A Matter of Leadership — Special Coffee or Special People or Both!

It has been a while since posting on this website. I have decided to start sharing on a regular basis our balance between coffee and people. You see Furnace Hills Coffee was started to provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities. Today we employ three people with developmental disabilities:

  • Erin has Down syndrome
  • Jason has Cerebral Palsy
  • Chris is Autistic

Our challenge to ourselves has been to roast the best coffees available showing the world that these disabilities don’t slow down our employees and in fact we can compete with anyone in the marketplace. I believe we are proving that challenge true! I truly believe that these three individuals roast and package some of the best specialty coffee you can drink in the USA. First let’s talk about what makes these three so special then later this week we’ll talk about why the coffee they roast is so special.

Special People:

  • Erin: She has a passion for roasting special coffee. She calls our roastery her shop. When she can’t go into work she cries and tells me, “I have to work, that’s my job.” How many people do you know cry when they can’t go to work? How many people do you know call where they work their company? If we don’t get at least ten orders overnight she us upset and is concerned that there may be nothing for her to do that day. She loves the coffee named after her, Erin’s Breakfast Blend. In fact she calls it, “My Breakfast Blend.” Do you know of anyone who approaches there work like Erin does?
  • Jason: He loves working at Furnace Hills Coffee. He has a passion to see us succeed. He calls on organizations and companies who may be able to use our coffee in his spare time. He wants to be a part of ever special event we do. He comes to work happy and puts his full energy into all he does. Jason has Cerebral Palsy. Yet that has not stopped him from doing everything in the shop. He has learned work arounds when it comes to the tasks he’s been asked to perform. And he does it with joy! When did you know of an employee who worked on his/her own time to make the company a success?
  • Chris: Do your employees or co-workers include a secret ingredient in their work? Chris does. He includes a pinch of love. Wouldn’t it be great if our co-workers said something like this, “I have the presentation done all it needs now is a pinch of love.” That’s Chris for you. He’s another one who cries when he can’t come to work. Did you ever cry when you couldn’t come to work?

I will measure our special people against your people any day and I do believe we will come out on top.

Check out our story here: Furnace Hills Story

Thursday we’ll discuss the rest of the team and what makes them so special. Don’t worry we’ll get around to this special coffee we roast. The best in the world! It is a matter of leadership!



Soldiers Blend

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863 in and around the town of Gettysburg, PA. It was the battle with the most casualties in the Civil War. It is often described as the war’s turning point.

In honor of this battle and the soldiers that fought there Furnace Hills Coffee Company has created a Soldiers Blend. Coffee was essential during this war. Coffee and hardtack were the two foods the soldiers could count on that wouldn’t spoil and could be easily transported in a haversack. Salt-pork was the other common food, but often rotted or attracted flies and quickly filled with maggots. During the war, America imported coffee from Africa, primarily Ethiopia. Generals were given the bags of coffee and would often spread out a blanket to evenly dole out piles of the precious staple. In the beginning of the war, coffee was delivered ground, but scrupulous merchants began mixing in sand to increase their profits. Generals quickly began ordering whole beans and usually these arrived green. Once the piles had been measured out, soldiers quickly dispersed to roast their piles. This way if they had long days of marching or were unable to light fires, they still had roasted coffee. They would often have to munch on the beans instead of drinking the coffee. They used cast iron skillets over open fires for roasting. The coffee usually ended up burnt in the middle while the sides were lighter, resulting in a “salt and pepper” blend mixed with bits of chaff.

Once the North had secured the southern ports, the South was cut off from their precious brew. The North had trouble securing a steady source of tobacco so a deal was quickly worked out. Often in the early mornings the front lines would display white flags, send runners across the opposite line and make an exchange; coffee for tobacco. The runners returned, the flags came down and war proceeded. Getttysburg Battle Field

After careful research Furnace Hills Coffee decided on an Ethiopian coffee bean. Part of the blend is a dark roast and part a light roast. This was done to do our best to replicate the coffee roasting conditions and practices on the battle field. Coffee was roasted in a frying pan over an open camp fire resulting in an un-even roast. We have also added a small amount of Ugandan Robusta to give the coffee a toughness to it. There is no bite at the end of the swallow, but it stays with you for a while after drinking.

