Issue Overviews

What Is Organic Coffee?
Certified organic coffee is determined by a third party certifier to have been grown without the use of synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Thanksgiving Coffee sells coffee certified by worldwide agencies such as the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) and Quality Assurance International (QAI). Organic farming practices require long term planning and respect for the health of the soil and surrounding environment. The coffee farms, the import trail into the U.S., and Thanksgiving Coffee Company must all pass inspection by the certification agency, guaranteeing the coffee from tree to cup. While profoundly benefiting the communities that practice organic farming, you can count on our products to be produced and handled with uncompromising quality standards.

What Is Fair Trade?
The Fair Trade certification system works directly with democratically run farmer co-ops in more than 22 coffee growing countries around the world. By avoiding local middlemen, the farmers are guaranteed a living wage for the coffee they produce regardless of fluctuations in the market. This allows them to invest in education for their children, community health care, and sustainable agriculture.

What Is Shade Grown Coffee?
Shade coffee is grown under the canopy of native trees. In the midst of shrinking habitats, these trees provide crucial winter homes for over 150 species of common native and migratory birds such as hummingbirds, wrens, robins, grosbeaks, and tanagers. Full sun coffee plants produce more beans per tree, but at a heavy cost to the environment. Sun grown coffee trees need chemical inputs to maintain high production levels which cause them to have shorter life spans and, in turn, means more frequent investments in plants for the farmers. The absence of shade trees and insect-eating songbirds leads to larger weed and insect populations requiring farmers to use herbicides and pesticides. On the other hand, the native tree canopy of shade coffee plantations shields the lower ecosystems (the coffee trees) from harsh weather, provides a steady fall of leaf litter which decomposes and renews the soil, and provides useful plant products and fruits. Shade coffee matures more slowly than full sun coffee, giving the beans more time to ripen and develop their full taste potential. Our shade coffee comes from farms that are either personally verified with on-site visits by our CEO or our importers, or certified by Rainforest Alliance and affixed with the EcoOK label.

What Are Farmer Co-ops?
Many times the farmers in an area will form a cooperative in order to process, market, and sell their coffee together. These farms are usually small, family run plots of land that donít produce enough of any one product to be independently sold for export. Co-ops allow the community to maintain control of their products instead of being forced to sell individually to middlemen. Working together, a community can monitor the quality of its coffee and the impact its farming practices are having on the surrounding ecosystems and watersheds. We like to purchase coffee directly from local cooperatives so that the profits stay within the families and the community. Family-run farms encourage close family ties in the tradition of our own small family farm heritage in the U.S. Solar coffee driers, books, coffee tasting facilities to monitor quality, and even kidsí baseball uniforms have been a part of the currency of our business. We feel it is important that every pound of organic and fair trade coffee we offer comes from places that care about the workers and about the earth itself. Please see our web site for details on our current programs.


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