For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing, in February, the Magnolia Warbler, this month we’re focusing on the Blackburnian Warbler – the bird featured on our dark roast Songbird coffee.
Songbird Coffee Dark Roast from Colombia
With their bright colors and trilling songs, it’s no surprise that a group or flock of vibrant warblers is often called a ‘bouquet’. However, one of the most striking members of the warbler family would rather not join the bunch.
Common along the eastern region of the United States during their migration, the Blackburnian warbler can be easily identified as the only orange-throated warbler in North America. Named after botanist Anna Blackburn, the Blackburnian warbler is territorial on its breeding grounds, solitary in the winter, and only forms flocks during migration. In fact, this little bird is such a loner that even though both parents feed and care for the chicks, the parents separate when the young are old enough to fledge and leave the nest, each taking part of the brood with them.
But even the most solitary parent needs the support of a group every once in a while. After going their separate ways, the parents will sometimes join foraging flocks of kinglets and nuthatches with their begging young, the cries of which have been known to also attract chickadees.
Of the over 50 species of New World warblers to be found in North America, perhaps it is the colorful Blackburnian that stands out as a lone bloom, refusing to join the colorful assemblage of other warblers.
Help protect the winter habitat of Blackburnian warblers by buying SMBC Song Bird Colombian dark roast shade-grown coffee.
Dark Roast Colombian Coffee
Toasted • Spicy • Dark Chocolate
A rich coffee with flavors of toasted nut and dark chocolate followed by a smooth lasting finish, making this a clear winner for dark roast coffee enthusiasts.
Frank Van Curen, Art Explorer and Paul Katzeff, CEO of Thanksgiving Coffee
“I love doing art because until recently I had never done it before. It makes me feel really good. It makes me happy because I love learning new things.”
“Doing art calms me down. I feel happy while I’m planning a design and working on my pictures.”
“Art makes me feel calm…art makes life better.”
“When I do my art I feel calm and like I’m experiencing what I think in my mind and throwing it onto the paper. The colors came from my brain and from nature. God gave me my talent and a giant heart that can love and do art and do other things.”
“Art is both relaxing and exciting. It makes me feel good about myself.”
“I like to spend a long time working on my portraits, often for weeks, even months. Sometimes I wake up in the night and plan what I’m going to do when I get to Art Explorers.”
If you haven’t taken the time to stop by and meet the artists at the Art Explorers Studio and Gallery, then you are missing out on one of the great hidden treasures of downtown Fort Bragg.
Art Explorers has been supporting artists with mental disabilities since 1996, providing a safe space for them to express themselves and find peace of mind with the stoke of a paint brush.
Last weekend, the Art Explorers celebrated a new ceramics show in Town Hall in collaboration with their artist in residence, Sabine Brunner of the Little Cup ceramics studio. A departure from their usual work, the artists got to enjoy expressing themselves in ceramics with hand made sculptures and painted mugs. And what goes perfectly with a new, one of a kind hand painted mug? Why, a fresh cup of coffee of course! Which is why the event also debuted a new fundraiser for the Art Explorers program: Thanksgiving Coffee.
Showcasing the artwork of 5 current Art Explorers, each bag label shares the story of the artist who created it. As the program grows, the work of more artists will have the opportunity to grace the front labels, highlighting the incredible talent of our local artists.
Packages of Art Explorers Coffee, dark roast and decaf, are currently available for purchase at the studio, online, or at special events. Each bag sold supports the artists and staff members of the Art Explorers program, and with 5 different labels to choose from, you’ll want to collect them all!
So take the time to stop on by the studio at 305 E. Redwood Ave (Tues. Thurs. + Fri. 9:00am – 3:00pm, Saturday 12:00pm – 3:00pm) and meet the artists, maybe buy a painting or some greeting cards, and pick up a bag of truly beautiful and one of a kind Art Explorers Coffee.
The Incredible Story of a War-Torn Region Redeemed by the Coffee Bean
The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the heart of central Africa and considered to be the most bio-diverse country in the entire continent, which is quite a distinction. Iconic African wildlife such as jungle elephants and white rhino roam throughout the four national parks, and it is one of the few places on Earth that many great ape species, such as gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo, call home. Its lush forests and equatorial climate means that the DRC is also an excellent region for growing some of the best sweet Bourbon varietals of coffee trees in the world.
