Springtime for SongBirds

Best Coffee in the World

The best coffee is grown the traditional way— slowly, under a canopy of shade from taller native hardwood trees. Shade-grown coffees are carefully tended, harvested, and processed by people who know and love coffee, and who depend on it for their livelihoods.

Traditional shade-grown coffee really is a win for everyone: amazing coffee flavors, a fair wage for the coffee farmers’ hard work, and a lush natural habitat for migratory birds. So much good comes from a just cup of coffee.

The history of shade

By 1996, the United States forests had run out of hardwoods such as oak, ash, maple, cherry, and all the wild fruit and nut trees. These are important woods used in furniture making, home building, veneers for plywood, doors, window frames and a host of other minor but important uses.

The timber industry needed another source of hardwood, so they targeted the temperate rainforests where coffee was grown. The coffee tree is a shade loving plant that withers in the sun and needs shade to be a healthy producer of coffee fruit. Mahogany, and a dozen other hardwood varieties, were there for the loggers if only they could convince coffee farmers to cut down their trees.

The destruction of these native hardwood forests is a long story of deception. Governments, in collaboration with multinational corporations, set out to convince farmers to grow their coffee in the sun, claiming that yields would increase and incomes would rise.

Without the leaf litter from the big hardwood trees to fertilize the soil every year, oil based fertilizers would be needed. This is how the petrochemical companies became involved. Now with more sunlight reaching the ground, weed killers would become essential. This is how herbicide producer Monsanto became involved. Without the forest habitat for migratory songbirds, natural pest controls were lost. This is how the need for chemical pesticides became essential.

The big chemical companies found new markets and the timber companies gained new inventories of almost unlimited, inexpensive hardwoods. The coffee farmers paid for all this with higher costs, lower quality coffee, toxins entering the water supply, and a 90% loss of biodiversity on their farms.

At least half of all coffee grown in the northern neotropics has already been converted to full sun plantations

Preserving these precious jungle forests not only protects biodiversity, it’s also our greatest asset in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The Smithsonian’s Bird Friendly® certification is the most rigorous environmental certification possible for coffee, and the only one that justifies use of the much-abused term “shade-grown.”

Biologists have found that traditional shade-grown coffee farms can support over 170 species of birds. This is far greater than the number of birds found on sun-grown coffee plantations, and greater than partial shade coffee farms.

Based on years of scientific research, the SMBC has developed strict criteria for evaluating shade coffee farms. An independent, third-party inspector determines whether a farm meets these criteria or not. Only those farms that also meet organic certification standards are eligible to be certified Bird Friendly®.

Thanksgiving Coffee is proud to offer these coffees which are certified Bird Friendly®:

For the month of April, enjoy $2 off every package of SongBird Coffee.

Celebrate Earth Day everyday by helping to protect the complex jungle forests, all with your morning cup of coffee.

Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.

Whale Run 2019

Coffee and Movement

Athletes have long appreciated the many helpful properties of coffee. As a pre-race ritual, a hot cup of coffee gets the blood flowing and puts a spring in your step. After a hard workout, the capillary dilation effects of caffeine help aid in recovery, increasing blood flow to tired muscles. Here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we believe in the magic of coffee and we know that it can be so much more than just a morning beverage— it can be a true medium for change.

Zachary Friedly was born missing his right leg above the knee, but that has never stopped him from being a natural born athlete. Participating in wrestling, football and baseball, Zachary is now pursuing his dream of competing in the 2020 Paralympic games in Tokyo as part of the track and field team. His goal is to spread awareness for his new non-profit organization, The Mendocino Movement Project, whose mission is to provide prosthetics to landmine survivors and those suffering from limb loss in developing countries.

Thanksgiving Coffee was proud to provide coffee for the athletes at this year’s Fort Bragg Whale Run and sponsor Zach for his very first 5k race. A fundraising event for the local Soroptimist group, the Whale Run celebrated it’s 35th year on the town’s brand new coastal trail.

With support from Thanksgiving Coffee’s Brand Manager and accomplished marathoner, Marchelo Bresciani, Zach ran his farthest distance to date. As a world class sprinter, Zach never imagined how much he would enjoy the 5k distance and seeing just how far he could go. Now, he is pursuing more events and 5k races around the country to share his story and promote movement throughout the community.

A recipient of this year’s Challenge Athlete Foundation Grant, Zach is gearing up to receive a new leg later this month. He can’t wait to hit the ground running and start posting new personal records.

Thanksgiving coffee is proud to support Zach and his efforts to bring the Mendocino Movement Project to life. Follow him on his adventures this summer and keep an eye out for a special package of Mendocino Movement Project Coffee in the months ahead.

Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.

This is Shade Grown Coffee

Shade Coffee looks like this: grown under the canopy of indigenous trees. The white barked taller trees are commonly known in Central America as “Inga”. They are great for coffee because they not only provide shade for the trees, but also habitat for biodiversity and leaf litter for soil nutrients. Leaves decaying on the forest floor is natural fertilizer. An additional benefit comes from the tree being “leguminous”, meaning its roots deliver nitrogen to the soil, further reducing the need for oil based fertilizers.

This environment is perfect for the cultivation of organic coffee. This site is located in Northern Nicaragua and is typical of the Mesoamarican Rainforest that stretches from Panama thru Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, all the way up to the Yucatan Peninsula. These forests are the home of Black Panthers and the National bird of Guatemala, the famous Quetzal. The trees are full of birds and Howler Monkeys and hundreds of species of orchards. At the higher elevations, coffee trees reflect the quality of this forest in the flavor of their fruit, and finally, in your cup.

When you taste coffee from regions like this, you are experiencing a message from the forest spirits. The expression, “There is magic in this package, only you can let it out” is derived from a walk through this place that I took with my good friend Byron Coralles long ago.

The Roastmaster’s Select 50th Edition

In late 2014, Roastmaster Jacob Long was touring the Thanksgiving Coffee warehouse with a new employee, brand manager Marchelo Bresciani. Educating him on various green coffees stacked high on pallets, Jacob told Marchelo where the coffees had come from, the farmers and what time of year the coffees are freshest. Finally, he pointed out one particular sack of coffee.

Farmers in Nicaragua, he explained, were sending farm specific micro lots, as opposed to blended sacks of co-op beans. The quality of the coffee from this farm was so striking, that it shouldn’t blended. It would be a shame to lose it’s unique flavor. This coffee, though there was only one sack, was good enough to stand on its own. This coffee had something to say, and it was a micro-lot worth sharing with our customers.

That was how the Roastmaster’s Select Coffee came to be.

Roastmaster’s Select Coffees are a carefully developed monthly selection, roasted in small batches using only the freshest beans at peak flavor. Each month, members are encouraged to record their thoughts and impressions about each selection and country of origin with the informative cupping cards included in every box.

Over time, the Roastmaster’s Club evolved to exclusively showcase single origin micro-lot coffees. Some come from unique and surprising locations, like Nepal, Laos or Malawi. Others represent the highest quality beans from well established sources, such as Byron’s Natural from Nicaragua or the ever popular Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

Shhh! It’s a Secret

The added fun of club membership is the surprise of not knowing what’s inside until you open the box. Is this month’s coffee from Mexico or Tanzania? Java or Guatemala? It could be unique beans from remote locations, or the highest quality of a favorite varietal. Every month, the Roastmaster’s Select Club Members are guaranteed to receive a box of awesome coffee.

Join the Club

Curious to know which coffee has been chosen for the 50th Edition of the Roastmaster’s Select? Sign up this month to find out! As a club member, you will have exclusive access to the finest selection of coffees, many of which have gone on to become award winning products. In fact, 2 out of the 3 Roaster of the Year winning coffees, the Kenya Peaberry and the Ethiopia Gedeb, were first released as Roastmaster’s Club Selections.

If you’re looking for just the right gift for the coffee lover in your life, or to add some spice to your coffee routine, a membership in the Roastmaster’s Select Club is guaranteed to please.

So what are you waiting for? These coffees are only available to Club members. Join the Roastmaster’s Select Club today. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have Thanksgiving Coffee take you on a coffee tasting journey around the world, cup by cup, all from the comfort of home.


Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.

Flores Green Dragon

Every month, members of our Roastmaster’s Select Club have the opportunity to sample fresh and unique micro lot coffees from all around the world. In 2018 we were proud to showcase a diversity of coffee flavors from Ecuador, Mexico, Malawi, Sulawesi, Tanzania, and more. Now, for a limited time, join the members of the Roastmaster’s Club in exploring the taste of Indonesia’s Flores Green Dragon coffee.

Here there be Dragons

In the Indochina sea, south of the equator, lies the Malay Archipelago island chain. Rich volcanic soils and dense rain forests host a variety of life, including the largest lizards on the Earth: the famous Dragons of Komodo. It is no wonder why the islanders of Flores would name their unique style of coffee “Flores Green Dragon”.

