Today is #NationalLighthouseDay and we are celebrating this piece of art along our Mendocino coastline: the Point…
Every month, our Roastmaster Jacob Long chooses a coffee in our warehouse to spotlight for the month. Our Latest Arrival is the coffee that has been delivered most recently to the Thanksgiving Coffee Roastery, and you’ll find that these coffees astound every time.
The latest arrival for August is our Kenya Nyeri Peaberry, and tasting this coffee at its freshest is not something to be missed. This light roast from Africa has a unique mouthfeel with hints of milk chocolate, ripe peach, and caramel. We’re especially fond of this single origin, because it helped solidify our title as 2017 Roaster of the Year, from Roast Magazine. Along with our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Paul’s Blend, the Kenya Nyeri Peaberry was judged during a blind tasting alongside a variety of other entrants – and came out on top.
This year’s crop continues to perform well, and now that we’ve established this relationship with the Othaya group, we hope to see many more years of great tasting Kenyan Coffee. We had the opportunity to meet with Jim and Phyllis, representing the Othaya Cooperative, at the Global Coffee Expo back in April, and snagged this photo of them with our Roastmaster, Jacob Long.
A week later, we received this note:
It was so nice to meet you at SCA and learn that the coffee we produce helped you win Roaster of the Year. I am so glad our Othaya Peaberry performed so well. That is really a tribute to your ability to find the sweet spot of that coffee.
I hope you are just as happy with the coffees that come this year. As I mentioned Royal did a special project with us this year with red ripe cherries. If I recall correctly I gave you a few samples to cup. It will be good to hear what you think of them.
What made this project unique is that Othaya selected their best farmers to participate in the project and they agreed to wait from 10 to 14 days to pick only their best ripe cherries on the same day so they could be processed as a separate outturn (lot). Once the parchment completed the drying process it was immediately placed in grainpro and delivered to their dry mill. After dry milling it was immediately put back into grainpro and delivered to our warehouse and queued for hand picking improvement. The coffee will be hand picked in the next two weeks and shipped. You can expect this coffee to arrive around the end of July.
We’re looking forward to many more years of providing you with some of Africa’s best coffee. Order our Kenya Nyeri Peaberry Light Roast today, and try some of this truly fantastic, award-winning Kenyan Coffee now.
When the body of an adult killer whale (Orcinus orca) washed ashore in 2015, the community of Fort Bragg was presented with a unique opportunity. In the wake of a tragic death, a project was born that could benefit the town and further our understanding of the sea creatures that live along our shoreline.
Beached orcas are exceptionally rare and their bodies are a treasure trove of valuable scientific information. In a combined effort between the Noyo Center for Marine Science, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, the California Academy of Sciences, Humboldt State University, and California State Parks, scientists and volunteers acted quickly to perform a necropsy and recover valuable tissue samples. Two years later and the Noyo Center’s Orca Project is on track to reconstruct the 26 foot long skeleton this summer for everyone to enjoy.
Over the next four weeks, the rec center/basketball court behind Town Hall has been transformed into a marine mammal articulation workshop, led by master articulators Mike de Roos, Michi Main, and Lee Post from Alaska. People have come from far and wide to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity, and there is something there for everyone. Young kids attending summer camp are learning about marine mammals and ecosystems, while high schoolers assemble their own porpoise skeleton. Grad students are taking measurements and gathering data, artists are photographing and sketching bones, all the while locals and tourists walk among them, drinking it all in, amazed by all the activity.
It takes a village to raise a whale skeleton; from recovering, transporting, cleaning, and housing the bones, to assembling the skeleton and raising it up for all to see. Everyone has a role to play, including Thanksgiving Coffee, who is keeping everyone working on the project well caffeinated. We are so enthusiastic about this amazing endeavor that we have also created a special Orca Project fundraising coffee to help support the mission of the Noyo Center.
It seems that our whole community has coalesced around whalebones, and Thanksgiving Coffee is no exception. Upon its completion, our small town will host one of the largest and most complete Orca skeletons in the world; something that the whole community can take pride in, because it took the whole community to achieve.
In 1998, I was in Nepal. I was there because USAID offered me a free trip, provided I completed their mission.
The mission: to assess the coffee world in Nepal, from the farm to the cup. Nepal had some history in coffee production but it was in the distant past. Not much was known about Nepal’s coffee experience in 1998 – so they sent me to find out.
I was set down in a small city called Tenzen. I was housed in a small hotel in the foothills at about 5,000 feet above sea level. From my window I could see five 20,000 foot mountain peaks all lined up, covered in snow, and glowing golden in the late afternoon sun.
Nepalese Coffee Roasters
I soon found out how this trip came about; A local Nepalese coffee store owner who roasted his own coffee (selling to tourists and mountain climbers) had requested coffee information from the U.S. Government.
