Meet the Founders

paul_joan_circa_1972Joan and Paul Katzeff established Thanksgiving Coffee Company in 1972, developing a unique style of craftsmanship-coffee roasting. Paul was a founding member of The Specialty Coffee Association of America, and in 1984 he became the third president of SCAA and hosted their first conference, entitled “Coffee, Human Rights, and Third World Economies.” The following year he visited Nicaragua, which radically changed his view of coffee.

Our motto, “Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup” was born on Paul’s first flight back from Nicaragua on April 17th, 1985. This was the beginning of Thanksgiving Coffee’s transformation into a business focused on environmental and economic sustainability, and social justice. For 25+ years, Paul and Joan’s work has enabled cooperatives to build schools, improve roads, and provide healthcare for workers in their communities. Joan and Paul are deeply committed to the Mendocino community, which has been their home for over 40 years. Over 25 local employees roast, package, deliver and ship Thanksgiving Coffee from our roastery overlooking the Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg, CA.

Our Family Company

“Joan and I started out as two Hippie migrants running from the urban fast lanes of the East Coast. I was 34 and Joan was 23 when we started Thanksgiving Coffee Company. We met in Mendocino and together we came to the conclusion that roasting coffee was a better way to support ourselves than stringing beads, making leather items or candles. The culture of the early 70’s supported this urban migration to rural America and Joan and I lived in a little cabin under the redwood trees with gas lights, a wood burning cook stove, and a 150 pound Newfoundland dog named Panda. In 1972 we set up a twenty-five pound roaster at the Mendocino Hotel and began a journey that we never expected to last nor could we dream up if we tried today.

Joan and I were not looking to save the world when we founded the company. We just wanted to supply California’s north coast with the best coffee possible. At the time that meant bringing a spirit of craftsmanship to a stale-coffee-in-a-can industry.

Now we roast over 600,000 lbs of coffee yearly and employ over 25 local residents that have received health and dental care, paid vacations, sick and maternity leave, and all major holidays with pay for the past 25 years. Half of our employees have worked at Thanksgiving Coffee Company for more than 15 years.

In 1996 we became a public company by selling shares to the public. We raised 1.2 million dollars from 1230 shareholders. This represented 21% of our company shares. In 2007 we awarded an additional 4% to our employees. Our family has grown in other ways as well — hundreds of wholesale accounts, 20,000 mail order customers, and thousands of coffee farmers who consider us family because we care about their well being.

When thinking about a family-run business and how to define one, what comes to mind as a guiding light for all decisions is a line from Carlos Castaneda’s cult classic book written in the early 70’s, “take the path that has a heart.” This is what we have done to the best of our awareness. Our hope is that the values imagined in that thought will permeate all the work we do — including the creation of coffee products that imply the kind of excellence that any family would be proud of.”

-Paul Katzeff, CEO & Co-Founder

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