by Paul Katzeff, Co-Founder & CEO
Coffee trees are remarkable for their ability to regenerate after severe pruning.
Severe pruning is hard on the psyche. You have taken care of your tree for 15 years and it has produced an amazing amount of enjoyment as it took you through its seasonal life cycles for 12 of those years. You are no Paul Bunyan with an anxious ax. You want to save trees, not chop them down. So you are about to break your own heart and you know it. You are, however, about to rejuvenate your tree and it will love you for your bravery. Sharp pruning shears are all that you need (and faith).
“The Cut” – May 4, 2016
On May 4th, 2016 the “cut” was made about 18” from the base of the tree; it broke my heart. That’s because I harvested 511 cherries from the tree, de-pulped them, soaked the seeds in a water-bath, dried them for a week on a window sill, and in the end had about 12 ounces of green beans. We invited the mayor of Fort Bragg, chefs, a winery owner, and our staff to a once in a lifetime “cupping.” We put the roasted beans on the cupping table with coffees from Central America and were pleasantly surprised when they received the highest praise for flavors we described as bright with hints of lemon, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.
27 Days Later – June 1, 2016
Note the small fresh leaves close to the trunk. This tree has plenty of root spore and therefore it is overpowered. It has stored its regenerative powers and now those roots have much less plant structure to support. It will put on a vigorous growth spurt over the next 6 months. Notice a new trunk beginning about 8” up the main trunk. We will watch it and hopefully 2 or 3 others will emerge from the lower trunk, proving the structure for the new tree.
48 Days After “The Cut” – June 21, 2016
The tree is beginning to fill in its remaining architecture with bright new leaves and a second trunk has emerged at about 10” from the base. We are on our way. There is nowhere to go but up and out.
Stay tuned for photos of its progress over the next 6 months.
re-posted from natalieparamore.com
1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
1 cup cold brew (use the TCC Cold Brew Kit!)
4 tablespoons Maple Syrup
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, torn
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1. Whisk cold brew, syrup, garlic, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper and salt together. Marinate steak for two hours in the fridge, turning the meat over about half way through.
2. Sear steak on grill or cast iron pan on high heat for three minutes on each side for rare, five minutes on each side for medium.
3. Let skirt steak sit for five minutes after cooking, then slice and serve.
Marinade can be made a day in advance.
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A tasty twist on cold-brewed coffee
(re-posted from 10thkitchen.com)
2 cups (packed) medium-ground coffee
5 or so cardamom pods, crushed
2 quarts (plus 1 cup, to replace water lost during filtering) filtered water
Zest the oranges, making sure not to include any of the white pith (a microplane is the best way to do this). Reserve the oranges for another use, like, you know–eating.
Combine coffee grounds, zest, cardamom and water in a large container, stir well, cover and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours. To filter, pour through a fine-mesh strainer a couple of times. Line the strainer with a paper towel and filter again once or twice. Store in the fridge or a cool location.
Try using the Thanksgiving Coffee Cold Brew Kit for this recipe!
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by Lawrence Bullock, Thanksgiving Coffee
Here’s an inexpensive and easy way to make astounding cold-brew coffee.
1. Using the Thanksgiving Coffee Cold Brew Kit (the basic container and the mesh bag) grind up the entire 12 oz package worth of Thanksgiving Coffee. We recommend a medium to dark roast, (unless you’d like to experiment with other roasts) at a coarse grind. We’ve already ground the package that comes with your “starter” set. If you purchase whole beans later, and decide to grind your own, you are looking for a grind roughly the same consistency as breadcrumbs. Any finer and you risk cloudy, grimy-tasting coffee.
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2. Fill the mesh bag with the ground coffee, and place it in the bottom of the empty container like a huge tea-bag, and top up the container with tap water (distilled water would be better — fewer dissolved solids means that it’ll absorb more of the coffee solids, but that’s not a huge difference).
