Shade Coffee looks like this: grown under the canopy of indigenous trees. The white barked taller trees are commonly known in Central America as “Inga”. They are great for coffee because they not only provide shade for the trees, but also habitat for biodiversity and leaf litter for soil nutrients. Leaves decaying on the forest floor is natural fertilizer. An additional benefit comes from the tree being “leguminous”, meaning its roots deliver nitrogen to the soil, further reducing the need for oil based fertilizers.
This environment is perfect for the cultivation of organic coffee. This site is located in Northern Nicaragua and is typical of the Mesoamarican Rainforest that stretches from Panama thru Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, all the way up to the Yucatan Peninsula. These forests are the home of Black Panthers and the National bird of Guatemala, the famous Quetzal. The trees are full of birds and Howler Monkeys and hundreds of species of orchards. At the higher elevations, coffee trees reflect the quality of this forest in the flavor of their fruit, and finally, in your cup.
When you taste coffee from regions like this, you are experiencing a message from the forest spirits. The expression, “There is magic in this package, only you can let it out” is derived from a walk through this place that I took with my good friend Byron Coralles long ago.
Blind Assessment:Deep, chocolaty, cleanly fruit-toned. Dark chocolate, cedar, black cherry, magnolia, molasses in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with gentle, rounded acidity. Consolidates to resonant chocolate and cherry in the finish.
Notes: The components of this blend are certified organically grown and Fair Trade certified, meaning they were purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. This version of the ancient Mocha-Java blend combines a traditionally processed, wet-hulled Sumatra in place of the original Java and replaces the Yemen Mocha with a similar “natural” or dried-in-the-fruit coffee from Ethiopia. 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.
The Bottom Line: A balanced, richly sweet-tart Ethiopia-Sumatra blend that’s also fair trade and organic-certified.
In late 2014, Roastmaster Jacob Long was touring the Thanksgiving Coffee warehouse with a new employee, brand manager Marchelo Bresciani. Educating him on various green coffees stacked high on pallets, Jacob told Marchelo where the coffees had come from, the farmers and what time of year the coffees are freshest. Finally, he pointed out one particular sack of coffee.
Farmers in Nicaragua, he explained, were sending farm specific micro lots, as opposed to blended sacks of co-op beans. The quality of the coffee from this farm was so striking, that it shouldn’t blended. It would be a shame to lose it’s unique flavor. This coffee, though there was only one sack, was good enough to stand on its own. This coffee had something to say, and it was a micro-lot worth sharing with our customers.
That was how the Roastmaster’s Select Coffee came to be.
Roastmaster’s Select Coffees are a carefully developed monthly selection, roasted in small batches using only the freshest beans at peak flavor. Each month, members are encouraged to record their thoughts and impressions about each selection and country of origin with the informative cupping cards included in every box.
Over time, the Roastmaster’s Club evolved to exclusively showcase single origin micro-lot coffees. Some come from unique and surprising locations, like Nepal, Laos or Malawi. Others represent the highest quality beans from well established sources, such as Byron’s Natural from Nicaragua or the ever popular Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
Shhh! It’s a Secret
The added fun of club membership is the surprise of not knowing what’s inside until you open the box. Is this month’s coffee from Mexico or Tanzania? Java or Guatemala? It could be unique beans from remote locations, or the highest quality of a favorite varietal. Every month, the Roastmaster’s Select Club Members are guaranteed to receive a box of awesome coffee.
Join the Club
Curious to know which coffee has been chosen for the 50th Edition of the Roastmaster’s Select? Sign up this month to find out! As a club member, you will have exclusive access to the finest selection of coffees, many of which have gone on to become award winning products. In fact, 2 out of the 3 Roaster of the Year winning coffees, the Kenya Peaberry and the Ethiopia Gedeb, were first released as Roastmaster’s Club Selections.
If you’re looking for just the right gift for the coffee lover in your life, or to add some spice to your coffee routine, a membership in the Roastmaster’s Select Club is guaranteed to please.
So what are you waiting for? These coffees are only available to Club members. Join the Roastmaster’s Select Club today. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have Thanksgiving Coffee take you on a coffee tasting journey around the world, cup by cup, all from the comfort of home.
