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
Happy Valentine’s Day from Thanksgiving Coffee Company!
We might be challenging the status quo with the below statement, but we’re pretty sure you will agree with us…
There is nothing more romantic than coffee.
Sure, it’s sweet to get a box of chocolates. Yes, a steak dinner with a glass of wine is heavenly. But there is nothing more divine than waking up to the smell of freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee.
Give your significant other the best gift this Valentine’s Day. Wake up first and brew the coffee!
Want to surprise your better half with some new coffee beans? Here are a few ideas…
If you’re looking for something really sweet, these are a few of our favorite flavored coffees! A touch of vanilla and a hint of chocolate make these coffees a delightful Valentine’s Day treat.
Want something special? These coffees are special editions – something you won’t typically find at the grocery store!
If your Valentine’s Day includes chilling at home and watching a movie, decaf coffee might be a good idea.
No need to break the bank this Valentine’s Day – these two coffees are on sale all of February!
Thanksgiving Coffee Company
2017 Roaster of the Year
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
February 16 marks the dawn of a new year under the Chinese calendar. 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
Chinese New Year in Mendocino
Here in Mendocino County, we’re lucky enough to have an early relic of Chinese culture in North America. Located in the village of Mendocino is our own Taoist temple: the Temple of Kwan Tai.
The Temple of Kwan Tai is a California Historic Landmark, and an important part of Mendocino’s history. The Chinese population of Mendocino in the 19th and early 20th centuries had a huge impact on the development and growth of the community, despite not being allowed to become citizens, own property, or vote in local elections. Notwithstanding the rampant racism of the era against Chinese populations, the community grew and flourished, and many of their descendants remain to this day.
The temple is one of the oldest standing buildings in the village of Mendocino, as it was built in 1854. This is the same year that the historic Ford House was built, and the year the Big River Mill was constructed.
The Temple of Kwan Tai Today
The Temple of Kwan Tai plays an active role in the Mendocino community, by putting on two spectacular events around the time of the Chinese New Year. These are the Chinese New Year Children’s Parade and the Chinese New Year’s Dinner. The public is encouraged to attend both of these events, and it’s always a joy to see members of the community and visitors the area join in on the celebrations. You can see the parade in the village of Mendocino on the late morning of Thursday, February 15th, and purchase tickets for the dinner on the evening of the 17th. The proceeds from the dinner help keep up the temple, and fund the annual parade.
Our own Lorraine Hee-Chorley, on the accounting team here at Thanksgiving Coffee, manages the temple and the events it puts on. Lorraine is a direct descendant of the man who first built the Temple of Kwan Tai in 1854, and actually wrote the book Chinese in Mendocino County, documenting the lives of early Chinese settlers of this area.
Thanksgiving Coffee is happy to donate coffee for the New Year’s dinner, and our employees look forward to attending and volunteering every year!
Learn more: www.kwantaitemple.org
Attend the Chinese New Year Events
Parade: 11am in downtown Mendocino • Thursday, February 15 • Free
Dinner: 6:30pm at Crown Hall in Mendocino • Saturday, February 17 • $40
Call for tickets: 707-937-5123
Join us in taking a closer look at Bolivia as a coffee origin.
Bolivian coffee is primarily grown in the Yungas – a band of forests growing along the slopes of the Andes. This is the Caranavi Province, located just northeast of the city of La Paz. It’s a fertile land that is excellent for growing coffee, and ranges from 800-1800 meters above sea level.
For many years, the only way to access the coffee farms of this region was via the Yungas Road – a steep and winding route that led from the city of La Paz into the Andes. This path was the one link between Bolivian coffee farms and the rest of civilization until the early 2000s. It has been called “The World’s Most Dangerous Road” or “Death Road”, and currently attracts mountain bikers looking for a high-elevation thrill. These days, there is a paved, two-lane road that allows for faster and safer traffic to move between La Paz and the coffee villages to the northeast.