3. Stick it in the fridge overnight. Easy peasy. In the morning, take the bag out of the container and give it a good squeeze to get the coffee liquor out of the mush inside. Voila, an amazing cold-brew concentrate that you can dilute.
4. Dilute 50/50, for example, one cup water to one cup concentrate, etc.
Cleanup is easy: invert the bag over a trashcan or garbage disposal, rinse off the bag, place somewhere clean to dry and you’re done.
This produces very, very good coffee concentrate, with only a little grit settled into the bottom of the container (easy to avoid). It may just be the cheapest and easiest cold-brewing method you’ll try.
Cold Brew Facts:
- No fancy brewing equipment needed. If you outgrow our “starter” kit, you can expand using common household or easily acquirable items..
- Big batch or small batch, you pick what’s best for you. The recipe is easy to scale depending on how much coffee you drink.
- Your cold brew concentrate will last about a week in the refrigerator without losing its freshness.
- You can mix your concentrate with water or milk, or if you are totally hard core you can drink it straight.
Buy the Cold Brew Kit
By Joan Katzeff, Co-Founder & Director of Operations
I first visited Nicaragua in the early 1990’s. The terrible years of the Iran Contra Civil War were still dominant in the memory of the people, and its effects had taken a huge toll on coffee farmers already enduring a difficult way of life.
At one of the beneficios (where coffee is processed), I watched an assembly line of women sitting on a motley collection of chairs on either side of a moving conveyor belt. Their job was to separate defective beans from those that made the grade for sale and export. It was noisy, hot and dusty, so the women also wore masks that covered their noses and mouths while working.
I left knowing that as soon as I returned home, I would figure out a way to raise money to purchase new ergonomic chairs for those women, and I did, in a gesture of solidarity. But, I knew it was just a drop in the bucket.
Thanksgiving Coffee staff with the women of SOPPEXCCA, 2013
On another small group trip in 2012, we visited the beneficio of Soppexcca, a cooperative composed predominantly of women.
We spent some time “helping” the women transfer coffee beans from the drying patio into sacks that were in process for export. I’m not sure how helpful we were, but it was an enjoyable cultural exchange. These women performed hard physical work on a daily basis. Many of them walked miles to and from work each day if transportation wasn’t available, preparing meals for their families before and after work at the beneficio, as well as doing the rest of the work required in the home, and child rearing responsibilities, as well.
We were invited to sit in on a Board of Directors meeting composed of some of the women we’d worked with, and others from the cooperative who had founded and were operating a small store at the beneficio that sold food and sundries, and was a source of additional income for them.
Women coffee workers of SOPPEXCCA, 2013
While there has been progress made in the recognition and fair and equal compensation for women who work in coffee, there is still a long way to go.
Women we’ve met on buying trips to Central America and Africa live in remote towns and villages without running, potable water or electricity. Homes are rustic, often with a dozen or more family members living in one or two rooms with dirt floors. Many women don’t have access to health care, marry young, and have children soon after. During the “thin months” when coffee income is low, they and their children often go hungry. They perform much of the physical labor required to grow and harvest coffee, but have almost no influence on decisions about how family income is spent. They are typically uneducated, impoverished and disconnected from resources.
Thanksgiving Coffee & ETICO staff meeting with the women of SOPPEXCCA, 2013
Thanksgiving Coffee began to address these issues in two ways.
First, by purchasing only from cooperatives that show a willingness to eradicate this kind of gender inequity. They do this through their actions in support of remedies to eliminate food insecurity, and promoting, providing and ensuring access to training and education for women. These actions will enable women to participate as equal partners in the industry.
The second way we, as a company, have supported women in coffee is through “The Recognition of the Unpaid Work of Women.” We began this work in 2014, in Nicaragua by adding $0.10 per pound to all coffees we purchase from the Prodecoop and Soppexcca Coopperatives. They have committed to using these funds to improve the lives of women in coffee. The next post will go into detail about what has been accomplished to date.
