Author Archive

Building Clean Water Wells in Laos

Jhai Coffee Installing WellsEvery cup of Jhai Coffee makes a big difference. In Laos, diseases related to poor hygiene are the #2 killer of children under five years old. Our partners at Jhai Coffee are working to build a healthy community by directly supporting the installation of clean water wells and hygiene programs at schools in the region.

Jhai Coffee is also implementing farmer education and infrastructure to improve coffee quality and enable the community to receive maximum earnings for their hard work. Each cup you drink supports community health & sustainability projects in Laos. One dollar from every bag you purchase is donated to Jhai Coffee House to provide funding for their important work with the Jhai Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative.

We’ve set a goal of helping Jhai Coffee build a new clean-water well, which costs $600 to build. For every package that you buy, Thanksgiving Coffee will match an additional dollar of our own to fund this effort (up to $300). Let’s get this partnership off to a great start!

Try some Jhai Coffee in your next order!

Organically-produced coffee

re-posted from yirgacheffeunion.com

Organic Farming

No artificial additives, no chemical fertilizers, YCFCU’s coffee is so natural and 100% Organic. From the farm to your to your cup, its taste remains rare!

The Yirgacheffe region has a large natural forest cover, and  90% of the coffee farms can be found within these forests. The great forest cover provides organic fertilizer that contributes to YCFCU’s beautiful flavor profile. No artificial additives, no chemical fertilizers – the coffee is natural and 100% Organic.

A Trip to Africa: Day 7 – All Things Revealed

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.

It was revealed that the “mystery coffee” was scheduled to be shipped to Newark, New Jersey. The buyer was The Coexist Foundation, a British charity with offices in Washington DC.

Coexist_bumper-stickerThis knowledge thoroughly pissed me off…I was about as angry as a wasp being chased by a Zebra! But what good was anger? It was good for motivation to confront the duplicity while still in Uganda. And that is what we did.

We asked for a second meeting with the Cooperative Board to discuss the matter of the 250 sacks…being sold directly to one of Thanksgiving’s wholesale coffee accounts. That “customer” had become aware Mirembe Kawomera through the media’s reports on my company’s decade-long collaboration with Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative.

So, that was my beef. Why did the cooperative not see this end-around? Why did this important customer go around the roaster who they came to for a proposed collaboration?

There are always many stories in a screenplay, such as the one Nick and I found us in. And, we were in Uganda, about to be in a semi-barren second floor meeting room, just chairs and walls not yet painted.

Uganda_meetingWe sat together for three hours with the board and I expressed my surprise to learn that we had different ideas about our relationship and by open discussion, with many pointed questions (“where are the payment records for those coffees?”) and much talk about Transparency. Everybody knew something was wrong. There were those that were in on the deal and those who knew for the first time that “a deal went down” and they were not a part of it. There was a lot of discovery but nothing was revealed. No one got hurt in the scuffle. There were no indelible scars that would hinder future Trust developing.

Five concrete measures were decided on as a result of the conversations and cross conversations:

  1. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Thanksgiving Coffee Company and The Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative is needed so as to define the authorities and responsibilities, and the quantifiable goals and objectives of each Business.
  2. That the Cooperative members could produce four containers yearly and to be successful, it needed to have the financing to be able to purchase cherry or parchment from their members.
  1. The Washing Station needed to be expanded from being able to process one container to two containers by August 2014.
  1. Solar Driers needed to be installed to handle the increased volume of washed coffee.
  1. Thanksgiving Coffee had not expanded the roasted retail market in The USA to meet the needs of the cooperatives members. If Thanksgiving Coffee was to keep its exclusive relationship with the PK Cooperative, it was going to have to find homes for the three containers it did not purchase.

It was late afternoon and the heat of mid day was just a sweet memory. The sun was low and there was an orange tint to the air and everything solid and in the sunlight’s way. The meeting disbursed in a flurry of people going off in different directions amid the “good nights” and “see you tomorrows”. We covered a lot of ground during that meeting. It was a workout but through it I learned about the people I was going to be working with. We had discovered a “problem of ethics” and came to terms with no blame placed, and no sermons either. The room was filled with people who knew “when to leave well enough alone”. We all got it, so we moved on.

hotel_poolsideAnd so the long day ended at our very fancy hotel where JB and Juma joined us at the pool. JB is the Cooperatives GM and Juma is the Special Projects Director. They are payed by the cooperative to run the coop’s operations.

 

 

 

Sorry for the long delay, the next part of this ongoing story will be posted soon.

Here are links to the first 7 parts of this ongoing story:

Byron’s Maracaturra – 94 points

Byron's Natural 2015 Review
re-posted from CoffeeReview.com

Blind Assessment:
Sweet-toned, gentle, juicy. Pineapple, sweet chocolate, rum, minty flowers, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Round, richly lively acidity; full, very syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates in a finish that balances continuing sweetness with a crisp drying edge.

