Matt McGinn wants to give you a Blackeye

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You may begin seeing these tap handles at Twin Cities bars and restaurants, but they won’t be pouring beer // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

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Matt McGinn // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Photos by Brian Kaufenberg

Matt McGinn is fighting for tap lines at Minnesota bars and restaurants. It’s not surprising considering the hundreds of craft breweries vying for the same coveted real estate. What is surprising is that his company’s tap handles aren’t dispensing pints of craft beer. Instead, they’re pouring handcrafted cold brew coffee on nitro.

McGinn is the founder and president of Blackeye Roasting Co., a coffee company founded in St. Paul specializing in cold brew coffee tailored to the craft beer community. We met up with McGinn in May at Quixotic Coffee in Highland Park—which he and Blackeye Managing Partner Jake Nelson purchased in December 2014—to chat about his cold brew and Blackeye’s unique focus on the craft beer scene.

We spot McGinn at the back corner of the coffee bar. He has a sturdy build and two full tattoo sleeves that wrap down his arms and pour out from under his Blackeye Roasting Co. work shirt. Close-cropped hair and a short red beard extenuate his strong jaw line, but it’s his eyes that are his most striking feature. A quick look into them offers a telling insight into his personality: intense, driven, cheerful, and—most of all—caffeinated.

He pours us a glass of Blackeye’s nitro cold brew from one of the three draft lines at Quixotic. The coffee is reminiscent of Guinness on the pour—a cascade of fine carbonation flowed to the top, turning the black coffee a creamy hue. He sets the tulip glasses in front of us and we take our first sips, nearly mistaking the coffee for stout, as he tells us more about the product.

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Blackeye Roasting Co. recently purchased Quixotic Coffee in St. Paul’s Highland Village // Photo by Brian Kaufenberg

Cold brew first came about, McGinn says, when coffee shops were trying to find a use for expired coffees beans. The cold brew process, which entails steeping grounds in cool water for up to 18 hours, can hide of a lot of defects that would be exposed if expired coffee beans were used for hot coffee. “What separates my cold brew,” he explains, “is we brew with coffee that’s really fresh, and we make it for cold brew.”

He continues, explaining that the thing that really separated Blackeye from other cold brew operations is the aging process. “We roast each part of a blend separately from each other and then we age it separately,” McGinn says. “Then we grind it and age it a certain way.” McGinn holds off giving any more details on his process that results in a cold brew that is smoother, less acidic, and more floral than other cold brews.

Next page: A (caffinated) road to success

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About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.

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