Ethiopia Natural – 92 points

Coffee Review - Ethiopia Yirgacheffe





re-posted from

Blind Assessment:
Delicately bright, exhilarating. Candied lemon, vanilla, pear, baker’s chocolate in aroma and cup. Gentle, lively acidity; light, satiny mouthfeel. Lemon and crisp chocolate carry into a sweet, lightly flavor-saturated finish.

This coffee is certified organically grown and Fair Trade Certified, meaning it was purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. This coffee was produced by farmers in the Worka Cooperative, currently representing 305 members. Southern Ethiopia coffees like this one are produced from traditional Ethiopian varieties of Arabica long grown in the region. It was processed by the wet or washed method (fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying). Ethiopia coffees processed with this method typically express great aromatic complexity and intensity, with a particular emphasis on floral notes.

Who Should Drink It: Those who value gently bright coffees, delicate, aromatic, pure.

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Great. Decaf. Coffee.

Our Decaf CoffeesMany of the decaf coffees available in the supermarket are sourced from “past crop” coffees, which is why so many people think of decafs as tasting “a bit off” or “stale.”

We care deeply about the flavor of our decaf coffees. We send new coffee crop green beans directly to our Certified Organic decaffeination facility.

Shop Decaf Coffee
We have found a cooperative in Veracruz, Mexico that is a stone’s throw from the best decaffeinating plant in North America, which uses the Mountain Water Process. The green coffee beans are immersed in mountain glacial water to extract the coffee oils and caffeine.

The water/coffee oils/caffeine solution is then passed through a special filter to remove the caffeine. The flavor rich, but caffeine-free coffee solution is then returned to the coffee beans under pressure, to re-infuse them with their original oils. The decaffeinated beans are then thoroughly dried and tested for quality to maintain the flavor profile of the original coffee.

A note from our co-founder, Paul Katzeff, about decaf coffee…

Co-Founder Paul KatzeffI have always loved my after-dinner coffee with a dessert. The next three hours were bright and awake for me, perfect for reading a book without dozing, or watching a ball game. But, my body stopped metabolizing the caffeine as fast as when I was younger, and the coffee had to go if I wanted some good sleep.

Then the decaf revolution began to speed up, and decaf became tolerable for me. I accepted less flavor in favor of good sleep but I also knew there was a better train a-comin’ and I wanted to ride it, even be it’s conductor.

Thanksgiving Coffee is a small decaf railroad engine and we have done what I had hoped we could do. We have found a way to make decaf indistinguishable from caffeinated coffee flavor. There is a quality in the cup you will find as satisfying as any coffee you ever loved, and wanted more of.

As a coffee lover, I invite you to join me in a good night’s sleep after a great cup or three of our decaf, roasted to the exact flavor profile you love. I know you will be amazed, and hope you will feed me back your tasting comments below!

Paul Katzeff
CEO & Roastmaster Emeritus

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Musasa, Rwanda – 92 points

Musasa Rwanda - 2015
re-posted from

Blind Assessment:
Immaculately sweet; lyrical. Peach, honey, lavender and honeysuckle, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Sweet, high-toned acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Peach, honey and flowers carry into a crisply sweet finish.

Rwanda’s tremendous potential as fine coffee producer has only come to fruition over the past several years owing to generous support from international aid agencies, the specialty coffee community and the industry of its growers. Made up entirely of the admired Red Bourbon cultivar and certified fair-trade, this lot comes from the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative; this collection of farmers in known as Musasa, after the areas major town. In 2012 Thanksgiving won the SCAA’s Sustainability Award for work they’ve done with this cooperative since 2004. One of the country’s pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility many years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable. Visit or call 800-648-6491 for more information.

Who Should Drink It:
Those who enjoy a profound natural sweetness in a Fair-Trade-certified coffee. Sweeter and more delicate than a typical good Rwanda.

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Byron’s Maracaturra – 94 points

Byron's Natural 2015 Review
re-posted from

Blind Assessment:
Sweet-toned, gentle, juicy. Pineapple, sweet chocolate, rum, minty flowers, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Round, richly lively acidity; full, very syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates in a finish that balances continuing sweetness with a crisp drying edge.

This exceptional coffee was selected as the #13 coffee on Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2014. Certified organically grown from trees of the Maracaturra variety, a hybrid developed by Byron Corrales, the innovating Nicaraguan farmer who also produced this coffee. Maracaturra is a cross between the workhorse local dwarf variety Caturra (itself a mutant of the heirloom Bourbon) and the rare, huge-beaned Maragogipe, making it a parallel variety to the better-known Pacamara, a cross between Maragogipe and Pacas (also a mutant selection of Bourbon). A fine example of a “natural” or dry-processed coffee, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit, encouraging a flavor profile that is sweeter and deeper-toned than the more familiar wet-processed coffees of Central America. One of the country’s pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility many years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable. Visit or call 800-648-6491 for more information.

