A little story on where we started.... Us, Nori, The Bean, and our coffee...

A little story on where we started.... Us, Nori, The Bean, and our coffee... - Iron Bean Coffee Company

Chanell and I met in May of 1999 in the small Upstate NY town of Rotterdam.

I was just out of the Marine Corps, unemployed and working the door in a little Restaurant by day / dance club by night …

Chanell was a single Mom who just happened to have a few weekends without the kids…

I checked her ID at the door, she handed me her license, put her thumbs in her ears, wiggled her fingers, and said “You’ll never forget me”. And forget her I didn’t. She told everyone about this guy she met, Frank, and that he was so sweet.

Six months later she finally remembered my name is Fred and tells me we're getting married. And so, it begins our life together, raising two children, struggling to make ends meet. 

As we’ve grown through our lives together we’ve always had this dream of opening a coffee shop. We had walked into a small place in Rotterdam called Bagels & Bakes


This small breakfast sandwich place had that charm. An ambiance of hard work, good friends, familiarity and acceptance. The coffee was hot, the Bagels amazing…But the very best part was the people. You are greeted with a smile, the customers hold the door, look you in the eye, nod. There was no mean mugging, eye rolling, looking away. It was like walking into your own home.

We got in our car and said, that is what we want, a place that makes you feel like family.

Years kept going by as we dreamed about this majestic place that we were going to open.

It's amazing how much financial freedom we have in our imagination…

Vaulted Ceiling everything barn wood and brick. Copper Espresso machines, Huge Copper Coffee Roaster, Little gas fireplaces all over…The list goes on.

So, does time.

Time passed, there was always a crisis, an emergency, a bad financial decision, a broken car… Job changes. You know the rest.

We never laid a brick, never made a move towards that thing we wanted to create.

The real reason why.


The unknown, the uncertainty, no guarantees. We were barely able to pay the rent. We had spent several winter nights hanging blankets over the doors  turning on the oven and blowing a fan in to it to heat the one room we'd all sleep in. 

As time passed we became more focused on making money and less focused on finding balance. I got on with the Railroad in NY and over time, worked my way up a few ladder rungs. BUT, That led to us moving around quite a bit. It was a frustrating grind, but we felt good about it…put work in and get something out.

But the further away I got from where I started, the less satisfied I became. We were living our “Rage Against the Dying of the Light” the best we thought we could. Doing things that were challenging and putting in our all. And there were absolutely rewards, but purely one-sided rewards. We weren’t doing things together, and we weren’t doing things that enriched our lives. At least I wasn’t.

Chanell could see that I was getting farther away from me…and she wasn’t having that! But that’s a marriage, holding each other up.

In 2014 we embarked our 7th move with my company.

Destination: Toledo Ohio - for the second time.

Toledo felt like home for us the first time we landed here in 2008. We were glad to be back, but were in an extremely frustrating time in our lives. The requirements of my then career became too much to have any sort of work/life balance. I was forever on duty. Missing holidays, Birthdays, family gatherings, you name it, I probably wasn’t there.

Moving up was really moving away from what was important. At least on my path it was.

Since moving to Toledo our children have found their way and are on their own, forging paths and living life.

Now we’re here in this empty nest seeing clearly that we wasted a lot of time. Didn’t put our priorities in the right places.

Didn’t spend time on things that bring value to our relationship. Didn’t spend time on each other.

We got back to center, admitting our faults even though they were driven with the best of intentions and felt right at the time. Its amazing that age will steal our sight but let us see more clearly.

So here we were, back to dreaming about this little coffee shop that we wanted to open. Our interest grew over time.

We looked at each other and said,

” Let’s stop dreaming about this shit and actually do something”

So, there it was, challenge accepted, we were again Raging Against the Dying of the Light…

The echoes of Dylan Thomas’s poem ringing more and more clear. Live life fully, experience things, be present, do not go gentle into that good night. Do not close your eyes for the last time wishing you’d have done something that you didn’t do. No matter how big or small that something might be.

We’re going to open a Coffee Shop!!!

WRONG!! We had no plan, our imagination coffee shop cost $6,000,000,000.00

It wasn’t going to stop us though, were driven remember…

All that time trying to make money and be successful, remember from up above… well, that might have been the goal, but we weren’t there...HAHA. We had a lotta debt, and weren’t particularly wise with any of our paychecks. Well, Chanell was, but I have an insane ability of screwing things up. So now were actually building the dream.

The plan transformed from a dream of a Coffee Shop/Roastery/Strongman Gym, to a really nice Mobile Coffee Truck. We were good with that. We’re going to Roast our coffee at home and hit the streets, bring people together on the sidewalks and soccer fields…

Still nothing we could think of could drum up the cash…We had already sold our toys and got rid of some stuff to create a little capital. We would not be dismayed. We kept half that plan…We had to at least start…We had to bring our Cast Iron Roasted coffee to people!

So that’s what we did. We rebuilt our little gas grill and polished up our Cast Iron Kettle. We bought some labels, some paper bags, a website, a Facebook page, and off we went!! We were going to show the world our coffee. We told our friends and family, and they smiled…


We bought so many different coffee beans over the years, we knew which ones we wanted to start with. So we started to stir, and stir, and stir, and stir.

Then we launched!!! Our first 3 Coffees. Integrity, Rage Against the Dying of the Light and Ride or Die

It didn’t take too long to see a pic pop up on Facebook…We were pumped!! But we thought right away, “We need some different Labels” …

Along Comes “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”, and the star of our show “NORI”

Nori didn’t have a name in the beginning…The owl on the bag of Rage Against the Dying of the Light was born of Channel’s love of owls and humming birds.

I had already penciled up our controversial “The Bean” Skull, and went to task on bringing Chanell an owl.

She said “It needs to be cute, with a Heart eye”
I said, “OK How about this?”

“No” was the immediate response

I went to task drawing owls the very best I could. They all sucked…LOL!! I resorted to YouTube, were I found a video showing how to draw a baby owl. The video lasted about 7 minutes…So 5 days later it was complete!!

Just like on our skull, that heart was meant to represent the humanity in all of us. No matter, how mad, frustrated, tired, or miserable you might be…we should always find a little something in ourselves to be good to one another.

“How about this?”

Chanell said “I love it”


To be continued… (how Nori got her name)

We’ve barely scratched the surface. Thanks for reading.


  • Melody

    Great story behind some truly inspiring coffee! Enjoying Integrity right now but Fierce is queued up to follow. This year has been focused on finding products and companies powered by real people, not cloaked in policies and profits (innovation and its reward are inspiring – therein lies the difference). Glad to have found you folks! Looking forward to trying all the blends!

  • Edna Meren King

    Love this story so much! Thank you for following your dreams, and by doing so, helping so many of us follow ours. <3

  • Paul Emerson

    It’s a great story of the American dream. Great job guys!
    Happy to have you as a neighbor!

  • Suzanne

    A great friend of mine just introduced me to your coffee, I love it. My first bag is half gone I will definitely order more.

  • Vicki

    Over the years many companies have radically changed or discontinued altogether my favorite products and I am left to search and almost never find a replacement of the same caliber. Please don’t ever change or discontinue Fierce as it is what I wake up for everyday (I work 12-hr night shifts, I need it!) and I have introduced it to a lot of people. Every time you get an order out of Indiana there’s a good chance it’s brcause I told them about it!
    PS Someone bought a gift box of your different blends last April and sent it to our 911 dispatch center where I work in honor of Telecommunicators Appreciation Week – that is how I found you.

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