– Joan Katzeff
Joan Katzeff, Co-Founder, Thanksgiving Coffee and Fatima Ismail, General Manager, SOPPEXCCA, 2013
Over the past several years, we’ve seen single-cup brewing machines like Keurig’s K-Cups become extremely popular.
They’re everywhere: in office buildings, hotels, gas stations, homes and restaurants. And we know why people love them: they’re convenient, easy to use, and brew a consistent cup of coffee.
But for years we’ve been struggling with the idea of packaging our coffees in K-Cup pods. Why?
Flavor quality is often compromised
Coffee is at its best within a few weeks of roasting. But most coffee pods packaged for single-cup brewers are pre-loaded with sub standard coffee, and in our experience, it’s usually stale. They also are loaded with a smaller amount of coffee than is necessary to brew a full-strength, flavorful cup. We love our coffee, and we refuse to provide weak, stale coffee to our customers.
Substantial waste is created
When you brew coffee using disposable coffee pods, you’re creating waste with every cup you brew. Imagine millions of people brewing multiple cups of coffee per day with their single cup brewers, and throwing away millions of plastic cups. That’s a lot of waste – and as a B-Corp Certified company with strong social & evironmental values, we don’t want to be a part of that.
Coffee pods are a “value added” product – roasters who package their coffee in disposable coffee pods are charging for the convenience they allow. That means your money doesn’t go nearly as far as when you buy whole bean or ground coffee in a bag. Spending a ton of extra money for a poor cup of coffee just doesn’t seem right to us.
There’s nothing better than grinding and enjoying a fresh cup from freshly-roasted whole beans – but we know that’s not always a reality in today’s fast-paced world. We know that many people have a single cup brewer in their home or office, and are forced to drink substandard coffee as a result.
We decided to go in search of a reusable K-Cup filter that could be used to brew our coffee without compromising flavor quality or the environment.
During our research, we found that many 3rd party reusable filters are made cheaply, with flimsy plastic parts that broke easily. Others left a strange “plastic” taste in the cup after brewing (gross!). Others still were undersized and couldn’t be filled with enough coffee to create a cup that was strong enough. But some worked – quite well!
The Ekobrew Elite (pictured at left) performed the best of all the reusable cups we tested.
We like the solid build of the stainless steel construction, and that this reusable K-Cup does not require any disposable paper filter. Since it’s not made of plastic, there’s no plastic aftertaste, or worry about BPA residue.
And best of all – the Ekobrew Elite is a Zero Waste brewing solution for your Keurig brewer!
We’re now offering the Ekobrew Elite in our online store, along with brewing instructions to help you brew the best cup of coffee possible with a single cup brewer.
Buy a reusable K-Cup filter today!
Reusable K-Cup Brewing Instructions
Buy an Ekobrew Elite for your single cup brewer. Then, follow these instructions to make the best cup of coffee possible with a single cup brewer, and you’ll save money and the environment while you’re at it! Download and print the brewing guide and post next to your single-cup coffeemaker for quick reference in your home or office.
Download & Print K-Cup Brewing Instructions
High in the lush mountains of northern Peru, two thousand family farmers produce coffee under the dense shade of guavas, acacias, orange, and banana trees. These farmers are members of CENFROCAFE, an association of over 80 small cooperatives working together to produce one of the finest coffees in Peru, while stewarding the surrounding mountain ecosystem.
Members of CENFROCAFE
Delicate honey-toned sweetness, juicy citric acidity, subtle chocolate notes, and hints of ripe papaya.
Fair Trade • Organic
Buy 100% Peru coffee
The province of Cajamarca has long been the backbone of Peru’s economy due to its vast mineral wealth. Unfortunately, these days, modern mining techniques despoil the earth and surrounding rivers and forests. The cultivation of high quality organic coffee has become the key to Cajamarca’s economic and environmental sustainability, and the farmers of CENFROCAFE are leaders in this effort.