The History of Bolivian Coffee
As the poorest country in South America, Bolivia has historically had a number of problems. Transportation of goods over the Yungas Road was a monumental issue for years, and the overworked coffee farmers had no reason to care about the quality of their product, knowing they would be underpaid whether it was good quality or not. Coca farming was a much more lucrative business than coffee.
USAID made huge strides in Bolivia in the early 2000s, by building wet mills in the Yunga forests. Processing at origin made the quality of the coffee increase dramatically, and helped a new generation turn toward coffee instead of coca. The swelling popularity of the Fairtrade and Organic movements also assisted in boosting the Bolivian economy, and improved the caliber of coffee coming from the country.
Thanksgiving Coffee and Bolivia
This year’s crop of coffee from Bolivia landed at the Thanksgiving Coffee headquarters in late January, making it our latest arrival for February 2018. We continue to be impressed with how much Bolivian coffee has improved in the 40+ years that we’ve been sourcing and roasting it.
Co-founder and CEO Paul Katzeff writes about his first time roasting Bolivian coffee in the late seventies:
“It was not memorable. Like most coffees from South America that were not from Brazil, Venezuela or Colombia, it was poorly prepped and inconsistent from sack to sack. It was long before coffee was even called ‘Specialty.’ Coffee farmers in Bolivia were not selling or even thinking about producing better quality. Their market was used as filler for the multi-national brands. My interest back then was only because I was exploring new possibilities, seeking treasure where treasure had not yet been found. Bolivia came into its own as an origin within the last 10-15 years and quality has improved steadily into a well-prepared, sweet and bright flavor profile. Bolivia has come a very long way in a very short period of time.”
Thanks for taking the time to dig into the origin of your coffee – check out our light roast Bolivian coffee below:
Bolivian Coffee Origin Specifics
REGION: La Paz, Caranavi Province
ALTITUDE: 800-1800 meters above sea level
GENETIC VARIETIES: Typica, Catuaí, Caturra
CERTIFICATION: Fair Trade, Organic
PROCESSING METHOD: Washed
DRYING METHOD: sun-dried on patios
Thanksgiving Coffee Company
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
2017 Roaster of the Year
Does anybody else feel like this year just began? 2017 has certainly been an inspiring year, and we have had so much fun looking over the calendar from the past twelve months to see what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve learned, and what’s coming up next in 2018.
To all of our friends and family who have been with us this year, THANK YOU! We adore you, and we can’t wait for another great year with you all.
We know this is a long blog post, so we made it easy to skip to different sections:
• 2017 Roaster of the Year • Congo Coffee • Wild Grounds • Favorite Coffees • Package Rebranding • Global Coffee Expo • Cold Brew at Coffeefest • Customer Reviews • CoffeeReview.com • Limited Edition Coffees • Local Partners • Puerto Rico Coffee Donation • New Wholesale Accounts • Thanksgiving Coffee Team •
2017 Roaster of the Year
For the past twelve months, we’ve been celebrating our win of the 2017 Macro Roaster of the Year title from Roast Magazine. After 45 years of both leading and learning from the coffee industry, it was an honor to be recognized as the top roaster in the country.
The judging for this award looks not only at the taste and quality of the coffee, but also at the practices within the company and their history as a whole.
Launch of the Congo Coffee
This is launch is very special to us, because we have such a long history with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Since 2004, we have roasted Gorilla Fund Coffee, benefiting mountain gorilla protection and research in Rwanda. As the DFGFI has grown and increased what they’re doing in Africa, we have been building alongside them, with our second Cause Coffee benefiting their efforts.
We now source Fairtrade and Organic coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and launched a second Cause Coffee in March of this year. This coffee’s label features the Grauer’s Gorilla, an endangered eastern lowland gorilla that inhabits the mountainous forests of the DRC. With every purchase of this coffee, we donate 10% straight back to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Partnership with the American Wild Horse Campaign
This June, we had the chance to launch an all-new Cause Coffee with an organization that is doing important work in our country. The American Wild Horse Campaign is dedicated to preserving our free-roaming wild horses and burros as part of our national heritage.
