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.
Every month, we feature a specific coffee that has just recently arrived at the Thanksgiving Coffee Roastery. The most recent green coffee arrival is our Organic Peruvian Coffee, and this batch is tasting spectacular. Order the freshest coffee we have, and snag yourself a bag of our 100% Peru!
Light Roast • Organic • FairTrade • 12oz • $15.50
Delicate honey-toned sweetness, juicy citric acidity, subtle chocolate notes, and hints of ripe papaya.
We drank a LOT of coffee this year. American adults drink an average of 382 million cups of coffee every day – multiply that by the 365 days of 2016, and we have a pretty caffeinated nation. As for the year 2016, there were a couple coffees that you (our customers) especially enjoyed this past year… let’s take a look at the top five!
Top Selling (Favorite!) Coffees of 2016
SongBird French Roast
Full-bodied, smoky, and intense.
Below: A shade-grown coffee farm in Guatemala, where some of the coffee beans from this blend were grown.
2016 has been a whirlwind of a year. These past twelve months have sped by, and it’s crazy to think that we have only a few days left until a brand new year is upon us! A lot has happened at Thanksgiving Coffee Company in 2016. Let’s take a look back at the year we’re leaving behind.
Roaster of the Year Win
The highlight of our year would have to be our win of Roast Magazine’s 2017 Macro Roaster of the Year. We worked hard to accomplish this goal, and are honored to be able to share it with our customers, whose loyalty and support got us where we are.
The three coffees chosen during Roast Magazine’s blind tasting are available as a gift pack, complete with our article in Roast Magazine and a tasting card for your own experimentation.
Best For the World
We were honored to be named as one of B Corporation’s Best for the World companies this year. This distinction recognizes our efforts at home and abroad to better the coffee industry and our communities. We scored in the top 10% of all B Corporations!
“These companies redefining business success are the enterprises we celebrate in our Best for the World coverage. The 1,800-plus businesses around the world that have undergone the B Impact Assessment and certified as B Corporations – as verified by the independent nonprofit B Lab* – are all leaders demonstrating the many ways businesses can be a force for good in the world. The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers and customers.” – bftw.bthechange.com
2016 Cause Coffee Partnerships
In 2016, we had the opportunity to launch TWO new Cause Coffee partnerships, and we’re enthusiastic about both of them. Learn more below:
Bee Bold Mendocino
The Bee Bold Mendocino partnership was the brain child of Thanksgiving Coffee Company’s co-founder, Paul Katzeff. In an effort to save the bees here in Mendocino County, we created a local action committee. On a global scale, we partnered with Friends of the Earth to create our Bee Bold Coffee.
We are very happy to be partnering with Baby Rhino Rescue to support the orphaned rhinos of Africa. At the largest rhino orphan sanctuary in South Africa, Baby Rhino Rescue provides essential physical, nutritional, medical and emotional support to rehabilitate those baby rhinos fortunate enough to be found in time to save them.
We released two new coffees this year, as a part of our Roastmaster’s Select Coffee Club. Every month, members of this club receive two 12oz bags of our latest coffee arrivals. They’re the first to receive all of our newest blends and single origins. These two coffees were our favorites of the new single origins released in 2016.
Lively and complex. Milk chocolate and caramel notes give way to a smooth, lasting finish.
Kenya Peaberry Coffee
A unique mouthfeel with hints of milk chocolate, ripe peach, and caramel.
Thanksgiving Coffee in the Community
Here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we’re lucky enough to live in a community that cares about one another. Every individual has their place, and tries to give back with what they can.
Volunteer Hours worked
As a certified B Corp, we encourage and support participation in building community. From volunteering at the humane society to coaching the high school football team, our team of people here at Thanksgiving have given their heart and soul to our local community. Over 275 hours were volunteered during 2016!
