Unpacking Coffee is a celebration of coffee through episodes that focus on individual coffee roasters and their unique stories. The show’s hosts, Kandace and Ray, share a mutual love for all things coffee and created Unpacking Coffee to make the wide world of the specialty coffee industry more accessible.
In their newest episode, Kandace and Ray unpack Thanksgiving Coffee to find out what it means to be Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup. They chat with Paul Katzeff about his political activism, and how his background in social work shaped the company that Thanksgiving would become.
“I was the first social worker to become a coffee roaster,” Katzeff told K-Ray. “When you bring two ideas together for the first time — or two professions together for the first time — you’re going to get an explosion of new ideas.”
This episode also features Roast Magazine‘s founder and publisher Connie Blumhardt, who provides some detail on everything that goes into the selection of Roaster of the Year.
“I think the most interesting thing about Thanksgiving winning, to still be a contender ahead of the curve and really stretching the limits of what most roasters do, was really impressive to me that they still have this amazing culture that they’ve adhered to for 30 plus years.”
So kick back with your favorite Just Cup, and enjoy this delightful episode all about Thanksgiving Coffee, made in some kind of Fort in Mendowhatnow California.
059 Thanksgiving Coffee from Needmore Designs on Vimeo.
Check out the Thanksgiving Coffee page, and the longer discussion with Paul Katzeff on the Unpacking Coffee website.
Thanksgiving Coffee Roasters
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
2017 Roaster of the Year
It is an unmistakable feeling when you find the right one. Your pulse quickens, your lips curl involuntarily into a coy smile, and warmth radiates from deep within as your thoughts swirl upward. When you meet, the worries of the world melt away, and for a few sweet moments you know contented bliss.
I’m not speaking of love (though the feeling is remarkably similar). No, I am talking about the complex and wonderful pairing of coffee and chocolate. Those of you who have experimented with such delicious decadence surely know what I am talking about. Your whole pallet comes alive, as nuances explode and recede in a dance of flavors. For those of you that haven’t enjoyed a nibble of chocolate followed by a sip of coffee, oh are you ever in for a treat!
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we hit the dating scene to find our Valentine- a chocolate company that shares our values of sustainability and social justice, one who is dedicated to the pursuit of delicious perfection. And much like a grand love story, we found THE ONE, our perfect pair- fellow California B Corp Alter Eco. To win their affection, we sent them some coffee in a box with hearts drawn all over it, and asked them kindly to ‘Be Our Valentine’… they said yes!
Very much in love, we decided to move in together right away. Our Roastmaster Jacob Long was tasked with the deliciously difficult challenge of tasting Alter Eco’s many chocolates, and combining them with our coffees to find the perfect pair.
After many rounds of tasting countless coffee/chocolate combinations, we all agreed on one pair that was truly a world-melting flavor experience:
Our Fair trade Organic Mocha Java Coffee and Alter Eco’s Chocolate truffles. Oh yes!
The creamy smooth chocolate truffles blend seamlessly with the complex flavors of our beloved Mocha Java blend. Try this: take a bite of a chocolate truffle and let it melt away on your tongue. Just before the last bit of truffle melts away, take a healthy sip of the Mocha Java and loose yourself in the exquisite moment when these flavors combine. Then take a long, deep breath, and reflect on how excellent life is in this moment.
We are thrilled to share our love with you and we hope you share this perfect pair with someone you love, too.
“In the midst of winter, I at last discovered that there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today marks the beginning of winter and the end of daylight’s steady retreat. It is the winter solstice, our shortest day and our longest night.
There is a poetry to the seasonal shifts created by the Earth’s axial tilt. Every revolution around the sun brings the fresh new wonders of spring, the joy of long summer days, the beauty of autumn’s transition, and the tranquility of long winter nights.
It is no wonder that people from cultures all over the world gather close with their loved ones when the nights get long. It is a timely reminder that even when the night seems endless, when it feels like cold and darkness might prevail, the light always returns. As we gather with our loved ones this winter, take solace that starting tomorrow, every new sunrise brings with it more daylight then the last.
From all of us here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we hope your short days will be merry and bright, and that your long wintery nights will be warmed by the love of friends, family, and a Just Cup of Thanksgiving Coffee.
