which still relies largely on our favorite importers for the bulk of our coffees (we are reaching out directly to several Central American producers) the wait has been especially painful these last few months. I mean, of course we’re pissed, but we expect to be richly rewarded as a result. Stick around, or come back soon, and check out our stable of in-house beans. The garage door has been cracked.

April 22nd, 2013 — 10:57pm

Comment » | L12 Probat

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