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
Announcing the Expansion of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Partnership.
Lone silverback Mizero
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has just renewed our commitment to help protect the last remaining 880 mountain gorillas, support the people of Rwanda, as well as offer a great coffee.
For more than 10 years Thanksgiving Coffee Co. has supported the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund by raising over $58,000 for their gorilla conservation work, and now, we have just pledged to continue this support with a new contract dedicated to this inspiring partnership.
In 2004, Thanksgiving Coffee began to work with the Dukunde Kawa Coffee Cooperative in Rwanda, and the Fossey Fund, as a way to help strengthen community development in a post genocide country.
Together with the Fossey Fund, we offered support to the Rwandan farmers as they developed sustainable alternatives to logging and poaching, which are two of the largest threats facing mountain gorillas today.
The Fossey Fund has almost 50 years of gorilla protection and conservation history in Rwanda. They are committed to promoting continued research on the gorillas and their threatened ecosystems and to providing education about their relevance to the world. We are honored to work with them and greatly look forward to this continued work. Learn more
“The Fossey Fund believes in protecting gorillas and their habitat by creating better choices for people and supporting the development of a sustainable economy in Rwanda.” Tara Stoinski, Ph.D.-Fossey Fund President/CEO and Chief Scientific Officer
A sustainable economy is essential to the success of this program. We want the next generation to thrive. It has only been 21 years since the fabric of the Rwandan society was torn apart by civil war. The destruction of infrastructure and the severe depopulation of the country crippled the economy. One way that we have been able to offer help to the people of Rwanda is with our ongoing support of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative.
This Cooperative was formed in 2003 with help from the Rwandan government and the USAID-funded PEARL Project (Partnership to Enhance Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages). Since then, Thanksgiving Coffee has worked with Dukunde Kawa on a variety of social, economic, and environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the farmers’ coffee and strengthening the Cooperative, and the benefits it offers to its members. Thanksgiving gives a $.20 per pound Fair Trade premium directly to the Coop for development of community benefit projects, with no strings attached. Read more here
The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative is where the Gorilla Fund Coffee comes from, and they produce one of the most elegant coffees in the world. The cooperatives coffee has won the Rwanda Cup of Excellence 6 years running.) This community of farmers, collectively known as Musasa, has an average of 1 acre each. Their average yield per farm is 500 pounds of coffee, and the average family size per farm is 9 people. Each one of these two thousand small farms produces coffee, and that coffee is the economic lifeblood for their community.
With the purchase of this coffee from The Coop, Thanksgiving is able to help the farmers feed their families, offer shelter from harsh elements, and give them a livelihood that grows year after year. With every package of Gorilla Fund Coffee that is purchased online, Thanksgiving Coffee donates to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help their vital work. If you would like to help the mountain gorillas, help the people of Rwanda, and drink delicious coffee, you can, right here.
“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future.”
– The last entry in Dian Fossey’s journal
Sweet, with notes of dark chocolate, juicy hints of orange and plum.
MEDIUM ROAST • Fair Trade
Buy 100% Rwanda coffee
Draped like a patchwork quilt over a steep winding ridge, the two thousand farms of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative stretch over 10 kilometers of meandering hilltops and slopes. Each small farm is home to a family, and on their small plots, often an acre or less in size, the family produces beans, potatoes, plantains, and the economic lifeblood of their community, coffee. This community of farmers—collectively known as Musasa after the area’s main town—produces one of the most elegant coffees in the world.
We have worked closely with Dukunde Kawa since 2004 on a variety of social, economic, and environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the farmers’ coffee and strengthening the cooperative and the benefits it offers to its members.
In 2015, we submitted this fine coffee to the team at CoffeeReview.com
. They gave our 100% Rwanda single origin coffee a respectable score of 92 points:
“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.” – rating by CoffeeReview.com
Sweet, with notes of dark chocolate, juicy hints of orange and plum.
MEDIUM ROAST • Fair Trade
Buy 100% Rwanda coffee
In memoriam: Fernando Arguello Amador (1945 — 2015)
Fernando was a campesino (farmer) who became a friend over the many years we worked together. He was ever present in supporting his cooperative and community. He maintained an extremely high quality standard for his coffee.
Most of all, we will remember him as a strong diplomatic leader who stood up for the interests of the farmers he represented. Fernando had a huge heart, penetrating smile, and soft voice. He was incredibly respectful while driving a hard bargain. When he stopped being president he continued to support and use his experience to help the cooperative. He will be sadly missed on our trips up into the Aranjuez mountains, but his memory will always be with us.
