Archive for April, 2009

Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

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From Coffee Pulp to Protein: The next step to feeding those who need it most

                                                                                        Pulp to Protein

This is a story about a couple of people who had the impossible good fortune to meet one another while living on the planet at the same time. There is Gunter Pauli , President of the ZERI Foundation, born in Belgium.  Chido Govero , born, raised and orphaned in Zimbabwe, and Carmenza Jaramillo from Colombia, both pioneers in a new kind of sustainable   agriculture,   and myself, a California guy from The Bronx.   How I got into this mix is a lesson in both Providence and karmic serendipity. But at this moment I am just facilitator.  

                                                                                                 The Project Basis

    *Coffee pulp is 80 % of the coffee harvest by weight but has no use other then as a mulch if it is hauled back onto the fields. As such , it is a low grade fertilizer. If it is left in piles and not recycled to the fields, when the rains come, it becomes a deadly pollutant , killing rivers and poisoning groundwaterstb_22233  Cattle and other ruminants will not eat coffee pulp but the pulp contains  nutrients and is an ideal substrate for farming healthy  protein rich mushrooms.

                                                                         MUSHROOMS GROWING ON COFFEE PULPshiitake mushrooms growing on coffee pulp

* The waste    substrate (after it grows mushrooms)is ideal as animal feed .

* In terms of nutrition, protein deficiency is a major issue in the   poor countries of Africa and Central and South America.

* Mushrooms are between 40 -60 % protein.

*So the equations read as follows:

A)  waste coffee pulp + mushroom spores + 3 weeks time =  edible mushrooms

B) animal feed substrate + Goat + digestion time = Manure for fertilizer + dairy products

* In many coffee growing regions in Africa there is not enough biomass to support goats and cows. There is always therefore, not enough manure to grow organically. Animal manure has a much higher value as a fertilizer then does pulp used as mulch. The ability to feed a cow means milk and cheese for the family along with the mushrooms.

*Every coffee growing community has enough pulp after the coffee harvest to grow all the mushrooms they would need for the entire year, storing dried, those that are for later use or selling them for added income.(a different project)

* This project will receive the Specialty Coffee Association of America 2009 Sustainability Award Friday, April 17th at the associations annual Trade Show where 8000 coffee traders are expected to be in attendance. Will these attendees see the enormous potential to eliminate malnutrition , provide food security, better health, jobs, and further our quest to make the coffee industry more sustainable ?   I’m betting they will, and that this new use of coffee pulp waste will become a part of our industry and inseparable from it within a decade.

Here are some photos that show the process and the people in  a Zimbabwe who are actually doing this as you read this blog. This is a peek at the future .mushroom-fruiting-manizales1mushroom-manizales-inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-kids-at-the-mushroom-farmmushroom-farmers-in-front-of-shedchidos-cover3

Thanksgiving Coffee Company will   help bring this new agricultural technology to the cooperatives we now work with and if a critical mass of coffee companies join in as well, this enormous coffee resource that is now so underutilized will become a food and feed stock for millions of people who sure can use a good ride on something that improves their quality of life , tastes  great, and helps the planet as well.

 

The four people who “were impossibly lucky enough to be on the planet at the same time and actually meet to bring this to the Coffee Industry , will present a one hour Panel Session on Friday , April 17th, at 9 am at the Specialty Coffee Convention in Atlanta .   Come meet Chido, Carmenza, and Gunter and join the conversation…perhaps even, become a part of this certainly evolving story.  

                                                    **********************************************************

   How I wound up helping Gunter bring this to the industry’s Trade Show  is the lesser  narrative  that will emerge as this adventure unfolds. Certainly there are more pebbles to follow on this golden path.