We first met the people behind the AWHC at GreenFest in San Francisco. They tried our coffees, we discussed the needs of their organization, and decided to partner together to create Wild Grounds Coffee.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has been teaming up with nonprofits for more than twenty years, and has been able to stand with some truly amazing organizations. We are so excited about what the American Wild Horse Campaign is doing, and we are glad to be a part of it.
Your Favorite Coffees
At the end of each year, we take a look back to see what the top sellers were on our website, and it’s always fun to see what coffees our customers have chosen. For 2017, these ten coffees topped the list: four french roasts, three dark roasts, one medium, one light and one flavored coffee.
Did your personal favorite make it to the top?
- Noyo Harbor French – Distinctly smoky with hints of jammy fruit, roasted nuts, and baker’s chocolate. This is our signature Fairtrade and Organic French roast.
- Grey Whale Blend – We blend our Mocha Java with a mellow, earthy Sumatra, and then add just a touch of vanilla.
- French Roast – Full bodied and toasty with intense dark chocolate notes and a smoky finish. This is our darkest roast – and we’ve been making it for over forty years.
- Paul’s Blend – Co-founder and Roastmaster Emeritus Paul Katzeff created this blend to showcase his favorite coffees. Blueberry notes add to hints of cashew and chocolate.
- Nighthawks’ Decaf Very Dark Roast – Bold and rich with intense notes of dark chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Our Decaf coffees are water-processed without chemicals. A classic French Roast.
- Mendocino Vienna – A bold, sweet blend with hints of nuts, chocolate, and caramel. Featuring coffees from Central America, South America, and Indonesia. The secret to Irish Coffee!
- Albion River Inn Blend – A full-bodied and well-rounded blend with sweet chocolate tones and a crisp, toasty flavor.
- Kona Blend – Simply elegant, with notes of tropical flowers and milk chocolate. A perennial favorite among light roast coffee drinkers.
- Sumatra Very Dark Roast – Full-bodied, smoky, earthy.
- Beaujolais Blend – Heavy bodied, complex and rich with a French Roast character, hints of caramel, nuts and spice.
When we took home the title Roaster of the Year, we decided to incorporate it into our packaging. The new design, which we launched in early 2017, incorporates the elements that make us who we are. Take a look at all the pieces that went into the new bag design through the link below.
Global Coffee Expo
In April of 2017, seven of the Thanksgiving Coffee team traveled to Seattle for the Global Coffee Expo, put on by the Specialty Coffee Association. We had the chance to see old friends, meet with coffee producers, participate in industry discussions, and taste a lot of great coffee.
Check out our recap of this event through the link below.
Cold Brew at Coffeefest Portland
In October, Lawrence and Jacob attended Coffeefest in Portland, and entered the West Coast Cold Brew Competition. While we didn’t take first place this time around, we did make it to the top four, and had a great time hanging out with other roasters on the cold brew circuit.
In addition to our cold brew coffee making waves in Portland, we are working toward a Nitro Cold Brew product that will be available for wholesale accounts in the New Year. We will have more information as the summer months begin to creep closer.
We never get tired of hearing what our customers have to say! Here are a few highlights from product reviews over the past year.
Anonymous in Moraga, California • Grey Whale Blend
I’ve been drinking Grey Whale coffee for over 10 years now. It’s my all time favorite! It doesn’t seem to have much of the bitterness I taste in many other coffees and the very subtle vanilla flavor adds to the smoothness, but doesn’t overwhelm. I only drink this coffee black because the flavor is that good!
Coffeeholic Birder in Port Clinton, Ohio • Songbird Colombian
I was told that bird friendly coffee was THE way to go for bird conservationists. I had no clue that I was going to have THE very best cup of coffee I ever had. It was. I highly recommend the ABA’s coffee. Save Wood Thrushes, drink this coffee!!