Notes:
This exceptional coffee was selected as the #13 coffee on Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2014. Certified organically grown from trees of the Maracaturra variety, a hybrid developed by Byron Corrales, the innovating Nicaraguan farmer who also produced this coffee. Maracaturra is a cross between the workhorse local dwarf variety Caturra (itself a mutant of the heirloom Bourbon) and the rare, huge-beaned Maragogipe, making it a parallel variety to the better-known Pacamara, a cross between Maragogipe and Pacas (also a mutant selection of Bourbon). A fine example of a “natural” or dry-processed coffee, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit, encouraging a flavor profile that is sweeter and deeper-toned than the more familiar wet-processed coffees of Central America. One of the country’s pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility many years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable. Visit www.thanksgivingcoffee.com or call 800-648-6491 for more information.

Who Should Drink It: Aficionados may enjoy sampling an unusual variety and its enormous beans, but everyone with a refined coffee sweet tooth should enjoy the natural sweetness and tropical fruit (and drink) suggestions proposed by aroma and flavor.

Read the full review on CoffeeReview.com

An American Family Grows Coffee

mahina-mele-familyWe arrived on the Big Island In June 2005 eager to see the coffee farm we purchased, sight unseen.

Our first visit to our new home was stunning. While we had an idea of what we might find, we were thrilled to see the lush overgrown coffee trees and a macadamia nut orchard. Our passion soon became cleaning the land. Using only organic practices, solar energy, and water catchment our farm soon became an oasis for birds, camelions, and all plant life.

The coffee appreciated the attention and soon ripened with vibrant with red plump cherries. The rich volcanic soils of Hawaii and tropical climate allowed the coffee to thrive.”

 

— Kollette and Jason Stith, Mahina Mele Farm

Mahina Mele – 93 points

Mahina Mele - CoffeeReview.com
re-posted from CoffeeReview.com

Blind Assessment:
Deep, intense but balanced. Peach, sweet chocolate, plum blossom, ripe orange in aroma and cup. Delicate, lyrically lively acidity; silky mouthfeel. Peach and chocolate in particular carry into a resonantly flavor-saturated finish.

Notes:
From one of the few certified organic farms in the Kona growing region, Mahina Mele, or “Moonsong Farm” in Hawaiian. One of the country’s pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility many years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable.

Who Should Drink It: A splendid organically grown Kona that manages to be deep yet delicate, and utterly pure in its peach and floral nuance.

Read the full review on CoffeeReview.com

100% Kona Coffee

Kona Coffee BlossomsAuthentic Kona coffee, by Hawaiian law, requires the label “100% Kona Coffee” be prominently displayed on the package. Hawaiian law also states that Kona blends state the percentage of Kona beans on the label (there is no matching federal law.)  Some retailers use terms such as “Kona Blend”, “Kona Roast”, or “Kona Style”. There must be a minimum of 10% Kona beans in a Kona blend, but the remaining coffee beans are not required to be identified, are usually are not.
Mahina Mele Farm is a member of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association (KFCA, visit them at www.konacoffeefarmers.org), which seeks to protect the Kona Coffee Heritage. The family’s Kona Rose coffee is made from 100% Kona coffee beans, which have been certified organic, so you know exactly what’s in your cup. Enjoy your coffee, and thank you for supporting Mahina Mele Farm!

About Mahina Mele Farm

logo_smMahina Mele Farm is a certified organic Kona coffee producer and processor located in South Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. They are a family-run business in operation since 2003, and are the only certified organic macadamia nut processor in the USA.

The family loves their work and prides themselves in producing the freshest gourmet macadamia nuts and Kona coffee possible. They share our knowledge of growing organically thru participation in the WWOOF program (world wide opportunities on organic farms).

Making great coffee while traveling

by Mischa Hedges, Project Manager at Thanksgiving Coffee

Mischa enjoys a cappuccino

Mischa enjoys a coffee in Mendocino

I like traveling, and I love the natural world. When I’m not working, I spend my time adventuring outdoors: biking, surfing, trail running, camping and hiking. Growing up on the Mendocino Coast, I took wild places for granted, but now appreciate and respect the North Coast of California more than ever.

I also love great coffee and tea…but traveling and great coffee/tea don’t always go together, especially when you’re far from an urban center with fancy cappuccinos, pour-over bars, competition-level baristas and tea houses.

When I travel, coffee is what keeps me going – especially through camping and strenuous outdoor adventures. Finding a good cup while you’re on the road often means traveling far out of your way just for some less-bad coffee, or buying from large food-service chains, just for consistency’s sake.

diner coffee on the road

Diner coffee is hit or miss…

I’ve settled for some pretty terrible coffee while traveling (I’m guessing you have too), and at some point I took it upon myself to find the perfect brewing method for traveling that didn’t take up too much valuable backpack space, time or effort. I also wanted something that was easy to clean for camping trips.

In my search, I saw and tried all sorts of camping brewers, from unbreakable plastic French Presses, plastic or metal folding drip cones and cloth filters, strainers, mini espresso machines and percolators.