If you would like to try some of this coffee just email us at davidmbaldwin@gmail.com and we’ll send some out to you and bill you through PayPal. The cost is $12/pound plus shipping. This great blend will soon be available on our website.

Coffee Consumption Rises Worldwide!

Good news for Furnace Hills Coffee Company. Yes worldwide coffee consumption is at an all time high in 2011. Below you’ll see the reports that are out re: coffee consumption and the new & emerging markets.

Here’s a question for you: Are you drinking more coffee this year than you did last? Is your personal coffee consumption up?

Worldwide coffee consumption increased by 1.3% to 139 million bags (of 60 kg each) in 2011 compared to 137.2 million bags in 2010 driven by growing demand in Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, India, Venezuela and other countries, according to International Coffee Organization (ICO) .

As per the ICO data, exporting countries consumed 42.4 million bags of coffee in 2011 compared to 41 million bags in the prior year period.

Roasted coffee beans Español: Granos de café t...

Roasted coffee beans Español: Granos de café tostado (natural). Bahasa Indonesia: Biji kopi alami yang telah disangrai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In its latest report the organization said: “The highest rates of growth (consumption) have been found mostly in exporting countries, which have increased their share of the total from 25 per cent in 2000 to 30.5 per cent in 2011,” reported The Economic Times.

The consumption in importing countries, including the US, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, the UK and Spain, was 96.6 million bags in 2011 compared to 96.1 million bags in the year ago period.

The importing countries, including the US, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, the UK and Spain, consumed 96.6 million bags in 2011 compared to 96.1 million bags in 2010.

In emerging markets like Russia, Korea, Ukraine, Australia, Algeria, etc, coffee consumption increased marginally to 25.8 million bags from 25.2 million bags in the previous crop year.

The global coffee production has been estimated flat at 134.3 million bags in the 2011-12 crop year, which runs from October to September, compared to 2010-11 as the shortfall in production in Brazil was compensated by increased production in other countries, particularly Vietnam, Peru and Honduras, ICO was cited by the news paper. (Taken from Hot Drinks Business Review, October 22, 2012) (http://hotdrinks.drinks-business-review.com/)

What Furnace Hills Coffees may you drink more of this next year? Check out our coffee offerings at http://furnacehillscoffee.com.

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Sonofresco Our Work Horse:

I shared with you all a couple of posts ago how we grew in roasting coffee. What has grown with us is our use of Sonofresco Roasters. There are four reasons why we use Sonofrescos.

  1. We needed something simple.Erin isn’t going to be able to watch a roast in a conventional drum roaster and know when to dump the beans with precision every time. Sonofresco has ten settings and provides a consistent roast at those settings from light to

    Erin with the Sonofresco

    dark. Some of our roasts we stop in the middle of one of the setting cycles, but that’s fine. We have a timer & when it goes off, Erin turns the gas off. This has worked so well when we needed to expand our capacity we just ordered another machine.

  2. We needed something affordable. Among roasters of this type and size Sonofresco is the most affordable. These are gas fired machines that work well. Other machines that roast the same amount of coffee you’d pay twice as much in some cases.
  3. Fluid Bed Roasters produce a brighter tasting coffee. We learned this from our experience at CoffeeCon12. Many people said our coffee was the brightest smoothest there. We were the only fluid bed roasting company at the Expo. It was something that was a epiphany to us. It’s something we’ve shared with people ever since our time in Chicago last February.
  4. Reliable and Easily repairable. The machine is very simple and basic with few moving parts. We’ve only had two issues. A heat sensor failed and so did a fan. The fan was under warranty and it was shipped to us within days. The heat sensor was not, but it was affordable and came quickly. My wife (Louise) stated that this must be a God thing — talking about our coffee business — because I was able to personally swap out both parts. If you knew my proclivity to not be a fixer/repair guy you would call it close to being a miracle.

