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!



Furnace Hills Coffee Shop:

When we reach 400 pounds of roasting/selling each week we’re going to move our coffee roasters to the back and build out a coffee bar in front. We are less than 100/week away from that milestone. Here’s what we think our shop will look like:

Furnace Hills Coffee Shop

Furnace Hills Coffee Shop

So what do you think? Is it a place you would visit? Besides our famous Furnace Hills Coffees, what else should we offer? Should we be a Third Wave shop and forego all the expensive brewing equipment and do pour overs? What should our hours be? Should we be open on Sunday?

Although the coffee shop in the picture is in London I think we’ll be able to copy most of what they have done inside as well.

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Why Coffee is sometimes called “Joe”.

I ran across this article about the origin of the phrase, “cup of joe.”

Say hello to Josephus Daniels, former secretary of the US Navy and namesake of the proverbial cup of joe.

Joe is, of course, short for Joseph. And in American English, “joe” can refer to an average guy, a soldier, or—somewhat strangely—coffee. A popular chain in New York, for instance, is called Joe the Art of Coffee.

Josephus Daniels, the principal shaper of The ...

As it turns out, the use of joe as slang for coffee dates to the World War I era. It was then that Daniels, who started his career as a newspaper publisher in North Carolina, became secretary of the Navy under president Woodrow Wilson. As recounted in a new biography, Daniels tried to imbue the navy with a strict morality. He increased the number of chaplains, discouraged prostitution at naval bases, and, most controversially, banned the consumption of alcohol.

“As a substitute, stewards increased their purchases of coffee, among other beverages,” writes Lee Craig in the new book, “and Daniels’s name became linked to the daily drink of millions around the world. A cup of coffee became disparagingly known as ‘a cup of Joseph Daniels,’ and as legend has it, this was soon shortened to a ‘cup of Joe.’”

Article Link: http://qz.com/88453/why-coffee-is-called-joe/

If you could change the name of coffee what would you call it?

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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 Special:

Good Morning Everyone,

In honor of hurricane Sandy we are holding a bit of a sale. We can’t be at the roastery today so we thought we’d try something like this. Go to our website (www.furnacehillscoffee.com) and look

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

through our offerings of coffee. Then send us an email at davidmbaldwin@gmail.com with your order. We’ll take 10% off the order and anything of 4 pounds or more will get free shipping. We’ll bill you through PayPal. This offer is good through Halloween Night Midnight October 31st.

Share with us what coffee you are drinking today!

Thank you in advance for buying some coffee from us!


Dave, Erin, Lia, Regina & Kesha

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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?

What I didn’t know about Roasting Coffee!

We have been roasting coffee now for 2 1/2 years. It has been an awesome journey & we have learned a lot. Below you’ll find some of the things we have learned along the way!


  • There are two kinds of coffee beans in the world:
    • Arabica is what we mostly drink in this country. It is a better quality bean and tastes better. It has less caffeine than it’s counter part mentioned below.
    • Rabusta is an inferior bean that is used & grown in a number of countries around the world. Furnace Hills uses it in one of our blends to get a bite. Can you guess which one that is?
  • There are several ways to roast coffee:
    • You can use drum roasters. These roasters are usually gas fired and come in sizes that can roast as little as a pound at a time up to 500 pounds at a time. The Big Boys use
      English: Diedrich IR Series Coffee Roaster

      English: Diedrich IR Series Coffee Roaster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      the latter.

    • You can use fluid bed roasters. These are roasters that use hot air. They are sort of like giant air popcorn poppers. We use Sonofresco roasters
    • You can roast at home. Use a frying pan on your stove or a hot air popcorn popper. There are a number of home roasters you can purchase as well.
  • I have learned that the more you roast coffee the more you roast the caffeine out of it! That’s right! So the darker the roast the less caffeine it has in it. If you want a real jolt, go with a lighter roast. I’ll bet you the first time you do it will give you the shakes!
  • I didn’t know you grow coffee between the 25’s! Yes coffee is best grown between 25 degrees north & south. That’s a narrow band that circumnavigates our earth. In that band you have countries like Indonesia, Brazil, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Columbia, Costa Rica and many more that grow great coffee. Many of those listed above we roast!
  • I didn’t know how well the developmentally disabled can roast coffee and they really love doing it too! Yesterday around 3 pm Erin came out with her usual comment on Sundays, “Tomorrow I get to go to work!” She loves roasting coffee. Those that work at Happy Cup Roasting (http://happycup.com/) in Portland, OR and Aspire Coffee Works (https://www.aspirecoffeeworks.com/) in Chicago, IL love their jobs too!

Check out our coffees that Erin has roast at (http://furnacehillscoffee.com)! You’ll be surprised what those with developmental disabilities can do!

What did you learn about coffee roasting today? Let us know.

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