The image above is an “analemma” – a series of photographs of the sun taken from the same location, at the same time each day, over the course of an entire year. The sun that appears at the top of the image was taken during the summer solstice, and the one closest to the horizon is the winter solstice sun.
by Marchelo Bresciani, Marketing Coordinator
If you find yourself headed inland along Highway 128, your first respite from the winding road will be the Yorkville Market, and it is not to be missed. Those who have been to the Market in the past know that it needed a lot of renovations, but more then that, it needed someone with the passion to take on the challenge of making the Market a vibrant part of the community again. That someone is the new owner and Yorkville native, Lisa Walsh.
Lisa fondly remembers going to the Market for ice cream sandwiches as a child. She left home to attend UC Santa Cruz, and then moved around a bit over the next 10 years. When she heard that the Market was up for sale, she dreamed about buying and fixing the place up, but it seemed “too far away to be a reality.” That all changed after she moved back to Yorkville. With the help of her mother, she bought the Yorkville Market, and with the help of her husband and two brothers, she has restored the Market to its former glory- and then some!
The Market now has a whole new kitchen and concrete flooring, with more exciting features on the way. There are fresh muffins made in house, and the deli serves up sandwiches with bread from the Fort Bragg Bakery. During the renovations, Lisa made a point of saving as much of the original building as she could. One great example is their new wine bar, which was made with redwood salvaged from the old walls.
Yorkville Market features some of the best locally made goods from around the county, with everything from honey, soap, and wine. Lisa even has plans to offer a “rent a picnic” service so her customers can enjoy the gorgeous landscape with their lunches.
When I asked why she chose to serve our coffee, Lisa told me “Thanksgiving Coffee has always been a part of the Yorkville Market. The cupping experience was transformational. Discovering the flavor varieties from one coffee to the next was really eye-opening.”
We are so pleased to continue to be a part of the Yorkville Market story, and can’t wait to see the rest of Lisa’s plans come to fruition.
With events in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Portland, and recently in San Francisco, Green Festival is America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. It brings together a wide array of businesses and organizations with the worthy goal of helping conscious consumers work, play, and live green. Sustainable solutions can be found for everything from food, fashion, and energy, to construction, design and health.
Thanksgiving Coffee was the exclusive coffee sponsor at this year’s event in San Francisco. With our focus on social and environmental sustainability, it was a perfect pairing. As attendees entered the Festival Pavilion hall, our smiling faces and aromatic and delicious coffees greeted them. Our coffee was also served at the Green Festival café to rave reviews.
San Franciscans have a passion for coffee that was plain to see during the festival. We served about 2500 sample cups over the three day event! We also gave away about 600 sample packs for folks to try at home. Attendees asked interesting and thoughtful questions all weekend!
“What countries do you get coffee from?”
“What are you doing to support the cooperatives you buy from?”
“How are you different from other coffee companies?”
“How do you define sustainability?”
“How is Thanksgiving Coffee practicing what it preaches?”
Our answers deepened attendees understanding of not only our business model, but also the entire coffee chain. They also gained an appreciation for how much is involved in producing a single cup of coffee.
Our staff worked hard for three days, and the appreciation and thanks we received from everyone left us smiling and thankful for the opportunity to be Green Festival’s 2014 coffee sponsor.
In January 2014, CEO & Co-Founder Paul Katzeff traveled to Africa to meet with two of our producer cooperatives. In this blog series, Paul shares his experience in Uganda and Rwanda.
Like everything else in life, things change over time. This was a wonderful story of how one man had a vision and changed his community once he was able to act on his idea, which was to unite coffee growers with different religions into a Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative. He realized that if the farmers were working together they could reap beneficial economic gains and improve the quality of their lives. Laura Wetzler, Program Director of Kalunu was working with the Jewish community in Mbale, and came to aid this vision of the community leader, JJ Keki. That was 11 years ago. Thanksgiving Coffee responded to Ms. Wetzler’s and JJ’s call for help, and we began to purchase their coffee and to sell it via telling the amazing story of this interfaith cooperative.
We told their story, purchased their coffee, and worked with the coop and its “Leadership” to help the story survive, and the Cooperative to flourish. However, over ten years, random and not so random events make things change, and PKC was no exception to this rule of life.
Poor leadership, predatory organizations that wanted to use the story for their own purposes, unethical business practices, and a complete disregard for transparency and record keeping by the Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative Board created a toxic environment for using a Fair Trade model to improve and meet the needs of the coffee farmers of the Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative
Thanksgiving Coffee Company lost its trust in the Cooperative as the leadership declared their intention to become independent from their parent second level cooperative, Gumutindo, the organization that provided them with Organic certification oversight and leadership training, financial pre financing of the coffee harvest. Fair Trade certification, quality control and export services. This departure made the small cooperative rogue outfit out of what was in the beginning, a collaborative effort with adequate oversight of both quality control and financial integrity.
