Joan and I started out as two Hippie migrants running from the urban fast lanes of the East Coast. I was 34 and Joan was 23 when we started Thanksgiving Coffee Company. We met in Mendocino and together we came to the conclusion that roasting coffee was a better way to support ourselves than stringing beads, making leather items or candles. The culture of the early 70’s supported this urban migration to rural America and Joan and I lived in a little cabin under the redwood trees with gas lights, a wood burning cook stove, and a 150 pound Newfoundland dog named Panda. In 1972 we set up a twenty-five pound roaster at the Mendocino Hotel and began a journey that we never expected to last nor could we dream up if we tried today.

Joan and I were not looking to save the world when we founded the company. We just wanted to supply California’s north coast with the best coffee possible. At the time that meant bringing a spirit of craftsmanship to a stale-coffee-in-a-can industry.

Now we roast over 600,000 lbs of coffee yearly and employ 30 local residents that have received health and dental care, paid vacations, sick and maternity leave, and all major holidays with pay for the past 25 years. Half of our employees have worked at Thanksgiving Coffee Company for more than 15 years.

In 1996 we became a public company by selling shares to the public. We raised 1.2 million dollars from 1230 shareholders. This represented 21% of our company shares. In 2007 we awarded an additional 4% to our employees. Our family has grown in other ways as well — hundreds of wholesale accounts, 20,000 mail order customers, and thousands of coffee farmers who consider us family because we care about their well being.

When thinking about a family-run business and how to define one, what comes to mind as a guiding light for all decisions is a line from Carlos Castaneda’s cult classic book written in the early 70’s, “take the path that has a heart.” This is what we have done to the best of our awareness. Our hope is that the values imagined in that thought will permeate all the work we do — including the creation of coffee products that imply the kind of excellence that any family would be proud of.