A special post, cross-posted at Angel’s Cup, an amazing coffee subscription service and correspondence course in coffee tasting, reviewed here.
Forty-five minutes from Philadelphia, along a country road with no street lights and no roundabouts, in the middle of an acre of land, in the garage of a 1940s ranch house, made by one man’s hands, Gabriel Boscana roasts some of the best coffee Angel’s Cup has had the pleasure of shipping out to its subscribers.
The project is called Maquina Coffee Roasters—machine in Spanish—but these roasts run not so much by mechanics as they do love.
Love in the fields and patios where the beans are produced. Love in the small batch roasting on a 5kilo Probat heated by propane in Gabriel’s garage. Love in Gabriel’s family as his four year old Amelia wanders in sniffing the coffee and widening her eyes at the switches and flames. And most importantly love in Gabriel’s own journey to be true to himself and create a safe space within coffee for others to do the same.
Each of the coffees offered by Maquina has an origin story in Gabriel’s own experiences as Coffee Buyer for Intelligensia and then, Sightglass Coffee Roasters. While Gabriel has over 16 years of experience in coffee, the last six were spent learning through trips to farmers, mills, and import houses the markers of pride that produce exceptional coffee.
The story behind El Filo from Honduras, available on his site now (link), started with a conversation during a farm visit when Gabriel asked Ben Hamin of Beneficio, a Dry Mill/Exporter in the Moreno family along the mountain range in Santa Barbara region of Honduras, what coffees were impressing him lately. The answer: El Filo.
When Gabriel visited the farm he noted two things: a large patio with raised beds—sort of like tables with mesh countertops instead of solid ones— where the coffee dried and an exceptional clean facility. Often farms he visited just dried the beans on the grounds. He noticed workers placing tarps on the drying beds shielding the beans from the sunniest part of the day, regulating the drying process to be more even. The production was meticulously eat-off-the-floor clean; these people were prideful about their craft to the benefit of the coffee’s quality.
All of these markers caused Gabriel to perk up, to notice, to be interested, in a way that only someone with his experience could be. Finally, he roasted and cupped the beans and discovered that the exceptional care these farmers took expressed itself in the brew itself. Angel’s cup described the coffee as reminding them of frosted flakes and turkish figs in its tasting notes sent to subscribers.
This kind of quality is not possible without pride, pride in what you do which extends to pride in who you are. Gabriel has recently claimed this pride in the truth of who he is, not only in his private life, but in the coffee business. Gabriel has recently come out as transgendered to his family and friends. In his own words:
I decided to finally come out with my 17 year history as a transman a few weeks ago. Seems contradictory or maybe an inopportune time considering our current political climate. I tend to think outside the box in my life so I thought it was actually the best time to share this nugget of information with my friends in coffee and professional coffee community at large. I say it was the best time because I have made meaningful friendships with people and they should know the whole me. It doesn’t change much in our friendship, just the feeling of trust is strengthened and that is always a good thing in friendships. We all have different histories, stories and perspectives that can all contribute in some way to making the world a better place. We may all have our judgements, but then you meet someone that you never thought was trans and you realize that we are all the same and most of us have the same desires in life. It’s much harder to pass judgement when you have grown to care about someone. We all have our stories, and struggles. It is so important, especially in the world we live in, to support those folks we care about and those that are living in the margins of our society. I was afraid for so long, and I am no longer afraid. This is who I am and I cannot erase my past, if anything it informs me as a man in the world. I have a wonderful supportive family and friends. We must be brave now. Because no one else will do it for us. I hope that at the very least, it encourages folks to speak their own truths, no matter who they are. We need more voices. I am happy to finally contribute to the conversation and help diversify the community.
Thank you for your bravery and all of the love you are bringing to us out of your small garage along a backroad in PA.
Right now, Maquina Coffee roasts one or two days a week with a volume of about 350 pounds per week: a small labor of love. As a next step, rather than expand in volume, Gabriel would like to expand in influence. He dreams of finding funding to start a nonprofit that trains women, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community into this most exceptional world of love of oneself and love of coffee.
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