Coffee and the traditional Thanksgiving table go together like, well, pumpkin pie and ice cream, but you know what? In this day and age of Friendsgiving, Turducken and Tofurky, the traditional table has never been more many-splendored. That’s a good thing—there’s no one way to celebrate the change from Autumn to Winter, and no single coffee to fit every taste. Instead, we have an ever-changing and evolving approach to how to pair coffee before, during, and after communal dining, and an exciting specialty coffee scene offering a rainbow of flavors to meet any flavor occasion.
Whether you’re going all out on the turkey and stuffing, or just ordering take-out from Szechuan Chef, here’s 10 delicious coffees available right now from some of the best roasters in North America. These coffees are beautiful for Thanksgiving times, or really any times, so long as the times are good.
Heart Roasters – Guatemala Santa Isabel — $17 — Shop via Heart Roasters
Sharing coffee with family during this time of year is a true privilege and blessing. I’ve been hosting a lot of family recently—with some very different coffee tastes—and brewing Heart Coffee at home as been a consistent hit throughout. Heart’s Guatemala Santa Isabel is a fully washed, greenhouse dried coffee from the Antigua region, comprised of 100% Caturra variety coffee, produced by Luis Valdés. We awarded Heart our 2016 Sprudgie Award for Notable Roaster, and their coffees just get better and better—expressive without veering into too-bright or underdeveloped territory. Expect flavors of orgeat and black cherry.
Camber Coffee — Ethiopia Yukro — $18 — Shop via Camber Coffee
If you’re looking for a success story look no further than the Yukro Cooperative in western Ethiopia’s Gerra District. Comprised of some 400 individual coffee farmers tending wild coffee plants, Yukro began around 7 years ago as a collaboration with the NGO Technoserve, and today producing some of the most delicious coffee in Ethiopia—and thus, the world. This coffee is highly sought after by top coffee roasters from Melbourne to Maine, but we’re recommending you check out the roast authored by Camber Coffee of Bellingham, Washington. They’re another success story, a young roasting company earning high praise out of the gate with big things on the horizon in 2017. Expect a clean, refreshing cup, with those enchanting floral notes we associate with wild Ethiopian coffees, balanced by notes of winter citrus.
Intelligentsia Coffee — Rwanda Gaspard — $19 — Shop via Intelligentsia Coffee
I like to take any chance I can to champion the delicious, cutting edge coffees of Rwanda, with their beautiful flavors ranging from black tea to plum to chocolate orange. This is a country whose coffee industry is still remarkable young, yet has emerged as a quality leader after stops and starts in its early history. There’s a few figures we can thank for that, chief among them the family behind Bufcafe, owners of two of Rwanda’s very best washing stations in the Nyamagabe District. This coffee is processed at the Nyarusiza washing station; we visited its twin washing station, Remera, back in 2012, calling Bufcafe founder Epiphanie Muhirwa and her son Sam Muhirwa “a living emblem of Rwandan economic recovery through top-grade specialty coffee.” Their star has only grown brighter in the years since, and in their orbit are remarkable individual farmers like Nshimiyimana Gaspard. It’s exceedingly rare to drink coffee grown by a single farmer in Rwanda; you can check out this in-depth report to learn more as to why, or take our word for it when we say this is another home run Direct Trade coffee for Intelligentsia, who continue to lead the specialty coffee industry in their sourcing practices at origin.
Madcap Coffee — Honduras Nelson Moreno — $19 — Shop via Madcap Coffee
Year in and year out, Madcap Coffee remains one of America’s most consistently delicious microroasters. Their roast of this coffee from Honduran producer Nelson Moreno is exemplary for its sweetness and complexity. It’s also a Madcap exclusive: the Grand Rapids-based roaster buys 100% of the coffee Nelson Moreno exports from his two farms in the El Cedral region of Santa Barbara, Honduras. We’ll be recommending several other ways to enjoy Madcap coffee over the course of our holiday guides, but for Thanksgiving we see this as a perfect cup to offer as an aperitif, before dinner is served.
