What would leap to mind if I were to say the name Bluebeard? Most would mumble something about a pirate or a fairytale, but those in Tacoma might answer “coffee” or even “a cat.”
It’s true. Behind our local Bluebeard Coffee Roasters is owner Kevin McGlocklin, whose English professor father long ago named their family cat Bluebeard after the murdering lord from a French fairytale. When it came time for Kevin to name his 6th Ave establishment he tossed around a few coffee-themed ideas, but ultimately went with a nod to their feline.
Visit our Bluebeard (located at 2201 6th Ave) on any given Tuesday and you’ll find a hubbub of activity. In one corner there’re often parents of small children chatting, and at any number of tables you’re guaranteed to find a smattering of students, freelancers and other such folks collaborating and/or tethered to their Macs. Daylight and the rare glimpse of sun pours in through Bluebeard’s generous windows, which previously gave passersby a peek into an antique store.
For Kevin, the appeal of 6th Ave was not only the vibe of the shop, but the area being zoned for a retail/light-industrial businesses. Both were key components in his desire to roast in the same space customers sip everything from mochas to Americanos.
Opening six years ago, during a period in which new coffee shops were in abundance, Kevin attributes much of Bluebeard’s success to finding a “really nice space, really nice coffee, and people who like getting to know who’s behind the bar — because it’s just fucking coffee.”
Make no mistake, Kevin knows his shit about each intricacy of beans, roasting, acidity, balancing flavors and beyond. He’s more than happy to talk to anyone about the fine details, but if you prefer to just drink a no-details-necessary cup he understands completely. One mantra Kevin shares with the team that serves customers is: “Be cool. Be nice. These are the people that pay our bills.”
“I think Tacoma’s people have a pretty good bullshit meter,” Kevin went on to tell Grit City Magazine. “They apply that test to every new business that opens up, and if residents think someone’s just here to capitalize from out of town..? Well, it’s quick who people support and who they don’t. As a business owner I worried about it, but I figured we’d just grow organically, and it seems to be working.”
Kevin is considering opening another Bluebeard location, but he’s willing to wait for the exact right place to open up rather than rush into anything.
“One of the best things about being in Tacoma is the community of people fighting for the city, be they small business owners or artists or whomever, there’s a small-town feel,” he shared. “That means anyone can have a voice and anyone who’s interested can make a difference. It feels like we’re in this thing together.
“Everybody’s fighting really hard for the soul of Tacoma, and the prosperity of Tacoma.”
Images by Sierra Hartman