We have always intended to support the farmers through the Cooperative. It is always about the farmers. The Cooperative is a business model that democratically facilitates business policy and the activities of trade. We have ended our relationship with PKC under its current leadership; lack of trust and too much financial risk is the reason. But, we have not abandoned the farmers who were being poorly served by their leadership.
The situation has evolved, changed and morphed into Phase II, a more mature phase with the lessons learned, being applied to build a new primary level cooperative with the same interfaith coffee farmers that once were nominal members of Mirembe Kawomera. The Vice President of the PKC Cooperative and the Organic Coffee Director have broken away from the original PKC and reunited with their parent cooperative, Gumutindo, to begin this year’s purchasing of green coffee from the very same farmers. Thanksgiving Coffee will evolve our role in the supply chain to support the changes that are occurring in the coffee community that was once the Mirembe Kawomera primary cooperative. We have committed to begin purchases for the 2015 crop, and the farmers have already delivered over 600 sacks of dry parchment coffee to the Gumutindo Cooperative for export.
We are in transition to a deeper and more economically valuable situation. It has evolved from what was once a fine interfaith vision with poor leadership at the Cooperative, to what we see as a real positive evolution for the farmers and for interfaith work. We will continue to sell Delicious Peace Coffee from the same inspired farmers, and we will continue to support their coffee production by selling their coffee under a duel banner which I will briefly explain and then leave for more detailed discussion as we learn about and grow into this new evolution over the next decade of interfaith and inter-tribal collaboration.
The decade of work in Mbale Uganda has taught us that the coffee farmers of the Mt. Elgon region, which comprise the PKC members, was composed not just of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but also of the nine indigenous tribes of Uganda. The original idea of PKC highlighted interfaith cooperation among Jews, Christians and Muslims to create peace in the region, and therefore enable economic cooperation for the common good. Now we will begin our efforts to support their tribal communities, and learn about this aspect of the farmers lives, as well.
In sum, we are changing, because things on the ground have changed. We ask for your continued support of this coffee, as it is the fuel that drives our ability to carry on. It took a decade to discover the internal toxicity that one or two charismatic leaders can create with a weak board of directors, and when hubris from self importance leads to decisions that are ill advised and beyond the scope of abilities. This interfaith story of peace and community economic development is still alive.
We see a bright future for telling the story of the value of interfaith and tribal cooperation in the quest for improved living conditions for all.
Nothing remains the same for long, however “Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup” will stay with us for as long as coffee farmers need a friend to promote a fair deal for their efforts to grow our favorite national drink- coffee.
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Here are links to the first 9 parts of this story:
by Marchelo Bresciani, Marketing Coordinator
Point Reyes Station location
On a cold morning, few things go together better then a hot cup of coffee and a fresh pastry. It’s the kind of simple pleasure that can get your whole day going in the right direction. We take for granted the ease with which we can acquire this simple pleasure nowadays, but about 27 years ago it was a joy that downtown Point Reyes was without. So when Bridget Devlin asked herself the “What could this town use?”, the answer was clear: a bakery!
It began as a “what if” at first. Bridget was tickled by the idea of making a living doing something she enjoyed, so she began to investigate what it would take. Each step along the way led to the next. She enlisted the help of her friend Kelly (of Kelly’s French Pastries), secured a starter loan, and before long she was in business.
Bridget soon discovered that when you open a bakery, everyone has a suggestion for which coffee you should serve. Overwhelmed with feedback, she decided to host a blind taste test. She invited about 10 people over, set out numbered cups with samples from the coffee contenders, and the response was unanimous. One coffee stood out from the rest, and she has served it ever since- Thanksgiving Coffee.
Not long after the tasting, Bridget met with our staff to create a custom blend for her to serve. The Bovine Bakery Blend is a rich, smooth, full-bodied coffee that is remarkably well balanced; and they brew it good and strong. Pair one of her fresh pastries with this fine cup of coffee, and it’s no wonder the bakery has become quite the local hangout.
