Humble Beginnings

Behind the Ship the San Juan, built in 1931 is the Oldest building on the Noyo Harbor.old-coffee-factory5  Built before the great earthquake of 1906, it is what remains of the two story building that it once was.  When the earthquake hit, it created a landslide  knocking the first story right out from under the second story. Creative lumbermen jacked up what was left , mounted it on the dock and in 1974 Thanksgiving Coffee Company moved in to the eastern corner , occupying an area 30 feet by 20 feet. The building is sixty feet long by thirty feet wide. It is constructed 100 %  old growth Redwood and Douglas Fir. Half of the building is on land with the other half on the dock over the water. The photo above was taken in 1975. Note the puff of smoke and the Thanksgiving Coffee sign atop the structure.    The company operated out of those digs from 1974 until 1987, going from just Joan and Paul to 26 employees after we purchased the entire building in 1977.    The San Juan  was owned by Albert Reynolds and Bruce Abernathy at the time and was actively used to drag cable across the Pacific when the communications cable was laid from Point Arena, California  to Japan in 1975.  It is 71 feel long and as of 2009 is the last remaining ship of its type still afloat.  It is still moored at our dock but has not been out of the water in 30 years and I am afraid it is no longer seaworthy. Here is the same scene as it appeared to my camera last month . img_11332    We purchased the building in 1975 and still the company still owns it . We use it for storage and keep it to remind us of our humble beginnings, and of all the amazing old salts, cranky fishermen, and drunken parties that were a frequent part of our friends lives on the water when the Noyo Harbor was just another “Cannery Row” along the Pacific Coast, complete with “fish houses” where local woman filleted fifty pound King Salmon, iced three pound crabs and packed Black Cod fillets for shippment to Eastern markets to be smoked and sold as” smoked sablefish” to the Jewish Delis in Chicago and New YorK City.    All that is gone now(2009) but the memory still remains. I guess you can say , those were “the good old days”.

Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

Holly Says Goodbye, Jenais Says Hi

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to formally announce that I will be leaving my position with Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Some of you may know from following my adventures in Uganda that I’ve had a long-standing interest in medicine and serving the under represented. Within this context, I am ecstatic to announce that I will be attending the VA Commonwealth University’s Accelerated Master’s Degree Program in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Within my joy, however, is a deep sorrow at having to move on from a most inspiring line of work. It has been an honor and privilege to share the dream and work for peace, social justice, and sustainable economic development with you.

I am pleased to introduce Jenais Zarlin as the new Mirembe Kawomera Project Director. The following are a few words from her:

“I am excited to be joining the Thanksgiving team in a capacity that uniquely combines my passion and professional experience: social justice and food systems. Holly has worked diligently to share the inspiring story of the Mirembe Kawomera cooperative and her efforts have resulted in a strong community committed to spreading peace through tolerance. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I look forward to getting to know all of you and to continue sharing this message of peace and poverty alleviation together. ”

I’m sincerely grateful for the last four years I have worked with you. I’ve learned more about coffee, true friendship, and what can happen when a network of dedicated people harness their power throughout the world for something important- change; and for this I am indebted. I have confidence that Jenais will serve you and the farmers in magnificent ways and take the Mirembe Kawomera Coffee project to new heights.

With utmost appreciation,

Holly Moskowitz

Please feel free to stay in touch. I can be reached at VWILcycler@yahoo.com and on Facebook.

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From Coffee Pulp to Protein: The next step to feeding those who need it most

                                                                                        Pulp to Protein

This is a story about a couple of people who had the impossible good fortune to meet one another while living on the planet at the same time. There is Gunter Pauli , President of the ZERI Foundation, born in Belgium.  Chido Govero , born, raised and orphaned in Zimbabwe, and Carmenza Jaramillo from Colombia, both pioneers in a new kind of sustainable   agriculture,   and myself, a California guy from The Bronx.   How I got into this mix is a lesson in both Providence and karmic serendipity. But at this moment I am just facilitator.  

                                                                                                 The Project Basis

    *Coffee pulp is 80 % of the coffee harvest by weight but has no use other then as a mulch if it is hauled back onto the fields. As such , it is a low grade fertilizer. If it is left in piles and not recycled to the fields, when the rains come, it becomes a deadly pollutant , killing rivers and poisoning groundwaterstb_22233  Cattle and other ruminants will not eat coffee pulp but the pulp contains  nutrients and is an ideal substrate for farming healthy  protein rich mushrooms.

