Here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we’re always striving to better ourselves and our coffee – and history has shown this has a positive effect on the specialty coffee industry as a whole. One of the ways that we participate in the industry is by attending coffee events all over the world in order to meet with other leaders. This week we find ourselves at the Let’s Talk Coffee Conference.
Let’s Talk Coffee is a four day coffee conference held in Puerto Vallarta. At this event, leaders in the coffee industry from all over the world come together for one purpose: to talk about the coffee industry. The theme of the conference this year is Prospering in the New Reality; we’ll be looking forward to the future and discussing ways we can better our companies while forging new relationships at the conference.
Every facet of the coffee industry comes together at this event to discuss how the specialty coffee industry can make changes for the better. This is one of the few times that coffee producers, distributors, roasters, bloggers and investors all join together to discuss issues brainstorm solutions. Specialty coffee has long been a leader in the movement toward a more sustainable future, so we can’t wait to see how they continue to lead the conversation.
The Let’s Talk Coffee conference is put on by Sustainable Harvest, a coffee importing company that we have worked with for many years. We’re also happy to see that they are a fellow B Corporation!
Thanksgiving Coffee’s vice president Jonah Katzeff is in Puerto Vallarta now for Let’s Talk Coffee this year! We cannot wait to join the rest of the industry for thought-provoking conversation and informative lectures. See you there!
Follow Let’s Talk Coffee on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date! Keep your eye out for some big news on Saturday…
Coffee trees are remarkable for their ability to regenerate after severe pruning.
Severe pruning is hard on the psyche. You have taken care of your tree for 15 years and it has produced an amazing amount of enjoyment as it took you through its seasonal life cycles for 12 of those years. You are no Paul Bunyan with an anxious ax. You want to save trees, not chop them down. So you are about to break your own heart and you know it. You are, however, about to rejuvenate your tree and it will love you for your bravery. Sharp pruning shears are all that you need (and faith).
“The Cut” – May 4, 2016
On May 4th, 2016 the “cut” was made about 18” from the base of the tree; it broke my heart. That’s because I harvested 511 cherries from the tree, de-pulped them, soaked the seeds in a water-bath, dried them for a week on a window sill, and in the end had about 12 ounces of green beans. We invited the mayor of Fort Bragg, chefs, a winery owner, and our staff to a once in a lifetime “cupping.” We put the roasted beans on the cupping table with coffees from Central America and were pleasantly surprised when they received the highest praise for flavors we described as bright with hints of lemon, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.
27 Days Later – June 1, 2016
Note the small fresh leaves close to the trunk. This tree has plenty of root spore and therefore it is overpowered. It has stored its regenerative powers and now those roots have much less plant structure to support. It will put on a vigorous growth spurt over the next 6 months. Notice a new trunk beginning about 8” up the main trunk. We will watch it and hopefully 2 or 3 others will emerge from the lower trunk, proving the structure for the new tree.
48 Days After “The Cut” – June 21, 2016
The tree is beginning to fill in its remaining architecture with bright new leaves and a second trunk has emerged at about 10” from the base. We are on our way. There is nowhere to go but up and out.
Stay tuned for photos of its progress over the next 6 months.
1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
1 cup cold brew (use the TCC Cold Brew Kit!)
4 tablespoons Maple Syrup
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, torn
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1. Whisk cold brew, syrup, garlic, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper and salt together. Marinate steak for two hours in the fridge, turning the meat over about half way through.
2. Sear steak on grill or cast iron pan on high heat for three minutes on each side for rare, five minutes on each side for medium.
3. Let skirt steak sit for five minutes after cooking, then slice and serve.
2 oranges 2 cups (packed) medium-ground coffee 5 or so cardamom pods, crushed 2 quarts (plus 1 cup, to replace water lost during filtering) filtered water
Zest the oranges, making sure not to include any of the white pith (a microplane is the best way to do this). Reserve the oranges for another use, like, you know–eating.
Combine coffee grounds, zest, cardamom and water in a large container, stir well, cover and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours. To filter, pour through a fine-mesh strainer a couple of times. Line the strainer with a paper towel and filter again once or twice. Store in the fridge or a cool location.
Here’s an inexpensive and easy way to make astounding cold-brew coffee.