 Paul Katzeff

Customer requests recommendation from Roastmaster

I received this complex letter last week. It had many contradictions but the writer was obviously a coffee lover , so I took the opportunity to arm her with the basic principles of coffee selection that applied to her request. What follows is first her letter, then my response, and then my recommendation .
Paul
 We have enjoyed finding your website.
 We would like a recommendation for a  blend:
       Not acidy. Don’t like a painful stomach by the second cup.
       Full bodied coffee. Tastes like it smells.
       Dark roast.
       No flavors (except coffee flavor) (It’s difficult to tell from your descriptions whether the flavor is added to the mix (like vanilla or hazelnut), or whether the flavor “tones” are just a means of describing the coffee au naturel.
 On your website, we only saw 12 oz bags. Do you have 5 lbs. bags? How much do they cost?
 Thanks for your help
 Natalie
DEAR NATALIE:
THERE IS ALLOT TO YOUR REQUEST FOR A RECOMMENDATION SO LET’S TAKE MY RESPONSES ONE AT A TIME:
 

WHEN YOU ASK FOR A COFFEE WITH NO ACIDITY BUT WITH LOTS OF FLAVOR, YOU ARE ALMOST ASKING FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE…ALMOST. A GOOD  “MEDIUM” ROAST OF  COFFEES FROM PLACES LIKE INDONESIA AND BRAZIL  WHOSE COFFEES ARE NATURALLY LOW IN ACIDITY WILL GET YOU A LOWER ACIDITY, BUT  ALSO, LESS BRIGHTNESS AND  LIVELINESS  IN THE CUP.  COFFEES GROWN AT ALTITUDES LOWER THEN 800 METERS ALSO HAVE LESS ACIDITY. ACIDITY IS HIGHEST IN COFFEE IN THE LIGHTER ROASTS. THE DARKER THE ROAST , THE LOWER THE ACIDITY, IS A GENERAL RULE . YOUR PAINFUL STOMACH MAY NOT BE  COMING FROM THE ACIDITY IN COFFEE . THE PH LEVELS OF LOW ACID COFFEES AND HIGH ACID COFFEES ARE NOT THAT FAR APART TO MAKE IDENTIFYING YOUR “PROBLEM” AS THE ACIDITY. IT COULD ALSO BE THE CAFFEINE  BECAUSE THE HIGHER THE CAFFEINE, THE POORER THE COFFEE QUALITY IN GENERAL . IT IS POSSIBLE THAT YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM THE POSSIBLE IMPACT OF POORER QUALITY COFFEE GOING INTO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM,  AND OR, POOR ROASTING CRAFTSMANSHIP.            COFFEE HAS OVER 1600 CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS BEFORE IT IS ROASTED AND ABOUT 800 AFTER ROASTING. LOTS OF CHEMICAL REACTIONS TAKE PLACE IN THE 14 MINUTES IT TAKES TO ROAST COFFEE , SO THE CRAFTSMANSHIP APPLIED DURING THAT SHORT PERIOD OF ADDING HEAT TO THE GREEN BEANS  REQUIRES SOME DEGREE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP TO CONTROL THOSE CHEMICAL REACTIONS SO AS TO GET THE BEST OUT OF THE COFFEE THAT IS BEING ROASTED.  ACIDITY IS MORE A MOUTHFEEL OR TASTE SENSATION(bright and lively) THEN LITMUS TEST NUMBERS.
            NO COFFEE TASTES LIKE IT SMELLS.   YOU CAN LOOK FOREVER.  THE AROMATIC VOLATILES  ARE NOT TASTE FACTORS. Ninety-five  % OF COFFEE AROMA IS LOST BEFORE IT GETS TO THE CUP. LOST IN ROASTING, GRINDING , AND BREWING NO MATTER HOW FRESH IT IS WHEN YOU GET YOUR COFFEE HOME AND INTO YOUR REFRIGERATOR . SO DREAM ON BUT DONT EXPECT OUR COFFEES TO GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO WHEN IT COMES TO THE AROMA/TASTE RELATIONSHIP.  
               DARK ROAST ?????? THIS IS THE  ANTI CHRIST OF COFFEE FLAVOR AND AROMA.  IN DARK ROASTS 2/3 OF THE FLAVOR IS A REFLECTION OF THE DARKER  COFFEE COLOR .  THE NUANCES OF THE COFFEE’S FLAVOR ARE “BURNED OUT” OF THE COFFEE VIA COMPLEX CHEMICAL REACTIONS THAT TAKE PLACE AT THE HIGH TEMPERATURES COFFEE IS ROASTED AT.
          THE DISCRIPTORS (TONES AND NOTES ),ARE HINTS . DOES A BOTTLE OF  ZINFANDEL  HAVE BLACK CURRANT ADDED TO THE WINE ? NO , IT IS JUST A WAY THE WINE MASTER HELPS YOU OUT IN YOUR SEARCH FOR THE NUANCES PROFESSIONAL TASTERS CAN IDENTIFY EASILY BECAUSE THEY “TASTE ” EVERY DAY .
 