                                                                         MUSHROOMS GROWING ON COFFEE PULPshiitake mushrooms growing on coffee pulp

* The waste    substrate (after it grows mushrooms)is ideal as animal feed .

* In terms of nutrition, protein deficiency is a major issue in the   poor countries of Africa and Central and South America.

* Mushrooms are between 40 -60 % protein.

*So the equations read as follows:

A)  waste coffee pulp + mushroom spores + 3 weeks time =  edible mushrooms

B) animal feed substrate + Goat + digestion time = Manure for fertilizer + dairy products

* In many coffee growing regions in Africa there is not enough biomass to support goats and cows. There is always therefore, not enough manure to grow organically. Animal manure has a much higher value as a fertilizer then does pulp used as mulch. The ability to feed a cow means milk and cheese for the family along with the mushrooms.

*Every coffee growing community has enough pulp after the coffee harvest to grow all the mushrooms they would need for the entire year, storing dried, those that are for later use or selling them for added income.(a different project)

* This project will receive the Specialty Coffee Association of America 2009 Sustainability Award Friday, April 17th at the associations annual Trade Show where 8000 coffee traders are expected to be in attendance. Will these attendees see the enormous potential to eliminate malnutrition , provide food security, better health, jobs, and further our quest to make the coffee industry more sustainable ?   I’m betting they will, and that this new use of coffee pulp waste will become a part of our industry and inseparable from it within a decade.

Here are some photos that show the process and the people in  a Zimbabwe who are actually doing this as you read this blog. This is a peek at the future .mushroom-fruiting-manizales1mushroom-manizales-inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-kids-at-the-mushroom-farmmushroom-farmers-in-front-of-shedchidos-cover3

Thanksgiving Coffee Company will   help bring this new agricultural technology to the cooperatives we now work with and if a critical mass of coffee companies join in as well, this enormous coffee resource that is now so underutilized will become a food and feed stock for millions of people who sure can use a good ride on something that improves their quality of life , tastes  great, and helps the planet as well.

 

The four people who “were impossibly lucky enough to be on the planet at the same time and actually meet to bring this to the Coffee Industry , will present a one hour Panel Session on Friday , April 17th, at 9 am at the Specialty Coffee Convention in Atlanta .   Come meet Chido, Carmenza, and Gunter and join the conversation…perhaps even, become a part of this certainly evolving story.  

                                                    **********************************************************

   How I wound up helping Gunter bring this to the industry’s Trade Show  is the lesser  narrative  that will emerge as this adventure unfolds. Certainly there are more pebbles to follow on this golden path.

 Paul Katzeff

Customer requests recommendation from Roastmaster

I received this complex letter last week. It had many contradictions but the writer was obviously a coffee lover , so I took the opportunity to arm her with the basic principles of coffee selection that applied to her request. What follows is first her letter, then my response, and then my recommendation .
Paul
 We have enjoyed finding your website.
 We would like a recommendation for a  blend:
       Not acidy. Don’t like a painful stomach by the second cup.
       Full bodied coffee. Tastes like it smells.
       Dark roast.
       No flavors (except coffee flavor) (It’s difficult to tell from your descriptions whether the flavor is added to the mix (like vanilla or hazelnut), or whether the flavor “tones” are just a means of describing the coffee au naturel.
 On your website, we only saw 12 oz bags. Do you have 5 lbs. bags? How much do they cost?
 Thanks for your help
 Natalie
DEAR NATALIE:
THERE IS ALLOT TO YOUR REQUEST FOR A RECOMMENDATION SO LET’S TAKE MY RESPONSES ONE AT A TIME:
 

