In February of 2016, Thanksgiving Coffee made a commitment to honor a species that is necessary for the continued existence of the planet. Humans, plants and animals alike rely on bees for survival, and we decided it was time to start paying attention.
Friends of the Earth
At the end of 2015, much of the Western world was discussing Colony Collapse Disorder. Bees were dying across America and some European countries. Beekeepers and environmental experts were teaming up to raise awareness, and here in Fort Bragg, Paul Katzeff got an email from Friends of the Earth. It asked:
“Donate $25. Help us save the bees!”
He immediately wrote back, and explained a partnership concept to raise $100,000 using coffee. A year later, that partnership has grown into a movement. We created a product: Bee Bold Coffee. For every bag sold, we donate between 15 and 25% of the proceeds to Friends of the Earth, in support of their efforts to create legislation to protect our pollinators.
In addition, Bee Bold Coffee sold in Mendocino County supermarkets provides the funding for Bee Bold Mendocino, an organization Thanksgiving Coffee formed to help focus efforts on our local bee populations. (see below)
Since we began this journey in 2016, we have sold over 1,600 pounds of Bee Bold Coffee through our online store, and over a thousand pounds through our local supermarkets in Mendocino County. We’ve raised over $11,000 for Friends of the Earth, and $1,500 for our local Bee Bold Mendocino committee.
Saving the Bees in Mendocino
Because we wanted to make a difference within our local community, we contacted garden clubs, plant nurseries, beekeepers, and the school food and garden programs to ask how we could support them in their efforts to help bees and other pollinators. We partnered with the Noyo Food Forest so contributions could be tax deductible.
For every bag of Bee Bold Coffee sold at local businesses (see below), we donate a dollar to Bee Bold Mendocino. This local advisory committee is responsible for bee education and action in Mendocino County, and Thanksgiving Coffee has one representative on that committee.
Here are a few of the outlets in Mendocino County that have carried Bee Bold Coffee. Be sure to give them a call and see if they have your favorite roast in stock.
Fort Bragg: Harvest Market, Purity, Interior, Down Home Foods
Mendocino: Harvest at Mendosas, Corners of the Mouth
Laytonville: Long Valley Market
Willits: Mariposa Market
Gualala: Anchor Bay Store, Gualala Supermarket, Surf Supermarket
Ukiah: Ukiah Natural Foods
Moving Forward Locally
In July of 2016, Fort Bragg became the first city in California to be declared a Bee City, with San Francisco following close behind. We are currently working with local nurseries to eradicate the use of neonicotinoids in our community. The City of Fort Bragg has also re-purposed the lawns surrounding the Guest House Museum in our downtown area as a city park. This park will be re-planted with a bee-friendly garden.
We are also planning an observation hive at the Thanksgiving Coffee headquarters for installation in 2017. This beehive will be within the Company’s heirloom apple orchard, just north of our facility in Noyo Harbor. We also recently hosted a screening for everyone on staff of the documentary Queen of the Sun, a film we all needed to see together to better understand why we’re putting so much effort into saving the bees.
It all started with a simple email: a call to action to save this tiny creature. Our goal here is to now inspire YOU. Bees live in a community – they cannot exist on their own, and without their hive, they simply die. Our efforts to save the bees are very much the same; we are relying on our community to spread the word and to keep the awareness spreading. We couldn’t have done any of this without Friends of the Earth, Noyo Food Forest, local gardeners, nurseries, and the beekeepers who have studied and kept bees for so many years.
What Can You Do to Save the Bees
Whether you’re here in California or anywhere across the world, the plight of the bees is important for all of us. How can you be involved in saving the bees? There are so many ways to join in:
Only purchase plants from nurseries that have agreed to stop using neonicotinoids
Attend a showing of Queen of the Sun (more information coming soon!)
Ask your local supermarket to carry Bee Bold Coffee
One of the best ways you can be involved? Be aware. Do your research and be a conscious consumer. Shop from local farms, attend the farmers markets in your area, buy seeds from reputable sources, and share information you can with family and friends.
We are excited about what’s happening with the Bee Bold Movement, and we want to get more people involved. If you have an idea about how to spread even more awareness for the bees, please reach out! We are always looking for more people to join our committee and rally the troops to save the bees.
Learn a little more about each of these cause coffees to benefit the bees below:
Our Bee Bold Light Roast has a soft acidity, featuring the sweetness of blueberry and plums. On our Medium Roast, blueberry notes add to hints of cashew and chocolate, while our Dark Roast is a bold, sweet blend with hints of nuts, chocolate, and caramel. The Very Dark (or French) Roast is distinctly smoky with hints of jammy fruit, roasted nuts, and baker’s chocolate. Each roast is unique and captivating in its own way, and it’s worth it to try every one!
Every morning as you grind and brew your coffee, remember that you’re drinking a coffee that the bees would be proud of. Help us support local and national programs to save the bees!