1. Using the Thanksgiving Coffee Cold Brew Kit (the basic container and the mesh bag) grind up the entire 12 oz package worth of Thanksgiving Coffee. We recommend a medium to dark roast, (unless you’d like to experiment with other roasts) at a coarse grind. We’ve already ground the package that comes with your “starter” set. If you purchase whole beans later, and decide to grind your own, you are looking for a grind roughly the same consistency as breadcrumbs. Any finer and you risk cloudy, grimy-tasting coffee. Buy the Cold Brew Kit
2. Fill the mesh bag with the ground coffee, and place it in the bottom of the empty container like a huge tea-bag, and top up the container with tap water (distilled water would be better — fewer dissolved solids means that it’ll absorb more of the coffee solids, but that’s not a huge difference).
3. Stick it in the fridge overnight. Easy peasy. In the morning, take the bag out of the container and give it a good squeeze to get the coffee liquor out of the mush inside. Voila, an amazing cold-brew concentrate that you can dilute.
4. Dilute 50/50, for example, one cup water to one cup concentrate, etc.
Cleanup is easy: invert the bag over a trashcan or garbage disposal, rinse off the bag, place somewhere clean to dry and you’re done.
This produces very, very good coffee concentrate, with only a little grit settled into the bottom of the container (easy to avoid). It may just be the cheapest and easiest cold-brewing method you’ll try.
Cold Brew Facts:
No fancy brewing equipment needed. If you outgrow our “starter” kit, you can expand using common household or easily acquirable items..
Big batch or small batch, you pick what’s best for you. The recipe is easy to scale depending on how much coffee you drink.
Your cold brew concentrate will last about a week in the refrigerator without losing its freshness.
You can mix your concentrate with water or milk, or if you are totally hard core you can drink it straight.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen single-cup brewing machines like Keurig’s K-Cups become extremely popular.
They’re everywhere: in office buildings, hotels, gas stations, homes and restaurants. And we know why people love them: they’re convenient, easy to use, and brew a consistent cup of coffee.
But for years we’ve been struggling with the idea of packaging our coffees in K-Cup pods. Why?
Flavor quality is often compromised
Coffee is at its best within a few weeks of roasting. But most coffee pods packaged for single-cup brewers are pre-loaded with sub standard coffee, and in our experience, it’s usually stale. They also are loaded with a smaller amount of coffee than is necessary to brew a full-strength, flavorful cup. We love our coffee, and we refuse to provide weak, stale coffee to our customers.
Substantial waste is created
When you brew coffee using disposable coffee pods, you’re creating waste with every cup you brew. Imagine millions of people brewing multiple cups of coffee per day with their single cup brewers, and throwing away millions of plastic cups. That’s a lot of waste – and as a B-Corp Certified company with strong social & evironmental values, we don’t want to be a part of that.
Coffee pods are a “value added” product – roasters who package their coffee in disposable coffee pods are charging for the convenience they allow. That means your money doesn’t go nearly as far as when you buy whole bean or ground coffee in a bag. Spending a ton of extra money for a poor cup of coffee just doesn’t seem right to us.
There’s nothing better than grinding and enjoying a fresh cup from freshly-roasted whole beans – but we know that’s not always a reality in today’s fast-paced world. We know that many people have a single cup brewer in their home or office, and are forced to drink substandard coffee as a result.
We decided to go in search of a reusable K-Cup filter that could be used to brew our coffee without compromising flavor quality or the environment.
During our research, we found that many 3rd party reusable filters are made cheaply, with flimsy plastic parts that broke easily. Others left a strange “plastic” taste in the cup after brewing (gross!). Others still were undersized and couldn’t be filled with enough coffee to create a cup that was strong enough. But some worked – quite well!
The Ekobrew Elite (pictured at left) performed the best of all the reusable cups we tested.
We like the solid build of the stainless steel construction, and that this reusable K-Cup does not require any disposable paper filter. Since it’s not made of plastic, there’s no plastic aftertaste, or worry about BPA residue.
And best of all – the Ekobrew Elite is a Zero Waste brewing solution for your Keurig brewer!
We’re now offering the Ekobrew Elite in our online store, along with brewing instructions to help you brew the best cup of coffee possible with a single cup brewer.
Buy an Ekobrew Elite for your single cup brewer. Then, follow these instructions to make the best cup of coffee possible with a single cup brewer, and you’ll save money and the environment while you’re at it! Download and print the brewing guide and post next to your single-cup coffeemaker for quick reference in your home or office.
In a world getting short on water, coffee lovers should begin to get their palates ready to recognize “Dry Processed” or “Naturals” when they buy coffee.
Naturals are processed from cherry to green bean without the customary water de-pulping and subsequent water bath. In the dry process, coffee cherries are dried with their skins and pulp intact.