WHEN YOU ASK FOR A COFFEE WITH NO ACIDITY BUT WITH LOTS OF FLAVOR, YOU ARE ALMOST ASKING FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE…ALMOST. A GOOD  “MEDIUM” ROAST OF  COFFEES FROM PLACES LIKE INDONESIA AND BRAZIL  WHOSE COFFEES ARE NATURALLY LOW IN ACIDITY WILL GET YOU A LOWER ACIDITY, BUT  ALSO, LESS BRIGHTNESS AND  LIVELINESS  IN THE CUP.  COFFEES GROWN AT ALTITUDES LOWER THEN 800 METERS ALSO HAVE LESS ACIDITY. ACIDITY IS HIGHEST IN COFFEE IN THE LIGHTER ROASTS. THE DARKER THE ROAST , THE LOWER THE ACIDITY, IS A GENERAL RULE . YOUR PAINFUL STOMACH MAY NOT BE  COMING FROM THE ACIDITY IN COFFEE . THE PH LEVELS OF LOW ACID COFFEES AND HIGH ACID COFFEES ARE NOT THAT FAR APART TO MAKE IDENTIFYING YOUR “PROBLEM” AS THE ACIDITY. IT COULD ALSO BE THE CAFFEINE  BECAUSE THE HIGHER THE CAFFEINE, THE POORER THE COFFEE QUALITY IN GENERAL . IT IS POSSIBLE THAT YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM THE POSSIBLE IMPACT OF POORER QUALITY COFFEE GOING INTO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM,  AND OR, POOR ROASTING CRAFTSMANSHIP.            COFFEE HAS OVER 1600 CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS BEFORE IT IS ROASTED AND ABOUT 800 AFTER ROASTING. LOTS OF CHEMICAL REACTIONS TAKE PLACE IN THE 14 MINUTES IT TAKES TO ROAST COFFEE , SO THE CRAFTSMANSHIP APPLIED DURING THAT SHORT PERIOD OF ADDING HEAT TO THE GREEN BEANS  REQUIRES SOME DEGREE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP TO CONTROL THOSE CHEMICAL REACTIONS SO AS TO GET THE BEST OUT OF THE COFFEE THAT IS BEING ROASTED.  ACIDITY IS MORE A MOUTHFEEL OR TASTE SENSATION(bright and lively) THEN LITMUS TEST NUMBERS.
            NO COFFEE TASTES LIKE IT SMELLS.   YOU CAN LOOK FOREVER.  THE AROMATIC VOLATILES  ARE NOT TASTE FACTORS. Ninety-five  % OF COFFEE AROMA IS LOST BEFORE IT GETS TO THE CUP. LOST IN ROASTING, GRINDING , AND BREWING NO MATTER HOW FRESH IT IS WHEN YOU GET YOUR COFFEE HOME AND INTO YOUR REFRIGERATOR . SO DREAM ON BUT DONT EXPECT OUR COFFEES TO GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO WHEN IT COMES TO THE AROMA/TASTE RELATIONSHIP.  
               DARK ROAST ?????? THIS IS THE  ANTI CHRIST OF COFFEE FLAVOR AND AROMA.  IN DARK ROASTS 2/3 OF THE FLAVOR IS A REFLECTION OF THE DARKER  COFFEE COLOR .  THE NUANCES OF THE COFFEE’S FLAVOR ARE “BURNED OUT” OF THE COFFEE VIA COMPLEX CHEMICAL REACTIONS THAT TAKE PLACE AT THE HIGH TEMPERATURES COFFEE IS ROASTED AT.
          THE DISCRIPTORS (TONES AND NOTES ),ARE HINTS . DOES A BOTTLE OF  ZINFANDEL  HAVE BLACK CURRANT ADDED TO THE WINE ? NO , IT IS JUST A WAY THE WINE MASTER HELPS YOU OUT IN YOUR SEARCH FOR THE NUANCES PROFESSIONAL TASTERS CAN IDENTIFY EASILY BECAUSE THEY “TASTE ” EVERY DAY .
 
WE SELL CONSUMER SIZE PACKAGES BUT IF YOU CALL OUR MAIL ORDER DIVISION AND ASK FOR SUSAN SHE WILL TELL YOU HOW TO ORDER FIVE POUNDERS  ( MINIMUM IS 20 POUNDS PER ORDER. ) .
Now for my recommendation :
I recommend you try a medium roast Nicaraguan Maracaturra grown by our friend Byron Coralles, and our Guatamalan Vienna Roast. The two coffees are  fabulous individually, but you can blend them (The Medium roast Nicaraguan for flavor and the Guatemalan Vienna roast for strength and complexity to create additional complexity ). No stomach aches here , guaranteed !
Paul

 

 

Plantations and Cooperatives

I love to hear from people who have coffee on their mind. I get wonderful communiques and sometimes , real good leads on a great coffee that always has a story attached. The coffee traveler is open to the spirits. This has its  merits  . The road has many stories . Every road does. Which ones you carry home with you are not random accidents of fate, they are  manifestations  of your priorities, your focus and you might say, that a bit of your unconscious is in play as well.0192590-r1-e0024  So here is one story that came to me and my reply.    

