Fort Bragg's got fishing. Fort Bragg's got lumber. And Fort Bragg's got
The good people of Thanksgiving Coffee take their coffee very seriously,
and from their Fort Bragg headquarters, they roast, taste and package
it up to ship all over. A successful business to be sure, but it's a business
that's about more than the bottom line.
"When I saw the level of poverty that existed among coffee pickers
and coffee growers it blew my mind. That experience changed my life."
Thanksgiving Coffee's owner Paul Katzeff is talking about his first trip
to Nicaragua, where he met the poor families who grew so many of those
It was an experience that shaped the company's philosophy, boiled down
in the slogan "not just a cup, but a just cup". The sign's right
there on "Thanksgiving Coffee's" trucks, which, by the way,
run on bio-diesel fuel. Not a petroleum product but recycled cooking oil
that's been modified to run a regular diesel engine.
Thanksgiving Coffee is environmentally friendly and socially aware. A
capable, caring team put together by a unique guy. Paul says, "When
I was about 25, I was working with Robert Kennedy when he became senator."
"I was living in Harry Truman's old railroad car, the one he whistle-stopped
around the country in 1948." "Bob Dylan and Joan Baez walked
by and pointed down at me and sorta smiled." The founder of Thanksgiving
Coffee has a million stories. And he has plenty of stories about his coffee
history, which started in the 60s in New York City. Paul said, "At
night I'd go home from my job and hang out at coffee houses and play my
guitar and write lousy poetry in the middle of the night."
And when it was time to leave New York, he eventually ended up in Fort
Bragg. "I had 10 cents left to my name. And I put it down for a cup
of coffee; it was a horrible cup of coffee. And I told the guy; this is
the worst cup of coffee I ever tasted. And he said, you hippies. All you
do is complain. If you want a good cup of coffee, then you make a good
cup of coffee and you bring a good cup of coffee here. So I said, okay.
And the rest is history" said Paul.
A history about more than coffee, it's about buying coffee grown in the
shade, instead of eco-unfriendly clear-cut fields. It's about supporting
those small family farms and it's about giving. Some of the company profits
go to protecting songbird habitat, bat habitat and the U.S.-Cuba sister
Plenty of causes, maybe because Paul Katzeff's first bag of beans was
given to him. Paul said, "And when I went to pay him, he said, 'wait
a second. Don't pay me now. You're gonna need all the luck you can get.
You have no idea what you're doing. Pay me when you have the money."
It took two years, but the payment was made. The rest is a history of
good causes and, for sure, good coffee.
If you'd like to find more information on Thanksgiving Coffee, visit
their site at: www.thanksgivingcoffee.com
A special thank you goes to the Harbor Lite Lodge for accommodating the
Heartland crew during our stay in Fort Bragg. Please visit them at: www.harborlitelodge.com