Confession time: I get a lot more coffee in the mail than I write about here on Coffee Brew Guides. Most of the coffees are good, but I’d be wasting your time if I told you about every good coffee I had. Máquina Coffee‘s bag of Nyeri, Kenya was different. It was stellar.
Trust me, this is a coffee roaster you want to know about.
Gabriel Boscana has worked in specialty coffee for over 15 years. He’s been a barista, a green coffee buyer, a roaster, and beyond at different points of his career. He’s worked at some of the nation’s most identifiable coffee brands: Gimme! Coffee, Sightlass, Intelligentsia, and Ritual Coffee Roasters, but they weren’t enough to pacify his long-term dream: open up his own coffee roastery.
The bag of coffee I received from Gabe was, like I said, astounding. The first thing that struck me about the Kenyan peaberry coffee was the juicy body and fruity sweetness. No joke, I felt like I was drinking fresh fruit juice. The notes on the bag were blackberry, tangerine, and molasses, which I thought were spot on.
Máquina Coffee is currently a garage operation in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but I’m sure it won’t stay there for long. The coffee is too great and the brand vision is too captivating for Gabe to be able to roast in his garage for much longer.
An Interview With Gabriel Boscana
Itching for a better look behind the delicious coffee, I sent Gabe some questions.
At what point did you know you wanted to roast coffee for your own business? Was it a long-term goal?
I knew I wanted to roast for myself probably pretty early into my roasting career over 10 years ago. As soon as I knew that the process was a mystery of sorts, but in that mystery I could really connect with the coffee I was hooked. It has been a goal of mine for over the last 10 years, so I guess it’s long term. haha. I was a barista for years before starting to roast, and then from roasting went to green buying (via Intelligentsia and Sightglass) and now back mostly to roasting. Green buying is made easy by having some stellar importers to work with these days.
How are you feeling now? How long have you been roasting and selling? How’s it gone so far? (I know… 3 questions…)
I am feeling optimistic. I love roasting more than anything else I do. It’s solitary, mindful and one of the few times I get to really be in my own head to make something wonderful. It’s like a meditation in many ways. I have been roasting and selling since mid-November, so not very long. I have been roasting for 10 years though!
The response has been terrific. Lots of love from people and friends and family and people I have never met but are buying the coffee because someone they trusted vouched for our quality! It’s been all word of mouth which is strangely fulfilling. Plus, we just have no advertising money anyway.
How are your past coffee jobs influencing your own brand? Are there things you are going to implement that you learned elsewhere?
Good question. Yes and no. I always had an idea of what I wanted to brand to look like and feel like. I would say working for Intelligentsia influenced me the most in regards to making sure the brand is clean and professional looking. I learned a lot in that job. I was the national roasting manager and also bought coffees for them. I am implementing things I learned elsewhere all the time.
The best lesson is honesty. Be honest, even if you risk upsetting someone. Do what you say you are going to do and do as you say. Be good. Be kind. People smell bullshit a million miles away and no form of branding is going to erase a burn. Do good work, for the right reasons not for marketing reasons.
What put West Chester, Pa on the map as a possible place to open a coffee roastery?
Family. I never intended on West Chester. LOL. We were really thinking Philadelphia when we moved to PA. But we rented a place out in Chester County for the Spring and Summer while we looked for a house to buy and ended up really falling in love with the rolling hills, historic homes and the obsession with land stewardship out here. Also, there is NO good coffee in West Chester, so I am starting ona blank slate. Let me remind you and your readers, the roastery is my garage!
I’d love to hear more about how you came up with the idea for your logo.
The logo came from wanting an arresting image, something that makes you stop and really look. The combination of humans (the hand) and coffee (the drop). It is an image that marries the two as coffee is impossible without people and labor and love in many ways. I worked with a great designer out of Philadelphia, Caleb Heisey to come up with something a little quirky but whimsical and meaningful. We are super happy with it.
What’s the end goal for Maquina Coffee?
The end goal is to purchase coffees from the same farms every year as much as possible. To be a TRUE partner with the producers we purchase from and to always maintain a stellar delicious line up for our subscribers and select wholesale accounts. We will eventually need to (hopefully) move our roasting operations to a bigger and more commercially accessible place, but for now we are happy to keep it small and simple. A tasting room would be killer.
The REAL end goal is to do as much good as we can while remaining profitable. There are some projects we are already concocting that would help that goal, we just don’t need to shout it from the rooftops as much as we need to MAKE them happen. Do good for good’s sake.
If you’d like to taste coffee roasted by an industry veteran, I highly suggest you go buy a bag from Máquina Coffee!