Every month, members of our Roastmaster’s Select Club have the opportunity to sample fresh and unique micro lot coffees from all around the world. In 2018 we were proud to showcase a diversity of coffee flavors from Ecuador, Mexico, Malawi, Sulawesi, Tanzania, and more. Now, for a limited time, join the members of the Roastmaster’s Club in exploring the taste of Indonesia’s Flores Green Dragon coffee.
Here there be Dragons
In the Indochina sea, south of the equator, lies the Malay Archipelago island chain. Rich volcanic soils and dense rain forests host a variety of life, including the largest lizards on the Earth: the famous Dragons of Komodo. It is no wonder why the islanders of Flores would name their unique style of coffee “Flores Green Dragon”.
On the upland plateau of Flores Island, nestled against the Mt. Inerie volcano, Green Dragon coffee is harvested and processed in the town of Bajawa, home to the Ngada people. Flores Island coffee is often sold in local Jakarta markets as commercial grade ‘Sumatra’, but the traceable supply of branded Flores Green Dragon ensures more value finds its way to the growers of this exotic coffee, playing a vital role in the local economy.
Coffee from Indonesia
The species of coffee that make up Green Dragon are Typica, Tim Tim, and Linie S 795 (locally known as Jember). Jember is a cross between Kent, a typical mutation, and S288, a naturally occurring C. arabica and C. liberica hybrid. Developed in India, it is known for being one of the first varieties to be highly resistant to coffee leaf rust. Harvested between June and September, the coffee is pulped with minimal water, dried to roughly 35 to 40% and then wet hulled in a process called “Giling Basah.”
Altitude Grown: 1200-1700 meters
Processing: Semi-washed (pulped natural, wet hulled and unpolished)
Cooperative: Bajawa smallholders
Region: Ngada Regency, Flores Island, Indonesia
Milk chocolate, heavy body, herbal notes.
Now for a limited time, you can order a package of Flores Green Dragon and taste it for yourself. This special micro lot coffee will only be available until March.
Don’t miss out on a chance to try amazing flavors from all over the world. Join the Roastmaster’s Select Coffee Club, and get first access to exclusive micro lots and rare coffees.
Es·pres·so – /eˈspresˌō/ noun: espresso; plural noun: espressos; noun: expresso; plural noun: 1. strong black coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans. from Italian (caffè) espresso, literally ‘pressed out (coffee)’.
The Upsetter Espresso has been named a Good Food Award Winner, and it seems like a great time to talk about espresso roasts and perhaps clarify what that means. So let’s start with the basics:
What is espresso?
Espresso is coffee of Italian origin, brewed by expressing or forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso generally has more body than coffee brewed by other methods, has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids which gives it a satiny mouthfeel, and has crema on top, which is a foam with a creamy consistency. As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of espresso are very concentrated. Espresso is also the base for other drinks such as a caffè, latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white, or caffè Americano.
What is an espresso roast?
Espresso is both a coffee beverage and a brewing method. It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level, though it is more finely ground. An espresso roast is simply a way of roasting any green coffee with the intention of it tasting good brewed as espresso. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. For example, in Southern Italy, a darker roast is generally preferred. Farther north, the trend moves toward lighter roasts, while outside Italy a wide range is popular.
By lightly roasting a blend of high quality coffee beans from three different countries of origin, our Roastmaster developed a new espresso flavor profile; one with deeper complexities than many darker roasts.
Can I use an espresso roast in my home brewer?
Yes! The Upsetter Espresso was judged for the Good Food award, not prepared as an espresso, but served like all the other contenders as a drip brewed coffee. A blend designed with the extraction process of espresso in mind will also taste great as a drip coffee, a pour over, a french press, or even cold brew.
Try Some Today!
Order a bag of the award winning Upsetter and taste the difference for yourself. Do you already love the Upsetter? Please leave a review to let everyone know why this cup of coffee truly stands out in a crowd.
Thanksgiving Coffee’s Upsetter Espresso has been named a Winner of the 2019 Good Food Awards!