Olympia Coffee Roasting Company — Decaf Asterisk Blend — $18.50 — Shop via Olympia Coffee Roasting Company
It’s around this time each year we like to call attention to the consistent on-point decaf work being done by Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. That’s not to say this is the only Oly Coffee worth checking out—their Banko Gotiti Natural is a standout, and we think they make some of the industry’s best cold brew. But good decaf is one of life’s subtle pleasures, and this decaf is especially awesome: a true synergy between the farmers at the Gidibona Schiecha Cooperative in Sidama, Ethiopia; exporters at Sidama Coffee Farmers Union and importers at Royal Coffee, located in the SF Bay Area; the decaf specialists at Swiss Water Decaf; and of course Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, located in sleepy little Olympia, Washington. If you have someone in your family who loves decaf—and I do—get into the habit of ordering this from Oly Coffee around the holidays. When they try some and their eyes get real big, tell ’em Sprudge says hi.
Onyx Coffee Lab — Ethiopia Hambela Buku Natural — $19 — Shop via Onyx Coffee Lab
It still has its partisans, and some outright haters, but it’s never been a better time to enjoy natural processed coffees. We really dig how Onyx Coffee Lab of Bentonville, Arkansas approach roasting natural coffees, a connection we made watching Onyx co-owner Andrea Allen compete with a naturally processed Gesha coffee during the 2015 US Barista Championship season. These style of coffees offer a flavor profile that’s totally outside the normal brew, and this specific coffee—from the Hambela Estate in Ethiopia’s Guji Zone—offers singular flavors like strawberry cheesecake, coconut, kiwi and lime. This is more wild growing heirloom variety coffee from Ethiopia, a field blend of dozens, perhaps hundreds of different coffee types from the shrub’s ancestral home. Nothing else tastes quite like these coffees. Don’t hate, celebrate.
Spyhouse Coffee — Costa Rica Edgar Ureña Imperial Reserve — $18 — Shop via Spyhouse Coffee
A Twin Cities special by way of Tarrazu, this coffee is roasted by Spyhouse Coffee and imported by Cafe Imports, both based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Edgar Ureña processes his lots of Caturra & Catuai coffee at the family mill Don Pepe, named for his father. A chance meeting between Edgar’s brother Cesar Ureña and Cafe Imports green buyer Piero Cristiani helped establish a US connection for these coffees from the Costa Rican microregion of San Isidro de Leon Cortes. This is more singular, small farmer coffee, carefully roasted by the capable hands at Spyhouse to express notes of chocolate, coconut, and even durian (in flavor, not smell!)—perfect for the first snowy days in Minnesota, or wherever you might be.
ReAnimator Coffee — Ethiopia Hunkute — $20 — Shop via Reanimator Coffee
We’re huge fans of this little washing station in the Sidama region of Ethiopia, affectionately referred to around these parts as “Hunky Cutie”. Top roasters from around the world vie for this coffee each year, and Philadelphia’s Reanimator Coffee are proud to be offering it in limited supply this season. This is a washed Ethiopian heirloom variety coffee, with a sparkling cup character not unlike Sprite, balanced by cream soda sweetness and those endless Ethiopian field blend florals. You might know ReAnimator for their iconic skeleton branding, but don’t fear the reaper—feel free to swipe right on this Hunky Cutie. (I know, I’m sorry.)
Pilot Coffee — Guatemala El Milagro — $19 CAD — Shop via Pilot Coffee
Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, but this coffee from Toronto’s Pilot Coffee Roasters tastes great no matter what you call your bacon. Toronto is home to one of North America’s most exciting coffee scenes, and this is a bedrock roast for one of the city’s leading roasters. Pilot’s relationship with Huehuetenango producer Juan Villatoro began in 2010, and the combination of Caturra, Catuai and Bourbon coffees in this lot show heaps of sweetness—think currant and maple syrup, with a creamy base.
Equator Coffees — Costa Rica Herbazu SL28 — $38 — Shop via Equator Coffees
Here’s the rarest and most expensive coffee on this list. SL-28 is a Bourbon coffee variety derivative developed by the botanists at Scott Laboratories in the 1930s, planted widely in Kenya. Just a tiny amount of SL-28 is grown in the New World, none better than that from the Barrantes family in Costa Rica’s West Valley. Processed at their storied Herbazu micro mill, this is a rare taste of Central African coffee characteristics grown and processed on Costa Rican soil and roasted by Equator Coffees in the San Francisco Bay Area. This unique and complex coffee—with flavors of stone fruit and wildflower aromatics—is the result of a relationship between Equator and the Barrantes family that stretches back a half decade, and we hope to see more of this coffee made available in the years to come.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.
All photos via the featured roasters, except where otherwise noted.
Several of the roasting companies featured in this guide are advertising partners on Sprudge. A complete list of partners is published on the lower right-hand side of each article.