WE SELL CONSUMER SIZE PACKAGES BUT IF YOU CALL OUR MAIL ORDER DIVISION AND ASK FOR SUSAN SHE WILL TELL YOU HOW TO ORDER FIVE POUNDERS  ( MINIMUM IS 20 POUNDS PER ORDER. ) .
Now for my recommendation :
I recommend you try a medium roast Nicaraguan Maracaturra grown by our friend Byron Coralles, and our Guatamalan Vienna Roast. The two coffees are  fabulous individually, but you can blend them (The Medium roast Nicaraguan for flavor and the Guatemalan Vienna roast for strength and complexity to create additional complexity ). No stomach aches here , guaranteed !
Paul

 

 

Plantations and Cooperatives

I love to hear from people who have coffee on their mind. I get wonderful communiques and sometimes , real good leads on a great coffee that always has a story attached. The coffee traveler is open to the spirits. This has its  merits  . The road has many stories . Every road does. Which ones you carry home with you are not random accidents of fate, they are  manifestations  of your priorities, your focus and you might say, that a bit of your unconscious is in play as well.0192590-r1-e0024  So here is one story that came to me and my reply.    

Hello Paul,
      I recently visited Guatemala on a birding tour. One of our destinations was the beautiful Los Andes Private Nature Reserve. There, I spoke with the president, James E. Hazard, and learned of his family coffee and tea estate. I thought of Thanksgiving when he discussed the earth friendly and worker friendly practices implemented at the plantation. When I asked if he had extra capacity for additional customers, he assured me that he did. One of his customers is Starbucks(boo). If you would like to see more about the organization, the website is  www.andescloudforest.org. And most importantly, the coffee is very good. If you have any questions, feel free to email or call me at work.
Regards,
James  

 

Thanks for the thought James. We have been working with the same Guatemalan cooperative of 1600 Mayan producers since 1998. I think it is best to not dilute my purchases as then they would have to go looking for another buyer   and have poor access to the world market. ,    I tend to shy away from buying from plantation owners in general,  not because they are bad people as much as that they are the stewards of a bad system. Remember the slave owners in the South 150 years ago were “plantation” owners too. They were not as benevolent as some current coffee plantation owners, but you can bet that most who work on plantations as laborers dont send their children to university.  
    Plantations that house their laborers create an indentured slave situation where the home is attached to the job. This is frightening to families because it is a way that owners and managers control behavior. Fear is the general rule on plantations even when it looks like the workers are happy in  a  benevolent    environment. .  
      Certainly, with todays problematic climate , farmers are promoting how environmental friendly they are , and how their shade trees are great for the planet and they are right in that regard, but the human factor is often masked by this environmental promotion..  For example, Farmers who join together to form producer cooperatives are empowered by their numbers and the social benefits that they can persue as a community that could not be achieved  otherwise . There is hope  in the cooperative Fair Trade movement . Plantation workers by contrast , may earn $2.00-$3.00 dollars per day at best and they never get out of their poverty.  
    That is not to say that this particular plantation you just visited is a bad place with evil overlords. If it was , you would have seen it and not considered communicating with me. Their website attests to my earlier comment that “good people can be sustaining a bad system ”  The plantation you visited has come a long way from how it must have been just 20 years ago when few cared or even knew about the plight of the people who grow the coffees we love. The Hazard Family is to be  congratulated for progressive approach they are preparing for.
So thanks for the thoughts. I hope this e mail finds you in good spirits after your overseas trip, and that you are happy to be home again
.Paul Katzeff
 

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