Brewing Camp Coffee

There are many brewing methods to choose from

All of these methods work, but they’re not always simple, small or convenient.

This June, I traveled across the country in a small truck camper with my partner Lillie. We spent 3 weeks on the road and covered over 4,000 miles, exploring America’s backroads, National Parks and wild places by foot, bike and watercraft. For our trip this summer, I wanted something without a lot of moving parts or accessories, and I didn’t want to use/buy filters (they’re hard to keep dry while camping).

Mischa and Lillie's roadtrip

On the road in Glacier National Park

While we were on the road, we made great coffee, tea and cold brewed coffee almost every day using this simple setup:

Hario’s Mini Mill hand-grinderHario Mini Mill ($28.95)

I love this grinder. It holds enough beans to make 2 cups of coffee, and takes about a minute to grind. It’s a fully adjustable burr grinder, and the handle comes off to save space. When space is extremely limited, I leave this at home and pre-grind my coffee to somewhere between french press and drip-grind.

Kleen Kanteen’s 16-oz  insulated wide-mouth bottleKleen Kanteen Insulated Bottle (27.95)

This is my everything bottle. I use it to make my morning Maté, late-morning coffee, and keep my water cool. I’ve used it to collect berries, roll out bread dough and pound out tent stakes. These bottles never let me down (but I’m on my 4th one, since I’m always losing mine!). You can get a couple different styles of loop caps, and a cafe cap for easy drinking on the go.

GSI’s H2Jo filter/infuserGSI H2JO ($12.95)

THE solution. It’s a fine-mesh filter that screws onto most wide-mouth water bottles/thermoses. I’ve only tried it on Nalgene bottles and Kleen Kanteens, but it works very well. It doesn’t always seal perfectly, but as long as it’s not buried in your luggage, you can keep it on your bottle to save backpack space and keep it clean. GSI recommends two methods for brewing coffee or tea using their H2Jo filter:

“Paul’s Blend” from Thanksgiving CoffeePaul's Blend ($14.50)

Smooth, creamy and chocolatey (and this season’s blend has notes of berry as well!). Paul’s blend is the ultimate balance of sweet, rich and savory…the natural-processed beans in this blend really make it exceptional for infusion-brewing and cold-brewed coffee.

 

GSI recommends two different brewing methods using this setup:

Our simple setup

Our simple coffee brewing setup

The Infusion Method:
Add hot water to your bottle, screw on the filter, add 2 heaping Tb ground coffee or 1 TB loose leaf tea per cup of water, cover and steep for 3-4 minutes. Then remove the filter and dump spent grounds or tea, replace and enjoy!

The Strainer/Cowboy Method:
Add 2 heaping Tb ground coffee or 1 Tb loose leaf tea per cup of water directly to your bottle, screw on the filter, add hot water, cover and steep for 3-4 minutes. You can drink straight from the bottle without removing filter, or pour into another vessel to enjoy later so you don’t over-extract the grounds.

NOTE – either method can be used to make cold-brewed coffee or tea as well! Just let it infuse overnight – at least 8 hours

Breakfast in Camp

Breakfast in Camp, with some delicious Paul’s Blend!


This worked SO well for us.
  There are no moving parts, no filters to pack, no stovetop brewer to clean, all you need is coffee beans and hot water to brew. When my insulated bottle is empty, I rinse out the spent grounds or tea and re-fill it with my water for the day, eliminating the need for multiple bottles/thermoses!

When I’m camping, we boil water for our coffee using a camp stove and kettle. While traveling by plane, train, bus or car, rest stops and food establishments will usually give you hot water for free. We keep small bags of coffee and tea in our backpacks, and can brew 2 cups in just a few minutes.

What’s your secret to making great coffee and tea while camping or traveling?

Lillie makes our morning coffee

Lillie making breakfast in camp

Share your tips in the comments below!

 

A new way to connect with your coffee farmer!

By Mischa Hedges, Director of Communications

At Thanksgiving Coffee Company, we’re always talking about how to connect our coffee community. We strive to create a space for dialogue between coffee drinkers and coffee farmers – space that allows for gratitude, appreciation and knowledge about coffee to be shared. With social media and increased global connectivity, it’s becoming much easier than it used to be to do that. For instance, check out this new feature on our website:

Connecting coffee drinkers with coffee farmers

Farmer FeedbackIf you’ve enjoyed one of our single origin coffees recently, you can visit our “Farmers” page and write a message to the coffee farmer or cooperative who grew it. 

Traveling to your coffee’s country of origin and meeting your coffee farmer in person is the richest way to connect, but that’s not an option for most people. We’re hoping this new feature on our website will enable you to deepen your relationship with your coffee.

Some of the farmers and cooperatives we partner with are Facebook users, and can respond directly to your messages! In other cases, we’ll gather and send your messages to the farmers and cooperatives we work with so they can see your appreciation.

Let us know what you think of this new feature…

How do you take your coffee?

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