Meet our Roaster
TJ Cowan, Founder & Roaster
Process and process improvement are what drives TJ to constantly ensure Cold Blooded Coffee is the very best and highest-quality.
As is the case with many engineers, TJ Cowan has a process-oriented mind. While it had become commonplace for others to tinker at home with craft beer, TJ set his sights on something a little bit different: craft cold brew coffee. In April 2017, TJ started making his own cold brew, at first just for himself and his wife Jackie. He became a student of the process, talked to friends who owned coffee shops, learned about the roast and how to make a balanced cup of coffee. He spent the next year and a half in the details.
“I gave away a lot of coffee to people who appreciate a good coffee bean and told them to be brutally honest.”
The business grew organically as a result of mounting demand from family, friends and a growing word-of-mouth network of supporters. Utilizing an old-school milkman approach, TJ started with home-delivery until demand outpaced his ability to meet everyone’s needs. That’s when he started to distribute at local businesses, mostly bakeries at first, but now including a wide variety of restaurants and shops, all listed here.
TJ now has a broker who helps him import beans from Colombia, Guatemala, Sumatra, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Uganda and others. He chooses beans grown in specific regions and meet his exacting criteria for quality.
Self-taught in the art of roasting, TJ roasts all of the beans used in Cold Blooded Coffee at the Roastery in Marion, IL. Leveraging the benefits of “micro-batches,” TJ is able to maintain a precise level of control over the roast level, and avoid the over-roasted bitter flavor that is represented in so many commercially available beans and cold brews.
Growing up, TJ never dreamed he would someday own a coffee company, nor open an actual brick-and-mortar coffee shop. He spent most of his childhood in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, IL and for the past ~20 years has lived in Southern Illinois with his wife and two more recent additions to the family, Miles and Norah.
Ryan Summerfelt, Owner CBC&R North
Working in the pharmaceutical industry since 2011, Ryan Summerfelt knew one thing about coffee: it was a great way to open a door and build a relationship. What he didn't know (among other things) is that cold brew provides more benefit than just a tasty alternative to traditional coffee. It actually aligned with his specialty: gastroenterology. So many patients Ryan encountered were told they shouldn't drink coffee to help with acid reflux or GERD. In learning about the cold brew process, the resulting smoother taste and lower acidity were tangible benefits he could speak to in meetings with physicians.
As a loyal Cold Blooded Coffee customer, he started purchasing growlers from Larry's House of Cakes in Carbondale, IL to bring to local hospitals and medical offices as opposed to the ubiquitous green logo'd lattes and frappes he'd been purchasing for years. And it worked. His clients LOVED receiving the brown growlers of cold brew.
In fact, the reaction of his Southern Illinois clients was so positive, he decided to start traveling downstate from his home up in Northern Illinois to bring as much Cold Blooded Coffee as he could manage to fit into coolers in the back seat of his car to the Chicagoland market.
Finally, in late 2019, Ryan reached out to TJ to make an introduction and the rest is history. Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery- North, LLC was founded in February 2020 and has grown from there. Ryan resides in LaGrange, IL with his wife and business partner Hollis and their dog named Kona. Like the coffee.