Hello Paul,
      I recently visited Guatemala on a birding tour. One of our destinations was the beautiful Los Andes Private Nature Reserve. There, I spoke with the president, James E. Hazard, and learned of his family coffee and tea estate. I thought of Thanksgiving when he discussed the earth friendly and worker friendly practices implemented at the plantation. When I asked if he had extra capacity for additional customers, he assured me that he did. One of his customers is Starbucks(boo). If you would like to see more about the organization, the website is  www.andescloudforest.org. And most importantly, the coffee is very good. If you have any questions, feel free to email or call me at work.
Regards,
James  

 

Thanks for the thought James. We have been working with the same Guatemalan cooperative of 1600 Mayan producers since 1998. I think it is best to not dilute my purchases as then they would have to go looking for another buyer   and have poor access to the world market. ,    I tend to shy away from buying from plantation owners in general,  not because they are bad people as much as that they are the stewards of a bad system. Remember the slave owners in the South 150 years ago were “plantation” owners too. They were not as benevolent as some current coffee plantation owners, but you can bet that most who work on plantations as laborers dont send their children to university.  
    Plantations that house their laborers create an indentured slave situation where the home is attached to the job. This is frightening to families because it is a way that owners and managers control behavior. Fear is the general rule on plantations even when it looks like the workers are happy in  a  benevolent    environment. .  
      Certainly, with todays problematic climate , farmers are promoting how environmental friendly they are , and how their shade trees are great for the planet and they are right in that regard, but the human factor is often masked by this environmental promotion..  For example, Farmers who join together to form producer cooperatives are empowered by their numbers and the social benefits that they can persue as a community that could not be achieved  otherwise . There is hope  in the cooperative Fair Trade movement . Plantation workers by contrast , may earn $2.00-$3.00 dollars per day at best and they never get out of their poverty.  
    That is not to say that this particular plantation you just visited is a bad place with evil overlords. If it was , you would have seen it and not considered communicating with me. Their website attests to my earlier comment that “good people can be sustaining a bad system ”  The plantation you visited has come a long way from how it must have been just 20 years ago when few cared or even knew about the plight of the people who grow the coffees we love. The Hazard Family is to be  congratulated for progressive approach they are preparing for.
So thanks for the thoughts. I hope this e mail finds you in good spirits after your overseas trip, and that you are happy to be home again
.Paul Katzeff
 

Going Down That Old Dusty Road in Guatemala

I took this photo on my first trip to Guatemala in 1990. I was in search of certified organic coffee. Wandering around the countryside one afternoon near the city of Antigua a man with his sack of stuff came walking toward me on the dusty path we both shared for the moment.

Dusty Road

I pulled out my camera to catch the man as he approached but I discovered that I had run out of film. I hurried to reload the camera as the man passed by. We greeted each other with smiles and then he was past me. I think he was Don Juan but I didn’t ask him if he would be my  Shaman  because I was afraid he would say , “yes son, come with me. We will talk to the Jaguars tonight and you will disappear into the stars”, or something like that. I felt I was not ready  so a smile sufficed as he passed.

I loaded my camera and shot the photo. It has become one of my favorites.

Paul Katzeff

Part II: All You Need to Know About Growing Coffee Trees in Your Home

• From Thanksgiving Coffee Company, the 2017 Roaster of the Year •
• Shop the award-winning roasts


The coffee tree is an evergreen. It does not shed its leaves. They are on the tree year round. That makes them good for indoor beautification. You can get them to grow into a tree that is 5-8 feet tall or you can train them to be a bush 3-4 feet tall. They are pretty flexible.

Where to find coffee tree seedlings:

I have found them most consistently in places like Safeway, Longs, Rite Aid and Whole Foods flower Departments. These places carry mostly impulse items when it comes to plants. I think they all have the same supplier, or it seems that way. Your local florist may have them too and if they don’t carry them in stock, they will order a pot or two for you.

What to look for:

Seedlings in the stores are no more then 3-4 inches tall and are about 3 months old . They were grown from seed. Usually, they will come in a 2-4 inch pot, and there will be four to six little starts bunched together in the center to make it look substantial. Price is usually between $4.95 – $8.95.