But despite the country’s wealth of natural resources, decades of war, genocide, and political unrest has condemned many of the 68 million civilians to lives of poverty, disease and violence.
The lack of businesses and income-generating activity pushed the DRC into deeper turmoil and left the once=productive coffee sector neglected or abandoned. Most of the coffee farmers could no longer bring their harvest to market and fled the region, while others resorted to smuggling their beans into Rwanda in hopes to barter for food and supplies. So near, and yet so far: smuggling coffee is very dangerous and many people have lost their lives in the attempt.
Due to these circumstances, the small amount of coffee still produced in DRC was coming from small farms with old or rudimentary equipment and no access to international markets. All of that changed when Joachim Munganga founded the now-famous SOPACDI co-op.
Congo Coffee Farm
SOPACDI (Solidarité Paysanne pour la Promotion des Actions Café et Développement Intégral) was created by Joachim Munganga in 2002, as a means to bridge the ethnic strife of the region in order to tap into the international specialty coffee market. The co-op is located on the shores of Lake Kivu, which straddles the border between the DRC on the west bank and Rwanda to the east. Joachim started with his own farm and worked to rehabilitate an old, rundown estate with a central washing station for the co-op to process coffee. It wasn’t until 2008, when SOPACDI joined forces with the UK’s Twin Trading Company, that the doors to the international coffee market were opened wide. Together, they designed and obtained funding for a program to assist them with business skills and to begin rehabilitating the farms and improving the infrastructure, which included spearheading the construction of the first new central coffee washing station to be built in the country in over 40 years.
Since then, SOPACDI has grown to include over 5,200 farmers, 20% of whom are women. In a region infamous for rampant sexual violence, SOPACDI has been a leader in promoting gender equality and supporting the widows of those farmers who died trying to smuggle their beans into Rwanda. In addition to the revitalizing their lost coffee economy, SOPACDI has earned the distinction of being the first certified fair-trade co-op in the DRC and was also named 2014 Sustainability Award Recipient from the Specialty Coffee Association of America. They even hosted the DRC’s first internationally recognized coffee cupping competition, Saveur du Kivu, in 2015.
Economic stability saves lives, and not just human ones. Poor economic conditions result in the rise of eating and selling bushmeat, further endangering the sensitive wildlife of the DRC. As the animals are hunted, their numbers drop and they retreat deeper into the dense jungle. As logging companies and farmers clear away the forests at an alarming rate, they provide poachers an even greater access to hunt. That is, of course, unless the forest and the animals who live there can become a better economic resource to the people of DRC as a sustainable living ecosystem. Such is the hope of shade-grown coffee.
Coffee trees love the shade and they naturally thrive under a jungle canopy. Many coffee farmers additionally supplement their resources by growing shade-loving food crops, such as banana and avocado, along side their coffee trees, all within the natural infrastructure of the forest. By weaving the livelihood of the farmers into the success of a thriving jungle ecosystem, we are simultaneously supporting sustainable commercial goods and conservation.
Grauer’s gorillas are the world’s largest ape and only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the last two decades their population has plummeted by an estimated 80 percent, which is why the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International has set up a program to help save them based on their success working with mountain gorilla populations in Rwanda. These efforts include daily protection and monitoring, tracking the gorilla groups, scientific research, data collection, local education programs, and community engagement.
By employing the local Congolese people to protect the gorillas, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is helping to foster a love for these creatures within the community while also creating an economic benefit. They now operate a permanent research and conservation field station in the core of Grauer’s gorilla range, working closely with traditional landowners and other local partners to help ensure the future of the species and countless others at risk in DRC.
Thanksgiving Coffee is proud to support the economic renewal of the DRC by partnering with SOPACDI to bring you Grauer’s Gorilla Congo Coffee. Not only does the purchase of this coffee promote the livelihoods of the SOPACDI farmers, but a percentage of all online sales benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and their continuing efforts to conserve and study the great apes of the DRC.
