Gabe Boscana got into coffee to stay in Ithaca, N.Y., a bit longer. Now, one coffee roasting business and 15 years later, he’s the owner of Máquina Coffee Roasters, focusing on excellent coffee that’s sourced responsibly and humanely.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
I met Gabe Boscana a year ago while working on a writing project with him, and I sent him a quick email with a few questions to try to get to know him. Gabe answered none of my questions like I thought he would. To speak about coffee with him is to feel coffee—he shares his emotional ties and beliefs about coffee, and it’s difficult to not be affected or changed. Gabe, the owner of Máquina Coffee Roasters in West Chester, Pa., roasts and sources some of the best coffees you’ll ever drink. Humanity, hard work, and responsible growth—these ideas are paramount to Gabe’s company.
Ashley Rodriguez: What were you doing before you began in coffee?
Gabe Boscana: I was a college student. Studying sociology and gender studies in Ithaca, N.Y., I had no idea what I was gonna do with that degree. I had no plan. Coffee had a plan for me.
AR: How did you get into coffee? What was your first coffee job?
GB: I needed to pay the rent. My girlfriend and I wanted to stay in Ithaca a little longer at the time, and I found my first coffee job in Ithaca at Gimme! Coffee back in 2001.
AR: How did you open your roasting business, Máquina? How would you advise others who want to start their own businesses?
GB: It was tough as hell. Lots of uncertainty but tons of love and desire. I would advise EVERYONE to follow your dreams even if it’s tough, if it fails, if it goes too slow. Do it anyway.
AR: Why did you decide to open a business? What did you want to achieve in your business that you weren’t seeing done by other roasters?
GB: I just wanted to roast the coffees I wanted to roast the way I thought was best. I wanted to connect with good producers and importers and customers. I am also not great at having a boss. I felt like there was a lot of marketing speak and very little skill and knowledge with green coffee buying and roasting. I wanted to bring forth real authentic love for the process of coffee from harvest to roast.
AR: How do you approach coffee? How do you source? Do you have a philosophy or way of thinking about buying coffee for your company?
GB: It’s all about quality. I look at the green beans before I sample roast, then I taste post-roasting and then look at the story. I source from SUPER trusted importers, mill owners, and producers. I buy coffee 100 percent based on quality and if it has a slot on the menu. Rarely will I have two coffees from the same origin or with similar profiles.
AR: Where does the name Máquina come from? Is there a driving idea or mission statement you abide by?
GB: Máquina means “machine” in Spanish. I am a roaster, I love to roast coffee and I love the craft. I wanted to honor the work by calling it Máquina. The driving idea of Máquina is quality coffee by quality people for the better of humanity. Coffee is humanity. Humanity in Coffee!
AR: What have you learned from your previous jobs?
GB: Patience, and that people ARE EVERYTHING. I learned to communicate better, and I learned that compassion and listening go a long way. Acknowledge people.
AR: What feels important to you in coffee? What would you like for our community to work on?
GB: Diversity and compassion for fellow humans. We are getting these coffees from mostly poorer countries and poor communities in these countries. We MUST honor this in a non-exploitative way. Our community on this side needs to really embrace all kinds of people who are excited about coffee. We need to work on compassion on all levels from producer to barista to manager to customer.
AR: What’s next for you, both small and big?
GB: Small is transitions that are necessary to keep the business going in a healthy pattern. Big is to keep dreaming and really push when I can to create the kind of business and life I desire. I think you will see some awesome things from Máquina very soon, but most importantly, really meaningful things. Growth is not the only way. There are definitely other kinds of growth.
AR: What do you do in your spare time?
GB: Mostly spend time with my awesome as f*ck daughter painting and playing board games with her and running (mostly chasing after her, she’s fast).