Gearbox is the specialty coffee roaster based on the outskirts of Florence created by Tommaso Bongini, fourth generation coffee roaster with a passion for cars. As it happens with many other specialty coffee roasters, the story of Gearbox – a company based in La Torre, not so far from Florence (Italy) – begins “simply” with a man, Tommaso Bongini, mostly known as Tom. Currently 34 years old, originally from Florence, he belongs to a family of roasters.
The family business, Caffé Mokarico, began in 1936 and today Tommaso is the fourth generation that carries on the business, in charge of quality control (both on green and roasted coffee) and managing everything related with the Chinese market. But – even if basically coffee is in his blood – at the beginning Tommaso’s life was quite different: in 2014 he was in Brussels, while working for a satellite agency of the European Commission, and his job was to deal with natural gas. Quite interesting, of course, but maybe not too exciting.
And then, Tom had the big chance to move to London and starting to work with the team of La Marzocco UK, and this is where he first stumble into the specialty coffee world. It was all so new, all based on a qualitative aspect that, at that time, was a little bit forgotten in Italy… easy to understand why Tom suddenly got triggered.
And then, back in Italy, Tommaso put his new passion into the family business, being in charge of quality control since the beginning of 2015 and, more recently, adding the position of CEO of the company. Beside this, it was 2018 when Tommaso decided that he wanted more: to start his own brand, Gearbox Coffee Roasters, dealing only with specialty coffees, where the focus is not only the coffee score, or a determinate roasting degree: Tommaso’s mainly focus lays on the story behind the coffee he’s buying.
But what’s behind the name? Why Gearbox? Opening the roaster, Tommaso not only thought about having the chance to roast and serve great coffee, but he also wanted to have the possibility to associate with it his other greatest passions: cars. Weird, isn’t it?
At first glance, coffee and cars may seem like two very different worlds, but actually they often have some common points, in the craftsmanship that underlies them, in the quality of the product and in the processing techniques, in the human factor always essential to obtain an outstanding result, in both fields.