Coffee changes the world, but it is quite possible that there is nowhere on Earth more profoundly impacted by the humble coffee bean than the Democratic Republic of Congo is right now. Together, we can all do our part to help stabilize this unique ecological treasure for future generations to enjoy by simply enjoying a good cup of coffee.
March 3rd is World Wildlife Day, and we’re taking a moment to focus on one animal in particular. The grey wolf is a magnificent creature that has been villainized by popular culture. This animal has been hunted to the point of extinction, leaving very few in North America today.
We’re working with Defenders of Wildlife to save these beautiful animals. We’ve taken a stand to work toward a world where humans and wolves can exist together.
Our part is simple. We’ve created a coffee that benefits Defenders of Wildlife. For every purchase of Save Our Wolves Coffee, we donate a portion of the proceeds (up to 25%) back to their efforts to save the wolves. We do what we do best, and Defenders does what they do best.
True fair trade is about mutually beneficial relationships rooted in trust and respect spanning geographic and cultural boundaries.
As a global movement, fair trade brings attention to people around the world who work under exploitative conditions and highlights the true costs of goods in global supply chains. Organizations and activists, businesses and brands, farmers, workers and artisans have diligently worked for more than 40 years to bring greater balance to the terms of trade.
In recent months, we have watched as the term ‘fair trade’ has been grossly misused by politicians to energize their supporters while vilifying others. We have seen the term used to exclude people and encourage an isolationist agenda. These ideas stand in direct opposition to the concepts of justice and inclusivity that underlie our movement.
For far too long, conventional trade has maintained a narrow focus on the lowest common denominator. Efficiency at all costs, lower prices, and little consideration for the full social, economic and environmental impacts have been hallmarks of conventional international trade. Massive consolidation of power in supply chains has resulted in fewer options for consumers, farmers and workers, and unprecedented wealth controlled by few. Oxfam’s recent report on global inequality revealed that just eight men control more wealth than the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people combined.
IF WE HOPE FOR A SOCIETY – IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD – THAT IS MORE EQUAL AND JUST, WE MUST PRESS TRADE INTO THE SERVICE OF PEOPLE.
Global trade and the trade deals that accompany it are not inherently bad. They provide an opportunity to deliver the benefits of trade more broadly, but only if they are used for that purpose. Fair trade, with its focus on inclusion and empowerment, shows that trade can – and must – be more equitable.
If we hope for a society – in the U.S. and around the world – that is more equal and just, we must press trade into the service of people.
True fair trade creates shared value throughout supply chains.
True fair trade promotes openness and transparency.
True fair trade respects human rights.
True fair trade supports diversity.
We support trade that is truly equitable for all, including artisans, farmers and workers, traders and brands, consumers and civil society. Fair trade will never be about exclusion, but about expanding the benefits of trade for those who need it most.
As the U.S. considers renegotiating or entering into new international trade agreements, we encourage the inclusion of true fair trade principles. We urge all who care about human rights, shared value, transparency and diversity to call, write or meet with their elected officials and make your voice heard.
See the original article from Fairtrade International here, and check out the list of names that have signed on to this agreement!
In February of 2016, Thanksgiving Coffee made a commitment to honor a species that is necessary for the continued existence of the planet. Humans, plants and animals alike rely on bees for survival, and we decided it was time to start paying attention.
Friends of the Earth
At the end of 2015, much of the Western world was discussing Colony Collapse Disorder. Bees were dying across America and some European countries. Beekeepers and environmental experts were teaming up to raise awareness, and here in Fort Bragg, Paul Katzeff got an email from Friends of the Earth. It asked:
“Donate $25. Help us save the bees!”
He immediately wrote back, and explained a partnership concept to raise $100,000 using coffee. A year later, that partnership has grown into a movement. We created a product: Bee Bold Coffee. For every bag sold, we donate between 15 and 25% of the proceeds to Friends of the Earth, in support of their efforts to create legislation to protect our pollinators.
In addition, Bee Bold Coffee sold in Mendocino County supermarkets provides the funding for Bee Bold Mendocino, an organization Thanksgiving Coffee formed to help focus efforts on our local bee populations. (see below)
Since we began this journey in 2016, we have sold over 1,600 pounds of Bee Bold Coffee through our online store, and over a thousand pounds through our local supermarkets in Mendocino County. We’ve raised over $11,000 for Friends of the Earth, and $1,500 for our local Bee Bold Mendocino committee.
Saving the Bees in Mendocino
Because we wanted to make a difference within our local community, we contacted garden clubs, plant nurseries, beekeepers, and the school food and garden programs to ask how we could support them in their efforts to help bees and other pollinators. We partnered with the Noyo Food Forest so contributions could be tax deductible.
For every bag of Bee Bold Coffee sold at local businesses (see below), we donate a dollar to Bee Bold Mendocino. This local advisory committee is responsible for bee education and action in Mendocino County, and Thanksgiving Coffee has one representative on that committee.
Here are a few of the outlets in Mendocino County that have carried Bee Bold Coffee. Be sure to give them a call and see if they have your favorite roast in stock.
Fort Bragg: Harvest Market, Purity, Interior, Down Home Foods
Mendocino: Harvest at Mendosas, Corners of the Mouth
Laytonville: Long Valley Market
Willits: Mariposa Market
Gualala: Anchor Bay Store, Gualala Supermarket, Surf Supermarket
Ukiah: Ukiah Natural Foods
Moving Forward Locally
In July of 2016, Fort Bragg became the first city in California to be declared a Bee City, with San Francisco following close behind. We are currently working with local nurseries to eradicate the use of neonicotinoids in our community. The City of Fort Bragg has also re-purposed the lawns surrounding the Guest House Museum in our downtown area as a city park. This park will be re-planted with a bee-friendly garden.
We are also planning an observation hive at the Thanksgiving Coffee headquarters for installation in 2017. This beehive will be within the Company’s heirloom apple orchard, just north of our facility in Noyo Harbor. We also recently hosted a screening for everyone on staff of the documentary Queen of the Sun, a film we all needed to see together to better understand why we’re putting so much effort into saving the bees.
It all started with a simple email: a call to action to save this tiny creature. Our goal here is to now inspire YOU. Bees live in a community – they cannot exist on their own, and without their hive, they simply die. Our efforts to save the bees are very much the same; we are relying on our community to spread the word and to keep the awareness spreading. We couldn’t have done any of this without Friends of the Earth, Noyo Food Forest, local gardeners, nurseries, and the beekeepers who have studied and kept bees for so many years.
What Can You Do to Save the Bees
Whether you’re here in California or anywhere across the world, the plight of the bees is important for all of us. How can you be involved in saving the bees? There are so many ways to join in:
Only purchase plants from nurseries that have agreed to stop using neonicotinoids
Attend a showing of Queen of the Sun (more information coming soon!)
Ask your local supermarket to carry Bee Bold Coffee
One of the best ways you can be involved? Be aware. Do your research and be a conscious consumer. Shop from local farms, attend the farmers markets in your area, buy seeds from reputable sources, and share information you can with family and friends.
We are excited about what’s happening with the Bee Bold Movement, and we want to get more people involved. If you have an idea about how to spread even more awareness for the bees, please reach out! We are always looking for more people to join our committee and rally the troops to save the bees.
Learn a little more about each of these cause coffees to benefit the bees below:
Our Bee Bold Light Roast has a soft acidity, featuring the sweetness of blueberry and plums. On our Medium Roast, blueberry notes add to hints of cashew and chocolate, while our Dark Roast is a bold, sweet blend with hints of nuts, chocolate, and caramel. The Very Dark (or French) Roast is distinctly smoky with hints of jammy fruit, roasted nuts, and baker’s chocolate. Each roast is unique and captivating in its own way, and it’s worth it to try every one!
Every morning as you grind and brew your coffee, remember that you’re drinking a coffee that the bees would be proud of. Help us support local and national programs to save the bees!
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing; this month we’re focusing on the Magnolia Warbler – the bird featured on our medium roast Songbird coffee.
Songbird Coffee medium roast from Nicaragua
If you live east of the Mississippi river, you might be familiar with the Magnolia Warbler. This brightly-colored little songbird can be seen in the spring and fall as it passes through on its annual migration. Despite the name, these bird is rarely seen in magnolia trees. In 1810, ornithologist Alexander Wilson collected a specimen from a magnolia in Mississippi. At the time, he gave it the species the more accurate name of “Black-and-yellow Warbler”, but he used “magnolia” for the Latin name, and it stuck.
Like many warbler species, it can be hard to imagine how such a tiny bird, weighing little more than a quarter, can make a 3,000 mile journey, but they do it every year; from their summer breeding range in the Canadian Boral forests all the way down to Central America.
When the “Maggies” head south for the winter, they can often be found on shade grown coffee farms along with other migratory birds such as Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Western Tanager.
Although the population of Magnolia Warblers is thought to be stable, the birds are often victims of collisions with towers and other man-made structures, especially during migration. Habitat loss on their nesting and wintering grounds is also a threat. Supporting Bird Friendly coffee is an important way to keep Magnolia Warblers and other “coffee birds” common.
Medium Roast Nicaraguan Coffee
Nutty • Smooth • Milk Chocolate
Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream. This Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee is fruity, nutty and chocolaty with hints of dried mango. Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream, it is a great breakfast coffee. This coffee is roasted to a light milk chocolate color where its bright and complex flavors explode into life.
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!”
~ Thomas Edison
Solar energy is the way of the future and an important step toward sustainability, which is why we are proud that one of our Cause Coffee partners is the Solar Living Institute of Hopland California. Not only are they helping thousands of Mendocino County homes harness the awesome energy of the sun, they are also improving the economy by educating the next generation of utility professionals.
Founded in 1998, the Solar Living Institute has been providing professional solar training and a wide array of sustainability courses in Northern California for over 15 years. Their courses are taught by experienced practitioners who bring years of real world knowledge to the classroom with a focus on helping students prepare for job opportunities, start businesses, and live more sustainably.
Over the years, the Solar Living Center has welcomed thousands of visitors to the 12-acre demonstration site where they can find hands on displays of solar power generation, biodynamic farming, permaculture and pollinator gardens, a bee observatory, building with natural resources, and even creek restoration.
Coffee for a Cause: Solar Living
Thanksgiving Coffee is proud to partner with an organization that has taught countless people the skills they need for a renewable energy future- skills that make a huge difference in mitigating the impact we have on the environment. Join us! Order your Solar Select Coffee today and 25% of the sale will help support the energetic efforts of the Solar Living Institute.
January 16 is Dian Fossey’s birthday, and we’re taking a moment to recognize a truly spectacular woman. Take a moment to learn more about Dian Fossey’s life through the interactive experience on the Gorilla Fund website.
Dr. Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke™ Research Center in Rwanda’s Virungas Mountains in 1967, to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas. Although Fossey’s life was cut short, her work has continued through the Karisoke Research Center and grown into conservation efforts for other wildlife and programs for people who live near the gorillas.
Among the most legendary scientists of our time, Dian Fossey went to Africa at the urging of famed anthropologist Louis Leakey and began her groundbreaking studies of gorilla behavior. She faced and overcame many obstacles and ultimately gave her life to gorilla protection.
Thanksgiving Coffee has partnered with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund for over a decade, supporting their programs in Rwanda to save the mountain gorillas. Learn more about our partnership, and purchase Gorilla Fund Coffee from Rwanda on the Thanksgiving Coffee store.
How are migratory birds and shade grown coffee trees linked?
The coffee industry has an enormous impact on migratory birds: when they fly south in the cold months, these birds rely on the trees that shade coffee farms throughout the tropics. When coffee plantations clear cut land to grow coffee in direct sunlight, not only does the loss of forested lands contribute to climate change, but our precious migratory birds lose their winter homes.
If we want to continue enjoying these birds, we have to preserve their winter habitat – and choosing to purchase only shade grown coffee is an integral part of that habitat preservation. Our SongBird Coffee is Organic and Fairtrade, and certified Bird-Friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
“In this picture of shade grown coffee we see the lower level, dark green coffee trees. On the second level there are banana trees and on the overstay third level, native trees. From the mottled bark I can see that the tree is Inga, a tree with nitrogen setting qualities in the root system. It shades the coffee trees from above while providing leaf litter to refresh the thin topsoil layer, while at the same time adding Nitrogen to the soil with its roots.
This was taken on a trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua. Altitude is 5,000 feet ” – Paul Katzeff