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing; this month we’re focusing on the Magnolia Warbler – the bird featured on our medium roast Songbird coffee.
Songbird Coffee medium roast from Nicaragua
If you live east of the Mississippi river, you might be familiar with the Magnolia Warbler. This brightly-colored little songbird can be seen in the spring and fall as it passes through on its annual migration. Despite the name, these bird is rarely seen in magnolia trees. In 1810, ornithologist Alexander Wilson collected a specimen from a magnolia in Mississippi. At the time, he gave it the species the more accurate name of “Black-and-yellow Warbler”, but he used “magnolia” for the Latin name, and it stuck.
Like many warbler species, it can be hard to imagine how such a tiny bird, weighing little more than a quarter, can make a 3,000 mile journey, but they do it every year; from their summer breeding range in the Canadian Boral forests all the way down to Central America.
When the “Maggies” head south for the winter, they can often be found on shade grown coffee farms along with other migratory birds such as Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Western Tanager.
Although the population of Magnolia Warblers is thought to be stable, the birds are often victims of collisions with towers and other man-made structures, especially during migration. Habitat loss on their nesting and wintering grounds is also a threat. Supporting Bird Friendly coffee is an important way to keep Magnolia Warblers and other “coffee birds” common.
Medium Roast Nicaraguan Coffee
Nutty • Smooth • Milk Chocolate
Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream. This Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee is fruity, nutty and chocolaty with hints of dried mango. Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream, it is a great breakfast coffee. This coffee is roasted to a light milk chocolate color where its bright and complex flavors explode into life.
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.
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!”
~ Thomas Edison
Solar energy is the way of the future and an important step toward sustainability, which is why we are proud that one of our Cause Coffee partners is the Solar Living Institute of Hopland California. Not only are they helping thousands of Mendocino County homes harness the awesome energy of the sun, they are also improving the economy by educating the next generation of utility professionals.
Founded in 1998, the Solar Living Institute has been providing professional solar training and a wide array of sustainability courses in Northern California for over 15 years. Their courses are taught by experienced practitioners who bring years of real world knowledge to the classroom with a focus on helping students prepare for job opportunities, start businesses, and live more sustainably.
Over the years, the Solar Living Center has welcomed thousands of visitors to the 12-acre demonstration site where they can find hands on displays of solar power generation, biodynamic farming, permaculture and pollinator gardens, a bee observatory, building with natural resources, and even creek restoration.
Coffee for a Cause: Solar Living
Thanksgiving Coffee is proud to partner with an organization that has taught countless people the skills they need for a renewable energy future- skills that make a huge difference in mitigating the impact we have on the environment. Join us! Order your Solar Select Coffee today and 25% of the sale will help support the energetic efforts of the Solar Living Institute.
January 16 is Dian Fossey’s birthday, and we’re taking a moment to recognize a truly spectacular woman. Take a moment to learn more about Dian Fossey’s life through the interactive experience on the Gorilla Fund website.
Dr. Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke™ Research Center in Rwanda’s Virungas Mountains in 1967, to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas. Although Fossey’s life was cut short, her work has continued through the Karisoke Research Center and grown into conservation efforts for other wildlife and programs for people who live near the gorillas.
Among the most legendary scientists of our time, Dian Fossey went to Africa at the urging of famed anthropologist Louis Leakey and began her groundbreaking studies of gorilla behavior. She faced and overcame many obstacles and ultimately gave her life to gorilla protection.
Thanksgiving Coffee has partnered with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund for over a decade, supporting their programs in Rwanda to save the mountain gorillas. Learn more about our partnership, and purchase Gorilla Fund Coffee from Rwanda on the Thanksgiving Coffee store.
Every month, we feature two of our coffees at a 20% discount. We do this to encourage you to try a new blend or roast, and see what kinds of new tastes you might like. Our special offers for January 2017 are our Bolivia, and our Dark Roast Guatemala. Learn more below:
Organic • Fair Trade • Kosher
This fine single-origin Bolivian coffee is crisp, with a syrupy, honey-toned sweetness marked by notes of cacao, spice, and a juicy plum acidity.
$12.40 during the month of January // usually $15.50
Dark Roast Guatemalan Coffee
Organic • Fair Trade • Kosher
Sweet cherry tartness, with notes of semi-sweet chocolate and caramel.
$13.20 during the month of January // usually $16.50
Guatemala + Bolivia Two exceptional coffees, 20% off this month.
The Guatemala coffee is from a group of farmers that know how to bring the rich volcanic soil to life. Our Bolivian farmers have learned the same magic. Although separated by thousands of miles of tropical forests and mountain ranges, both groups have similar farming practices.
We paired these two origins for a reason: when you blend these two coffees together some exceptional flavors emerge.
