"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2021 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at EspressoMyEspresso@gmail.com
Robert Lee Merriam M.D.
1941 – 2020
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
all text and photos ©2021 - All rights reserved
| I am so grateful for being part of the world of coffee on so many levels. Whether as a participant in so many different forums over the years, as a professional creating content for a number of coffee-related companies, as the owner and content-creator of this website, and as a home roaster and enthusiast about all things coffee.
But the one factor which runs through all of this is that which binds the myriad of people involved in the world of coffee- and I do mean 'the world.' I have helped and even met people from all but one continent, some online and others in person. Many have asked for my advice, many have offered me advice when I have asked, and some have become friends without ever actually meeting me.
When disaster strikes you often find that the world is not the dark, bleak place that you may have (occasionally) thought. In November 2018 we left our home as a fire approached. We evacuated with our dog, our three cats, our two cars, and a few possessions. We returned home to learn that all we had remaining was all that we carried with us when we left. When I revealed my plight online a number of folks in the world of coffee offered to assist. Money was not an issue, and while I do not remember any financial offers, I would not have accepted them. But some people realized that there were emotional and stress factors that are more difficult to heal. I had a number of people offer us items to make life a little more pleasant as we reconstructed our home and our lives.
One of those people was Dr. Robert “Bob” Merriam. When he heard my situation he offered me a Hottop coffee roaster but I turned down the offer, telling him that I had no room for it in the RV nor a place to roast. So he then offered me a one-pound capacity gas roaster; an offer I could not turn down as all four of my Hottops were lost in the fire and I had been considering a larger, gas roaster. He told me he was preparing to move back East and had already purchased a larger roaster and did not want to move with two such appliances. An arrangement was made for me to meet Bob in Sacramento which was about mid-way from our respective home locations.
He also offered to sell me his La Pavoni Europiccola which I did buy as the price was right and I had no espresso capability in the RV. The day finally came and I was able to spend an hour or so with Bob, and I am sure I spent nearly half of that time thanking him for his generosity and half of the rest talking about motorcycles and coffee. As it turned out he was having his BMW serviced there and I had lost a 1979 BMW R100RT in the fire. He apologized as he had forgotten to bring the 120 to 220 volt converter that was to be included with the LP. Good to his word, he later shipped the converter to me at his cost.
When I returned to the RV on our property I had no place to actually use the roaster so I laid out three long 2x4s on the ground, opened a heavy duty plastic tarp over them, placed the roaster in its crate on the tarp and wrapped the crate like a holiday parcel. Then, all that was then wrapped in a waterproof canvas tarp. There it sat from early 2020 until three days ago. I was at Home Depot, found the perfect table for a roaster, and being that our home is about two weeks from occupancy, I bought the table (after I had sent a photo of it from the store to my wife, and she replied, “GET IT !”).
The very next morning, with the table already in the garage, I hand-carted the crate into the garage with my wife's assistance, un-crated it, and placed it on the table. I felt like a kid at Christmas! We have had very few really special days since the fire and this was something I had literally been looking forward to for over a year. I took a photo of it and when I got back into the RV I e-mailed Bob with the photo and a letter to share my excitement as well as to once again offer my thanks.
When I did not hear back from him my fears surfaced. I had checked in with him around mid-2020 and he said that he had not moved back East because the Covid had put things on hold and he added that he had received some not good medical news. I began a thread concerning not having heard from Bob on Home Barista.com and another member private-messaged me with the information that Dr. Bob had succumbed last October to ALS, just four days past the 20th anniversary of this website.
The news hit me hard. It felt like being told, “Daddy is not coming home from Christmas.” You can read through the Home Barista.com thread and see that I was not the only person who dearly felt the loss. Additionally, you can read his obituary here.
As I assembled my new roaster I found a load of chaff left in the chaff collector from the last time Bob used it. I saved the chaff and will be looking for a nice display jar into which the chaff will be saved for display. As for now, I need some parts which will arrive later this week to get the roaster working. Once working it will receive a brass plate:
Robert Lee Merriam M.D.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Bob.
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