Caffeinated Concoctions: Northbound Supply Co. Offers Distinctly Different Coffee Cocktails

Marie Anthony, photos by Andrea Paulseth

“If I had to pick one specialty coffee that best represents me I think, maybe, I’m most like the Whiskey Whiteout – hot, sweet, and a little boozy,” Matt Schwahn said with a laugh.

Schwahn is not literally “boozy,” but he appreciates adding a little unexpected flavor to life. He says he’s often a “fly by the seat of your pants kinda guy.” That spirit is what led to his partnership with Jeff Reuter. The two opened Northbound Supply Co. in August of 2017; and while Reuter is the backbone of all things retail, Schwahn is definitely the mastermind behind Northbound Supply Co.’s wild and scrumptious coffee creations.

The delicate flavors he coaxes from his coffee canvas are so nuanced, it is easy to assume he’s been drinking and roasting coffee since birth. In truth, Matt grew up thinking coffee was just “the grossest.” It wasn’t until he turned 19 that a brew out of Esteli, Nicaragua pulled him straight down the “rabbit hole” of specialty coffee. He fell in love with everything from “crazy” Hawaiian blends to Blue Mountain Jamaican blends and began roasting his own coffee at the age of 20.

“I always thought that – when I opened up my own coffee shop – I was just gonna get really out there with my flavor profiles.” -Matt Schwahn, Northbound Supply Co.

“I love straight up single-origin coffees with no sugar or additives; just black, as it’s intended,” said Schwahn. “Coffee is such a great canvas that works so well with other flavors. I always thought that – when I opened up my own coffee shop – I was just gonna get really out there with my flavor profiles.”

All of Schwahn’s cocktail drinks are inspired by favorite alcohol profiles, although no drinks contain actual alcohol. The Eau Claire Police Department stopped by on a December day to make sure of that when they got wind of Northbound’s creative menu.

One of Schwahn’s most popular drinks is the Agave Latte, coffee flavored with agave syrup. “It’s like peanut butter and jelly: The flavors go really well together,” he says. It’s true. Every flavor complements the next flawlessly; not one overpowers the other. They dance delicately over your taste buds; with each sip of coffee comes a new flavor note.

This winter Matt introduced the Whiskey Whiteout. It’s a flat white with whiskey syrup, and it’s become the best-selling drink of the season. For those unfamiliar with a “flat white,” imagine that a cappuccino and a latte married and had a baby. The milk is steamed to create a consistency thicker than a latte, and there is less microfoam than that of a traditional cappuccino. Matt tries to hold himself to the authentic representation of the flat white in the Whiskey Whiteout. What sets this flat white apart from the rest is his application of the microfoam. “I add a bit more microfoam on top to hold another layer of the whiskey infused syrup. This creates a sweet, boozy, layer on top of the drink, and that is what makes it so good,” explains Schwahn.

Another popular offering on Northbound Supply Co.’s drink menu is the House Cold Brew. Matt sources his cold brew from Eau Claire’s N7 Cafe and thanks owner Katy Stevens for working with him to develop cold brew “cocktails” perfect for a wintery day. The Cold Fashioned pulls inspiration from the Bourbon Old Fashioned. It combines the sweet, smooth flavor of the House Cold Brew with orange bitters and orange simple syrup.

If citrus and coffee seem strange to you, Matt does have a favorite holiday-inspired drink available as well. Frost Bite is his signature peppermint mocha. He also offers coffee in its pure form with Panama Camiseta Estate and Beach Vibes (for those in the mood for a light roast) and Dark Plasma or Espressoteric (for those who prefer a dark roast).

Schwahn plans to introduce a wild and crazy flavor in the next 2-4 weeks. He was pretty hush-hush about it so as not to spoil any surprises. He also encourages people to come in and try his “secret menu” concoctions. This hidden menu highlights new flavor profiles for those looking for something more unexpected.

Whether you are more of a traditionalist when it comes to your “cup of Joe” or you like a little jolt in your java, Matt reminds us that adding a little wild and crazy to our everyday routine is never a bad thing. “You can’t have preconceived notions of coffee,” he says. “I guarantee that no matter how much a person swears they don’t care for a certain blend, there will be something somewhere that will blow their mind.”

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