On the upland plateau of Flores Island, nestled against the Mt. Inerie volcano, Green Dragon coffee is harvested and processed in the town of Bajawa, home to the Ngada people. Flores Island coffee is often sold in local Jakarta markets as commercial grade ‘Sumatra’, but the traceable supply of branded Flores Green Dragon ensures more value finds its way to the growers of this exotic coffee, playing a vital role in the local economy.

Coffee from Indonesia

The species of coffee that make up Green Dragon are Typica, Tim Tim, and Linie S 795 (locally known as Jember). Jember is a cross between Kent, a typical mutation, and S288, a naturally occurring C. arabica and C. liberica hybrid. Developed in India, it is known for being one of the first varieties to be highly resistant to coffee leaf rust. Harvested between June and September, the coffee is pulped with minimal water, dried to roughly 35 to 40% and then wet hulled in a process called “Giling Basah.”

  • Soil: Volcanic
  • Altitude Grown: 1200-1700 meters
  • Processing: Semi-washed (pulped natural, wet hulled and unpolished)
  • Cooperative: Bajawa smallholders
  • Region: Ngada Regency, Flores Island, Indonesia

Milk chocolate, heavy body, herbal notes.

Now for a limited time, you can order a package of Flores Green Dragon and taste it for yourself. This special micro lot coffee will only be available until March.

Don’t miss out on a chance to try amazing flavors from all over the world. Join the Roastmaster’s Select Coffee Club, and get first access to exclusive micro lots and rare coffees.

Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup

What is Espresso?

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.

Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup

The Upsetter

“Behind the controls of the roasting machine, the roaster checks gauges, fiddles with knobs and valves, and works to perfect each and every roast. We’ve named our Upsetter Espresso after Lee “Scratch” Perry, known as “The Upsetter”. A Jamaican musician famous for his unusual remixes, he uses 8-track analog recordings to produce strange, unique, and beautiful sounds. Just as The Upsetter used reverb, volume, and pitch to perfect his mixes, we fiddle with the controls of our roasting machine to perfect the flavor of this unique espresso blend.”


– Jacob Long, Roastmaster

You might not appreciate the similarities between a studio artist working a soundboard and a coffee roaster fine tuning his machine. Yet both require a deep well of knowledge, a desire to manipulate layers of input, and an artistic vision for how all the various elements will finally come together into a finished product.

The Upsetter espresso stands out as a truly bold step for espresso: a lightly roasted blend of the finest coffees from all around the world.

Enticing notes of caramel and rich milk chocolate are complemented by hints of sweet citrus. Especially well suited for straight shots of espresso.

It took over a year to develop the balanced taste and complex flavors of this espresso. Instead of using coffee from a single origin, Roastmaster Jacob Long played up the complexities imparted by different varietals. This one-of-a-kind blend includes sweet, nutty tastes of Nicaragua, spicy notes from Congo, and the beautiful fruit-forward qualities of Ethiopian beans.

By keeping the roast light, the end result is nuanced and lively; presenting richer flavors and deeper complexity than most dark roasted, single origin espressos.

Award Winning Coffee

The Upsetter espresso beat out 170 other coffees in a double-blind taste test to win this year’s Good Food Award. The award highlights the superior flavor of our blended espresso while honoring our social and environmental responsibility.

More than just espresso

Don’t let the name fool you: just because the Upsetter is an espresso roast, doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyed as a drip coffee. French press, pour over, or cold brew, the Upsetter tastes great no matter how you prepare it.

Good Food Award Finalist

For a long time, certifications for responsible practices and awards for superior taste have remained distinct – one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates craftsmanship and flavor. The Good Food Awards recognizes that truly good food – the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities – contains all of these ingredients.

This year, Thanksgiving Coffee couldn’t be prouder to have been nominated alongside so many outstanding roasters with our one-of-a-kind light roast espresso: The Upsetter.

The winners of the Good Food Award for coffee will be distinguished by exemplary flavor – sweet, clean, well developed body, balanced acidity and phenomenal aromatics. To qualify for entry, roasters and coffee farmers must emphasize fairness and transparency from seed to cup. Acknowledging the difficulties of verifying farm-level sustainability efforts across continents, the Good Food Foundation again turns to third-party certification bodies for assistance in identifying beans eligible for consideration.

In order to be eligible for a Good Food Award, coffee entries must meet the following standards:

  • Roasted in the USA or US territories.
  • Beans must be certified through one or more of the following programs: NOP Organic, Fair Trade (FTUSA/Fairtrade International), SMBC Shade, Rainforest Alliance, C.A.F.E Practices, 4C/CAS – Global Coffee Platform, Demeter Biodynamic
  • To support the work of coffee growers, farmers and roasters around the world, roasters submitting more than one entry must be from different countries.