The question foremost on the mind of that local coffee roaster in Nepal was not how to build an industry that would benefit coffee farmers, but how to market his coffee to tourists. He was interested in helping himself, not growing the benefits of coffee for the many farmers who had coffee trees on their land. These farmers did not drink coffee, and had no ready market to sell into. I immediately re-organized my time and the people I needed to meet. I visited the farms and spoke with the coffee farmers. I soon discovered that my host, the Nepalese coffee roaster, was not liked by the farmers, because he paid very low prices for the coffee he purchased from them.
I got back to my USAID sponsors in the U.S. and told them they had been sold a bill of goods by a self-serving local businessman, and that I could not narrow my study to “How to develop a coffee roasting industry in Nepal” in good conscience. The potential was minimal, and very few would be helped with this mission. Those helped would be the educated middle class, not the poorer coffee farmers, who numbered in the thousands.
Word got back to my host and he was furious. This is not a good thing to happen to someone in a foreign country in the 90’s, where anyone could disappear in some back alley in Kathmandu, or under twenty feet of snow on some nearby mountainside. But I persevered. I decided (since I was already there) to teach the coffee farmers how to prepare coffee cherries for home roasting in a wok. I figured once they knew how to prepare coffee for consumption, they would have the basis for growing coffee for flavor. The idea was that knowledge would open up doors to export coffee, and bring in more money for their families in the future.
Nepalese Coffee Farmers
When I travel to a country to teach coffee to coffee farmers, I always bring green coffee samples from five or six countries to show farmers how the final product looks. It is important to know what green coffee looks like after the seeds are removed from the cherry, perfectly sorted, graded, and then processed for export. I want them to see what they are aiming toward. I also bring a small popcorn popper (110V) to roast the coffee samples if there is electricity available. In this mountain village there was none, so we rested a wok on three round stones over a bamboo wood fire.
This was a great teachable moment. In an open wok, you can see the changes as they come about. We sat around the fire, stirring the beans with a long stick. The heat from a bamboo fire is hot, very hot. As the coffee turned from tan to a dark oily black, I took small portions from the wok and allowed them to cool in a cool metal pie tin. After 15 minutes of wok-stirred coffee beans, we had all seen the changes and we had four separate samples to taste: Light Roast, Medium Roast, Dark and Very Dark (French Roast).
So we began by harvesting five pounds of their local coffee cherries. In the process of harvesting I taught the importance of “Red Ripe.” We de-pulped the cherries by hand (squeezing each cherry until the wet and slimy seeds popped out. Then we set the seeds out to dry on newspaper in the shade. It took five days to get the coffee beans to dry. They start out at about 50% moisture to about 25% moisture, and they need to be at around 11% to begin to roast. The weather was not cooperating, so I finished the drying in a wok over a low flame for a few hours. Then we let the seeds rest overnight.
Now we had Nepal samples and the roasted samples I brought from Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Comparison tasting is a good way for novices to get an idea of their own coffee as it might fare in the export market against the quality of other coffees. In addition, we had the four different roast colors which I wanted to use to show them how they could get different flavors from the same beans.
My next week was spent teaching the principles of coffee roasting and coffee tasting . “If you don’t know what you are aiming at, you can’t hit the target,” I told them. So we spent time tasting and identifying flavors.
It should be noted that the Nepalese are tea drinkers, and chai is their drink of choice. So when I was asked how coffee was prepared in other countries, I told them it was a medium for carrying flavors. In the U.S. we used primarily milk and sugar, but in other countries coffee drinkers added other spices. I encouraged them to prepare coffee however they would enjoy it, and that is what they did. Coffee/Chai formulas were the order of the day, for the next week. Every family made their own version of coffee, and they were all different and delightful. Nothing I have tasted since has come close.
I wrote my report for USAID and sent it in (this was the 90’s, pre-email) and left Nepal via Kathmandu to Bangkok, and then to San Francisco. I left behind 200 farmers who had gained knowledge in roasting and tasting, but had no infrastructure to organize anything. My mandate was to assess the situation and my report gave a clear assessment: build the coffee agriculture in Nepal, and let the roasting trade find its own way. Help the farmers was my message.
It has been two decades since my report was sent off to USAID. I believed I had failed to create what the farmers needed, but I was wrong!
Life goes on and you can’t discount the power of knowledge and education.
2017: Thanksgiving Coffee and Nepal
On Apr 5, 2017, almost twenty years later, I received this e mail from Mike at HimalayanArabica Nepal Coffee:
Hi Thanksgiving Coffee,
I found your company through Greenpages Org as we are also going through the application process and I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you to again.
HimalayanArabica believes in organic and ethical way of doing business and everyone along the supply chain from crop to cup can all benefit from doing business the right way.