    So there you have it. We love our Sonofrescos. Erin can operate them from start to finish & also cleans them. It’s the perfect machine for Furnace Hills Coffee Company.Go to our website (http://furnacehillscoffee.com) and check out that fantastic coffees Erin roasts. What’s your favorite blend/roast of Furnace Hills Coffee?

Greatest Customers In The World:

Furnace Hills Coffee Company has the greatest customers in the world. That’s our opinion anyway! How did we come about having such great customers. Well it happened in a couple of ways. I’ve listed them below. Which category do you fit in?

  • Friends & Family: When we started the business in spring of 2010 all we had was family & friends. And you stuck with us through thick & thin. You encouraged us and cheered us on and kept buying our coffee. Do you remember the way we sent it out in the beginning? You received it in zip lock baggies! You gave us feedback and encouragement.
  • Westminster Farmers’ Market: Wow what can we say! You have all been tremendous. I think we share a lot of common values. We want to be local in our consumption of goods & services. We want to be environmentally friendly (Green). And we want to build a network of friendships that are strong & good. Lots of you have encouraged us and given us great ideas and feedback. Some of you we didn’t know two years ago and now consider you to be dear friends. In fact we have found some corporate accounts through those that stop by the Market. The most recent is the Ragged Edge Coffee House in Gettysburg, PA! Jacob Schindel is the owner and a great guy. If you are in Gettysburg stop by one of their three coffee locations!
  • Twitter & Facebook Friends: Once again what can we say! Many of you we have met through Facebook & Twitter! In fact Jim Kales has been the inspiration for this whole endeavor & I’ve never met you in person Jim! What an awesome time in history we live in.
    Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

    Image via CrunchBase

    Others of you have given us encouragement & guidance along the way. I don’t know where I met up with Chris Burke from Morning Glory Coffee in West Yellowstone, MT, but he and his wife Laura have been HUGE fans of Furnace Hills Coffee Company. We tweet & facebook with one another.

  • Internet Customers: A number of you found us through our website! Thank you for taking a chance on us and for it being a great relationship. Some of these may turn into working relationships as well. Many of you we have never met, yet you keep ordering our coffee on a regular basis. We thank you so much.

Well that’s it! We have awesome customers (partners) in this grand endeavor called Furnace Hills Coffee Company. Have I missed a group? Post a comment as to what group you fall into or make a new group!

That’s this Roaster’s View



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History of Coffee — We Want Your Feedback:

Tony Shin contacted me regarding the Infographic below. He created it and wondered what my readers thought of the information included in it. I found some interesting and new facts I didn’t know about the history of coffee. Please help Tony with your feed back of this Infographic.  What are your takeaways from the infographic below!?!

  • What new facts about coffee have you learned by studying the Infographic?
  • What are the most surprising things on the Infographic?
  • What’s hard for you to believe?
Thank you for your feedback. I’m sure Tony will appreciate it!

Coffee Health:

As many of you know I am a HUGE Beachbody.com fan. In fact I started another round of Insanity yesterday with Shaun T. The last issue of the Beachbody Newsletter had the article below as its lead. I touched base with Steve Edwards and asked if I could reprint it here and on our Furnace Hills Coffee (http://furnacehillscoffee.com) site. He was generous and said yes. I have been impressed with the corporate mission of Beachbody and their positive culture. I have always been impressed with my contacts in this fine organization. Check out their website and start getting in shape today (http://beachbody.com)!

Although there are a couple of downsides to drinking coffee the article is overwhelmly positive . Let me know what you think about what Steve writes below!

The Latté Lowdown: 10 Things to Like and Not Like About Coffee

By Steve Edwards

Depending on how you interpret statistics, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world. Together with its brethren, tea, only soda measures up in a popularity contest. Because they all contain caffeine, they’re often lumped together in one group, which is a pity because they couldn’t be further apart. Both coffee and tea are natural tonics steeped in lore and tradition. Soda, on the other hand, has nothing natural about it. It’s a purely man-made concoction designed to elicit a drug-like response and cravings.