Photos from CENFROCAFE
The members of CENFROCAFE carefully pick ripe cherries, depulp, ferment, wash and dry their coffee on their small farms ranging in size from one to three acres. The result is a finely crafted coffee with hints of honey, papaya, and milk chocolate complimented by a soft citric acidity.
Roastmaster Jacob Long
Our roastmaster, Jacob Long, shared his thoughts about the 2015 crop:
“The Peruvian Coffee we received this year is nice and sweet. Right now the beans are fresh and vibrant. It’s one of our favorite single origins at the moment.
People who typically don’t appreciate light roasts might like this coffee more than others – the acidity is more smooth and juicy than bright. When I taste this coffee, the smooth milk chocolate notes really come through.”
Delicate honey-toned sweetness, juicy citric acidity, subtle chocolate notes, and hints of ripe papaya.
Fair Trade • Organic
Buy 100% Peru coffee
Carlos and his brother Fausto are both Members of the Solidaridad Cooperative in Aranjuez, Nicaragua. We have worked with them for over 20 years, and are proud to bring you their coffee in this special two-bag offering (only 100 available).
The Natural coffee Carlos has produced is richly fruity with an unforgettable finish. The washed process coffee Fausto has produced is delightful, with layers of honey and apricot that are followed by a soft, pleasant sparkle.
Enjoy these two coffees separately, but be sure to experiment with blends. We found that a ratio of 60% washed and 40% natural produced a cup that is somehow better then the sum of its already delicious parts.
Carlos Lanzas Gonzales
Carlos was born in Arenal, and his father built houses – he was a carpenter and wasn’t really involved in agriculture. “Like all children I played a lot, soccer, baseball. I studied up to 3rd grade then began to work. With my brothers we rented some land in Aranjuez and began to grow vegetables. Our main conditions were good soil, and accessibility to the city. We rented for a while then got land as a part of the agrarian reform- 120 manzanas (208 acres) between 12 of us, for about 10 manzanas (17.4 acres) per person. We formed a cooperative, at that time it was the only way to get loans or inputs.”
“I love to work in the countryside. I talk to the plants, ask them how they are. When the coffee trees have flowers they are happy, when the coffee is ripening they are gleeful, and when the coffee is ready to be harvested it’s in an even better mood.”
On changes in the community: “Now we have good roads, a school, a health post, electricity, we’ve been able to improve our homes, these changes are due to coffee. With vegetables you can’t get much income. Over 70 manzanas (121 acres) of land has been reforested, we’ve been conserving the soil. We’ve put trees on the land that is not planted in coffee, in order to protect the watershed. Most of the water that goes to the rest of Aranjues and to Matagalpa comes from our lands.”
“There’s always a risk that the seeds will be bad, the inputs too expensive, or that the sale price won’t cover the costs. We win and lose, it’s the rhythm of our lives. But we’ve been able to improve our lives with the buyer that we’ve found. The small producer usually doesn’t have access to the market- we’er always in the hands of the intermediaries and they get most of our earnings.”
On the meaning of well-being: “All the best things you desire. When the work we do is compensated, we can educate our children, have good food, live a just life. With a good price we have a better life, we have the right to that, don’t we? My favorite time of year is when I sell my coffee, in April or May.
On the meaning of coffee: “It’s our source of life. The most marvelous thing about her is that she gives progress to our family. She helped us to get what we have. Agriculture in general is not very profitable. 12 years ago we got help from Norway through UNAG, they helped us to get started in coffee. It was a good program because it helped us a lot, gave us the techniques. We didn’t know anything about coffee at the time. When the prices went up to $1.70 because of the frosts in Brazil, we thought of nothing but coffee. I have 25 manzanas (43.5 acres) of land in another place for growing beans and corn, and 2 manzanas (3.5 acres) in transition to organic. I have Caturra and Catimor that I’m planning to change for maracaturra.”
On the meaning of the cooperative: “The only way to have strength is through being united. The co-op gives us lots of advantages, helps us get credit, if we did;t have its it would be difficult to sell our coffee. Our successes have been building the cupping laboratory, getting credit, selling our coffee for a good price.”
Carlos’ hope for the future: “Maintain a good relationship with Paul, sell more coffee, give more work to nearby families. Have a coffee take us as far as it can. Continue to protect the environment around us. Unite and ask for more help, for housing, schools, a better life for poor people.”
“We put a lot of effort into sending the best coffee that we produce so that we can get a fair price. The harvest takes a lot of sacrifices and effort. Maybe someday the drinkers of our coffee will come and meet us to learn where coffee comes from.”
— — — — — —
Fausto Lanzas Gonzales
Family: 5 children; Karla Patricia 24 (teacher at El Quetzal, a hacienda down the road), Frank 23 (producer and member of the cooperative), Fabio 22 (producer, not a member of the cooperative), Wilmer 20 (7th grade), Sadia 17 (11th grade).
Fausto was born in Matagalpa and raised in El Arenal. 30 years ago he came to Aranjuez because the area was known for having good soil and they had to move because of all the agricultural burning where they used to live. There were very few small farmers here at the time. In 1990 he started to grow coffee.
“When I got here, there were no schools, people were poorer, life was more difficult. Now my five children have studied, they are professionals. Before, people grew vegetables on naked land, now with the coffee we have reforested and there are lots of birds. We don’t slash and burn and chemicals are used much less intensively. Agricultural chemicals used to be very risky and dangerous. The whole region has improved; the culture, the education.”
On the meaning of coffee: “It’s what I live in, the way I survive, my work. We were growing vegetables, they weren’t worth anything for a while. When the project from Norway came and gave us credit for coffee, we were looking for a different product. I like harvest time, knowing that I’m working for the good of the whole family, so we can get ahead…”
Fausto’s “I have 10.5 manzanas (18.2 acres) of land in total, 5 manzanas (8.7 acres) are planted in coffee, 2.5 (4.3 acres) of them are organic, and 4 manzanas (7 acres) are natural forest. The coffee varieties I have are Caturra, Maracaturra, and a little bit of Catimor.”
Meaning of quality: “If I have quality, I’ll get a good price and I will not have trouble selling my coffee.”
“Thinking that you have to live here and do this, that it’s an obligation. Thinking that if you don’t do it you won’t have any way to make a living. Also, the possibility of losing a harvest because of a natural disaster; the “El Nino” phenomenon, drought, or hurricane, A couple years ago I lost 30% of my coffee in a drought and I lost my wet mill during hurricane Mitch.”
On the meaning of the cooperative: “It’s very important, one of the necessities here in the in the countryside. We help each other, when we have problems we work it out between all of us. It helps us get credit, sales, we’ve learned a lot through the co-op. We’ve had good sales, made good friends, and received financing.”
On the future of the community: “The cooperative needs to support the community leaders to get the basic necessities here. We should petition the government. The cooperative should help with the school and health post when we have the resources, but we’re still small and just starting out.”
Fausto’s hopes for the future: “I want to improve my life and that of my children, help my kids build homes. By caring for the land, she will give us more.”
Fausto’s message to coffee buyers: “We try to produce the best quality for you, we’d like to be recognized for this work. We struggle a lot to achieve this quality and we’d like to be paid for it.”
In a world getting short on water, coffee lovers should begin to get their palates ready to recognize “Dry Processed” or “Naturals” when they buy coffee.
Naturals are processed from cherry to green bean without the customary water de-pulping and subsequent water bath. In the dry process, coffee cherries are dried with their skins and pulp intact.
The cherries are placed in the sun on concrete patios or raised drying beds. The skins tighten as they dry and the pulp juices move inward into the two seed in the cherry’s interior. When the mass is totally dry and crisp, and hard as a rock, they are milled like rice, cleaned and sorted and sacked.