Liz in Washington, D.C. • Nicaragua Light Roast
I have been drinking coffee since high school but always with milk and sometimes even with cocoa powder as I couldn’t stand the bitterness – that is, until this coffee arrived at my doorstep. It is light, fruity, and for the first time ever, I am drinking black coffee and enjoying every moment of it. Thank you Thanksgiving and SOPPEXCCA for helping me find the right coffee for me!
Mayumi in San Marino, California • Wild Grounds Light Roast
We got the coffee mainly for the wild horse cause, but the aroma and the taste of the coffee exceeded our expectations. The light roast is very well done with an enticing smell and a hint of chocolate – pleasantly light but not at all under-roasted. We have had some disappointment lately with the lightly roasted coffee beans lacking aroma ordered from other specialty coffee roasting companies. Your coffee truly shines among the sea of so many coffee beans on the market. We look forward to ordering it again very soon.
James in Des Moines, Iowa • Nighthawks’ Decaf – Very Dark Roast
Excellent flavor. Your coffee is the best. Good taste and fresh.
Jerry in Oakland, California • Paul’s Blend
Retirement years have become even more enjoyable since I was introduced to Paul’s Blend. My awareness of Thanksgiving Coffee started with weekend in Mendocino a few years ago. Every year we return to Mendocino and Thanksgiving Coffee. Now, thanks to online ordering, everyday I can sit down with a cup of Paul’s Blend and the SF Chronicle ipad edition and feel like I’m back in Mendocino.
You can see more reviews from satisfied customers in the review section of each individual product page. Visit the Thanksgiving Coffee webstore to read them, or leave your own review.
Songbird Nicaraguan Coffee Review
In addition to all the kind words from our customers, we also got this VERY special review from CoffeeReview.com. Run by Ken Davids, this website is by far the best review portal for specialty coffee, and the team there was very impressed with our Songbird Nicaraguan.
Check out the excerpts below, or read the full article, and the full review on CoffeeReview.com.
The New Nicaragua, from CoffeeReview.com
“Perhaps the only coffee presenting a classic Nicaragua profile among all of the nine highest scorers is Thanksgiving Coffee’s Organic Shade-Grown Nicaragua (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 review 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.”
A Review of Songbird Nicaragua, from CoffeeReview.com
“Balanced, crisply sweet-tart. Lemongrass, cardamom, cocoa powder, rhododendron-like flowers, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. The structure fuses sweet, tart and savory tendencies, enlivened by a quietly juicy acidity. Buoyant, satiny mouthfeel. The crisp finish is richly sweet, with notes of lemongrass and vanilla-like florals carrying into the long.”
Limited Edition Coffees
Over just the past six months, we launched two separate limited edition coffees on the Thanksgiving Coffee webstore. The first was from Nepal in July, and the second was our Kenya Red Cherry Project in November. Both of these coffees were very well received, and we hope to bring you even more limited edition coffees in 2018.
In 2017, we had the opportunity to partner with three new local causes, to create an extra stream of income for their organizations: Art Explorers, Family Medicine of Mendocino County, and the Noyo Center for Marine Science. Each of these nonprofits are doing very important things for the Mendocino Coast, and we are honored to be able to stand with them. Follow the links above to learn more about each individual cause.
This fall, we had a surplus of apples in the company orchard, and we were able to harvest and donate over 2500 pounds of apples to the Fort Bragg Food Bank. Our orchard features 25 heirloom varieties, and we were very happy to be able to donate so much to our friends and families in the community who need it.
Puerto Rico Coffee Send with the Hogwarts Running Club
At the very end of this year, we teamed up with the Hogwarts Running Club for a really great project. This partnership was thanks to two individuals on our team who are members of the club: Megan Smithyman and Marchelo Bresciani. Through the amazing give back of this group, we donated over 1,000 packages of coffee to relief workers in Puerto Rico, and the club sent another 4,000 more packages through other coffee roasters across the country.
New Serving and Retail Accounts
We opened numerous accounts in 2017: restaurants, hotels, office accounts and cafes! Take a look at a few of the new ones to come on board this year.