Pounds of Coffee Donated
Another piece that comes along with being part of the community is the opportunity to give back what we make here at the roastery: coffee!! We make sure that local events and fundraisers are always well-stocked with Thanksgiving Coffee. During 2016, we had the opportunity to donate over $12,000 worth of coffee to community events and fundraisers. These dollars translate into substantial income for the non-profits involved, who sell our coffee by the cup.
Events Thanksgiving Coffee Attended
Roasters Guild Retreat
Back in August, we got the chance to send our Roastmaster Jacob Long to the Roasters Guild Retreat in Wisconsin. Jacob and his team won the team challenge at the event, and had the opportunity to work with many of the greats in the coffee roasting community.
Let’s Talk Coffee
Let’s Talk Coffee had to be one of our favorite events of the year – for good reason. During the red carpet event, Roast Magazine and Let’s Talk Coffee announced our win for the 2017 Macro Roaster of the Year! Jonah Katzeff accepted the award at the event in Puerto Vallarta.
B Corporation Champions Retreat
Co-founders Paul and Joan Katzeff attended the annual Champions Retreat for the B Corporation in Philadelphia in 2016. This event was an excellent way to spend time with the brands and leaders that are shaping our world. The champions retreat brought leaders from every industry together for lectures, community events and stimulating conversation. We are so honored to be a part of such an inspiring group of innovators!
At this year’s San Francisco Green Festival, we had the opportunity to serve thousands of lattes, americanos, cappuccinos, pour-overs and more, to the amazing folks of San Francisco. Being around brands and individuals that care about taking care of our planet was a truly wonderful experience. The conversations that we had with everyone who stopped by our booth were inspiring!
New Coffee Reviews in 2016
It’s always a highlight of our year to hear that people are loving our coffee – and that it’s scoring GREAT! Take a look at what the experts at CoffeeReview.com had to say about two of our favorite roasts…
Paul’s Blend: 92 Points
“Richly and sweetly pungent. Concord grape, roasted cacao nib, cedar, hazelnut, lemon blossom in aroma and cup. Brisk, lightly juicy acidity; delicate, satiny mouthfeel. The crisp, nut-toned finish leads with Concord grape notes in the short and cedar in the long, with hazelnut throughout.”
“Delicate, deeply sweet. Baker’s chocolate, magnolia, peach, black peppercorn, sandalwood in aroma and cup. Gentle, rounded acidity; velvety mouthfeel. The richly drying finish consolidates to baker’s chocolate and peach. An engaging coffee particularly appealing to those who value delicate, cocoa-toned coffees with gentle acidity and engaging spice notes. Reassuring environmental and socio-economic credentials.”
Now that 2016 is coming to a close, we look forward to what 2017 has to offer. What were your highlights from this past year? Share with us on social media.
Be sure to follow us to get the latest updates on what’s happening at Thanksgiving Coffee Company!
“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.
There’s a myriad of traditions surrounding December 25 – exchanging gifts, singing carols, attending midnight mass and so many more. One of these traditions, and one especially close to our hearts, is the Christmas Bird Count.
For fifty years, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has worked tirelessly to save the gorillas of Rwanda. Thanksgiving Coffee and the Gorilla Fund first partnered over a decade ago because we were inspired by their work, and we wanted to be a part of such a stirring movement. There are many ways to help support the Gorilla Fund, and we want to provide a list of great brands that are supporting this cause.
With the holiday season in mind, take a look at these brilliant products that are not only useful and lovely – but meaningful.
This brand has a huge variety of cute clothing, but there was one product in particular that we were drawn to… the coffee mug, of course! An adorable design and a great cause make this one of our favorite gifts this holiday season. And it’s even better when paired with our Gorilla Fund Coffee.
Who hasn’t spent a few happy moments distracted by animal videos on the Internet? Feline antics, dog fails, and even a chicken riding a Roomba: viral videos are shared far and wide. While they usually do little more than make us smile and delay us from writing that important email, sometimes they show us a glimpse into a world far beyond our own.