This process produces quite a different flavor profile from wet processed “washed coffee.” The coffees take on the hints of the fruit and at their best, notes of blueberry and strawberry prevail. There is a jammy sensitivity to the brew, lots of body and fruit aromas.
Of course, these great flavors disappear in the darker roasts. We roast naturals, both light and medium, depending on the initial intensity of the fruit flavors.
This month we are featuring two “naturals.” One is from Ethiopia and received a 91 rating from Coffee Review. The other is from one of our favorite coffee farmers in Nicaragua, Byron Corrales, and received a 94 rating.
Byron began experimenting with naturals about 6 years ago. He was the first to master the art in Nicaragua and his naturals are a tad more balanced and a bit less fruity than the Ethiopians, but the jam is there as are the sweet berry flavors.
One of my favorite blending concepts is to blend naturals with washed coffees. In fact, Paul’s Blend is just that.
– Paul Katzeff
Announcing the Expansion of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Partnership.
Lone silverback Mizero
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has just renewed our commitment to help protect the last remaining 880 mountain gorillas, support the people of Rwanda, as well as offer a great coffee.
For more than 10 years Thanksgiving Coffee Co. has supported the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund by raising over $58,000 for their gorilla conservation work, and now, we have just pledged to continue this support with a new contract dedicated to this inspiring partnership.
In 2004, Thanksgiving Coffee began to work with the Dukunde Kawa Coffee Cooperative in Rwanda, and the Fossey Fund, as a way to help strengthen community development in a post genocide country.
Together with the Fossey Fund, we offered support to the Rwandan farmers as they developed sustainable alternatives to logging and poaching, which are two of the largest threats facing mountain gorillas today.
The Fossey Fund has almost 50 years of gorilla protection and conservation history in Rwanda. They are committed to promoting continued research on the gorillas and their threatened ecosystems and to providing education about their relevance to the world. We are honored to work with them and greatly look forward to this continued work. Learn more
“The Fossey Fund believes in protecting gorillas and their habitat by creating better choices for people and supporting the development of a sustainable economy in Rwanda.” Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.-Fossey Fund President/CEO and Chief Scientific Officer
A sustainable economy is essential to the success of this program. We want the next generation to thrive. It has only been 21 years since the fabric of the Rwandan society was torn apart by civil war. The destruction of infrastructure and the severe depopulation of the country crippled the economy. One way that we have been able to offer help to the people of Rwanda is with our ongoing support of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative.
This Cooperative was formed in 2003 with help from the Rwandan government and the USAID-funded PEARL Project (Partnership to Enhance Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages). Since then, Thanksgiving Coffee has worked with Dukunde Kawa on a variety of social, economic, and environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the farmers’ coffee and strengthening the Cooperative, and the benefits it offers to its members. Thanksgiving gives a $.20 per pound Fair Trade premium directly to the Coop for development of community benefit projects, with no strings attached. Read more here
The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative is where the Gorilla Fund Coffee comes from, and they produce one of the most elegant coffees in the world. The cooperatives coffee has won the Rwanda Cup of Excellence 6 years running.) This community of farmers, collectively known as Musasa, has an average of 1 acre each. Their average yield per farm is 500 pounds of coffee, and the average family size per farm is 9 people. Each one of these two thousand small farms produces coffee, and that coffee is the economic lifeblood for their community.
With the purchase of this coffee from The Coop, Thanksgiving is able to help the farmers feed their families, offer shelter from harsh elements, and give them a livelihood that grows year after year. With every package of Gorilla Fund Coffee that is purchased online, Thanksgiving Coffee donates to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help their vital work. If you would like to help the mountain gorillas, help the people of Rwanda, and drink delicious coffee, you can, right here.
“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future.”
– The last entry in Dian Fossey’s journal