Coffee Beans

Coffee and tea may often be referred to as “drugs,” but that is a misnomer. They are natural herbal elixirs, more akin to echinacea than ibuprofen. A quick search of the National Institute of Health’s database shows 8,617 studies on coffee alone and 25,164 on caffeine as of the time of writing this article. The overwhelming majority of these studies are positive. Humans have been drinking coffee for longer than recorded history, and research confirms that it has very few downsides. Soda, on the other hand, has only been around a few generations, and the first long-term studies on it have just started to appear. The appalling results link both regular and diet sodas to myriad diseases and decreased life span. So, to repeat: In no way should these beverages ever be related.

Just because coffee has tradition and science on its side doesn’t mean you should have a 64-ounce trucker’s mug permanently attached to your wrist. As with all “healthy” foods, supplements, tonics, or herbs; common sense—if not downright restraint—should be employed with use. Let’s take a look at 10 things to like and not like about coffee.

  1. CoffeeCoffee can keep you awake. This can be the desired effect, but if it hampers your ability to sleep when you want to, give it a miss. While coffee has all kinds of cool benefits, none of those are as beneficial as sleep. During the various stages of sleep, our body releases many powerful regenerative hormones, making it the greatest natural performance aid around. Furthermore, a 17-year-old study out of England, featuring 10,000 participants, showed those who cut their sleep from seven hours a night to five or less faced a 1.7-fold increased risk in mortality from all causes and more than double the risk of cardiovascular death. Sleep first. Then, consider a cup of java.
  2. “Insert your favorite flavor”-accino doesn’t make it coffee. For millennia, coffee was consumed in small cups and, perhaps, enhanced by a touch of sugar or milk. Only since the Starbucks® revolution, has it been possible to order what was formerly a cup o’ Joe and have it delivered as something that was formerly a milkshake. The majority of most coffee house menus are filled with items that aren’t really coffee, but rather coffee-spiked dessert. Coffee and tea have zero calories. A spoonful of sugar and dash of milk contain around 40 calories. The average drink at Starbucks contains 300 empty calories or more, turning most people’s conception of coffee into something closer to soda. So before ordering your next Choco-Vanilla-accino-Frappé, consider that even one soda a day greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  3. It’s a magic elixir. And now for some good news. A 20-year-old study that followed some 84,000 women and 44,000 men concluded that coffee had a bevy of benefits. Published in the May 2, 2006, issue of Circulation, the study concluded that drinking coffee isn’t harmful to cardiovascular health, as had been long assumed, and may even be beneficial. From Harvard Health, “The latest research has not only confirmed that moderate coffee consumption doesn’t cause harm, it’s also uncovered possible benefits. Studies show that the risk for type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don’t drink it. Also, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.” Need I say more? I’m just getting started . . .
  4. Coffee and StethoscopeCoffee can reduce the pain of exercise. An article published in the April 2009 edition of theInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows that coffee can kill some of the pain associated with rigorous exercise. “Caffeine works on a system in the brain and spinal cord (the adenosine neuromodulatory system) that is heavily involved in pain processing,” said Robert Motl, kinesiology and community health professor at University of Illinois. These results seemed constant whether or not the subjects were habitual caffeine drinkers. So much for the knock on caffeinated pre-workout supplements!
  5. You’re less likely to get type 2 diabetes. It’s not all about caffeine. A slew of studies report that coffee lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. The July 6, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at data from many of them and concluded that their findings were, indeed, true. One of those, from the February 2006 issue of Diabetes Care, found that decaf lowers the risk of diabetes as well, suggesting that something other than caffeine is likely responsible.
  6. It can increase your sports performance. This probably isn’t too surprising since, for many years, caffeine was on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list. Coffee increases many processes in the body that can lead to better performance. Among its ergogenic (performance enhancing) benefits are better mental focus, increased ability to use fat as fuel (which spares your glycogen stores), and increased ability to release calcium stored in the muscle, leading to greater power output, not to mention the one I referenced in number four. And you don’t need a trucker’s mug to do it. Studies at the Australian Institute of Sport report that athletes get the full caffeine effect with as little as 1 milligram of caffeine per kilogram of body weight, or about 1 cup of coffee for an average human.
  7. Coffee Beans, Coffee Cup, and Sugar CubesCoffee makes you smart. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2006 followed 676 healthy, older men from Finland, the Netherlands, and Italy for 10 years and measured their cognitive function. Those who drank coffee had lower rates of age-related cognitive decline than those who didn’t, with maximum protection seen in men who drank 3 cups of coffee a day.
  8. You’re less likely to get prostate cancer. Men are advised to have regular prostate cancer testing done once they hit the not-so-ripe-old-age of 40. Turns out, coffee is one of your greatest allies in the fight against it, especially when you drink a lot of it. A 2006 study conducted on 50,000 men over a 20-year period concluded that those who drank coffee were 60 percent less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. And here’s where tea drinkers might listen up too. “Caffeine in coffee doesn’t seem to be the link, since the same reduction was seen for consumption of decaffeinated coffee,” stated Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It has something to do with insulin and glucose metabolism. A number of studies have found that coffee is (also) associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.” It’s also worth noting that 6 cups a day seemed like the magic number, as that’s where the risks were lowest. A follow-up in 2011 has further confirmed this study.
  9. Six is the magic number for cancer. In 2007, almost 94,000 women participated in a study that found that those who drank caffeinated coffee daily had a 10 percent lower risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, while those who drank 6 or more cups daily had an almost 40 percent reduction in risk. This time, caffeine seems like the key, as researchers were able to uncover the mechanism by which caffeine helps lower the risk. Caffeine molecules were already known to behave as a natural sunscreen, but they also found the stimulant to have a positive effect on DNA.
  10. Group of People Having CoffeeCoffee reduces your chance of having a stroke. I raise your six and give you eight. A 2008 study of more than 26,000 male smokers in Finland found that the men who drank 8 or more cups of coffee a day had a 23 percent lower risk of having a stroke than the men who drank little or no coffee. Other reports suggest the effect applies to healthy nonsmokers, too. This was backed by researchers at UCLA and USC who examined data on coffee consumption and stroke prevalence among more than 9,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. At a 2009 conference, they reported that the likelihood of having a stroke was highest among people who didn’t drink coffee and lowest among those who drank the most coffee: 5 percent of people who drank 1 or 2 cups a day suffered strokes, whereas 2.9 percent of people who drank 6 or more cups suffered strokes. So much for moderation.

