Our Cannabis History

I think it is important to tell you why we have chosen to enter the Cannabis marketplace with a product of our own. It’s a long story that covers 48 years… so here goes!
   – Paul Katzeff

Joan & Paul Katzeff circa 1972

Thanksgiving Coffee was born in 1972 in the coastal village of Mendocino approximately 150 miles North of San Francisco. Joan and I were a part of the hippie migration from the big cities to the sweeter places of the country. We settled in, living in a cabin with a wood burningcook stove, gas lights, no electricity, and a spider infested outhouse 100 feet away. Running water was pumped from a stream collection box. Showers were taken at the state park campgrounds five miles away. We were part of the new social fabric which was heavily invested in a hybrid cross between the “Back to the Land” movement and the “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” movement. There was a new sense of freedom and the chance for living a simple life.

In a book about America’s Mustangs, David Philipps describes our wild horses this way:

“Even if you have never seen one, chances are if you grew up in the United States you know what they mean. They are freedom. They are independence. They are the ragtag misfits defying incredible odds. They are the lowborn outsiders whose nobility springs from the adversity of living the simple life. In short, they are American. Or at least, what we tell ourselves we are and what we aspire to be.”

Author Philipps, describing our wild horses, was alsounknowingly describing the Mendocino County hippie community culture that Joan and I were surrounded by when we began our little coffee roasting company. It was an era of candle making, leather working, bead stringing and all sorts of American country crafts come to life, and supporting it all was cannabis. Our first customers were those back to the landers who embraced our vision and our coffee. That was what it was like 48 years ago when we began our craft coffee roasting company, calling it Thanksgiving because that was how we felt about being here between the Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean with people who felt the way we did. We were thankful to have stopped our travels in a place we could love to love.

We are still here in Mendocino County, and just as our coffee has improved in both packaging sophistication and flavor quality, so has the Cannabis improved in quality and in understanding of its numerous uses. I would also add, Cannabis flavor has followed coffee, wine, and beer in improvement. We have grown up side by side, Cannabis growers as pioneers and Thanksgiving Coffee Company providing the fuel for their hard work. Growers had to hide from the law, risking everything plus jail time. Imagine, an entire community living in fear but still cultivating the Magic Medicine.

My own story as a Cannabis grower is not as intense. I grew a few plants each year for personal use. I focused on flavor, selecting seeds from plants that produced the sweetest smoking flowers. I did not know of the word terpene yet, but I was obviously attracted to them.

The nomenclature back then consisted of two words, “Sativa” and “Indica.” It was a revelation and revolution when “Sinsemilla” was added to the nomenclature as a preferred growing practice. My weed was known as Dump Road Dynomite. But, my own Cannabis cultivation world had to end. Thanksgiving Coffee expanded and took on employees and I was becoming a known personality in Mendocino County; I had to stop growing. Fear stopped me. I did not want to become a headline in the local paper, you can imagine the headline. However, my interest and support for the growers remained steadfast.

When I learned that the very first “legalize cannabis” demonstration was to take place in front of the County Court House in Ukiah, I loaded my movie camera with film and made a plan to be there to record the historic event. The year was 1984.

Thirty-two years later Mendocino County was the first County in the United States to fully legalize cannabis cultivation. And, it had legalized medicinal use with a Doctor’s Prescription a decade earlier, again leading the nation. By the late 90’s cannabis cultivation surpassed logging as the county’s #1 valued agricultural crop, appearing for the first time in any US County Ag Report. The Feds took notice and so did the Mexican Mafia. Mendocino County became ground zero for hovering helicopters and SWAT teams roaming state forests looking for grows they deemed illegal. This craziness lasted for decades but the economics of a $4,000 pound kept everyone hiding, fearful and prosperous… if you weren’t caught. The local economy was robust if not anxious. There was a “nervous edge” to the redwood forest. You were afraid to hike into it for fear of coming upon a grow site being guarded by gun-slinging opportunists who were defending their financial fortunes come Harvest time in October.

In 1977, I was writing an opinion column under the banner “American Grandstands” for the local alternative weekly newspaper, The Mendocino Grapevine. I was totally angered by the stupidity of the illegality of Cannabis. Why was the Federal Government encouraging Americans to buy Colombian and Mexican weed at the estimated cost of 2-5 billion dollars when that money could be better spent on US grown cannabis. I wrote a six part series titled “The Social and Economic Ramifications of Cannabis Cultivation in Mendocino County.” To my knowledge, it was the first such public exploration of what was happening here and what it felt like to live in a community grown fearful.

So my friends and coffee lovers, if you are wondering why I have led our coffee company into the world of CBD, you now know. Simply put, we have paid our dues and earned the right to introduce our award winning coffee into the Cannabis community. We have grown it, smoked it, advocated for it, written about it and contributed to the political battle for legalization. Thanksgiving Coffee has earned the right to enter the field. We are not another “Johnny come lately internet business selling CBD from unknown sources. We are of it. We are part of it. Mendocino cannabis is imprinted on our DNA.

Thanksgiving Coffee is located in the heart of the Emerald Triangle. We know the farmers and have known many of them for decades, just as we have known the coffee farmers who supply our raw green coffee beans that we roast. As we have celebrated and honored the coffee farmers we are now preparing to celebrate and honor our cannabis farmers.

Our CBD coffee contains CBD from known sources. The coffee has the taste and flavor profile expected of our award winning coffee, and it will be certified Fair Trade and Organic. We have posted our lab tests, and guarantee that the CBD was derived from cannabis grown for consumption, not industrial hemp.

It is an honest full spectrum CBD with all the entourage effects of its terpenes as nature intended. We want your body’s endocannabinoid system not just to recognize it but to be joyous upon its arrival. Not everyone remembers to take their medicine every day, but no one forgets their morning coffee.