Each January, the Good Food Foundation organizes a three-day weekend to meet, celebrate, taste and buy from the nearly 200 Good Food Winners. The awarded products top the charts in a blind tasting and meet the environmental and social responsibility standards of the Good Food Awards. Each year, over 2,000 entries from all 50 states are submitted.
The coffees are judged and coded to be double-blind, so neither the volunteers nor the judges have any indication of what coffees are presented. Judges are broken up into groups, each team tasting up to 8 different flights of coffee. After the first round – which this year featured over 170 submissions – only 50 coffees move on. These represent the 10 highest scoring coffees from each region of the US: East, West, North, South, and Central. The finalists are evaluated again and the top two in each region become Good Food Awards winners.
The Winning Coffee
The Upsetter is a one-of-a-kind blend of coffees from around the world. This unique espresso is smooth and balanced, with complexities not found in single origin brews. Our Roastmaster, Jacob Long, spent a year developing this exciting advancement in espresso coffees, searching for just the right mix of varietals to roast to perfection.
Awarded coffees are usually single origins from Ethiopia. The quality and flavors of that region are legendary, and the fact that a blend has been judged their equal is no small feat. This award distinguishes the smooth complexity and rich flavor present in this coffee.
Authenticity with Distinction
To win a double blind tasting over 170 other distinguished coffee roasters is truly an honor. We thank the Good Food Foundation for recognizing the importance of authenticity and quality in the food we eat. When you love the work you do, and care deeply about the process from start to finish, it shines through to the finished product. At least, that’s been our experience here at Thanksgiving Coffee Company for over 45 years.
Thanks to you, our customers, for knowing that a great cup of coffee comes from the heart, just as much as it comes from the coffee beans. Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
“Behind the controls of the roasting machine, the roaster checks gauges, fiddles with knobs and valves, and works to perfect each and every roast. We’ve named our Upsetter Espresso after Lee “Scratch” Perry, known as “The Upsetter”. A Jamaican musician famous for his unusual remixes, he uses 8-track analog recordings to produce strange, unique, and beautiful sounds. Just as The Upsetter used reverb, volume, and pitch to perfect his mixes, we fiddle with the controls of our roasting machine to perfect the flavor of this unique espresso blend.”
– Jacob Long, Roastmaster
You might not appreciate the similarities between a studio artist working a soundboard and a coffee roaster fine tuning his machine. Yet both require a deep well of knowledge, a desire to manipulate layers of input, and an artistic vision for how all the various elements will finally come together into a finished product.
The Upsetter espresso stands out as a truly bold step for espresso: a lightly roasted blend of the finest coffees from all around the world.
Enticing notes of caramel and rich milk chocolate are complemented by hints of sweet citrus. Especially well suited for straight shots of espresso.
It took over a year to develop the balanced taste and complex flavors of this espresso. Instead of using coffee from a single origin, Roastmaster Jacob Long played up the complexities imparted by different varietals. This one-of-a-kind blend includes sweet, nutty tastes of Nicaragua, spicy notes from Congo, and the beautiful fruit-forward qualities of Ethiopian beans.
By keeping the roast light, the end result is nuanced and lively; presenting richer flavors and deeper complexity than most dark roasted, single origin espressos.
Award Winning Coffee
The Upsetter espresso beat out 170 other coffees in a double-blind taste test to win this year’s Good Food Award. The award highlights the superior flavor of our blended espresso while honoring our social and environmental responsibility.
More than just espresso
Don’t let the name fool you: just because the Upsetter is an espresso roast, doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyed as a drip coffee. French press, pour over, or cold brew, the Upsetter tastes great no matter how you prepare it.
For a long time, certifications for responsible practices and awards for superior taste have remained distinct – one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates craftsmanship and flavor. The Good Food Awards recognizes that truly good food – the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities – contains all of these ingredients.
This year, Thanksgiving Coffee couldn’t be prouder to have been nominated alongside so many outstanding roasters with our one-of-a-kind light roast espresso: The Upsetter.
