The owner of Gus Dean Coffee roasts beans to make the perfect cup.
Eagan entrepreneur Gus Dean recalls his mother’s coffee-making ritual in vivid detail. The vibrant red coffee grinder. The sound of the beans crunching. The scent of a fresh pot of coffee.
Dean grew up in the Bahamas, where coffee was a “white tablecloth deal,” reserved for special people and occasions.“To me, it’s about process and the things you remember as a kid—seeing and hearing the beans, the grinder, smelling the coffee—that’s some of my earliest memories of coffee and knowing that it was being made for somebody special,” Dean says.
It’s a fitting origin story for a man who now calls himself “the coffee guy.” Upon developing a taste for coffee in adulthood, Dean spent years roasting his own beans (a way to avoid the all-too-common bitter, over-roasted beans) before launching Gus Dean Coffee in May 2019. Now, he’s looking to make a name for himself as a purveyor of fresh-roasted, ethically sourced coffee beans, cold brew concentrate and (as of this summer) ready-to-drink canned cold brew—made with love, to be enjoyed in community.
“It doesn’t need to be complicated; it doesn’t need to be the most expensive … there’s a lot of care that can be put into roasting good quality beans,” Dean says. “And, the most important part that I always tell people is: ‘It’s you. You could have the finest roaster, the best quality water, but at the end of the day, you’re the magic that makes it happen.’”
The loyal following Dean has built over the years has as much to do with ingenious blends and seasonal flavors as it does with Dean himself—and his smiling caricature on every bag. Just one example: In his first month of business, Dean drove 45 minutes one way to hand deliver a bag of beans, then spent another hour on the customer’s porch enjoying conversation before heading home.
While he’s since realized such an excursion isn’t profitable, he would probably do it again. It’s all part of his mission to make coffee fun. While he now has a team of part-time staff assisting with packaging and delivery, he still creates the roasting profiles and develops the blends—and includes a personal note with every order.
“That’s my way of connecting,” Dean says. “Over time, you get to know people … in the summertime, when [customers are] sitting outside relaxing, I’m able to wave and say hello. We meet, and we talk and that’s the way I want the business to continue to grow.”
While he now drinks coffee daily, he remains rooted in his family’s belief that coffee should be enjoyed in community and as fresh as possible. In Dean’s perfect world (and maybe someday), customers could order beans online while he’s roasting and get a bag of warm beans delivered to their doorsteps.
“That would be like the best, right?” Dean says. “That’s the type of freshness, uniqueness and fun we want to have with coffee.”
Buy the Beans
Gus Dean Coffee is available to order online at gusdeancoffee.com, with local delivery available for the Twin Cities Metro.
Wake Up Call
Need a pick-me-up? Check out Dean’s recipe for Coke and Cold Brew.
The Art of Roasting
Some say coffee roasting is a science, and though that might be true for some, Dean sees it differently. “There’s a lot of science to coffee roasting, but there’s a lot of artistry,” Dean says. “Anybody could [get a manual] and roast coffee beans within a week or two, but to really be creative … you have to keep doing it and experimenting and trying.”
It all starts with a quality bean, a necessity also taught to him by his mother, who always bought the best beans she could get her hands on. Dean sources his beans in smaller lots, which means he can often get them at their best time, then blends bean varieties to achieve complex flavors.
“You’ve got to get into the vibe, get into the flow, get the mindset right, and then it’s trying to tweak according to your taste,” Dean says. “That last 20 percent, it’s really just your experience, your taste, your imagination.”
Along with the launch of the canned ready-to-drink cold brew this summer, Gus Dean Coffee plans to bring back the fan-favorite Blueberry flavor, along with a new Bahama Breeze flavor inspired by Dean’s childhood that features notes of vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom. Other best-selling flavors include Gus’s Blend, Mocha Java and Salty Caramel, available in both cold brew concentrate and bean forms.