UPDATE: Green buyer Adam Koehler Recovering from Devastating Bike Accident in Oakland

After sustaining extensive  physical injuries resulting from being hit by a car while biking in Oakland on September 26, Adam Koehler is slowly improving, but still needs your help

Editor’s note: Regular  Barista Magazine  contributor Ashley Rodriguez works with Adam Koehler at  Sightglass Coffee  in San Francisco, and wrote about his accident right after it happened last fall. Adam is well-loved and respected in the specialty-coffee industry, and the medical bills for his months of treatment and physical therapy are  massive. The coffee community has responded with its characteristic generosity by contributing $54,540 to Adam’s estimated $75,000 of bills and  expenses on a Go Fund Me page his friends set up after the accident. Though Adam has greatly improved in the past few months, he is far from out of the woods, and has many months of recovery ahead of him. Please consider  opening your hearts and wallets once again to help Adam and his family work through the repercussions of this devastating accident.  

BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Last time I went to visit Adam, I asked him if he remembered the day of the accident. He said he did, and I asked him if he remembered what we did and what we had talked about. He looked unsure, and I told him we cupped and then talked about meshing board games with coffee, like making a coffee version of the game Life. Commodity coffee prices drop, pay $50,000. You find a Gesha tree on your farm, collect $25,000. That kind of thing.

I left out a few details, because at that time they didn’t mean much, but have become more salient as time has passed. As many of you know, my friend Adam Koehler, green coffee buyer and head of quality control  for Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco, was in a serious accident three months ago. When it first happened, we didn’t really know what to expect. I remember getting emails on his progress and thinking that I had no idea  just how serious things were. Doctors didn’t seem to have much to offer in terms of prognoses, and all his friends and family could do was sit and wait for his condition to change.

Adam (left) and Wilfredo, one of the producer partners with whom he works as Sightless Coffee's green buyer.
Adam (left) and Wilfredo, one of the producer partners with whom he works as Sightglass Coffee’s green buyer.

In that time, his friends from near and far have come together and shown so much support and love. His GoFundMe page to help offset medical costs has raised over $54,540. His friends and coworkers organized an amazing event, Half Pounds for Half Batch (his moniker on social media), which raised $7,000  and brought together many of Adam’s friends. I actually wore a microphone to the event and got to hear a ton of silly stories about Adam (there’s never been any shortage of those) and the jokes he’d played on his friends and the times he shared with loved ones.

Adam has gotten so much better over the last few months. He’s been moved from hospital care to  a long-term facility aimed at rehabilitation and physical therapy. He’s pretty cognizant of those around him, and remembers all his friends and family, and the experiences he’s shared with those around him. There’s still a lot to be done ”his head injury was serious, and he’s relearning a lot of skills like walking and talking, but he’s able to express his feelings and communicate briefly with visitors. Sometimes, communication can be frustrating for him because he’s learning how to speak again. But having people around him who continue to share stories and push him to answer questions and communicate is helpful.

This photo of just some of the many people in the specialty-coffee community who love and support Adam was taken during the Half-Pounds for Half-Batch fundraising event for Adam's medical expenses, held on October 17.
This photo of just some of the many people in the specialty-coffee community who love and support Adam was taken during the Half-Pounds for Half-Batch fundraising event for Adam’s medical expenses, held on October 17.

Although Adam is getting better, he still needs our support. More than ever, visitors welcome and helpful (you can contact me at ashleyisacommonname@gmail.com, or any of Adam’s friends to inquire about  a visit). He needs support relearning the skills he lost. Adam is in physical and speech therapy most days of the week, but listening to his friends’ stories and engaging him in conversations helps him work towards that goal. His GoFundMe page is still live, and any assistance you can provide is incredibly valuable and useful.

More than $7,000 was raised at the Half-Pounds for Half-Batch benefit event. But Adam still faces seemingly insurmountable medical and rehabilitation expenses. Please consider making a donation on the Go Fund Me page his friends have set up.
More than $7,000 was raised at the Half-Pounds for Half-Batch benefit event. But Adam still faces seemingly insurmountable medical and rehabilitation expenses. Please consider making a donation on the Go Fund Me page his friends have set up.

I didn’t tell Adam the full story of that day in the hours before he was struck by a car while riding his bike in Oakland with a friend ”that we actually didn’t cup together at all. I had asked him earlier that day to help me, and he said he would after a meeting with an importer. I led a public cupping, one of our largest cuppings to date, by myself, and I remember being really upset with Adam for not coming to help. After his meeting, he came to the lab where I was already cleaning up, and Adam profusely apologized and said that he got caught up and didn’t  mean to leave   ‹me hanging. I was still fuming when he said to me, œYou’re a really capable person and not a lot of people could have led a group that big on their own.  Adam would say stuff like that to you and you’d feel ¦really great seems like a small way to describe it, and  proud of yourself seems too boastful. But it was a funny mixture of both. He could identify strengths in people and wouldn’t give empty compliments, so when he gave you one, you knew he meant it. Adam’s always had this talent of knowing exactly what you need to hear or what you need to have happen. That’s what made him quite possibly the best gift giver of all time or the person you’d want to hash out a problem with.

Adam was, is, and always will be a beloved goofball, and one of the smartest folks in specialty coffee.
Adam (right) was, is, and always will be a lovable  goofball, who also happens to be  one of the smartest folks in specialty coffee.

Sometimes I struggle when I visit because I’m not like him in that way, and I don’t always know what to say or how to comfort him. Seeing people like his girlfriend ask him to annunciate his words so we can understand them better, or express her frustration to him directly, is inspiring, and it reminds me that I just need to be myself and talk to Adam like I always did before. So I talk his ear off about coffee and then make him listen to  Serial  with me (we both love podcasts). Adam continues to get better with the support of just his friends and family, but also  from the coffee community at large, and I urge you to continue to keep him in your thoughts.

Ashley-Rodriguez

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Rodriguez  thought that she’d take a break from teaching middle school science and putz around in a coffee shop for a few months. She ended up digging it way more than teaching (and was vaguely better at it). After spending 5 years making coffee in New York, she now works for  Sightglass Coffee  in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter at  @ashcommonnam

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2 Comments

  1. Would be nice if the owners of Sightglass would cover the remaining amount. Looking at their business model, and understanding the margins in coffee, I am sure they have the additional money to contribute.

  2. I will definitely keep him in my thoughts and prayers. I remember Adam fondly from the time some friends of mine and myself all came for the first public cupping at Sightglass. Adam made the experience relaxed and entertaining, being just as quick to converse about the various coffees as was to just learn more about us and discuss how excited he was for the public cupping times to start. As someone who survived a bike accident myself, I can’t describe in words the feelings I experience I have when reading about people who are involved in these type of accidents. I hope to be able to donate soon, and I’ll be praying for him.

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