This pair of coffees gives you a chance to experiment with blending different roast colors. These two coffees are so compatible that the blend can often be better than the sum of its parts. But before you blend, you have to taste them individually at least twice – so you get to know them a little bit.
When you’re ready to blend, always add the dark roast to the light roast. Start by adding 5% dark Guatemala to the light Bolivia. by varying the percentage of dark to light in small increments you will discover dozens of coffee taste profiles. You have enough coffee to brew a different blend each day for a month. It’s what I do and I am always pleasantly surprised.
This is a write-up from the archives (2010) that is worth reading again. Former Thanksgiving Coffee employee Ben Corey-Moran discusses how seasonality affects great coffee.
Like all agricultural crops, coffee changes from year to year due to subtle shifts in environmental factors such as temperature, rainfall, sunshine, and equally subtle changes in harvesting, processing, and preparation by the farmer. This complex dance between farm and farmer produces a fascinating saga of flavor that tracks over time a mosaic of character, sweetness, nuance, and style.
Understanding the seasonality of coffee and working in harmony with its cycles allows us to deepen our relationship with coffee and the farmers who grow it. By focusing on coffee that is origin specific and in-season, we shorten the time and distance that separates us from the production of coffee. Featuring in-season coffees from specific farmers who are close partners transforms the experience of coffee from a generic commodity to a specifically local seasonal product.
Because coffee grows in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the coffee harvest is actually an ongoing cycle whose timing depends on latitude, elevation, and weather. Typically, coffees grown north of the equator are harvested between November and January while coffees grown south of the equator are harvested between May and July. After harvest and processing, coffee requires a resting period of two months before it can be shipped. Together, these steps add another three to four months to the arrival of new crop coffee. Consequently, late in our spring we expect the arrival of coffees from the northern hemisphere, while late in our fall we expect the arrival of coffees from the southern hemisphere.
Our monthly rotation of single-origin coffees features a fresh, in-season coffee produced by one of the farms or cooperatives we’ve worked with for years. Each is a unique expression of the farmer’s craft as it combines with the subtleties of varietal, soil, temperature, rainfall, and sunshine. Each is handpicked by our roasting team to showcase an exceptional example of the benefits that come from working directly with farmers, and the vibrancy of in-season coffee.
We hope you’ll join us as we explore the joys of coffee every month and for many years to come.
Ben worked at Thanksgiving Coffee from 2003 to 2012, in charge of coffee buying and supply chain development operations, as well as working with farmers and cooperatives throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Ben is now the Director of Coffee Supply at Fair Trade USA, leading their investment in producer services, industry collaboration, and supply chain development.
How are migratory birds and shade grown coffee trees linked?
The coffee industry has an enormous impact on migratory birds: when they fly south in the cold months, these birds rely on the trees that shade coffee farms throughout the tropics. When coffee plantations clear cut land to grow coffee in direct sunlight, not only does the loss of forested lands contribute to climate change, but our precious migratory birds lose their winter homes.
If we want to continue enjoying these birds, we have to preserve their winter habitat – and choosing to purchase only shade grown coffee is an integral part of that habitat preservation. Our SongBird Coffee is Organic and Fairtrade, and certified Bird-Friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
“In this picture of shade grown coffee we see the lower level, dark green coffee trees. On the second level there are banana trees and on the overstay third level, native trees. From the mottled bark I can see that the tree is Inga, a tree with nitrogen setting qualities in the root system. It shades the coffee trees from above while providing leaf litter to refresh the thin topsoil layer, while at the same time adding Nitrogen to the soil with its roots.
This was taken on a trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua. Altitude is 5,000 feet ” – Paul Katzeff
January 5 is National Bird Day and to celebrate we are going to kick off a new monthly blog post – For the Birds – highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. We will start off by getting to know the birds representing our Songbird Coffee lineup:
Songbird Coffee light roast from Guatemala
The Cedar Waxwing is the perfect representative for our light roast Guatemalan coffee because the ripe cherry sweetness of the coffee reflects the fruity diet of these strikingly beautiful backyard favorites. As social birds, you can usually see them in large flocks around fruit trees such as juniper, cedar, and mulberry, passing berries from one bird to another before swallowing them whole. In fact, the Cedar Waxwing is the only bird in North American whose diet is comprised primarily of fruits and berries.
Unfortunately for the birds, their fruit based diet means that eating overripe or fermented berries can leave them visibly tipsy. For those Waxwings who have had ‘a few too many’, some rescue groups have made ‘holding tanks’ to keep them safe while they sober up before flying home.
All of Thanksgiving’s organically certified coffees are shade grown, and a select few carry the Bird Friendly gold seal of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This certification ensures that tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds can find a healthy haven to eat and rest as they travel the hundreds of miles from your backyard to the coffee farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.
You don’t need binoculars to find a coffee that protects forests, helps wildlife and supports the efforts of the American Birding Association; just look for the Songbird Coffee with the Cedar Waxwing on the front.