The Beginning of a Movement:

Furnace Hills Coffee Company has become a movement. So many friends and family & a fair amount of strangers have become a part of our lives. I thought it would be good to share how all this started. The funny thing is any family with a child who is developmentally disabled can do the same thing. In fact we are looking for families to partner with in this grand endeavor of giving our daughter the best life she can live with God’s help.

And So It Begins:

I was on a short-term mission trip in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I had just put the phone back on its pedestal after a twenty-minute conversation with my wife. She was in the Midwest and was ending her day with our daughter. Louise was weeping because of the struggle she sensed in our daughter, Erin, and the growing conviction we needed to bring her home. Erin was no longer the happy person she was when we took her to this place thirteen years ago. It was time that something had to be done. So that evening we both agreed Erin needed to move back home with us.

In talking with the state we live in those who work with the developmentally disabled believed it could be ten years before funding would be available for Erin to find a job. Although we believed Erin sitting home with us was better than where she had been living we felt we should try to start something for her to do. Several ideas went through our minds, but nothing materialized. Erin has Down Syndrome and lives with a number of limitations cognitively  but one thing she enjoys is productive work. So we were casting about for what she could do.

The answer came from an unlikely source. Jim Kales CEO of Aspire — an organization that works with the developmentally disabled from birth to the grave — started following me on twitter announcing a new business they were starting. Aspire is in Chicago, IL. He was announcing the start of a coffee roasting business. I thought, If developmentally disabled people can roast coffee in Chicago, why not in Maryland too! So we bought our first roasters — small home roasters to begin with — and green coffee beans and started roasting coffee in our kitchen. April of 2010 was the start of our roasting endeavors and by September of that year we were a legally created roasting company and had started looking for another place to roast coffee. I figured my wife needed her kitchen, dining room and lower level of her home back.

Erin's Roastery

Erin’s Roastery

So that’s how we started our coffee roasting business & how great disappointment & frustration can turn into hope and freedom for a family. Erin loves roasting coffee. She is very possessive of her job. On Sunday afternoons at some point she will say, “Tomorrow I go to work!”

On Monday I’ll share the half steps that have brought success to our coffee roasting business. For those of you thinking of starting a business or have a relative with developmental disabilities you won’t want to miss it! By the way visit our website and see what kinds of coffee Erin roasts today! 



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