Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with us

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) has been officially recognized by the United Nations since 2012 and observed on the 21st day of the 3rd month each year.  According to Down Syndrome International (DSi), WDSD is an opportunity to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.


My colleague Erin Baldwin, a woman who happens to have Down syndrome, is the core of Furnace Hills Coffee, a small batch, specialty coffee roaster.  I’ve proudly been associated with Furnace Hills Coffee for almost 3 1/2 years.  Erin is the reason I have become a professional in the specialty coffee industry.  Erin and my daughter, Jenny, both have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome and are diagnosed with Down syndrome.  As a coffee lover, and someone who yearns for meaningful employment for people with disabilities, I convinced Erin and Dave Baldwin to make me part of their team.  Those of us who love someone with and extra copy of the 21st chromosome know that a person with Down syndrome is so often at the core of the positive in their communities.


My plan for celebrating WDSD includes drinking Erin’s specialty coffee.  Please consider joining me by spreading the word about Erin, Furnace Hills Coffee and particularly Buddy Walk Coffee.  We have set a sales goal for Buddy Walk Coffee for the month at 321 pounds.  Go to http://www.furnacehillscoffee.com/buddy-walk-coffee/ to order and we will send $6 for each pound you purchase to your local Down syndrome group so they can continue the mission of WDSD throughout the year.



Interview with Dave Baldwin of Furnace Hills Coffee

I’ve gotten many questions from customers about specialty coffee and the Buddy Walk Blend. I wanted answers from the expert so  I sat down with Dave Baldwin, the engine behind Furnace Hills Coffee.  Furnace Hills Coffee has a strong local presence in Westminster, Maryland, a growing regional reputation for excellence and internet sales that reach across the country and around the world.

Suzanne: Dave, tell me about the coffee beans that make up your Buddy Walk Blends and give me your impressions of the quality and flavors we can expect.

Dave: Buddy Walk Coffee is a blend of coffees from Honduras and Costa Rica.  The Honduran beans are Single Origin, Shade Grown and is one of our featured Family-to-Family Coffees. This Coffee has a smooth swallow with floal undertones ~ one swallow and you will be swept away.  The beans from Costa Rica are not chemically altered and are grown in volcanic soil resulting in  a musky bark taste. It also has a tart citrusy taste at the front end of the swallow. As with all Furnace Hills Coffee it has a smooth finish.  By blending the two, we achieve a superior coffee with a misty cream flavor that isn’t present in these coffees on their own.  I chose these two sources for the Buddy Walk Blend because these particular growers use excellent farming practices that provide us with quality beans time and time again.

Suzanne:  I’ve tasted Buddy Walk Coffee myself and agree with you that it is a delicious blend – my favorite, in fact.  But, it is expensive compared to coffees I can buy at the super market.  Why is that?

Dave:  There are several reasons for the higher cost of specialty coffee.  First, specialty coffees are hand picked.  National brands like Maxwell House and 8 o’clock use mechanized harvesting techniques which is a lot cheaper but inferior.  With machine harvesting, coffees have a bitter bite at the end of the swallow that many coffee drinkers have become accustom to.  With hand picking, coffee berries are harvested only when ripe allowing optimal flavor.  The hand picking process is labor intensive and thus more costly.  Second, our farmers don’t use fertilizers and chemicals on their plants.  So, their plants don’t produce as much coffee as growers that are trying to “fool nature.”  Because the harvest is smaller, the cost per pound is higher. Third, these farmers pay a little more for shipping their product direct from farm to roaster.

Suzanne:  Thanks for clarifying that.  Buddy Walk Coffee is also making a substantial contribution to local Down syndrome organizations.  Since it is a charitable coffee, the price is generally $2 higher than other specialty coffees Furnace Hills Coffee sells.

Dave:  That’s right.

Suzanne:  Since we are both parents of daughters with Down syndrome, I think it is awesome that we can share Buddy Walk Coffee with parents across the country.  Please share your feelings about this special partnership.

Dave:  Personally, it is a privilege to partner with the Buddy Walk.  I wish there was something like this when Erin was young.  Erin is 41 years old now and she roasts the coffee that runs our business.  When I look at pictures of the local walks, I see all of these younger people with Down syndrome and I can’t help but see roasters, chefs, store clerks – you name it!  There is so much potential in these young faces.  Every one of them has a special ability.  Once we find and channel that special ability, our kids thrive.

Suzanne:  Thank you, Dave Baldwin, for sharing your story with us.  Erin is such an inspiration!  It is a joy to bring her story to parents, teachers and caregivers who participate in Buddy Walks across the country.

Dave:  You’re welcome.