What to do when you get the pot of seedlings home;

You have purchased one pot but you have acquired six trees. You don’t want them to grow up together so you need to separate them and repot each seedling in a 4 inch diameter pot. Here’s how you do it: Submerge the pot of seedlings in a bowl of warm water that is on the cool side of warm. Leave overnight . This does two things. It allows the seedlings to load up on water and it softens the potting soil . Get your potting soil and 4 inch pots together for your replanting . Now remove the loose ball of soil with the seedlings from their pot and lay on some newspaper . Slowly and softly pull the seedlings apart. Don’t be afraid of killing the trees ,they are very hardy and strong. Now repot each individual seedling in its own 4 inch pot. Six trees for the price of one !

Lets talk soil and repotting;

For the four inch pot and your initial repotting, you should use an organic potting soil. It is rich enough in nutrients to feed the plant until it is eight inches tall. You won’t need to add fertilizer to get the trees to 8 inches. Now things begin to change because at eight inches tall, the tree has spread out it’s root system throughout the small pot and unless you repot to a larger vessel, the tree will not grow much more. So, move the tree into a  12 -18 inch pot . This “home” is large enough to add soil amendments. At this stage of the plants growing history it needs lots of Nitrogen so keep that in mind . We are helping the tree grow trunk, branches and leaves. That requires lots of nitrogen. This pot stage should take your tree up to the 24-36 inch size. (this should take 12 to 18 months) .

When the tree gets to the 24-36 inch size it is time for it’s final repotting into a half wine barrel or the equivalent. Now your tree is ready to kick into high gear because it senses that it can grow a root system that can support full production. Within one year from this last repotting your tree will have grown to four feet and it will begin to create beautiful white flowers that will fill your home with the scent of Jasmine and orange blossoms.Nitrogen is no longer needed in growth level amounts . Now it is the flower and fruit supporting supplements that are needed. Rose food is my favorite coffee food but try to stay as organic as you can. It effects the flavor of the coffee you will be getting and you don’t need to support companies that manufacture oil based chemical fertilizers.

Flowering Phase: It lasts about a month. The sweet aroma will blow you away, but that will come to an end just about the time you are tired of coming home to paradisiacal aromatics. Coffee is self pollinating so do not worry about pollination. The flowers form at the nodes on each branch, just behind the leaves. Each flower will become a fruit (coffee cherry). The flowers will turn brown and fall off the branch. Not to worry. Left behind is the carpel, a small round ball that over the next six months will grow into a fruit with one or two seeds. The seeds are known as “coffee beans.”

Jungle Jasmine : Coffee Flowers

Jungle Jasmine : Coffee Flowers

The Fruiting Phase:

This phase lasts about six months. Coffee cherries ripen slowly. For the first 5 months they will be green and rock hard. Then they will begin to lighten and turn pink and then cherry red, then dark red to purple. Dark red is when you pick the cherries.

img_40753

Watering; Coffee trees like water and need enough to feed the leaves and support the fruit. But they don’t like to sit in water so water from the top, like rain waters forests. Water until the water comes out the bottom of the Pot. Use warm water. That is what the tree would get in the tropics. Why shock the tree as if it was jumping into an ice cold lake? Warm water feels good to the tree just as it does to our face when we wash. And if you live where the air is cold at night , you can bet the soil is cold too. So warm up the soil and you have better growing conditions, conditions that the tree will recognize and be thankful for.

img_01931

Where to place tour growing and mature tree;

Coffee is a shade loving tree that grows under the canopy of the forest . It needs little direct sunlight . Direct sunlight after noon time will fry the leaves and kill the tree. Yo need to position your tree so it gets morning direct sun. This is perfect light . East facing windows do the trick. As the sun goes to the west , the light coming into your home from an easterly window is soft , yet still bright enough to provide the equivalent of shaded sun. If you bring your tree outside, remember, a 10 minute frost will kill it and so will 3 hours of direct afternoon sunlight between May and November.

Cherry Picking and Roasting:

When the cherries are ripe, and they will all ripen over a 2 month ripening period, you have to take them from the tree. With a simple twist and pull they will come off easily.

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Pick once a week , only the true red all over ripe cherries. Squeeze the seeds out of the cherries and drop them into a bowl of water for 24 hours. This softens the remaining pulp stuck to the beans and makes it easy to remove after the beans are dried. Place the beans onto some newspaper ( it is important that the stories on the page are positive and uplifting) and allow them to dry slowly. Sun drying is good but watch out you do not bake them. They should take about a week to dry to a stable condition. Repeat the process until all your cherries are picked and put to dry. Don’t forget to taste the pulp!

