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In 1972 Paul and Joan Katzeff moved to the Mendocino Coast, established Thanksgiving Coffee at the Mendocino Hotel, and begin roasting coffee for the Hotel café. At the time this was their only account. They roasted on a Royal #5 twenty-five pound capacity coffee roaster. Sales were approximately fifty pounds each week at $2.50 per pound.
In 1972 Thanksgiving Coffee was just one of many cottage hippie businesses. Nobody had heard of specialty coffee. It was the era of free love, psychedelics, Kent State Vietnam War, Nixon’s Watergate, Jefferson Starship, and a renewed commitment to alternative energy by California Governor Jerry Brown.
Everyone living in Mendocino was having a good time or escaping bad times. It was a time the urban young got on the road and found rural America was still real. They liked what they stumbled upon and stayed on.
Thanksgiving Coffee focused on making a positive contribution to the local community. The causes were local and the business reflected the founder’s relationship to their community. During this time the California wine industry was becoming famous and California cuisine was all about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Thanksgiving Coffee grew up surrounded by this culture and a Roastmaster was born.
In 1974, Paul and Joan begin roasting coffee for The Thanksgiving Coffee Restaurant. The restaurant was sold to partners and became The Greenhouse Restaurant. Thanksgiving coffee relocated and was run out a building built before the 1906 Earthquake on the Noyo Harbor, behind a ship called the San Juan. The building stood on a dock. The company grew and operated out of these digs until 1987. Paul and Joan purchased the building in 1975 and the company still owns it today. They keep it for storage and also as a reminder of their humble beginnings and all the amazing old salts, cranky fisherman, and drunken parties that were a frequent part of their lives on the water when Noyo Harbor was just another ”Cannery Row” along the Pacific Coast complete with “fish houses” where local women filleted fifty pound King Salmon, iced three pound crabs and packed Black Cod fillets for shipment to Eastern markets to be smoked and sold as “smoked sablefish” to the Jewish Delis in Chicago and New York City.
Paul says, "All that is gone now but the memory still remains. I guess you can say, “those were the good old days.”
Through the years Thanksgiving Coffee has grown, but it is still a family business. Their son, Jonah helps his parents steer the ship and carry on the legacy.
Paul became one of the founding charter members of SCAA and served as the 3rd President. He hosted the first SCAA conference entitled, “Coffee Human Rights, and Third World Economies.”
"Through coffee, we support justice for our growers, our communities, and the environment. As an activist business, our work is to engage every coffee drinker on big social, economic and environmental issues. Coffee is our medium." “Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup” is our message.
To build a profitable community based company that provides meaningful work in a pleasant, safe work place, where employees take pride in the product we produce, at a wage scale that can support healthy life styles. To do this while benefiting the farmers who produce the raw coffee we import and roast, recognizing that quality of life and quality of coffee go hand in hand. To create a bridge between producers and consumers, leading to a greater understanding between different world cultures.
This the true success of the hippy ideals. To see a company with a mission, 45 years later never waver from its beliefs and contributions. We believe Thanksgiving Coffee is a roaster worthy of your cup.