– Nicholas Hoskyns
Thanksgiving Coffee Board Member & ETICO Managing Director
We’ve set aside a small amount of Fernando’s last coffee crop (2015) for a limited release. Our roastmaster, Jacob Long has created a special roast of this coffee, and we’re offering 100 bags. We’ll donate $1.00 per package sold to the Amador family in memory of Fernando.
LIMITED RELEASE: Fernando Amador
Silky-smooth, notes of milk chocolate, with a lingering navel orange sweetness.
About Fernando Amador:
Fernando Arguello Amador was born in La Libertad, Nicaragua in the region of Chontales in 1945. His father was a silicon miner, and became ill with Tuberculosis. His family learned of a TB hospital in Aranjuez, so the family moved there for his treatment. When his father died 2 years later, Fernando, being the oldest child, stayed in Aranjuez to help his mother.
Fernando – “I sold bread and food door to door. I spent 5 years working in the hospital, first cleaning, then I learned carpentry to repair shoes. Later a woman offered me credit to buy 10 manzanas of land (17.4 acres). Little by little we started with coffee, then with the help of God we got a cow.”
Fernando had a rough start to farming, losing much of his first farm because he couldn’t make the payments.
But he persisted, and eventually secured a loan to plant coffee trees on more land. In 1992, Fernando and other farmers formed a cooperative, SOLIDARIDAD, which eventually became Fair Trade Certified, guaranteeing higher prices per pound of coffee grown by its members. It was around this time when Paul Katzeff, Thanksgiving Coffee’s co-founder, met Fernando and began buying his coffee.
“Coffee means everything. “[It] is what gives us security. It pays for all of our big expenses- the house, any sicknesses, clothing. I’ve raised my kids with it, given them education, constructed this house. With the help of the Thanksgiving Coffee Company, I bought the truck and that changed our lives,” said Fernando.
The better price has helped each member of every producing family. It allows us to help out in the community, with the school, and the church,” said Fernando.
In his years of experience as a cooperative member, Fernando gained wisdom about working in the cooperative model.
“It’s a good way for a group of friends to get together to help the community. But for it to function well, you have to put aside your ego.
Don’t mix the personal with the professional, so that it is a cooperative in the true sense of the word. Virtue means that position and power don’t change you,” he said.
Over the years, Fernando saw his community, and the environment change drastically.
With development, come more challenges. There are more people than ever living in Aranjuez, which mean more roads, more traffic, and large-scale agriculture by foreign companies and investors.
“The down side is that a lot of the environment has been destroyed. There has been tremendous deforestation here. On the other hand, the small-scale producers have planted some 100,000 trees. We all have desire for the area to stay as beautiful as it is.”
Fernando and his wife, Amparo, raised five children together. He liked to say, proudly, that all of his children have graduated high school, and are pursuing their passions.
“Leonelia (33) is a nurse, Alan (30) is a photographer, Iris (30) is a member of a women’s collective, Fernando (26) is a coffee producer (26) and Ontoniel (22) is studying engineering at the university in Leon, Nicaragua,” said Fernando.
Thanksgiving Coffee has partnered with Fernando and Cooperativa Solidaridad for over 20 years, and built a strong, collaborative relationship.
Over the years we’ve worked together to increase the quality of the coffee by investing in washing stations, building cupping labs, and providing feedback to the farmers on their crops each year. It’s a relationship we’re proud of.
“The best coffee, it takes a lot of work, carefulness, and dedication. The coffee has to be picked at the right moment, de-pulped the same day with clean machinery, perfectly fermented, and rinsed with clean water.”
– Fernando Arguello Amador (1945 – 2015)
For Fernando, coffee meant everything.
Deep and immaculately sweet, with notes of ripe cherry and golden raisin.
Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of Arabica coffee. Centuries of production and perfecting methods of preparation have produced brilliant results. This fine Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Worka Cooperative located in the southern district of Gedeb, Ethiopia. The Worka zone encompasses the highest altitude coffee cultivation area in the entire country of Ethiopia, resulting in a stunningly unique flavor profile.
The Worka Cooperative was established in 2005 and currently has approximately 300 members. In 2005, the cooperative joined the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) to support a sustainable coffee supply from cooperatives in the Gedeo ethnic region of Ethiopia.
Shop Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
This coffee was recently reviewed by Ken Davids and the team at CoffeeReview.com!
“92 points – 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.”
Read the review
Heavy, earthy body, with layers of cedar and butterscotch.
Small family farms blanket the mountains of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island. Under the dense tropical forests of the island’s northern Gayo Mountains, the 1,329 members of Koperasi Permata Gayo produce one of Indonesia’s finest and most sought after coffees.
The cooperative formed in 2005, following a peace accord that ended a decade-long civil war and a devastating earthquake that heavily damaged the farmers’ homes and warehouses. Growing in membership year by year, Koperasi Permata Gayo represents the farmers’ hope for a peaceful future, prosperity, and careful stewardship of the natural environment.