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Roasting is the next step in this cycle. That is for another time and another blog entry.


Part III: Caring For Your Coffee Tree


 

Part I: The Beauty of Growing Coffee Trees in Your Home

When I was growing up in the Bronx in the 50’s my mom would stick three toothpicks into an avocado pit, balance the pit on the rim of a water filled glass, submerging the bottom half in the water. In a few weeks up would pop a plant with iridescent green leaves.

Today, 60 years later, I follow in my moms footsteps and plant coffee seeds in a 2 inch wide flower pot, wait 3 months for the seeds (beans) to pop up, and then nurture the seedling through three successive  repottings  into larger containers until the tree is 7 feet tall and producing thousands of beautiful red cherries.

Me with a three year old coffee tree

Me with a three year old coffee tree. Note the small amount of the deep red cherries of the trees first crop  sprinkled throughout the tree.

Last month I  received a letter from Woody Hastings . I gave a him seedling coffee tree back in the summer of 2006 . He took the gift seriously.

He wrote to me last month and sent along these photos by way of a “tree progress report . His letter inspires this blog entry.

“Hi Paul,

I’m Woody, the guy you gave?/sold? a coffee plant to at SolFest 2006. You and I have crossed paths at SolFest ever since and I think a few times at GreenFest too.

Here’s what I look like…

outlookOr maybe you recognize my wonderful wife June who works at Global Exchange.

Anyway, I wanted to show you a couple of photos of the fantastic coffee plant you gave me. It is now fruiting with about 20 cherries and  I plan to roast them per your instructions at the last SolFest and have a cup of my own home grown, home roasted, home-brewed coffee!  And the plant, which is about 3 feet tall…outlook_3

Really just thought you might like to receive such a good progress report, and wanted to thank you for giving me this living thing that has brought me (us)  so much joy and entertainment!

Happy New Year to you.

See you at SolFest!

Cheers,

Woody

PS, Almost forgot to mention, Mr. Coffee, as the plant is known, was dressed up with ornaments and served as our “christmas tree” this past December. What a hoot!outlook_4I wrote back…….

Woody,

I wonder if I can put your letter and photo on our website so other people can learn and see your success with the coffee tree, I am proud of you. You found the magic within you. I Thank you for the photos. You will need about 30 beans (15 cherries)  for a cup of coffee. about 12 -15 grams) What is your cycle ? When does it flower and when are the cherries deep red? Where do you live?

Paul

Woody replied,

Hi Paul,

Feel free to use whatever  I sent you for your website, plus the following info too if you wish. If memory serves well,  I think I first noticed the flowering in mid-summer, cherries emerged in the fall, and started turning red  in December. Judging by the pace at which they are all turning deep red, I will have harvested them all before the end of February.

I live in Noe  Valley, in the  geographic center of San Francisco, west of the Mission, east of Twin Peaks. We have a tall east-facing window in our living room and that is where Mr. Coffee spends most of his time. You had told me that they like morning sun, and he gets a lot of it there. On nice warm days we sometimes put “him” out on our deck that gets a lot of sun. Only problem with that was that one day we put him out when it was very hot and a few of the leaves “burned.” The soil I potted it in is a mix of bagged planting soil and other soils from various plantings, plus a small amount of worm castings.  I’ve fed it diluted worm tea from my worm bin about once every two months. I think that helped a lot. Since I have 20 cherries, it will be one strong cup!

I think the one thing we have been mystified by is how the blossoms could have been pollinated. I was happy to see the blossoms and figured they would just drop and produce nothing. So surprised and gratified to actually get cherries, but how does that work? Self-pollinating?

Best Regards,

Woody

Tomorrow I will continue this blog with my Tips for growing coffee trees at home successfully . Look for EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GROWING COFFEE TREES AT HOME

The Bean and Human Enterprise: Not Just Another Cup of Coffee

Please join me in welcoming Maury Gloster;   guest writer,   friend, and coffee aficionado.   Maury, his wife Ibby, and daughter Michelle, a freshman home from college on spring break, visited Thanksgiving Coffee after many back-and-forth emails, phone conversations, and calendar checks.   It was great showing them the inside workings of Thanksgiving, and hearing their passion for the projects, movement, and future of global sustainability .   Thank you Maury, Ibby, and Michelle, and to you – the reader of this post.