Members of staff, including our Roastmaster Jacob Long and CEO Paul Katzeff, will be attending the Good Food Awards event this weekend in San Francisco. Stop on by the Marketplace on Sunday to sample all of the amazing foods from producers across the country at Fort Mason in San Francisco. We hope to see you there.

Cause Coffees: a Year in Review

Changing the world, one cup at a time

Here at Thanksgiving Coffee, we are just as proud of our award winning coffee beans as we are of our amazing non-profit Cause Coffee partners. We know how hard it can be to fight the good fight, which is why we support so many organizations through our rebate program.

We support fundraising efforts to protect the rights of our wild horses to run free, to promote rural health care services, and to conserve precious jungle forests for endangered gorillas. Together with your help, we have supported the bee-friendly local food movement, helped protect the vanishing kelp forests of the Pacific, and even contributed to finding loving homes for stray cats and dogs.

This year we will be highlighting a different Cause Coffee of the Month to showcase all the good work that has been made possible with your help.


Thanks to you, we have raised over $150,000 since 2014 to help support these amazing causes!


National Partners

American Birding Association : The Cause Coffee program’s first collaboration was to address the issue of bird habitat loss in coffee growing regions. 20 years later we have helped raise over $36,000 for the American Birding Association.


American Wild Horse Campaign: One of our newest partners, the American Wild Horse Campaign joined the Cause Coffee program in 2017. Together, we have helped raise over $5,000 to protect the rights of wild horses to roam free throughout the American southwest.


Baby Rhino Rescue: The plight of Africa’s rhinos is truly desperate. The death and carnage left by poachers is devastating, but even more heartbreaking are the abandoned orphaned rhinos. Thanks to the efforts of Baby Rhino Rescue, we have helped contribute $1,500 in milk money to keep the babies happy, healthy, and fed.


Defenders of Wildlife: Another one of our oldest partners, Defenders of Wildlife have been protecting wolves, polar bears, and other native creatures and their habitats since 1947. Together, we’ve raised over $17,000 since 2014 with the ‘Save our Wolves blend’, one of the select few Cause Coffees available for purchase in stores.


Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: Few of our partners are as directly affected by the coffee industry as the endangered Mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas in Africa. We joined forces with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and contributed over $10,000 to help support their work in gorilla conservation, research, and education, particularly in communities in close proximity to gorilla habitat. Specialty coffee places a high value on natural jungle forests conserved by organic, shade grown coffee farms. A great example of economic solutions to ecological problems.


Local Non-Profits

It is truly an honor to support the work of our national non-profits, but helping out the ‘little guys’ at home is equally rewarding. Together with our community, we have helped raise money for so many amazing causes, including: land conservation, schools, field trips, historical buildings, health care, camp programs, and environmental science.


Friends of the Earth and the Noyo Food Forest: Its not always easy to see the impact that national organizations have on our every day lives, but BEE Bold coffee is the perfect example. Initially a fundraiser for Friends of the Earth, BEE Bold coffee started a local bee-friendly movement. Now, the funds raised also support the Noyo Food Forest bee-friendly community garden that teaches agriculture at the nearby Fort Bragg High School.


Mendocino Woodlands Camp: This historic 700 acre campground is a National Historic Landmark built as a Recreation Demonstration Area by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. For almost 100 years, this campground has hosted thousands of people from all over the world, helping them to shake their cares away beneath a forest of towering redwood trees.


Mendocino Land Trust: Protects and conserves open spaces and coastal vistas for the public to enjoy. From family farm lands, to sweeping ocean vistas, the Mendocino Land Trust is helping to keep Mendocino county beautiful for generations to come. They also design and build many of the coastal trails out here in Mendocino County that we know and love.


Mendocino Coast Humane Society: Almost every town has a local animal shelter, but caring for all those cats and dogs is no easy feat. It’s a big job that requires a lot of time and resources to properly care for and home lost pets, instead of putting them down. By selling a locally made product, our friends and neighbors can help animals find loving homes while supporting a community business. Its a win-win!


Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers: We are so proud to have a coffee that is helping to ‘keep the lights on’ for small non-profits, including the Point Cabrillo Light Station. First illuminated in 1909, the unique Fresnel lens is one of the few left in operation and an important piece of maritime history.


Thank You!

