Alumnus builds coffee business from the ground up

by Cassandra Stathis

Early in the day, it is common to hear someone say “Don’t talk to me ‘till I’ve had my morning coffee.” It is the best part of the day for many hardworking students and employees. But what exactly is the science behind coffee?

Rider alumnus Mark Maslanka ‘18 is very familiar with the process behind the caffeinated beverage, as he is the proud owner of his own coffee company, named “Science of Coffee.”

Maslanka had a long history with coffee, even before college.

“Coffee was always something that brought me relaxation,” he said. “And made me feel like one of the adults.”

Maslanka’s allure to the drink was the root of inspiration behind his company.

“The quality of coffee I produce today just blows me away,” Maslanka said. “It brings me right back to those first couple sips when I was a kid in the car with my dad.” 

Maslanka planned to just experiment with his favorite drink in order to perfect his recipe.

“I mastered different methods from around the world in trying to produce the best tasting cup of coffee,” he said.

Todd Weber, a professor of biology at Rider, had Maslanka in a past neuroscience class, and admired his work ethic when he was a student.

“Mark [Maslanka] had a pragmatic approach to getting work done when it needed to be done,” said Weber. 

Before Maslanka left Rider, he decided to leave one last gift with his professors. It was something from the heart that he believed they would appreciate.

“Mark [Maslanka] graced me with some of his coffee before he graduated. [It was] very fragrant, so much better than much of the coffee we get around here,” Weber said.

Neuroscience and coffee may not seem like they have a lot in common, but Weber disagreed.

“I think it’s very cool that Mark was able to meld his behavioral neuroscience background with a spirit of entrepreneurship to start a company around the most widely used neuroactive substance on the planet, caffeine,” Weber said. “He’s an ultimate scientific entrepreneur.”

Maslanka had never expected his business to take off so quickly, so the success of his business came as a surprise to him.

“I didn’t think I’d be selling coffee to people across the country, I only started this as an excuse to roast more coffee than I could drink,“ he said. “I’m just along for the ride, waiting to see where it’ll take me next. Everything up until this point has been purely from word of mouth besides the occasional stranger that stumbles upon my website. That’s how you know it’s good coffee.” 

Maslanka’s company also sells photographs of nature and wildlife that he has taken.

“It’s my way of showing others what untouched nature looks like deep in the wilderness. I love being able to remind people why it’s worth trying so hard to conserve these creatures,” he said.

The Rider alumnus credits his business’ website with helping him get off the ground.

“My site has given me a large boost in credibility in life, with a very physical example of how hard I work on things I am interested in,” he said. “It also got me into my current position where I am today.” 

Maslanka went on to discuss how coffee fits in with his work, describing the effects that different coffee beans have on the body.

“One of the side projects I inherited is a ‘coffee-omics’ study, investigating metabolomic differences between different coffees grown around the world,” he said.

During the hours he works strictly with coffee, he is “sourcing new beans in small batches from farms around the world and optimizing a roasting profile to enhance the development of the natural flavors unique to that origin.”

“Science of Coffee” is the perfect blend of Maslanka’s passions, balancing neuroscience and the environment in one successful business.

Published in the 3/4/20 edition

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