Furnace Hills Coffee Company:

Last year we felt we needed to bring our daughter (Erin) home to live with us. Where she was living in the Midwest just wasn’t working for her. Not a bad place, just had stopped being an environment that she felt comfortable in. So we brought her home to live with us. We found out slowly that the waiting list for services in Maryland is quite long — maybe 10 years. Although Erin would have loved sitting around our home, we felt like we needed something for her to do.

At the same time — I guess maybe last December — Jim Kales started following me on Twitter. Those of you who know me personally know all to well my penchant for social media including Twitter. So Jim started following me. Now Jim is the CEO of a not-for-profit named Aspire (http://www.aspireofillinois.org/). The reason Jim was following people was to announce a new business they were starting. A coffee roasting business. At that point I thought if the developmentally disabled can roast coffee in Chicago, we can roast it in Maryland. Thus the creation of Furnace Hills Coffee Company (www.furnacehillscoffee.com). Thank you Jim for your inspiration and pioneering spirit! You have made a world of difference for us Baldwins!

So we have been roasting coffee for about seven months now. We have had so much demand we’ve had to hire a part-time employee besides Erin. So Lia Moore joined us seven weeks ago. Lia is a gifted young woman who is a graduate student at McDaniel College, just a mile from our home.

So when you purchase a pound of roasted coffee from Furnace Hills we say there is a five fold win. Here they are:

There are five ways you win with Furnace Hills Coffee:

  1. Organically Grown: Our coffee is organically grown in altitudes above 3,000 feet.  We don’t buy coffee from low areas where coffee was “not meant to be grown”, which have to rely on anti-fungus chemicals, pesticides and excessive amounts of artificial fertilizers.  Our Bolivian coffees are also shade grown.
  2. Direct Trade Purchased: We buy our coffee by paying above market rates for quality. We want to concentrate on making sure the growers are the ones that receive a fair benefit of their labor. The coffee importers we deal with buy directly from the coffee farmer so there are fewer middle people and a better price can be paid for the green beans. We are building relationships with these coffee importers who in turn build positive relationships directly with the farmer.
  3. Employees the Developmentally Disabled: Our coffee is roasted in the Furnace Hills of Maryland by Erin Baldwin who is developmentally disabled (Down Syndrome). The vision of Furnace Hills Coffee Company is to employ more and more developmentally disabled people in Carroll County. It would be great to hire one or two more people next year.
  4. Helps the Developmentally Disabled in Ukraine: One dollar of every pound we sell is donated to an organization that works with the developmentally disabled in Ukraine or in community development in Southeast Asia.
  5. Tastes GREAT: From what we can tell and others have said it’s a win for the person who buys our coffee because it is a great tasting coffee. We are newbies to the roasting arena so we are thanking God for helping us out in making this a great taste.

I’ve learned more about the coffee roasting business and coffee in general than I thought I’d ever learn. I love our business and how fulfilled Erin seems as she works roasting coffee. In my next blog I’ll give you an idea of what Erin does. Since starting all of this it has dawned on me that waiting ten years for services would have been a disaster for Erin. So my question has been …

Whose responsibility is it really to involve the developmentally disabled in the work force — the government or the family?

What do you think?

Well that’s this leader’s view.




One response to “Furnace Hills Coffee Company:

  1. It’s the family’s or church’s responsibility. The list of what the government is responsible for is actually much, much shorter then what the government has listed for itself. 🙂

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