Turns out there’s a good reason coffee is not just popular to drink but has an almost cult-like following; it makes life better. And it seems that we knew it long before we could prove it. Just like the British and their beloved tea, coffee is a part of our culture and our history. From literature, to art, to music, and cinema, life wouldn’t be the same without a steaming hot cup of Good Morning America®.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a few pearls of wisdom from one of coffee’s most outspoken fans—artist, musician, and film director David Lynch. “I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just . . . let it happen. Could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.” —Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks.


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  • Conis, E. April 10, 2011. Coffee Studies Should Warm Your Heart. Los Angeles Times.
  • Ferrie, Jane E et al. “A Prospective Study of Change in Sleep Duration: Associations with Mortality in the Whitehall II Cohort.”Sleep (Rochester) 30.12 (2007) : 1659-1666.
  • Hu, F B et al. “Coffee consumption and coronary heart disease in men and women: a prospective cohort study.” Circulation113.7169 (2006) : 1341-1345.
  • Gliottoni, Rachael C et al. “Effect of caffeine on quadriceps muscle pain during acute cycling exercise in low versus high caffeine consumers.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 19.2 (2009) : 150-161.
  • Tarnopolsky, Mark A. “Effect of caffeine on the neuromuscular system—potential as an ergogenic aid.” Applied physiology nutrition and metabolism Physiologie appliquee nutrition et metabolisme 33.6 (2008) : 1284-1289.
  • Van Dam, Rob M, and Frank B Hu. “Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.” Jama The Journal Of The American Medical Association 294.1 (2005) : 97-104.
  • Vasanti S. Malik, SCD, Barry M. Popkin, PHD et al. “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care November 2010; 33(11): 2477-2483.
  • Wilson, K M et al. “Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.” JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011) : djr151-.