Holly

THE BEAN AND HUMAN ENTERPRISE: NOT JUST ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE by Maury Gloster

Let’s be clear. My wife and I are coffee aficionados and our daughter is beginning to follow a similar path. It is not difficult to engage us in discussion about coffee, or drinking coffee, nor are we hesitant to try new varieties. We are long past the point when, during years of arduous education and training, coffee’s value proposition was its stimulatory effect. Now, it’s just simply pleasurable.

So, a few years ago, we Sacramentans found ourselves standing in front of a rack of Thanksgiving Coffee offerings in the Mendocino Bakery, deliberating about what would be best to choose for brewing during our stay in Mendocino. A fellow, recognizing our indecision, suddenly appeared from behind the food counter to engage us in conversation about a wide variety of topics, with all at least remotely related to coffee. That was one Paul Katzeff, owner of Thanksgiving Coffee. Over the ensuing 45 minutes, spent mostly listening to Paul, we were regaled with stories, admonitions and caveats about growing coffee plants, preserving forests and protecting song birds of Central America, plane rides with Sandanistas and the superior taste and finish of light and medium brew roasts compared with the far less sophisticatation of our characteristic preference, the deep, dark roast. We were enlightened and entertained. And then we bought a deep, dark roast.

We’ve been devotees of Thanksgiving Coffee and its coffees ever since. The brew is one thing—the mission is the other. Paul has leveraged his career and passion for social work into a business that supports the disadvantaged, the ravaged, the forgotten and the irreplaceable elements of our environment. And he uses the success of his growing business to heighten our awareness of social, economic and environmental issues while bringing tangible assets to peoples from Latin America to Africa. You just have to examine his business pro forma, or simply peruse the Thanksgiving Coffee website, to gain insight into this unique blending of coffee and mission.

So, it was against this background that a few days ago our family of three visited Thanksgiving Coffee. Arriving in the mist of a March Monday morning, we were greeted by Holly Moskowitz, a key ambassador of the Thanksgiving Coffee outreach, in particular to those growing coffee beans on a Ugandan cooperative incorporating followers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity and benefiting in a variety of ways from the helping hand extended by Thanksgiving Coffee. Holly has educated members of the coop on HIV/AIDs and diabetes, befriended its peoples and represented what is the best of America as it supports those easily ignored or forgotten. Spend a moment scanning Holly’s impressive photographic collection of her days in Uganda on the Thanksgiving Coffee website and you’ll get the idea.

And Paul has designed his business model to return a portion of the profits he earns from buying the coop’s beans and selling its coffee in a unique circuitry that merits recognition to match the appreciation, easily reviewed on the website, expressed by coop members. It’s a passion and a raison d’etre for Paul and it shows. Just spend a few minutes with him.

This is not to say that the Ugandan project is a stand-alone. Notably, the Thanksgiving Coffee reach is across continents and causes, aiding peoples and the world in which they—and, ultimately, we—live. For example, if you raze tropical forests to grow coffee beans, you desecrate the nature of the land and, at the same time, destroy the habitat of song birds. An alternative is learning to grow coffee plants in the shade, thus balancing nature with enterprise. But you have to care to make it happen, enlist the skills, talent and sacrifice of people of similar mind, and create the economic engine that sees the mission through. Paul has assembled those elements and has maintained a variety of missions through years of endeavor.

Our visit to Thanksgiving was further punctuated by a “cupping” set for us by Holly and her colleague Ben Corey-Moran, who provided us education, insight and discoveries about coffee that otherwise would have been unreachable. We had the opportunity to smell and taste coffee roasts of beans from a wide range of geographies, all the while learning to appreciate the differences, great and small, among them. The opportunity, offered in the context of shared coffee passion, was singular and deeply appreciated.

“No coffee, no mission”, Paul told us. To be sure, he operates a business whose success allows him to fulfill his drive to support and to protect. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Coffee offers a variety of roasts that are easy to embrace, so contributing to a greater good through purchase of its coffees comes with little challenge. The choice is always there: enjoy or enjoy and give back. Paul and his Thanksgiving Coffee family have provided us with the opportunity to both satisfy our conscience and our love for great coffee.

But just don’t let him catch you with a dark roast.

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

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