The winners of the Good Food Award for coffee will be distinguished by exemplary flavor – sweet, clean, well developed body, balanced acidity and phenomenal aromatics. To qualify for entry, roasters and coffee farmers must emphasize fairness and transparency from seed to cup. Acknowledging the difficulties of verifying farm-level sustainability efforts across continents, the Good Food Foundation again turns to third-party certification bodies for assistance in identifying beans eligible for consideration.
In order to be eligible for a Good Food Award, coffee entries must meet the following standards:
Roasted in the USA or US territories.
Beans must be certified through one or more of the following programs: NOP Organic, Fair Trade (FTUSA/Fairtrade International), SMBC Shade, Rainforest Alliance, C.A.F.E Practices, 4C/CAS – Global Coffee Platform, Demeter Biodynamic
To support the work of coffee growers, farmers and roasters around the world, roasters submitting more than one entry must be from different countries.
Members of staff, including our Roastmaster Jacob Long and CEO Paul Katzeff, will be attending the Good Food Awards event this weekend in San Francisco. Stop on by the Marketplace on Sunday to sample all of the amazing foods from producers across the country at Fort Mason in San Francisco. We hope to see you there.
Here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we are just as proud of our award winning coffee beans as we are of our amazing non-profit Cause Coffee partners. We know how hard it can be to fight the good fight, which is why we support so many organizations through our rebate program.
Baby Rhino Rescue: The plight of Africa’s rhinos is truly desperate. The death and carnage left by poachers is devastating, but even more heartbreaking are the abandoned orphaned rhinos. Thanks to the efforts of Baby Rhino Rescue, we have helped contribute $1,500 in milk money to keep the babies happy, healthy, and fed.
Defenders of Wildlife: Another one of our oldest partners, Defenders of Wildlife have been protecting wolves, polar bears, and other native creatures and their habitats since 1947. Together, we’ve raised over $17,000 since 2014 with the ‘Save our Wolves blend’, one of the select few Cause Coffees available for purchase in stores.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: Few of our partners are as directly affected by the coffee industry as the endangered Mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas in Africa. We joined forces with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and contributed over $10,000 to help support their work in gorilla conservation, research, and education, particularly in communities in close proximity to gorilla habitat. Specialty coffee places a high value on natural jungle forests conserved by organic, shade grown coffee farms. A great example of economic solutions to ecological problems.
It is truly an honor to support the work of our national non-profits, but helping out the ‘little guys’ at home is equally rewarding. Together with our community, we have helped raise money for so many amazing causes, including: land conservation, schools, field trips, historical buildings, health care, camp programs, and environmental science.
Friends of the Earth and the Noyo Food Forest: Its not always easy to see the impact that national organizations have on our every day lives, but BEE Bold coffee is the perfect example. Initially a fundraiser for Friends of the Earth, BEE Bold coffee started a local bee-friendly movement. Now, the funds raised also support the Noyo Food Forest bee-friendly community garden that teaches agriculture at the nearby Fort Bragg High School.
Mendocino Woodlands Camp: This historic 700 acre campground is a National Historic Landmark built as a Recreation Demonstration Area by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. For almost 100 years, this campground has hosted thousands of people from all over the world, helping them to shake their cares away beneath a forest of towering redwood trees.
Mendocino Land Trust: Protects and conserves open spaces and coastal vistas for the public to enjoy. From family farm lands, to sweeping ocean vistas, the Mendocino Land Trust is helping to keep Mendocino county beautiful for generations to come. They also design and build many of the coastal trails out here in Mendocino County that we know and love.
Mendocino Coast Humane Society: Almost every town has a local animal shelter, but caring for all those cats and dogs is no easy feat. It’s a big job that requires a lot of time and resources to properly care for and home lost pets, instead of putting them down. By selling a locally made product, our friends and neighbors can help animals find loving homes while supporting a community business. Its a win-win!
Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers: We are so proud to have a coffee that is helping to ‘keep the lights on’ for small non-profits, including the Point Cabrillo Light Station. First illuminated in 1909, the unique Fresnel lens is one of the few left in operation and an important piece of maritime history.
