Matt McGinn ’13 has accomplished more in his 27 years than most. He overcame alcohol dependence to graduate from Augsburg College and its StepUP ® program and then went on to become a successful entrepreneur in the coffee industry.
And when it comes to coffee, he does it all.
McGinn roasts his own beans. He uses them to cold brew coffee. He bottles it. Distributes it. And, he co-owns and runs a coffee shop where he serves his cold brewed coffee on tap—an innovation that very few shops offer, especially in the Twin Cities.
A transfer student from the University of Massachusetts, McGinn applied to Augsburg and StepUP early on in his sobriety. He went from drinking hard liquor every day for six years, to a student in recovery working to earn his bachelor’s degree in social work.
“Augsburg helped me to become a leader,” —Matt McGinn ’13
“Augsburg helped me to become a leader,” McGinn said. “I showed people you can go from not being capable of holding a job and passing out in class, to working two internships, being a resident assistant, and succeeding in five classes.”
Though he later decided not to pursue a career in social work, he practices skills gained while at Augsburg to help himself succeed every day—including business savvy, budgeting, dedication, confidence, detail orientation, leadership, and follow-through.
Tapping an underserved market
McGinn has been working in the coffee industry since he was a barista in high school. Once he got to Augsburg, he climbed his way up to manager at a struggling coffee shop and was able to revive it by crafting new drink recipes, learning a range of brewing techniques, improving food and drink menus, training staff, and creating more efficient labor schedules.
“People were complimenting my work, and the owner gave me free reign to do what I wanted,” McGinn said. “I thought—I’m really good at this. What are my ideas? What do I want to do? Well, I make really good cold brew. People love my cold brew. And I was like, ‘Why am I not doing this for myself?’”
So he did.
McGinn now co-owns and runs artisan coffee shop Quixotic Coffee in St. Paul. His branded coffee, Blackeye Roasting Co., comes in three varieties on tap—a signature blend called “Blackeye Brew;” a nitro blend called “Left Hook;” and currently under production, a nitro Guinness, which is similar in texture and flavor to a creamy stout.
Currently, you can find Blackeye Brew bottled and sold at select local retailers, but soon it’ll be distributed nationally. Blackeye Brew coffee is also kegged and served in many area restaurants, on college campuses, and even in Twin Cities workplaces.
Wake up and smell the coffee
Q: You serve a nitro blend at Quixotic. What is that?
A: Nitro cold brew is coffee infused with pure nitrogen. It’s stored in a keg and served on draft for a cascading, foamy, and velvety ice-cold drink.
Q: What’s the difference between iced coffee and cold brewed?
A: Iced coffee is just hot coffee that’s been brewed with twice as much ground coffee, then poured over ice. Cold brewed coffee is ground coffee that’s been steeped in cold water overnight.
Q: So does cold brew have a different taste?
A: Yes. When you brew coffee hot you get a lot of acidity due to the chemical reaction. When you brew it cold, you don’t get the acidity. In fact, there’s 67-93 percent less acidity in cold brewed coffee—and two times the caffeine.
Q: So you roast your own beans. Is the origin of coffee beans important?
A: Absolutely. Most of our coffee beans are from Africa and Central America. The coffees we select from Africa are bright and floral and have more character. The coffees we get from Central America have chocolaty notes. We blend the two for a perfect balance, so they’re not too tangy or fruity.
StepUP® at a glance
StepUP at Augsburg College is a residential collegiate recovery program focusing on helping students sustain their recovery, achieve academic success, and thrive in a community of accountability and support.
- More than 700 students served since 1997
- 93 percent average abstinence rate
- 100 students served annually
- 3.2 average GPA
Learn more at augsburg.edu/stepup.