Who Should Drink It: Aficionados may enjoy sampling an unusual variety and its enormous beans, but everyone with a refined coffee sweet tooth should enjoy the natural sweetness and tropical fruit (and drink) suggestions proposed by aroma and flavor.

Read the full review on

Mahina Mele – 93 points

Mahina Mele -
re-posted from

Blind Assessment:
Deep, intense but balanced. Peach, sweet chocolate, plum blossom, ripe orange in aroma and cup. Delicate, lyrically lively acidity; silky mouthfeel. Peach and chocolate in particular carry into a resonantly flavor-saturated finish.

From one of the few certified organic farms in the Kona growing region, Mahina Mele, or “Moonsong Farm” in Hawaiian. One of the country’s pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility many years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable.

Who Should Drink It: A splendid organically grown Kona that manages to be deep yet delicate, and utterly pure in its peach and floral nuance.

Read the full review on

Making great coffee while traveling

by Mischa Hedges, Project Manager at Thanksgiving Coffee

Mischa enjoys a cappuccino

Mischa enjoys a coffee in Mendocino

I like traveling, and I love the natural world. When I’m not working, I spend my time adventuring outdoors: biking, surfing, trail running, camping and hiking. Growing up on the Mendocino Coast, I took wild places for granted, but now appreciate and respect the North Coast of California more than ever.

I also love great coffee and tea…but traveling and great coffee/tea don’t always go together, especially when you’re far from an urban center with fancy cappuccinos, pour-over bars, competition-level baristas and tea houses.

When I travel, coffee is what keeps me going – especially through camping and strenuous outdoor adventures. Finding a good cup while you’re on the road often means traveling far out of your way just for some less-bad coffee, or buying from large food-service chains, just for consistency’s sake.

diner coffee on the road

Diner coffee is hit or miss…

I’ve settled for some pretty terrible coffee while traveling (I’m guessing you have too), and at some point I took it upon myself to find the perfect brewing method for traveling that didn’t take up too much valuable backpack space, time or effort. I also wanted something that was easy to clean for camping trips.

In my search, I saw and tried all sorts of camping brewers, from unbreakable plastic French Presses, plastic or metal folding drip cones and cloth filters, strainers, mini espresso machines and percolators.

Brewing Camp Coffee

There are many brewing methods to choose from

All of these methods work, but they’re not always simple, small or convenient.

This June, I traveled across the country in a small truck camper with my partner Lillie. We spent 3 weeks on the road and covered over 4,000 miles, exploring America’s backroads, National Parks and wild places by foot, bike and watercraft. For our trip this summer, I wanted something without a lot of moving parts or accessories, and I didn’t want to use/buy filters (they’re hard to keep dry while camping).

Mischa and Lillie's roadtrip

On the road in Glacier National Park

While we were on the road, we made great coffee, tea and cold brewed coffee almost every day using this simple setup:

Hario’s Mini Mill hand-grinderHario Mini Mill ($28.95)

I love this grinder. It holds enough beans to make 2 cups of coffee, and takes about a minute to grind. It’s a fully adjustable burr grinder, and the handle comes off to save space. When space is extremely limited, I leave this at home and pre-grind my coffee to somewhere between french press and drip-grind.

Kleen Kanteen’s 16-oz  insulated wide-mouth bottleKleen Kanteen Insulated Bottle (27.95)

This is my everything bottle. I use it to make my morning Maté, late-morning coffee, and keep my water cool. I’ve used it to collect berries, roll out bread dough and pound out tent stakes. These bottles never let me down (but I’m on my 4th one, since I’m always losing mine!). You can get a couple different styles of loop caps, and a cafe cap for easy drinking on the go.

GSI’s H2Jo filter/infuserGSI H2JO ($12.95)

THE solution. It’s a fine-mesh filter that screws onto most wide-mouth water bottles/thermoses. I’ve only tried it on Nalgene bottles and Kleen Kanteens, but it works very well. It doesn’t always seal perfectly, but as long as it’s not buried in your luggage, you can keep it on your bottle to save backpack space and keep it clean. GSI recommends two methods for brewing coffee or tea using their H2Jo filter:

“Paul’s Blend” from Thanksgiving CoffeePaul's Blend ($14.50)

Smooth, creamy and chocolatey (and this season’s blend has notes of berry as well!). Paul’s blend is the ultimate balance of sweet, rich and savory…the natural-processed beans in this blend really make it exceptional for infusion-brewing and cold-brewed coffee.


GSI recommends two different brewing methods using this setup:

Our simple setup

Our simple coffee brewing setup

The Infusion Method:
Add hot water to your bottle, screw on the filter, add 2 heaping Tb ground coffee or 1 TB loose leaf tea per cup of water, cover and steep for 3-4 minutes. Then remove the filter and dump spent grounds or tea, replace and enjoy!

The Strainer/Cowboy Method:
Add 2 heaping Tb ground coffee or 1 Tb loose leaf tea per cup of water directly to your bottle, screw on the filter, add hot water, cover and steep for 3-4 minutes. You can drink straight from the bottle without removing filter, or pour into another vessel to enjoy later so you don’t over-extract the grounds.

NOTE – either method can be used to make cold-brewed coffee or tea as well! Just let it infuse overnight – at least 8 hours

Breakfast in Camp

Breakfast in Camp, with some delicious Paul’s Blend!

This worked SO well for us.
  There are no moving parts, no filters to pack, no stovetop brewer to clean, all you need is coffee beans and hot water to brew. When my insulated bottle is empty, I rinse out the spent grounds or tea and re-fill it with my water for the day, eliminating the need for multiple bottles/thermoses!

When I’m camping, we boil water for our coffee using a camp stove and kettle. While traveling by plane, train, bus or car, rest stops and food establishments will usually give you hot water for free. We keep small bags of coffee and tea in our backpacks, and can brew 2 cups in just a few minutes.

What’s your secret to making great coffee and tea while camping or traveling?

Lillie makes our morning coffee

Lillie making breakfast in camp

Share your tips in the comments below!


Clean Cookstoves in Uganda

By Paul Katzeff, CEO + Co-Founder, Thanksgiving Coffee Company

In 2012 Thanksgiving Coffee Company, in collaboration with the Mirembe Kawomera Board and members, began a Climate change mitigation initiative in the foothills of Mt. Elgon, with the cooperative. The first phase was tree planting, and the project had these basic principles at its core:

  • The trees would provide shade to keep the ground cool and moist
  • The trees would enhance the habitat for indigenous birds and other wildlife
  • Deep root systems of trees holds the moisture in the soil and brings nutrients from deep in the ground to the surface via leaf litter produced by the trees. This makes the soil more fertile.
  • The trees soften the impact of rainstorms and mitigate against runoff that carries away topsoil
  • Shade improves the health of coffee trees as well as the flavor profile.
  • Trees produce wood for cooking and reduce the need for long distance hauling of wood
  • Trees bring up the water table and enable the ground to hold more water
JB Birenge, Climate Change Mitigation project leader in 2012 (photo credit: Ben Corey Moran)

JB Birenge, Climate Change Mitigation project manager in 2012 (photo credit: Ben Corey Moran)

There remained a problem.

The coop members were relying on the climate change mitigation tree planting as a source of firewood for their open fire cooking. Open fires are a simple but extremely wasteful way to build a cook fire, so the coop members decided that if they had more efficient ways to cook, they would lower their use of firewood. This plan was the best way to allow the trees to grow to maturity before being sustainably pruned for firewood, and thus was born “The Clean Cookstove Project.”
Rock fire rings are traditionally used to cook food

Rock fire rings are traditionally used to cook food

In partnership with Carrotmob, Thanksgiving Coffee Company raised $4,600 in a crowd-funding campaign. The funds were allocated for the Clean Cookstove project. The General Manager of the cooperative designed the project,  researched the methodology, hired local craftsmen and women, gathered materials, and began building the stoves in April of this year. In this first phase of the project, 46 families will receive the stoves. Families with children, older people and single parent families were chosen by the coop as are recipients of the first 46 stoves. The plan is to expand the program so all 300 coop member families eventually have one built for them in their homes.

The benefits of clean cookstoves are many.

Obviously, better respiratory health and easier fuel collecting because these stoves use 1/10 the fuel to produce a cooked meal. That means more time to attend school, make music, do homework or whatever leisure time is used for in a small village at the base of a mountain, where there is no cafe to hang out, no community center, and where electricity is limited to a few outlets per square mile. We are proud to be associated with this project – happier, healthy coffee farmers means a better world, and better coffee.

Aisa Kainza with her Clean Cookstove

Aisa Kainza with her Clean Cookstove

I am currently in Uganda, on a trip that was planned back in February when I was last in Africa.

Much has happened since, including a clear Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines our and the Cooperatives responsibilities and expectations from the relationship we have created. The goal of this trip is mostly oversight. We are advancing funds to the Cooperative to double its washing station capacity. This will require a solar drying system of greatly increased capacity, and a financial system that is going to handle twice the amount of money, double the volume of coffee, and provide more transparency. We are building capacity and the requirement for a higher level of professional financial management will be required as soon as this next crop is ready in September. That is in about 60 days!

There is lots to do – and we want to be a part of the doing.

To be continued…

Brewing 101: Mason Jar Cold-Brewed Coffee

Part 6 in a series on brewing excellent coffee.

– By Jacob Long, Roasting & Quality Control Manager at Thanksgiving Coffee

With summer in full swing, now is the time to enjoy a cup of iced coffee. Cold brewing is the best way to chill your brew, but we realize that not everyone has all the proper brewing equipment. And so, with a bit of experimenting, we present the easiest method to make delicious cold-brewed coffee with materials most everyone should have around their kitchen.

Mason Jar
Coffee Recipe


What you’ll need:
• coffee, coarsely ground
• quart (32oz) mason jar
• strainer
• large bowl
• coffee filter


1. Use ~14 tablespoons (70g) of coarsely ground coffee beans (French Press grind setting). Pour the grounds into your jar and fill it half way with cold water. Stir the mixture to ensure all the grounds are wet, then fill the jar the rest of the way with water.

2. Put the lid on the mason jar with the coffee mixture, and place it in your refrigerator. Allow the coffee to steep for 12 – 16 hours, it’s a good idea to set this up in the evening and let it steep overnight. Be aware that the longer it steeps, the stronger your coffee will be.

3. Set your strainer over the large bowl and place a coffee filter in the strainer. Pour the cold coffee mixture through the filter to catch the grounds. Rinse your jar out, and transfer the cold coffee from the bowl back into the jar for storage.

NOTE: Coffee brewed this way may be stronger then you are used to. Try it straight and then dilute the coffee to your liking.

Learn more about cold coffee online at:

We made our mason jar cold coffee with Guaya’b – Vienna Roast. The resulting cold brew was silky smooth and full bodied, which allowed for the rich chocolate notes of the coffee to come through even with the addition of milk! Want to try it? Pick up a bag and see for yourself!

Brewing 101: Cold SoftBrew

Part 5 in a series on brewing excellent coffee.

– By Jacob Long, Roasting & Quality Control Manager at Thanksgiving Coffee

Our last Brewing 101 post was about the SoftBrew method, which can also be used to make delicious iced coffee with ease. The amount of coffee to water will differ depending on the size of your brewer, but we recommend a ratio of 2g of coffee for every 1oz of water for cold brew.

Here’s how it works:

and here’s the text version of how it works:

  1. Grind your coffee beans at a French Press setting for nice coarse grounds.
  2. Add the freshly ground beans into the filter.
  3. Add half of the total water taking care to evenly soak the grounds.
  4. Stir for an even mixture and allow the bloom to settle.
  5. Add the rest of the water and give the  grounds another good stir.
  6. Put the lid on the pot and place it in your refrigerator for 12-16 hours (overnight).
  7. Remove the filter.
  8. Pour and enjoy!


Get your SoftBrew system at Sowden.

We made our Cold SoftBrew coffee with Guaya’b – Vienna Roast. The resulting cold brew was rich and full bodied, which allowed for the complexity of the coffee to come through even with the addition of milk! Want to try it? Pick up a bag and see for yourself!


A new way to connect with your coffee farmer!

By Mischa Hedges, Director of Communications

At Thanksgiving Coffee Company, we’re always talking about how to connect our coffee community. We strive to create a space for dialogue between coffee drinkers and coffee farmers – space that allows for gratitude, appreciation and knowledge about coffee to be shared. With social media and increased global connectivity, it’s becoming much easier than it used to be to do that. For instance, check out this new feature on our website:

Connecting coffee drinkers with coffee farmers

Farmer FeedbackIf you’ve enjoyed one of our single origin coffees recently, you can visit our “Farmers” page and write a message to the coffee farmer or cooperative who grew it. 

Traveling to your coffee’s country of origin and meeting your coffee farmer in person is the richest way to connect, but that’s not an option for most people. We’re hoping this new feature on our website will enable you to deepen your relationship with your coffee.

Some of the farmers and cooperatives we partner with are Facebook users, and can respond directly to your messages! In other cases, we’ll gather and send your messages to the farmers and cooperatives we work with so they can see your appreciation.

Let us know what you think of this new feature…

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