There are countless variables that contribute to the complex flavors of your favorite coffee before it even reaches your cup. Many people know that the country of origin, coffee tree varietal, and roast color have an immediate impact, but fewer people know about the on-the-farm processing methods that also play a huge role in the flavor profile of the finished product.
The ripe cherries are picked and immediately put on the drying patio in the sun to dry. The skin and pulp remain attached. The skin shrinks, locking the fruit sugars in. The cherry raisins up and drys hard around the seeds. The mass, when hard and dry, is milled (like white rice) to remove the hardened pulp and skin.
The taste produced is sort of like blueberries or strawberries as the fruity flavors penetrate the porous seeds within. A mix of sweet and sour fruit. The acidity is softer and mellower.
When the cherries are ripe they are picked, the skins and pulp removed mechanically, and the seeds are wet and slippery, gooey with a honey-like outer taste. They are allowed to sit, slightly fermenting in the heat of a day/night rest in contact with each other. They are then soaked for 12-36 hours in a water bath, washed, and removed to drying patios where they will dry down to about 11-12% moisture over a 2-4 day period.
The wet process produces a citric-like acidity or brightness with a slightly lemony flavor. In the extremes like coffees from Guatemala and Ethiopia and Kenya, the brightness is palatable. However, wet process coffees produce a softer plum-like acidity as well. Wet process coffees are more forward on the palate than their brothers and sisters of the Dry Process.
We produce two blends that combine these processes into one flavor profile: Mocha Java Blend and Paul’s Blend. However, these Ethiopian coffees presented to you today are the most clarifying examples of two on-the-farm processes. These distinctive flavor profiles are not caused by varietal differences, country of origin or agricultural practices.
In this offering, we give you the opportunity to actually taste the words on this page. Try them straight at first and then see how they taste as a 50/50 blend or any combination. I prefer my coffee a bit on the fruity/ jammy side so I use a 70/30 blend with the Dry Process in the majority. But the reverse will do quite well for those who prefer a bright and lively acidity on the citric side but want a bit more body and fruit. Enjoy!
We would like to acknowledge Hasbean Coffee in the UK for their excellent videos about coffee processing.
How to Store your coffee to keep it fresh and as tasty as the day it was received
Staling is caused, in order of most harmful to least harmful
Exposure to air (Oxidization)
Exposure to heat
Exposure to moisture
Exposure to light
Roasted Coffee beans are composed of approximately 800 organic chemical compounds. Many of these organic compounds create the flavor you love.
There are sugars, alcohols, acids, Ketones, Aldehydes, minerals and all sorts of volatile flavonoids and antioxidants. When these organic compounds are exposed to air, many of them will combine with the Oxygen, forming new organic compounds that don’t taste good. The coffee becomes flat, losing its brightness and personality. This doesn’t happen immediately– it begins when you open a vacuum packed bag and the process continues on for about a month. The great flavor of high-quality coffee lasts longer at first but their fall over the cliff is more dramatic then lesser coffees. This is because the taste of lesser coffees when fresh often resembles stale coffee.
1. Don’t open the vacuum bag until you are ready to use its contents.
2. Close the bag and within the first three days, transfer the coffee into an airtight container. No need to purchase an expensive kitchen accessory. Just use a quart mason jar and seal it with a lid.
All chemical reactions are speeded up by heat, so we want to keep the coffee at a low temperature. That will go a long way in saving the flavor.
Oxidation can be slowed down or speeded up. Temperature is the factor and since Staling is caused, essentially, by oxygen combining with other compounds, we want to keep the beans cool but not frozen.
1. Store your sealed container in a cool dark pantry or in the refrigerator. If you have ordered a five-pound bag, you will need five quart-sized jars and lids.