About four years ago, Bridget opened a second bakery in Petaluma to keep up with the growing demand. Run by her stepdaughter, Carolyn Williams, the Petaluma bakery has been well received by the community. Last year they added an espresso maker to satisfy those cappuccino cravings, and the reviews have been stellar. Whichever location you choose, you’ll to find that simple pleasure of delicious pastries and quality coffee.
More info at: www.thebovinebakery.com
By Marchelo Bresciani, Marketing Coordinator
Larry first came to Fort Bragg in the late 80’s to visit family who had moved to the area. His frequent visits from LA endeared him to our tiny coastal town, and in 1991 he and his wife made the move. Like most big city transplants, they struggled to make ends meet at first. His career as a cell phone technician didn’t open many doors up here, even though he had worked for big names like Disney, Warner Bros., and GTE. He had packed up his belongings and was hours away from leaving Mendocino for Flagstaff Arizona and a job offer, when he received a call to meet with Joan & Paul Katzeff about a delivery driver opening. The meeting went well, and Larry has been a part of the Thanksgiving family ever since- 20 years this month!
He delivered coffee to the Humboldt area at first, then after 3 years he became the sales manager for the Marin/Napa/Sonoma area. This kept him mostly on the road, where he enjoyed working directly with our customers. His fondest memories are of playing softball with coffee farmers from Nicaragua, working closely with G&G Market, Fircrest Market and helping to set up fledgling cafes while sharing his education on the nuances of brewing the best cup of coffee. Nowadays,
Larry is a regional sales manager, our direct delivery supervisor, and designer of our in store coffee display units. Larry is a man of many talents outside of the office as well. He was a stand-up comedian for a time, and is an avid fly-fisher who has fished in more than ten states. He hosts a jam session with a few of his musical coworkers where he plays guitar. You’re really in for a treat if you stop by his haunted house on Halloween!
by Jonah Katzeff, Bay Area Account Manager
Comal located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, CA. is a wonderful restaurant housed in a single story building that features a stunning secluded rear patio with a full bar, covered dining area and an open air beer garden with a fire pit. Executive Chef Matt Gandin’s dishes are inspired by cuisine from throughout Mexico, but with special emphasis on Oaxaca and neighboring coastal regions. The cocktail menu includes house-made sangritas, paired with a curated collection of spirits, and a diverse section of local beer and wine on tap.
Comal has received great praise from a variety of press since its inception. The acclaimed food critic Michael Bauer selected Comal as one of the Bay Area’s top 100 restaurants in 2014. Additionally, bar manager Matthew Perry has received high compliments for his innovative cocktails.
The owners are Andrew Hoffman and John Paluska. Andrew became familiar with Thanksgiving Coffee during his years working for the Chow Restaurant group, which has purchased our coffee since 1997. He is a big supporter of Thanksgiving because of our commitment to sustainability and delicious coffee. We at Thanksgiving greatly appreciate his loyalty and are looking forward to working together for many years!
More info at: comalberkeley.com • 510.926.6300
This is a different kind of blog post. Paul would like to share some excellent movies with you that don’t really have anything to do with coffee, but they are great movies to enjoy with a cup of coffee in hand.
I have come upon three great semi-cult classic movies that would be a perfect accompaniment to a rainy (or foggy) evening, a fire in the fireplace, and a cup of coffee. It should be a press pot brewed coffee for these movies. You want a brew that you don’t have to get up, pause the film, and rebrew. You want to watch these movies start to finish, no breaks.
My preference is a preheated mug, with thick ceramic walls. You can preheat the mug with boiling water prior to filling it with coffee. That’s gonna become slow sippin’ coffee. Just right for these flicks:
Dusk till Dawn
Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in an establishment populated by vampires, with chaotic results.
A great vampire western with Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, and Selma Hyack (playing the hottest vampire on the planet).
A burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.
A magical fantasy starring Rusell Crow as Lucifer’s field manager, in a story about the power of love and hate. It features an exploration of good and evil, angels, fate, destiny, and the meaning of life.
Harry Angel is a private investigator. He is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.
A story about a WWII solider coming back in search of the roots of his soul. From Chicago to New York to New Orleans, he is led by forces of Voodun, the spiritual and exotic force that leads him into his Destiny. It stars a young Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and a host of fantastic characters. It is a period piece taking place in the strange world of the 1940’s, just after the war ended.
These are good coffee movies. You will want to be awake and clear minded for each of them. Warm your mugs, plunk in the DVD, and sit back. You will be entertained with the unusual and the profound.
– Paul Katzeff –