Farmers & Cooperatives

This coffee buying trip to Nicaragua marks the 30th year Thanksgiving Coffee has traveled to this beautiful country. It is also the first year that Thanksgiving Coffee is sending staff without the guidance and counseling of CEO Co-Founder Paul Katzeff.

The trip represents the “passing of the torch” to a new generation. It’s a generation that grew up with coffee as a medium for carrying the message of the people, their craftsmanship, and their hope for a better life through coffee cultivation.

Jacob and Jonah carried The Company message to the cooperatives that our mission, and the value we place on long term relationships, bridges generations. We are in this together, and prosperity for all is the common thread we value most.
– Paul Katzeff

Adventures at Origin: Nicaragua

Jacob Long, Nicholas Hoskyns, and I (Jonah Katzeff) traveled together from March 23rd-27th. We visited first and second level coffee cooperatives that produce approximately 25% of our annual green coffee purchases. We cupped and selected our Nicaraguan coffees for 2015, met with cooperative leaders and farmers, and visited beautiful coffee farms.

We were received warmly everywhere. I am so grateful to the hundreds of hands that touch coffee, from the time it is picked to when it is exported. Our 2015 Nicaraguan coffees will be exceptional. The new harvest will be available starting in late May.

DAY ONE

Solcafe and Byron Corrales’ farm visit

• We cupped the Solidaridad washed and dry-processed (natural) micro lots, along with Byron’s washed and dry-processed coffees in the morning at Solcafe- the dry mill that processes and exports coffees from first level cooperatives.

• Cecocafen is the second level cooperative that owns the dry mill and is the exporter for many first level cooperatives.

• They have constructed a new cupping lab that is much more spacious than the older one. It was interesting to see on this visit that three cupping labs had been moved to new locations.

• We then traveled to Byron’s farm for a delicious lunch consisting of beets, carrots, squash, potatoes, cheese, tortillas, gallo pinto (rice and beans), and mini chicken tamales.

• After lunch, Jacob and I toured Byron’s two farms with Byron and his daughter, Sara.

• Byron showed us the tree where Paul, Byron, and Arnulfo (Byron’s grandfather) first agreed to work together 22 years ago (in the photo at left).

• We learned about some of the biodynamic techniques Byron is applying to the land.  Byron expressed that the 3 most important factors resulting in great coffee are: the producer/farmer, the quality of the soil, and the skill of the roaster.

• We also learned about some of the negative effects resulting from climate change on his coffee trees – fruit not ripening at all, or not ripening fully, and trees flowering now [end of March] when they typically flower in May.

Byron, hugging a goat and smiling• Byron is taking action now by replacing older trees with ones that are more resistant to climate change. He is also planting more shade trees to protect the coffee trees from the sun.

• He expressed concern that if changes are not made now, there may be a lot less coffee in the future.

• We visited a small grove of a variety of pine trees (7 total) that Byron smuggled back from Brazil. There are no other varieties of this pine in Nicaragua.

• We then returned to Byron’s farm called Finca de Los Pinos and said our goodbyes to Byron’s parents, and returned to Matagalpa for the evening.

• We enjoyed pizza with the Corrales family in Matagalpa!

This story will continue in our next post, so check back soon!

The green coffee sourcing team:

Nicholas (on right) is the Managing Director of Etico. He organized our visit and traveled with us throughout the week. Nicholas was born in England, but Nicaragua is his adopted home after spending almost 25 years there! Etico imports our coffees from Nicaragua as well as green coffees from Guatemala, Mexico, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Jacob (second from right) is the Director of Coffee Control and Roastmaster at Thanksgiving Coffee. He is responsible for developing the roast profiles of all our single origins, blends, and decafs. He approves all the green coffees we purchase and ensures that the coffee roasted at Thanksgiving is consistent roast after roast.

Jonah (on left) works in Business Development and as an Account Manager. He serves in a variety of roles that include green coffee sourcing, managing the San Francisco Bay Area accounts, and special projects, as assigned by Senior Management.

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