Like all the finest Indonesian coffees, Permata Gayo is produced using the distinct wet-hulled process that yields a pungent earthy flavor enlivened by sweet notes of butterscotch, cinnamon, and clove.
Available in Medium Roast and Very Dark Roast
Heavy, earthy body, with layers of
cedar and butterscotch.
Shop 100% Sumatra
Byron Corrales is a visionary farmer, campesino leader, and pioneer in the application of biodynamic farming practices to coffee production. Twice he’s won top honors for this magical coffee: Maracaturra, a special variety found only on his small family farm in Nicaragua.
Last year, Byron began processing a small amount of this special coffee using the natural process: sun-drying the coffee cherries to develop a rich, fruity flavor notes. This coffee received a rating of 94 points from CoffeeReview.com!
The coffee is a unique hybrid of the heirloom varietals Maragoype and Caturra (Bourbon). It was developed and is grown exclusively by Byron Corrales for Thanksgiving Coffee Company. It is a truly exceptional coffee that’s more akin to its cousins in the highlands of East Africa than its neighbors in Central America.
Byron’s Maracaturra Natural
Lush, mellow and jammy,
with a suggestion of blueberry.
Shop Byron’s Maracaturra Natural
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) certification is another step we are taking at Thanksgiving Coffee to verify that the coffees we purchase and co-brand with them are truly coming from farmers who support and maintain “Bird Friendly” habitat on their farms .
The SMBC certification is “the undisputed “Gold Standard” when assessing forest habitat for the quality of its ability to support not just birds, but all the species that live and make their home in a particular indigenous forest . The standards that the Smithsonian scientists have set are based on rigorous research into the nature of the forest itself, its remaining over-story size and density, its type of remaining trees, the numbers of levels of “over-story” and how our coffee agriculture has been integrated into the original Habitat.
At the heart of the certification is the absolute of no use of oil based Fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. The coffee farm must first be Certified Organic before it can begin the SMBC certification assessment process.
Thanksgiving Coffee is a certified organic Roastery. We follow strict rules set by USDA . About 85 % of our coffees we purchase are Certified organic, but as of this writing only our coffees from Guatemala (Guaya’b Cooperative) and from Nicaragua (Byron Corrales’ Family Farm) are SMBC Certified. These coffees represent only 15% of our Roastings at this time.
After meeting with SMBC scientists in May of this year in Washington DC (Their offices are located at the National Zoo) we set up a plan to have each cooperative we buy from in Nicaragua, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Peru, Uganda, and Rwanda, assessed for the “Bird Friendly” certification. Where farms are organic but lack the shade standards needed for the SMBC certification, we will work with the cooperative’s Board leadership to put forest restoration practices in place to enable certification. One by one these farm habitats will be certified.
Our goal is to have 85 % of our coffees SMBC Certified by 2020.
With collaboration and help from The Smithsonian Outreach program for coffee farms we hope to bring a wide range of coffee farms into this Gold Standard certification. Our relationship with the leadership of the SMBC is a close one. We see this as strong support for The American Birding Association Songbird Coffee we sell under a licensing agreement we have had since 1996. Their members, who focus on their love of and protection of migratory songbirds, depend upon the science of the SMBC for their assurance that the money they spend on coffee is being spent in the name of protecting them, and we at Thanksgiving Coffee mean to assure our Songbird followers that the highest level of awareness goes into the coffee they drink each morning, and that the birds out there are able to feed their young, build their homes and fatten up enough to make their amazing migrations each year.
Paul KatzeffCo-Founder & CEO
Try Song Bird Coffee
These coffees benefit the American Birding Association, which works to inspire people to enjoy and protect wild birds through publications, conferences, workshops, tours, partnerships, & networks.
Shop Song Bird Coffee
Adventures at Origin: Nicaragua
Jacob Long, Nicholas Hoskyns, and I (Jonah Katzeff) traveled together from March 23rd-27th. We visited first and second level coffee cooperatives that produce approximately 25% of our annual green coffee purchases. We cupped and selected our Nicaraguan coffees for 2015, met with cooperative leaders and farmers, and visited beautiful coffee farms.
We were received warmly everywhere. I am so grateful to the hundreds of hands that touch coffee, from the time it is picked to when it is exported. Our 2015 Nicaraguan coffees will be exceptional. The new harvest is now available now!
Read the first post in this series here- Day One: Solcafe and Byron Corrales’ farm visit
Solidaridad Cooperative, Tour of Sol Café, and dinner with Pedro and Byron Corrales
Began day at the Solidaridad purchasing station and office, located in Aranjuez, which is a small community north of Matagalpa. We had coffee and introduced ourselves in their new meeting room.
The new wing was built this year for meeting space and offices using funds from the Fair Trade premium they received last year.
Additionally, the cupping lab is going to be moved to the purchasing station. An old building where the lab is now located will be sold.
We toured two farms.
Returned to purchasing station for lunch – Gallina Rellena y Sopa de Gaillina con albondigas (typical meal served on Christmas, New Year’s, and occasional special events).
We had a 2 hour meeting negotiating a three-year contract that would provide security for both the Solidaridad Cooperative and Thanksgiving Coffee.
Return to Solcafe for a tour of the new coffee roaster and dryers used to dry coffee mechanically.
Dinner with Pedro Haslan, Byron Corrales, Nick, and Jacob; discussion of raised beds for drying natural coffees. Pedro calls it Cafe Ancestral or Ancestral Coffee.
Turns into a bigger discussion on how to promote natural Nicaraguan coffee with a national event that would bring roasters and co-ops together. Pedro proposes working with the co-ops that were involved with the cupping labs.
More to come from this origin trip in our post about Day 3!
The green coffee sourcing team:
Nicholas (on right) is the Managing Director of Etico. He organized our visit and traveled with us throughout the week. Nicholas was born in England, but Nicaragua is his adopted home after spending almost 25 years there! Etico imports our coffees from Nicaragua as well as green coffees from Guatemala, Mexico, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Jacob (second from right) is the Director of Coffee Control and Roastmaster at Thanksgiving Coffee. He is responsible for developing the roast profiles of all our single origins, blends, and decafs. He approves all the green coffees we purchase and ensures that the coffee roasted at Thanksgiving is consistent roast after roast.
Jonah (on left) works in Business Development and as an Account Manger. He serves in a variety of roles that include green coffee sourcing, managing the San Francisco Bay Area accounts, and special projects, as assigned by Senior Management.
- Maama Vanessa with original cooking fire
The Namanyonyi Cooperative
in Uganda is an interfaith community of Muslim, Christian and Jewish farmers who have put aside religious differences to produce a fine coffee called “Delicious Peace.”
The Clean Cook Stove project was born out of a climate change mitigation initiative brought to Namanyonyi Cooperative (formerly Mirembe Kawomera) in 2012. It began with planting trees. However, the trees were quickly devastated by the cooperative’s highly inefficient cooking methods.
The coop members knew that if they had more efficient ways to cook, they would lower their use of firewood. The Clean Cook Stoves were the solution. In the first phase of funding, we were able to provide Clean Cook Stoves to the most disadvantaged cooperative members. The first 44 stoves were built for the elderly, families with children, and single-parent families. This was completed by December of 2014.
Farida Wafidi with new Clean Cook Stove
The objective of Phase I was to test the ability of the coop and staff to find local materials and train local craftsmen, creating ongoing jobs with a new Clean Cook Stove trade or industry. Funds were generated by coop board using their Fair Trade premium and by Thanksgiving Coffee Company’s sales rebate of $1.00/ pkg. added to Delicious Peace coffee purchases by supporters of interfaith work.
With Phase I successfully completed, we now enter Phase II: to complete the next 50 stoves for this year. It is our goal to continue to provide guidance and funding for a “smokeless kitchen” with a clean cook stove for every member of Namanyonyi Cooperative by the end of 2016.
Clean Cook Stove Benefits
Aisa Kainza with new Clean Cook Stove
As a result of the Clean Cook Stove project, the rate of deforestation has been curbed. The newly planted trees can develop deep root systems which then allows the soil to become more fertile for food production as the trees bring up the water table. This rich soil further strengthens the coffee trees and other food crops grown for subsistence. This will improve food security for the area’s farmers by increasing the diversity of foods immediately available to farming families.
These stoves use 1/10 the fuel to produce a cooked meal, while the chimney directs smoke out of the kitchen, reducing the risks of respiratory disorders to all involved with cooking. They also reduce the risk of fire, given that the homes are made of dry banana fiber & grass-thatched roofs. This also lowers the chances of children getting burnt or even dying.
This project is designed to create a new indigenous industry. Over one million rural Ugandans use open fire kitchens in their highly flammable homes. Utilizing local materials and local craftsmen, this project will become a model for future funders. The Clean Cook Stoves are part Health Benefit, and part Climate change Mitigation, while also providing new employment opportunities. Scale will lower costs, increase the number of cook stoves builders, and form the basis of a new and healthier cultural norm.
Support this project by purchasing Delicious Peace Coffee. $0.50 per package sold will be used to fund Phase II of the Clean Cook Stove project.
Shop Delicious Peace Coffee