2. Cool is better than room temperature. Since warm air rises, store your sealed containers on your lowest shelves.
Your coffee beans are pretty devoid of moisture. When we put green raw beans into the roaster they are about 11% moisture. When they exit the roaster after being at high heat (400-465 degrees) they are really dry. But like a dry sponge, they will attract moisture from the air. This is Osmosis. Moisture softens the beans and further enables organic compounds to combine and change, reducing flavor and speeding up the oxidization process.
1. Do not store the beans in the original vacuum packed bag for more than a few days unless you have a heat sealer. Moisture creeps into the bag easily, and even more when it is in the freezer or refrigerator.
2. A sealed container is the answer to moisture.
It takes an awful lot of light to make coffee stale; if you address the air, heat, and moisture issues, then the light will become a small factor. On it’s own, in my experience, light alone will take a long long time to damage coffee beans. However, if coffee beans are exposed to prolonged sunlight, then heat becomes the primary culprit.
If you address the problems of Air, Heat, and Moisture correctly, then Light will have little effect on your coffee.
Blind Assessment:Deep, chocolaty, cleanly fruit-toned. Dark chocolate, cedar, black cherry, magnolia, molasses in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with gentle, rounded acidity. Consolidates to resonant chocolate and cherry in the finish.
Notes: The components of this blend are certified organically grown and Fair Trade certified, meaning they were purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. This version of the ancient Mocha-Java blend combines a traditionally processed, wet-hulled Sumatra in place of the original Java and replaces the Yemen Mocha with a similar “natural” or dried-in-the-fruit coffee from Ethiopia. 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.
The Bottom Line: A balanced, richly sweet-tart Ethiopia-Sumatra blend that’s also fair trade and organic-certified.
Es·pres·so – /eˈspresˌō/ noun: espresso; plural noun: espressos; noun: expresso; plural noun: 1. strong black coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans. from Italian (caffè) espresso, literally ‘pressed out (coffee)’.
The Upsetter Espresso has been named a Good Food Award Winner, and it seems like a great time to talk about espresso roasts and perhaps clarify what that means. So let’s start with the basics:
What is espresso?
Espresso is coffee of Italian origin, brewed by expressing or forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso generally has more body than coffee brewed by other methods, has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids which gives it a satiny mouthfeel, and has crema on top, which is a foam with a creamy consistency. As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of espresso are very concentrated. Espresso is also the base for other drinks such as a caffè, latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white, or caffè Americano.
What is an espresso roast?
Espresso is both a coffee beverage and a brewing method. It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level, though it is more finely ground. An espresso roast is simply a way of roasting any green coffee with the intention of it tasting good brewed as espresso. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. For example, in Southern Italy, a darker roast is generally preferred. Farther north, the trend moves toward lighter roasts, while outside Italy a wide range is popular.
By lightly roasting a blend of high quality coffee beans from three different countries of origin, our Roastmaster developed a new espresso flavor profile; one with deeper complexities than many darker roasts.
Can I use an espresso roast in my home brewer?
Yes! The Upsetter Espresso was judged for the Good Food award, not prepared as an espresso, but served like all the other contenders as a drip brewed coffee. A blend designed with the extraction process of espresso in mind will also taste great as a drip coffee, a pour over, a french press, or even cold brew.
Try Some Today!
Order a bag of the award winning Upsetter and taste the difference for yourself. Do you already love the Upsetter? Please leave a review to let everyone know why this cup of coffee truly stands out in a crowd.
When you love the work you do, and care deeply about the process, it shines through to the finished product. At least, that’s been our experience here at Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Our farmers love and respect the coffee trees they tend, just as we love and respect the farmers by offering a fair value for the their crop. The dedication and authenticity we have for every aspect of the supply chain delivers a delicious cup of coffee directly to you; one that you can feel good about. “Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.”
But how do we know that our dedication to the highest standards delivers the best tasting cup of coffee?
We know our coffee tastes great, but it’s really special when we are awarded by a third party. Let’s kick off the new year by celebrating a few of our award winning beans. For the entire month of January, enjoy 20% off your favorite ‘Just Cup’ of these coffees:
One of our best selling coffees and an award-winning roast from our 2017 Roaster of the Year distinction. This blend is always a crowd pleaser that can be enjoyed black or with a splash of cream.
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. A solid blend that offers deep fruit notes with sweet nut and aromatic wood complications.”– CoffeeReview.com
Selected as the #13 coffee on Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2014. “This may not seem like a win,” says our Co founder Paul Katzeff, “but a closer look at the numbers tells a different story. The top 30 were selected from 3,000 samples tasted over the course of 2014, so we were in the top 1%. It should also be noted that of the top 13 coffees, 12 were from Ethiopia. Our Maracarurra from Nicaragua was therefore, The Coffee Review’s selection for the best non Ethiopian coffee of 2014. Even though that distinction was 5 awarded years ago, Byron has continued to improve upon all his farm’s coffees, and this year’s selection of Maracaturra is even better than the 2014 edition.”
94 POINTS – “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.”– CoffeeReview.com
An award-winning roast from our 2017 Roaster of the Year distinction, Ethiopian beans are highly regarded for their flavor and consistent quality.
93 POINTS – “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.” -CoffeeReview.com
The final winner of our 2017 Roaster of the Year distinction, you can always count on the peaberry for a high quality and even roasting.
Five star rating: “Wonderful Taste!” “This has been my favorite coffee since I first tasted it last year. It has supplanted Ethiopian Sidamo, my previous favorite. I like it so much I gave some as a gift to a fellow coffee lover — the only time I have thought enough of a coffee to make such a gesture. I anticipate that it will henceforth always be my first choice to enjoy the start my day.”
So ring in the New Year by sharing a cup of delicious, award winning coffee with the special people in you life.
Thank you to Florence Fabricant of the New York Times for featuring Thanksgiving Coffee’s Yunnan Coffee in the Front Burner food section. Florence got the chance to taste our Yunnan Coffee, and gave us this review:
“I brewed it in a French press with a full-bodied result that had pleasing bitter chocolate notes.”
Here we are with another Coffee 101 post! Our subject today is espresso.
You may have scrolled past our espresso blends in the past, on the hunt for the newest single origin to try. We don’t blame you, we also search out the best in limited edition and micro lot single origins. But while we love these excellent coffees, this post is about something different. We want to tell you why we love espresso blends, brewed at home without the use of an espresso machine.
What is a Coffee Blend?
Need a quick overview on the coffee blend? It’s simple: two or more origins, mixed together. Creating a coffee blend is an art form. You have to understand and appreciate the nuances in different coffees, and bring the flavors together to be transformed into a more complex cup of coffee. With 46 years of history sourcing coffee from all over the planet, we have a unique relationship with the coffees arriving at our roastery, and can create some truly spectacular blends with the coffees we receive.
One thing that’s special about a blend is the subtle shifts in flavor that we create to maintain freshness. We regularly modify the recipes for our blends, adding in our latest arrivals of coffee, while keeping a consistent flavor profile.
Now let’s talk espresso. What makes an espresso blend different from any other coffee blend?
Our four espresso blends have certain characteristics: softened acidity, a smooth experience throughout the cup, and a heavy body with a really spectacular aftertaste. These traits are specifically built into the blend for the purpose of pulling a superb espresso shot, but using our espresso blends in your home brewer also makes an equally excellent cup of coffee.
One of our favorite things to do at Thanksgiving Coffee, is to encourage you to try new things. The world of coffee is vast, and there is no way any one person would be able to try all the amazing coffees out there. What we do have is the opportunity to experience and taste more than ever before as our world becomes better connected, and we love bringing these alternative coffee options to you.
Every sip of coffee is a new experience, and we are honored to be a part of your coffee rituals.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company 2017 Roaster of the Year Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
We have a new Coffee 101 post for you today! Buckle up, because you’re going to get to know more about the world of specialty coffee, by diving into single origins and roast colors in one blog post. We are examining how origin and roast color work together to create your Thanksgiving Coffee experience.
Roast Color in Specialty Coffee
You can dig in deep about roast colors and what they mean here, or get the annotated version below. From light to medium to dark to french, slight adjustments in the temperature during roasting make up 80% of a coffee’s flavor. Your personal preference–whether it’s smoky or sweet or somewhere inbetween—is largely based on the temperature to which your coffee was roasted.
If you spend any time chatting with people who work in the specialty coffee industry, you’ll notice a lot of love for the light roast. Light roasts tend to be the favorite of coffee aficionados because they truly showcase the flavors unique to origin. Despite this, it’s important to remember that every coffee drinker is different, and if light roasts aren’t your favorite, that is totally okay. There are so many ways to experience coffee, and it all helps to refine your palate.
Side by Side Coffee Comparison
In day to day coffee drinking, most people don’t have the chance to compare how the different roast colors taste. The average consumer has their go-to coffee, and typically won’t vary their purchasing by much. Getting the chance to taste two roast colors from the same origin is an excellent way to compare and contrast the flavors you get from darker and lighter roasts, to truly experience an origin and learn more about what you prefer in a coffee.
Ready to try it? We have a few coffees that allow you to do a side by side comparison between different roast colors of the same origin. These coffees are grown in the same region, processed using the same method, put into the same burlap sack, but roasted in two different ways. Take a look at our flavor profiles for these coffees below, and pick the origin that interests you.
Congo Coffee: Medium and Dark
Dark: Rich notes of chocolate and spice with a syrupy mouthfeel Medium: Milk chocolate, balanced richness, lasting finish
Uganda Coffee: Light and Dark
Dark: Smoky, with notes of chocolate and sweet pecans Light: Sweet, nutty coffee with notes of pecan and nutmeg
Guatemala Coffee: Light and Dark
Dark: Sweet cherry tartness, with notes of semi-sweet chocolate Light: Rich with cherry sweetness, floral notes, and a wine-like body
Sumatra Coffee: Medium and Very Dark
French: Full-bodied, smoky, earthy Medium: Earthy body, butterscotch, cedar
What we want you to do, is experience these side by side. Gather the family around, invite a couple friends over, and prepare the coffee in your favorite way – whether it’s Chemex, French Press or even cowboy style. Take the time to make a batch from both roast colors, and taste them both. Let the coffee linger in your mouth, and swish it around to hit all your taste buds. Try it without your usual sweeteners or dairy products… and then try it with! You’re getting to know the characteristics unique to the coffee’s origin, while spending time understanding the difference between the darker and lighter roasts.
BONUS: Decaf Tasting!
Thanksgiving Coffee also has an option for those of you that prefer a little less caffeination. Our Decaf Nighthawks’ lineup is sourced from an organic coffee farm in Mexico, and water-processed to remove caffeine at a nearby facility. While our Light and our French are roasted separately, our Medium Roast (which we call the ‘Royal’) is actually a blend of the two. After we’ve roasted our French and Light versions of this Mexican coffee, we mix those two together to create a unique blend that becomes our Royal Decaf. Taste all three side by side to experience the variety you can get in a truly spectacular decaf.
Light: A smooth light roast with hints of milk chocolate and cinnamon Medium: Complex and sweet enough to enjoy straight, yet bold enough to punch through milk French: Bold and rich with intense notes of dark chocolate and toasted marshmallows
Thanksgiving Coffee Company 2017 Roaster of the Year Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
At the end of 2017, Kim Westerman of CoffeeReview.com published an excellent report of the state of Nicaraguan coffees, comparing a few of the Nicaraguans that she’d had the opportunity to cup and score, including our Songbird Nicaraguan.
That article was recently published in the latest edition of Roast Magazine, and we’ve included the final paragraph from that review here on our blog.