Thank you, you wonderful coffee conscious customers, for making this all possible. You are making the world a better place to live, one cup at a time.
“Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup”

Do you know of a non-profit that would like to participate in the Cause Coffee program? Wondering how your organization can get their very own private label coffee? Give us a call! Dial (800) 462-1999 or send an email to Msmithyman [at] thanksgivingcoffee [dot] com

Water is the main ingredient in a good cup of coffee

Most people who love their coffee go to great lengths to get exquisite beans, a capable burr grinder, and an expensive device for brewing.

For some reason, however, they never seem to give the water a second thought. The truth is that water constitutes more than 98 percent of the final drink. Perhaps we ought to see it as the most crucial ingredient in a cup of coffee.

I had been a coffee geek for years before I realized the importance of water. Once I finally understood the role of water in coffee extraction it changed my brewing for good.

Water chemistry can get pretty complicated, so this is my attempt to boil the most important aspects down to some actionable advice, so you can also brew better coffee at home.

Water is more than H2O

Water is water. It’s everywhere in our daily life, and we never give it a second thought. Sure, you can get some fancy mineral water in the supermarket, but that’s just marketing. Right? Well, it probably often is, but there’s also some truth to it. Water is a lot more than just H2O when you study it carefully. It usually contains minerals, salts, and some impurities.

Depending on where you are in the world the water composition will be somewhat different. Rainwater percolates into the underground where it will go through layers of limestone and chalk. This process makes the water harder as it picks up minerals on the way.

You probably never thought about it, but it’s not uncommon that a single liter of water contains enough minerals that it equates to the size of a headache pill.

People who live in areas with much calcium in the water, however, already know this since they have to descale their electric kettle and bathroom tiles regularly.

The science        

One of the things that has become apparent in the specialty coffee community in recent years is that water isn’t just an ingredient in coffee.

The water – or rather the minerals in it – also acts as an extraction agent that pulls the delicious compounds from the coffee beans and into the cup.

The British barista champion Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and chemist Christopher Hendon did a research project a few years ago that shed some light on the process.

It turns out that magnesium and calcium are the two most important minerals when it comes to coffee extraction. Especially, magnesium is vital if you want to be able to taste the fruity and lively flavors of light roasted coffees.

It could be tempting to think that more minerals equate better coffee but that isn’t the case, argued Hendon and Colonna-Dashwood in their research paper. Instead, there is a sweet spot where minerals and a buffer are balanced to create the ideal water.

When their book, ‘Water for Coffee,’ was published it made headlines within the specialty coffee community.

However, beer brewers had been aware of the importance of water for centuries. In fact, that’s the reason why beers from London, Prague, and Brussels historically had their own style.

Test your water

So how do we boil all this science down to some actionable advice? Well, luckily you don’t have to study water chemistry to start making better coffee.

One thing you can do today is to stop using hard water for brewing coffee if you live in an affected area. You should be able to obtain this information from your local water station easily. Otherwise, you can buy a cheap TDS pen online (I recommend the Xiaomi brand) and measure it yourself. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have hard water in their taps.

To find out if a certain water is right, you can check the label and see what the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) is. If it’s between 50 and 150, the water will most likely be great.

However, if the water has a TDS score from 0 to 20 – which is typically the case with reverse osmosis water – it will not be ideal for brewing. The flavor compounds of the beans need some minerals to adhere to in order to be extracted properly. The taste will be astringent and somehow artificial.

Soft water is better.

What if you have soft water in the area where you live? Then you’re one of the lucky ones.

You can probably get away with using a filter pitcher such as Brita. If you can find specific cartridges that convert calcium to magnesium, you should go for that.

It may sound like a lot of trouble to go through, but using the right kind of water makes a huge difference when brewing manually. If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth the effort, I’d encourage you to test it at home. Just brew a cup of coffee with tap water and bottled water and taste them next to each other. The difference should be obvious.

If you already care about buying freshly roasted coffee and have the right equipment, this last step will take your cup from good to great.


About the Author: Asser Christensen is a Danish journalist. These days he mostly writes about coffee. He is a certified Q Arabica Grader with the Coffee Quality Institute. His work has been published in a range of newspapers and magazines in his native country, Denmark, as well as internationally. You can follow his coffee journey at his personal blog: ‘The Coffee Chronicler.’
If you already care about buying freshly roasted coffee and have the right equipment, this last step will take your cup from good to great.

How do you take your coffee?

Home

Home

Pick the perfect coffee by roast color or origin.

Shop Now

Gifts

Gifts

Share our coffee with Gift Certificates and Gift Bags.

Shop Now

Subscriptions

Subscriptions

Join our Coffee Clubs and never run out again!

Shop Now

Wholesale

Wholesale

Inquiry about ordering our coffee wholesale.

Shop Now