Back in 2000 when I became the 17th president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, I was tasked to speak at the Annual Colombian Coffee Federations Conference being held in Colombia’s capital city: Bogata.
Not wanting a lot of fanfare when I arrived at the airport (the FARC rebels targeted Americans for kidnapping and ransom), I booked my arrival time to be midnight – when I would be certain there would be no one to meet me and welcome me to Colombia.
I picked up my luggage and proceeded to the taxi stand, walking through the marble-floored lobby. To my surprise, there stood a man with a handlebar mustache, a shoulder serape, a big smile and a donkey.
The donkey was not smiling. It was having trouble standing on slippery marble.
It was Juan Valdez, the famous Colombian coffee farmer, who had for decades been the spokesperson for The Richest Coffee in the World. He was there with the president of the Colombian Coffee Federation for a “photo op” with me.
So much for my quietly slipping into Colombia!
Thanksgiving Coffee sells two Colombian coffees here on our website:
On December 6, 2016 I got this text message from Laos,
“Hey Paul, I want to tell you about this Reward Program we started with the coffee farmers. We had an interesting development happen since I first e-mailed you. A village has split off, and is not sending any coffee to Japan, electing to only send coffee to America. Last year they cupped at 87 without picking fully red ripe cherries and without adding any compost to the soil. This year we have had them picking only red, eight compost bins were created in each farm this summer, organic fertilizer tea is being sprayed on every tree, and the micro lot will be about 14,000 pounds(54 sacks). Plus the processing area is impeccable now! And we have created a pick team so that the ten families rotate between farms ensuring they pick only soft ripe cherries and no over ripe beans. This system is so different from the traditional way that they do it in Laos where it is traditional to only pick your own farms trees. Last year, they only picked about 70% ripe . This year it will be 95%.
We spray painted the harvest baskets red so they have a constant reminder to pick ripe cherries.”
98% ripe cherries from last weeks picking.. Luscious looking and a hard days work!
“Michael(shown below) , being the coffee expert here with me, believes we could hit 89 or 90 points with this lot. The harvest is late(usually it starts in October) so we don’t have mid pick samples yet but will soon.”
This is a unique way to help pickers see the results of their picking. The paddle has 50 holes. Each hole represents 2% of the picking. Fifty random cherries are pulled from the basket and placed in the wholes. The number of green and over-ripe beans are counted and the calculation for percent of red ripe is made. For every not ripe cherry, a percent of money is lost as the flavor is corrupted by these beans. This is the best system I have seen for improving the motivation of coffee pickers in forty years.
John (pictured below right, Lao Farmer) with Michael (below left) with his compost in his hands. John has the cleanest washing tank ever. He even keeps plastic cover over it when he is not using it to keep the dust out.
The red baskets and Mr Sam Sung and his puppy. Note compost bin in background:
Note coffee trees in background. They are the dark green trees that rim the patio:
In the lower portion of this picture you can see one over-ripe cherry:
Here is Tyson Adams with a village friend who must be half his size and three times his age. I bet she cooks up some great Lao Cuisine!
Fifteen years ago I wanted to help Veterans For Peace make their peace with their Laos experience. They dropped bombs on the people of Laos and had deep feelings of guilt; they needed to do something positive for their souls.
Now in 2016, a different person from a different generation, (Lee Thorn was 65 in 2014, Tyson is 31 now) is picking up where we left off but he brings different and more pertinent skills to Laos. Both wound up working with the same Jhai Coffee cooperative and now, after fifteen years, we have reconnected with that coffee coop and look forward to being able to roast it so you can taste it.
The way coffee becomes great is with time and hard work in the fields.
There is one other aspect that is needed and that is love. If the trees provide enough income to pay for a family’s food, clothing, shelter, health care and education, then a farmer will love his trees. It is the love that the plant feels that creates the best flavors the tree knows how to produce. But it is as much the love as it is the soil, weather and variety that makes good coffee become great coffee.