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Liz Clayton’s Canadian Thanksgiving Coffee S...

Liz Clayton’s Canadian Thanksgiving Coffee Spectacular

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We all know that Canada does things a little differently from its neighbour to the south—like spelling neighbour with a “u”, for instance, and celebrating the feast of Thanksgiving more than a month earlier than down in the States. To get into the fall spirit, we asked some of our favorite Canadian coffee roasters for their take on Canadian Thanksgiving, and which of their current crop of coffees they’d be proudest to bring to the table.

Geoff Woodley, Detour Coffee, Burlington, Ontario

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, closely tied to the traditional harvest. The days are warm enough for a sweater, the nights cool and perfect for jacket. People look dapper, the leaves are colourful and they’re itching to cook a huge meal. Personally, I love it because it’s the first time in the year my family will get together. It’s usually Thanksgiving and Christmas for us. My mom is an incredible cook and always goes above and beyond with dinner. Every year she threatens to not make food and I have to plead and offer bags of coffee to right my world.

What’s your favourite dish?

My mom’s stuffing is crazy. It’s like nothing else I’ve had. It’s full of dried berries, pine nuts, chicken stock and I wish I knew more. Every year I ask how to make it and she gives me “I don’t know, I just put stuff in”. Typical mom response. As a drink geek, I also freak out over the fresh apple cider. Southern Ontario has incredible farms and the orchards around Hamilton are a must-go during the holidays.

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

Autumn is my favourite time to drink coffee, both for the coffees in season and the weather. Fresh crop Centrals are all over the place, there are still great lots from Africa and the earliest arrivals from Sulawesi and Papua New Guinea are arriving. Our Gelana Abaya Espresso Roast, brewed as a filter coffee, will turn light citrus and melon notes into a rich, sweet and complex cup of coffee that is flavourful enough for the coffee geeks at the table and traditional enough that someone can add dairy if they prefer. It has hints of baking spices, deep brown sugar sweetness, and dried apricot notes—it couldn’t be more fitting for a Thanksgiving meal if we tried and yet it comes all the way from Ethiopia.

Sam James, Sam James Coffee Bar/Cut Coffee, Toronto, Ontario

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

I like that it comes before American Thanksgiving. I get a turkey dinner so many weeks sooner than my American friends, and then I get another one again at American Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is just all about getting [redacted] with your family and eating great food.

What’s your favourite dish?

I love the stuffing. Gimme all that and gravy.

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

We got a new Ethiopia right now. I like when we get fresh coffees in, first couple weeks of ’em being in, they’re really fresh and exciting. They never last long, but I figure we’ll have that Ethiopia until Canadian Thanksgiving at least.

brussells

Laura Perry and Meaghan Potts, 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, Burnaby, British Columbia

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

Canadian Thanksgiving is generally a little more low-key than the American Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect excuse to spend a little extra time with friends and family and of course, feast. At our cafes, we have an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the staff which is prepared entirely by the man behind Lucky’s Doughnuts, Colter. It involves a ton of prep work and usually two 18–20lb turkeys chilling in a brine in the walk-in fridge for at least 24 hours. This could be a potentially terrifying experience for unsuspecting baristas going to restock on milk, but the brining makes the turkey super moist and flavourful.

What’s your favourite dish?

An ideal plate would be heaping with caramelized brussels sprouts, green beans with pancetta and almonds, wild rice stuffed squash, sweet potatoes and turkey. A special, seasonal treat is the stuffing made from Lucky’s yeast-raised doughnuts.

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

Not unlike Canadian Thanksgiving, Honduras El Ocotillo harvest arrived early this year. This is a coffee we get really excited about each year from producer Natividad Benitez, whom we have been working with for half of a decade. For the last couple years, Natividad’s focus has been on maintaining quality through a period of growth on his farm, with additional Pacas plots coming into full production.

This year, El Ocotillo has flavours that remind us of strawberry, cream and vanilla. Rather than overshadow the awesomeness of this coffee with more sweetness, I would recommend a dish with complementary and contrasting flavours, something like a lemon and curry leaf rice pilaf spiced with cardamom (shout out to Ottolenghi!).

stuffing

Vanessa Stachiw, Dogwood Coffee Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

My favourite thing about Thanksgiving is having my whole family out to the lake and walking down to the water, seeing all the trees with coloured leaves, drinking wine, and cuddling up by the wood stove. Also, the smell of turkey in a cabin is really something.

What’s your favourite dish?

My mom’s pumpkin pie of course! Last year she was coerced by one of my sisters to try a new recipe that differed from the one that we have been eating since childhood which was my late grandma’s recipe. There is now controversy in the family over which pie is “the” pie. I am most definitely in favour of the childhood pie. Do you hear that, Mom?

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

I have to say Mixtape (Costa Rica Trinidad + Ethiopia Limmu) is the coffee that I’ll be bringing to the cabin for Thanksgiving—sweet, smooth, caramelly and subtly floral. This coffee will be the perfect thing to drink with that pumpkin pie!

Jean-Francois Leduc, St-Henri Micro-Torréfacteur, Montréal, Quebec

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

What I like best about Canadian Thanksgivings is that it’s a day OFF. Apart from that, French Canadians know little about Thanksgiving. In reality, although less of a big thing here than elsewhere, it’s actually common for families to have a heartwarming dinner that would involve a turkey.

What’s your favourite dish?

Pumpkin pie? Can this be a dish?

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

Our Kenya Gathaithi for the first cup in the morning (not too early tho, it’s a day to stay tucked under the blankets!) and our Espresso Colosseo after the pumpkin pie, late at night.

pumpkin-pie

Eric Mahovlich, Pilot Coffee Roasters, Toronto, Ontario

What do you like most about Canadian Thanksgiving and is it different to you from American Thanksgiving in any special ways?

The best thing about Canadian Thanksgiving is that it eludes me year after year. Ask me what date it falls on and I’ll just point to October-November and I’ll say “somewhere in there”. I know at some point during the fall season I sit down in front of a carefully prepared feast involving turkey and numerous side dishes, culminating in an indulgent homemade dessert. I’m not sure when or why it happens, but I’m thankful for it.

What’s your favourite dish?

Sweet potato mash. It’s gotta be smooth and the right consistency. I’ve had some that are made with too much butter and it ends up being greasy and runny. Added herbs and spices are acceptable when used sparingly. I still want sweet potato to be the dominant flavour. I love spreading it onto each bite of whatever else I’m eating. I can have a little taste of the whole meal in every mouthful.

Which of your coffees would you recommend most for someone to serve at their Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and why?

Coffee hasn’t usually had a presence at the Thanksgiving dinners I’ve been to. However, I’ve heard turkey makes you sleepy, so I’m sure more than a few people would welcome some caffeine to balance it out. Serving coffee alongside dessert would be my ideal scenario. Intense fruity notes, tart acidity, and dominant heavy sweetness are things I would look for. I would even be into a really funky natural process coffee. I’m thinking about those kinds of desserts like bread pudding or a fruitcake matured with brandy or sherry. To me, these are less ordinary than pumpkin pie, so an adventurous coffee pairing could really bring some excitement to the end of the meal. I’d go with our Catalan de Las Mercedes Natural for this one. This Guatemalan Bourbon should please any lover of naturals. Notes of grape candy and cacao pod with a syrupy mouthfeel should complement the dried fruit and liquor in a fruitcake.

We give thanks to all who shared their Canadian Thanksgiving recommendations. And remember—no matter where you live, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving as many times as you like!

Liz Clayton is Associate Editor of Sprudge and helms the New York City desk. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.


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