The cherries are placed in the sun on concrete patios or raised drying beds. The skins tighten as they dry and the pulp juices move inward into the two seed in the cherry’s interior. When the mass is totally dry and crisp, and hard as a rock, they are milled like rice, cleaned and sorted and sacked.
This process produces quite a different flavor profile from wet processed “washed coffee.” The coffees take on the hints of the fruit and at their best, notes of blueberry and strawberry prevail. There is a jammy sensitivity to the brew, lots of body and fruit aromas.
Of course, these great flavors disappear in the darker roasts. We roast naturals, both light and medium, depending on the initial intensity of the fruit flavors.
This month we are featuring two “naturals.” One is from Ethiopia and received a 91 rating from Coffee Review. The other is from one of our favorite coffee farmers in Nicaragua, Byron Corrales, and received a 94 rating.
Byron began experimenting with naturals about 6 years ago. He was the first to master the art in Nicaragua and his naturals are a tad more balanced and a bit less fruity than the Ethiopians, but the jam is there as are the sweet berry flavors.
One of my favorite blending concepts is to blend naturals with washed coffees. In fact, Paul’s Blend is just that.
– Paul Katzeff Roastmaster Emeritus Thanksgiving Coffee
Back in 1978 (that’s thirty eight years ago) I was just beginning to learn about coffee. I spent the first six years getting comfortable with the fire and heat it took to convert it from a tasteless seed into a toasted reddish brown carrier of comforting flavor.
Then I turned my focus to understanding the botany and chemistry of this magical “bean.” One of the first things I wanted to know was what made my coffee so much better then every canned coffee on the shelf.
Back then, a one pound can of Folgers or Martinson’s cost one dollar. My coffee, packed in a clear bag, closed with a twist tie at the top, was $3.50 per pound. I wondered, how could those big coffee companies turn out coffee at such a low price?
Back then there was not a lot of intellectual conversation about coffee in print or on the web. (There was no web, the closest thing to it was The Encyclopedia Britannica.) Coffee was an unsophisticated cup of Joe and not much more. There were no “to go” cups. You didn’t see people walking in the streets, or driving cars with cups of coffee in there hand. Cars didn’t have cup holders yet. Cane sugar found its greatest use in coffee and there was no such thing as corn syrup in packaged foods. It was a simpler time, a time before craft beer, and when people smoked in restaurants.
My investigation led me to Robusta coffee vs. Arabica Coffee.
Back then Every coffee company said their coffee was “Mountain Grown,” an indication that it was High Quality with “Deep, Rich” flavor. But it was pretty much a lie. The canned coffee was basically the lowest grades of coffee they could put into the mouths of unsuspecting and gullible American consumers. The truth was that the major portion of the canned coffee blends was coffee from a variety called Robusta, and Robusta was really cheap coffee with a rough, leathery flavor with wood notes and an ashy dry finish. But it had a heavy body and packed a punch that my coffee did not come close to.
So what was going on here? I was roasting Arabicas, and they were blending in Robustas with their Arabica’s to lower their cost. Robusta was all about volume and price. Arabica was all about flavor. The difference between Specialty Coffee and the 300 year history of coffee leading up to 1978 was the focus on Arabica varieties and the disdain for the Robusta variety.
The botany of these two varieties was very different. Although a raw coffee bean is known to have over 1600 chemical compounds, we tend to define coffee by its caffeine content. (Did you know coffee is 20% coffee oil by weight?) I learned that Robusta varieties have 2.5 -3 times the caffeine as Arabica varieties. I learned that caffeine is a waste product of photosynthesis and is stored in the plant only because the plant, unlike the animal kingdom, can not get rid of its waste. So there it is. And being water soluble, it is not destroyed by the high heat of roasting, and comes out into the cup when coffee is brewed.
So why do these two varieties produce such different levels of Caffeine?
To get to the answer you need to know that the two varieties do best in different environments. The Robusta variety likes the lowlands where the sun is hot, the air is heavy and moist, and the ground is rich in alluvial soils. The Arabica variety loves the cool dryer climates of the high country between 3,000-6,000 ft above sea level. Here the soils are young, with a very thin layer of topsoil, the ground is cool and the forest shade trees are essential for the light sensitive leaves of the Arabica tree.
Photosynthesis is the process by which the plant takes in sunlight (energy) and along with the soils nutrients and water, converts these assets into food. In this case, into coffee berries which contain two seeds and a whole lot of sweet juicy pulp that surrounds them. The seeds are the way the plants reproduces itself, and in the two different environments that these varieties call home, the seeds wind up with different amounts of Carbohydrates (food) and Caffeine (waste). Why?