Please give our coffee a try and you can get a free sample by simply emailing me your address and a phone number for the DHL packet.
I hope to hear from you soon and thank you for your time.
Below is a shot of our Roastmaster Jacob Long on the left, posting with the same sack of Nepal Coffee as Michael Bowen, from HimalayanArabica on the right.
I replied on Tue, Apr 11, 2017
This e mail was very nice to receive,
In 2001 I was sent to Nepal by USAID to evaluate the Nepalese Coffee situation.
I was part of a team of two. We were asked to come by a man who wanted to develop the tourist trade for roasted coffee in Nepal. My report stated my opposition to this plan as it would not have created a coffee industry , but only one or two farms to provide him with coffee to roast and to sell in Katmandu. I recommended the development of the cultivation of coffee so that many could benefit.
I am happy to see and know that my vision was clear and that in fact, aid and market forces (and Nepalese common sense) made the right situation happen and now 16 years later someone is offering me coffee from Nepal that I can roast and market.
For starters, who in the US is your importer that will handle the coffee ?
What is the availability and shipping date?
How many sacks are available?
What quality do you have ?
Has the coffee been cupped and scored by Q graders or would you venture a guess as to its quality?
Who is roasting coffee from Nepal now?
Send samples to Thanksgiving Coffee Company:
PO Box 1918
19100 South Harbor Drive
Ft. Bragg, CA 95437
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I am very interested and that is an understatement.
Thank you so much for your reply, it was very educational and got to understand a little piece of history of coffee here in Nepal. My name is Michael Bowen and I am a Korean-American grew up in Wisconsin. I spent some time in Korea and realized I wanted to do something else and somehow, almost magically, I came to live and work in Nepal and was given this fantastic opportunity to work with a company that has the same vision as I do, which is organic, ethical, sustainable and quality.
Raj, the owner, has been working tirelessly for more than 10 years to develop the farms in order for them to move towards the specialty market. Nothing is all set nor perfect here, but we are moving in the right direction.
Even though I have only come into the scene for a little more than a year, I can see that there is a lot of potential here which you undoubtedly saw 16 years ago.
Regarding your questions:
We do not have a dedicated US importer, at the moment.
There is about 8 tons available for shipment as soon as money is received and another 8-16 tons can be made available of the same quality from a different region after some weeks after the order is made.
We only have AAA specialty quality available for export.
Raj is a Q-grader himself and tastes the every batch that comes in. The samples we are sending out now have been sent out to various other graders from US, Europe and Australia and have scored between 83-86. Raj has scored this lot 85.5 SCAA standard.
There are several ‘roasters’ here in Nepal, but we also do our own roasts. Raj was the first to bring in equipment from abroad, from pulping machines to a roaster from Italy, but now there are several places where roasting is done. Raj, I believe, has the most experience roasting and you can check out our website at the ‘home’ section for testimonials for more reviews of our coffee and you can check out some roasted beans we offer.
We will send out samples this week and I will notify you the tracking number.
That’s the story in a nutshell.
Time + Knowledge = Evolution.
We received the samples from Mike at HimalayanArabica, and I was surprised at the flavors and the cup quality. But I was more surprised at how good I felt about what I did twenty years ago in the hills of Nepal. I believed that I had failed to make change happen for those isolated coffee farmers, and that there was no hope for Nepalese Coffee.
Life goes on.
Order your own bag of Nepal Coffee now.
Rich and velvety with underlying hints of raisin.
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, March was the Blackburnian Warbler, and to celebrate the re-release of our Song Bird Decaf, we are featuring the Altamira Oriole!
Song Bird Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
The striking orange and black plumage of the Altamira Oriole (icterus gularis) graces the label of our newly re-released Song Bird Coffee Decaf, and with good reason. This delicious Smithsonian Migratory Bird Certified coffee is decaffeinated with a clean, all-natural mountain water process in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico, home of the Altamira Oriole.
The Altamira is a large oriole and builder of the longest nest of any bird in North America. In the United States their range is limited to the Rio Grande Valley of southern most Texas, but their nests are a common sight throughout Mexico and Central America.
The female bird uses the inner bark of trees, retama leaves, various grasses, and occasionally Spanish moss and plastic twine to create one of nature’s architectural marvels. Over the course of several weeks, she painstakingly weaves a two-foot long basket that hangs over an open space, road, or river, suspending her fragile eggs thirty feet above the ground.
While many species of birds specialize in hiding their nests from the eyes of predators, the Altamira Oriole takes a different approach by building a home that is wildly conspicuous, but impossible to reach.
All of Thanksgiving’s organically certified coffees are shade grown, and a select few carry the Bird Friendly gold seal of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This certification ensures that tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds can find a healthy haven to eat and rest as they travel the hundreds of miles from your backyard to the coffee farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.