From Roast Magazine and CoffeeReview.com:
“Perhaps the only coffee presenting a classic Nicaragua profile among the nine highest scorers is Thanksgiving Coffee’s Organic Shade-Grown Nicaragua (reviewed online at 92), a blend of the respected maracaturra, caturra and catuai varieties, meticulously processed by the traditional wet method. It is also the only coffee we reviewed that is certified Bird Friendly by the Smithsonian Institution, hands-down the most uncompromising and rigorous of environmentally focused certifications. The idealism and passion that drove the growing and farm management that produced this coffee clearly went into its processing as well: It is an impressively pure coffee. Of all nine coffees we reviewed this month, it most clearly represents the classic Nicaragua cup of tradition, with its inherent balance, quietly juicy acidity and buoyant, satiny mouthfeel.”
We want to say thank you to Kim for writing this article and featuring the country of Nicaragua as an origin. We also want to thank Roast Magazine for publishing it in their most recent magazine. You can find this entire article on pages 78 and 79 of the March/April edition of Roast Magazine, and online at CoffeeReview.com.
Our Songbird Nicaraguan is a Medium Roast that is part of our partnership with the American Birding Association. You can find this coffee at a number of supermarkets and Wild Birds Unlimited outlets across the United States (see our Store Locator), as well as online on the Thanksgiving Coffee store.
If you’ve ordered our classic Mocha Java in the past few days, you may have spotted a difference in our packaging. Our new label design features a map that illustrates the story behind Mocha Java. In this blog post, we’re going to give you a little history lesson—so pour a cup of java (or grab yourself a mocha?) and have a seat.
While the word “mocha” may also refer to your favorite chocolate-y drink, that is not what we’re referring to in today’s post. Mocha Java is a historic blend of two origins an ocean away from each other: Indonesia and Yemen.
The History of Mocha Java
Back in the 1400s to 1600s, the majority of Europe’s coffee intake came out of the Red Sea, from the Port of Mocha [Makha or Mokha]. This coffee was grown in the country of Yemen, but was referred to by the name of the port from which it came. In the Pacific Islands, it was the same story. Most Indonesian coffee was coming out of a port on the island of Java, controlled by the Dutch East India Trading Company. This led to the term “java”, which has remained as slang for coffee to this day.
These two ports caffeinated most of the coffee-drinking world in those days, and trading ships passed through both on the same trip. Although 5,000 miles separated them, coffee from Java and Yemen lived together on the sailing vessels that made their way across the Indian Ocean and back to Europe. These two origins came together as the very first blend in the world of coffee, and it’s a combination that roasters continue to emulate.
The above pictures are a few examples of historic Mocha Java blends.
Mocha Java Today
These days, your typical Mocha Java has a few slight variations. Most roasters (and coffee enthusiasts) prefer Indonesian coffee to be sourced from Sumatra, the next island over from Java. On the Middle Eastern side, buyers will often source their “mocha” from the African country of Ethiopia, across the Red Sea from Yemen.
This is the case for our own homage to Mocha Java. For the Thanksgiving Coffee Mocha Java blend, we source our “java” from farmers in the the Takengon region of Sumatra, Indonesia. Our “mocha” is a natural-processed coffee that comes from farmer cooperatives in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. Our Mocha Java is a coffee that we’ve perfected over decades of roasting, and we strive to maintain its consistency.
The history of Mocha Java is a history of the coffee world as a whole. The coffee industry has changed significantly over the past five centuries, and we love looking back and researching where it all came from. Next time you brew up a cup of our Mocha Java, take your time drinking it, because you are sipping a truly historic coffee.
Mocha Java, Deconstructed
Now that you know the background of the Mocha Java, you have the opportunity to create your own. Our organic Sumatran Coffee is available in two roast colors, and we have three different organic Ethiopian coffees that you can choose from online. You can mix up the “mocha” and “java” to create your own perfect blend.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company • Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup • 2017 Roaster of the Year