Germination risk is the reason. The tree evolved to maximize its chances for survival.
When a coffee tree drops its berries at the end of a growing season, it wants the seeds to have a high success rate, meaning it wants its seeds to germinate. In the case of the Arabica variety, high up the mountainside, the conditions for germination and young seedling survival are slim. The soil is dry and cool , and the rainy season is six months after the seeds are ripe and fall from the tree to the ground. The tree knows that it might be a while for the conditions to become perfect. So it prepares the seed by being very efficient with its photosynthesis.
It produces more food and less waste for each seed. High carbs for the long wait and for energy for sprouting under difficult conditions. The Robusta tree does not waste its energy on producing a lot of carbs for the seed’s germination energy because it knows that the soil is warm and moist, and that the nutrients are there in the soil to feed the plant in its sprouting stage. Why waste energy on producing long chain, complex carbohydrates? So the energy goes into the production of Caffeine.
I like to think of the Robusta as a Buick that will operate without being highly tuned and the Arabica tree as a Ferrari that will not run unless it is highly tuned.
Hardy Robusta – Fragile Arabica. Arabicas taste better because they have the need to put food in the seed. That food is a complex starch that under high heat, breaks down into simple sugars which caramelize and produce the flavor of coffee. Robusta has starch to convert to sugar in the roasting process and thus, it is less sweet. Now, caffeine being one of nature’s most bitter substances, adds a distinguishing bitterness to coffee- and 3 times more in Robusta. Arabica coffees have less caffeine, and more carbohydrates so it is sweeter and less bitter. The major negative in Robusta, Caffeine, becomes a positive when you forget the flavor and use it for the speedy pick-up that its caffeine gives the drinker.
In 1978 Thanksgiving Coffee Company introduced Pony Express, “The Jackhammer of Coffee,” the start your day with a “Blastoff” drink.
It is natures natural five-hour power shot. It will make your heart race, it will keep you on your toes, and if you want to stay awake, you will stay awake!
Today, Robusta coffees are quite a bit more flavorful, mostly because the way coffee has evolved over the past 35 years. Flavor counts for value, and value means higher price. When I first created Pony Express, the flavor was metallic with a petroleum aftertaste. It was rough and not to satisfying. Today, our Robusta comes from places like Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It is clean and has a flavor that will take you back to a time when coffee was “Just a cup of Joe”, but this time, you might just develop a taste for it and never look back.
In 2015, Thanksgiving Coffee became a B Corporation, joining a global community of socially and environmentally progressive businesses.
What’s a B Corp?
B Corps are leading a global movement of people using business as force for good. They use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,550 B Corporations 42 Countries 130 Industries 1 Unifying Goal: to redefine success in business.
Why did we become a B Corp?
Thanksgiving Coffee has been a longtime advocate of sustainable business practices. We pride ourselves on our long standing work with farmers at origin, investing in social justice and environmental projects, Fair Trade and Organic and biodynamic coffee growing methods. We constantly evaluate our decisions based on their social and environmental impact. B Corp certification seemed like a logical step for us, to join others who operate under these same principles .
We first looked into B Corp Certification because we felt the community reflected our company values, and because we wanted to formalize our membership in the socially and environmentally progressive business community. It’s a simple way of expressing our values to our staff, customers, partners and suppliers. We’re proud to be a part of this movement.
B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification or USDA Organic certification is to coffee. Inc Magazine calls B Corp “the highest standard in socially responsible business.”
To become certified, we underwent the B Impact Assessment. This is conducted by B Lab, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves a global movement, “People using Business as a Force for Good.” The assessment shows how a company performs against dozens of best practices on employee, community, and environmental impact.
Once our score was reached, we can then compare and learn how to improve the way we conduct our business for the future. This was a great opportunity to see how we stand and where to set our goals on where we want to be.
The second component to this is our company’s legal status, ensuring that we can justifiably incorporate social and environmental values into our business decisions without risking legal action from our shareholders. This is done by becoming a Benefit Corporation and changing the articles of incorporation.
Finally, we made it official by signing the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence:
We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – Which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
– That we must be the change we seek in the world.
– That all business ought to be conducted as if people & place mattered.
– That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm & benefit all.
– To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another & thus responsible for each other & future generations.
We won’t stop here. We’ll continue to make strides to improve scores where they’re less than the median, and maintain our practices that are already high. After 2 years, we’ll need to re-certify and prove that we’re still worthy of B Corp status.
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.
Notes: 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.