You don’t need binoculars to find a coffee that protects forests, helps wildlife and supports the efforts of the American Birding Association; just look for the Songbird Coffee with the Altamira Oriole on the front.
Thanksgiving Coffee, an industry leader in social and environmental justice for over forty years, stands in defense of our wild horses. The vanguard of fair trade shade-grown coffee, Thanksgiving has helped their nonprofit partners raise much-needed funds to champion their missions through the Cause Coffee fundraising program. And now, Thanksgiving is proud to support the efforts of the American Wild Horse Campaign (AMWC) with the release of Wild Grounds Coffee.
Save Wild Horses
Today, both livestock and wild horses have the right to roam the range, but the political power of the cattle ranchers is stronger then the political power of wild horses. In the forty years since a bill was passed by congress to protect the wild horses, moneyed interests have worked tirelessly to chip away at it. Now, the use of our publicly owned grazing lands is being prioritized to create market value for ranging cattle, which only provides for 3% of America’s beef consumption.
Unable to cull the herds or sell them for slaughter, the BLM began to round up what they considered to be an excess population. Today 35,000 horses, more than their entire population in the 1970’s, are kept in government holding pens. Not to be killed, yet never again to be free; this is a terrible fate to befall the national symbol of perseverance and freedom.
“The whole thing is cruel and lacks any sense of the American Spirit”, says Paul Katzeff, CEO of Thanksgiving Coffee and Past President of The Specialty Coffee Association of America, “We just gotta do something about the suffering to restore our own sense of freedom. Can you imagine the conditions? Thirty-five thousand wild horses in shadeless pens in 100 degree heat waiting to die?”
The American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign is a champion for America’s wild horses and burros and they have been calling on Congress to reform the current ‘holding pen’ policies. Not only would such methods keep these animals in the wild, where they belong, it would also save taxpayers millions of dollars annually by no longer funding the removal of wild horses from the range and stockpiling them in government holding facilities and paying for their feed and water and medical needs.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company, 2017’s Roaster of the Year, is sending Wild Grounds coffee out into the country with the mission to raise funds and educate others about the plight of our wild horses. Together, we will stand in defense of the mustangs who have an inalienable right to roam the western landscape, just as we stand up against those who would profit from their incarceration and eradication.
We invite you to join us. Stand up for America’s wild horses and the pioneer spirit we all share. Order a package of award winning Wild Grounds coffee and you are not just supporting the horses; you are also supporting fair trade for the farmers, organic shade-grown coffee that preserve rich jungles forests, and the ethical standards of a certified B corporation. Since 1972, we have been proud to bring you a beautiful cup of coffee that tastes just as good as it feels.
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.
Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup.
A celebration of International Migratory Bird Day
Early one morning in 1992, a local Mendocino sculptor by the name of Howard Wheatley Allen was shaking in his boots. He had just been informed that he would be presenting a gift to a world leader on behalf of the United States, and the recipient was none other than Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. With a steadying hand, he held his bronze sculpture before the President and said, “Mr. President, this is a snow goose that migrates between our two countries.”
“You mean a living link,” Gorbachev replied, understanding the significance.
Gorbachev later recalled that, “During the nuclear arms race, I was given a gift by an American, a little figure of a goose in flight. I still have it at my dacha. It is a goose that lives in the north of Russia in the summer and in the winter migrates to America. It does that every year regardless of what’s happening, on the ground, between you and us.”
It was one year later, in 1993, that International Migratory Bird Day was established. While IMBD is celebrated from Canada to South America to support the hundreds of Neotropical migratory bird species that travel across the continent, Gorbachev’s goose is a beautiful reminder that birds will always rise above our imaginary borders, transcending beyond the cultural or political boundaries of the time.
Here in the United States, we sometimes claim a cultural ownership of beautiful birds like the Baltimore Oriole, perhaps forgetting that the very same species could just as easily be named the ‘Panama Oriole’, or the ‘Nicaraguan Oriole’, as it spends half it’s life in Central and South America. IMBD is a reminder that the health and abundance of these birds that are so much a part of our heritage does not stop at our own backyard feeders. If we wish to enjoy their beauty and their songs for generations to come, we must care for them and their well being across all borders.
The growing demand for coffee, and the rise of the mono-cultured full sun coffee plantations, has demolished much of the wintering habitat for iconic birds like Orioles. In fact, many of these species are now referred to as ‘Coffee Birds’ because the only forest home left to them are the shade-grown coffee farms that preserve the jungle canopy.
For over 20 year, Song Bird Coffee has been a leader in supporting the farmers who protect their native forests by growing delicious coffees under the jungle canopy, preserving priceless habitat and biodiversity. This year, on International Migratory Bird Day, we hope you will join us in protecting our precious songbirds, just by enjoying a great cup of shade-grown coffee. Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup.