For Ricardo Moscoso ’14 ’17MBA, the perfect cup of coffee starts in the field. “You have to be mindful about using the least amount of chemicals,” he says. “I think it’s the hardest part, to get the best cherry possible.” From the plantation to the finished product, Moscoso oversees sales and marketing for his family’s coffee estate in Boquete, a region in the west of Panama famed for its beautiful mountains, moderate climate and, of course, its coffee.
Moscoso, 30, who grew up in Panama, learned about Bryant during high school. The unique blend of business and liberal arts, along with its highly ranked academics, scenic campus and community environment, made Bryant “the most complete out of the colleges I was considering,” he says.
His interest in sustainable development and international affairs led him first to study marketing, politics and law at Bryant, then to pursue internships in Washington, DC with the Organization of American States. He returned to Bryant after a year in the US Capital to complete a fast-track MBA program in supply chain management. Though he always intended to return to Panama to help grow his family’s coffee estate, he wanted to experience something different first. “An offer came from the Panamanian government to work as a diplomatic counselor [for the United Nations] and with the budgetary and human rights committees,” he says, adding wryly, “I needed to take that offer.”
Moscoso spent nearly five years working in New York for the Panamanian mission to the United Nations, and he credits his Bryant experience for preparing him to succeed. “I was able to use a lot of the things that I learned at Bryant, especially my English writing skills, research, reporting, public speaking—so many things that prepared me for the job without even knowing that I was getting prepared.”
During the pandemic, Moscoso took the opportunity to reflect. “I think we all reevaluated our life choices a little bit,” he says. He returned to Panama in April 2021 and stepped into a leadership role in the family business. He now directs sales and marketing and takes a hands-on role in the production and development of the product on the estate.
Moscoso was pleased to find that the coffee industry in Panama had changed since he first left home for Bryant over a decade before. “People are consuming their local products now,” he says. “People are really interested in and proud of their coffee here in Panama. [A decade ago,] we just processed the coffee and we exported it. Now there's more involvement in the last part of the chain, which is the roasting and the preparation of coffee.” Moscoso underscores the importance of indigenous Ngobe tribe members to the company, Princesa Janca Coffee, named for a legendary indigenous princess. “It is important for us to walk the walk and create better conditions for them as they harvest coffee every year,” he says. He relies on Ngobe expertise throughout the coffee-making process: the majority of the company’s workers are members of the tribe, as are the heads of production and roasting.
So many things (at Bryant) prepared me for the job without even knowing that I was getting prepared.
The roast is key to the flavor of coffee, says Moscoso, but he knows that everyone has a different preference. “For their perfect cup of coffee, some people like a very bitter, dark, strong coffee in the morning. And some people don't—they like a pour over coffee that is more like a tea.”
“I don't know if there's a secret recipe for the perfect cup of coffee,” he says, but he stresses the importance of using sustainable, natural harvesting and processing techniques, just as his family has done for generations. “The most natural and organic way you can process it is best,” says Moscoso.
“You will definitely taste the difference.” But for Moscoso, no cup of coffee is better than one enjoyed on his family’s estate in Boquete, surrounded by mountains and coffee plants. “People get their minds blown when they come and taste it right here.”