Thank you, you wonderful coffee conscious customers, for making this all possible. You are making the world a better place to live, one cup at a time. “Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup”
Do you know of a non-profit that would like to participate in the Cause Coffee program? Wondering how your organization can get their very own private label coffee? Give us a call! Dial (800) 462-1999 or send an email to Msmithyman [at] thanksgivingcoffee [dot] com
Most people who love their coffee go to great lengths to get exquisite beans, a capable burr grinder, and an expensive device for brewing.
For some reason, however, they never seem to give the water a second thought. The truth is that water constitutes more than 98 percent of the final drink. Perhaps we ought to see it as the most crucial ingredient in a cup of coffee.
I had been a coffee geek for years before I realized the importance of water. Once I finally understood the role of water in coffee extraction it changed my brewing for good.
Water chemistry can get pretty complicated, so this is my attempt to boil the most important aspects down to some actionable advice, so you can also brew better coffee at home.
Water is more than H2O
Water is water. It’s everywhere in our daily life, and we never give it a second thought. Sure, you can get some fancy mineral water in the supermarket, but that’s just marketing. Right? Well, it probably often is, but there’s also some truth to it. Water is a lot more than just H2O when you study it carefully. It usually contains minerals, salts, and some impurities.
Depending on where you are in the world the water composition will be somewhat different. Rainwater percolates into the underground where it will go through layers of limestone and chalk. This process makes the water harder as it picks up minerals on the way.
You probably never thought about it, but it’s not uncommon that a single liter of water contains enough minerals that it equates to the size of a headache pill.
People who live in areas with much calcium in the water, however, already know this since they have to descale their electric kettle and bathroom tiles regularly.
One of the things that has become apparent in the specialty coffee community in recent years is that water isn’t just an ingredient in coffee.
The water – or rather the minerals in it – also acts as an extraction agent that pulls the delicious compounds from the coffee beans and into the cup.
The British barista champion Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and chemist Christopher Hendon did a research project a few years ago that shed some light on the process.
It turns out that magnesium and calcium are the two most important minerals when it comes to coffee extraction. Especially, magnesium is vital if you want to be able to taste the fruity and lively flavors of light roasted coffees.
It could be tempting to think that more minerals equate better coffee but that isn’t the case, argued Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood in their research paper. Instead, there is a sweet spot where minerals and a buffer are balanced to create the ideal water.
When their book, ‘Water for Coffee,’ was published it made headlines within the specialty coffee community.
However, beer brewers had been aware of the importance of water for centuries. In fact, that’s the reason why beers from London, Prague, and Brussels historically had their own style.
Test your water
So how do we boil all this science down to some actionable advice? Well, luckily you don’t have to study water chemistry to start making better coffee.
One thing you can do today is to stop using hard water for brewing coffee if you live in an affected area. You should be able to obtain this information from your local water station easily. Otherwise, you can buy a cheap TDS pen online (I recommend the Xiaomi brand) and measure it yourself. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have hard water in their taps.
To find out if a certain water is right, you can check the label and see what the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) is. If it’s between 50 and 150, the water will most likely be great.
However, if the water has a TDS score from 0 to 20 – which is typically the case with reverse osmosis water – it will not be ideal for brewing. The flavor compounds of the beans need some minerals to adhere to in order to be extracted properly. The taste will be astringent and somehow artificial.
Soft water is better.
What if you have soft water in the area where you live? Then you’re one of the lucky ones.
You can probably get away with using a filter pitcher such as Brita. If you can find specific cartridges that convert calcium to magnesium, you should go for that.
It may sound like a lot of trouble to go through, but using the right kind of water makes a huge difference when brewing manually. If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth the effort, I’d encourage you to test it at home. Just brew a cup of coffee with tap water and bottled water and taste them next to each other. The difference should be obvious.
If you already care about buying freshly roasted coffee and have the right equipment, this last step will take your cup from good to great.
About the Author: Asser Christensen is a Danish journalist. These days he mostly writes about coffee. He is a certified Q Arabica Grader with the Coffee Quality Institute. His work has been published in a range of newspapers and magazines in his native country, Denmark, as well as internationally. You can follow his coffee journey at his personal blog: ‘The Coffee Chronicler.’ If you already care about buying freshly roasted coffee and have the right equipment, this last step will take your cup from good to great.