Here in Northern California, we added some spectacular restaurants to our roster. Cafe Beaujolais, Relish Grill, Lizbby’s Restaurant and Bar and Mayan Fusion were just a few of the great additions here in Mendocino County.
As for grocery stores, Thanksgiving Coffee is now available in twenty new Safeways from Redding to Sonoma in California. Look forward to even more in the new year. We can also be found at Dahlia & Sage in Cloverdale, a great new grocery store featuring a lot of local Northern California brands.
For hotels and bed and breakfasts along our coast, we are excited about two fabulous new additions: Heritage House Resort in Little River, and Noyo Harbor Inn right across the Noyo River from us in Fort Bragg. The Noyo Harbor Inn is going to be opening in the next couple weeks, and the Heritage House has long been a staple of the Mendocino Coast.
The addition of Noyo Harbor Inn and the Heritage House Resort brought us to complete our Magnificent Nine–the nine best restaurants on the Mendocino Coast all feature their local Mendocino Coast roaster, Thanksgiving Coffee Company. These restaurants are: St. Orres in Gualala, Albion River Inn Restaurant in Albion, 5200 Restaurant and Wild Fish in Little River, the MacCallum House Restaurant and Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, Noyo Harbor Inn and Cucina Verona in Fort Bragg and Newport Ranch in Westport.
Breakers Inn is currently working toward providing Thanksgiving Coffee in each of its 28 rooms on the Gualala coastline. We are coordinating with them and a few other hotels along our coast to provide a revolutionary new in-room brewer. This product will be available to all of our accounts in the coming months!
Five new Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the United States have begun selling packages of Thanksgiving Coffee. Missouri, New York, South Carolina and Illinois were added to our list of WBU stores carrying our Songbird Coffee lineup.
As always, you can view the Thanksgiving Coffee Store Locator page to see where you can pick up a bag or a cup of Thanksgiving Coffee near you. Interested in carrying Thanksgiving Coffee? Reach out through our contact page!
Changes to the Thanksgiving Coffee Team
Thanksgiving Coffee is always growing and changing, and 2017 featured some big updates. Longtime employees David Woolis (28 years), Bill Adams (24 years) and Susan Coy (10 years) retired in 2017, and we of course, miss them very much. Our fearless leaders Paul and Joan Katzeff continue to move us forward into the New Year, alongside Vice President, Jonah Katzeff.
It has been quite a year. Join us in raising a cup of coffee to the last twelve months, and look forward to the next! 2018, we’re ready for you.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company
2017 Roaster of the Year
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup
As we express gratitude for our families and friends during this season, you are at the top of my list. Thanksgiving Coffee’s supporters are some of the most forward-thinking and philanthropic people I have ever met, with great ideas and great heart. It’s an attitude that invigorates all of us here, and inspires us to grow and to give.
In the spirit of this season, I want to share a story and an opportunity with you. Back in 2015, I traveled to Africa to visit a coffee farm in Uganda. On my way off the mountain, riding in the back of an old Toyota pickup, my driver and I passed a party in progress. It was spilling out onto the dirt patio alongside the road. We slowed down to listen to the drummers banging out some rhythms that made you want to get up and dance. In the crowd was a young man with an old and bulky video camera, recording the chaos. He saw the pickup and rushed over to offer me a DVD he had filmed and edited. His name was Elijah.
This started a three year relationship between me and Elijah, via email from 10,000 miles across the globe. I’ve referred this young man to other business owners needing footage in Uganda, and have watched his skills grow and improve as he continues to work in his passion.
We have an opportunity here to showcase what Uganda can offer to the world at large, and support a young man who has the skills and is ready and willing to work.
I believe in Elijah, and I am excited to introduce him to my friends and family and supporters of Thanksgiving Coffee. In the spirit of giving this year, I am asking you to invest in the future of Uganda, by giving the gift of a charitable donation. Follow this link to back the campaign!