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Rock star turns love for coffee into e-business Brad
Merritt / 54•40 member has developed a cosy to keep 2nd cup hot
by Trudi Bentel - The Delta Optimist

Whether it's idling time away on a tour bus, playing hurry-up-and-wait for never-ending interviews or laying down tracks at a studio, many a rock star kills time drinking coffee.

It's something 54•40's Brad Merritt knows about. After 20 years of touring, Merritt, 40, has tasted the good, the bad and the watery.

"Being a musician on the road exposes you to a lot of coffee," he says. "Most of it is incredibly bad, whether you get it at a truck stop, an airport, a convenience store or a radio station."

Merritt, a Tsawwassen resident, may just be rock's most caffeinated musician. He not only drinks it, but now it consumes time spent away from the music scene. Waiting around combined with Merritt's love of the bitter black elixir has resulted in the java junkie's equivalent of building the better mousetrap.

Although the French press is Merritt's coffee maker of choice, keeping the liquid hot has been problematic. Enter the Decent Coffee Cosy -- a niche product that wraps around the French press to keep coffee hotter longer.

"I just set about to remedy my own problem," says Merritt, who first tried wrapping his bodum's glass carafe in tea towels and oven mitts. "In the course of that, I found a way to rid the world of that second, lukewarm, cup of coffee."

The invention seems natural in light of Merritt's passion for what he calls "the band's drug of choice." He says there's room in his life for 54•40 as well as his burgeoning coffee-related web site,, the place where the cosy and Bean Scoop e-zine can be found.

Bean Scoop re-launches May 1 and will include features and news about coffee, music, movies, food and life.

In spite of his sideline interests, Merritt doesn't profess to be a "cupper," a coffee sophisticate, he just knows a good cup of coffee (or a bad one) when he tastes it.

So far, the worst has been tasted at Waffle House, a southern U.S. chain of breakfast places. "It was the worst bitter, acidic brown water you've ever tasted," he recalls of the greasy spoon's swill sampled near Atlanta, Georgia. "It was only made worse by the edible petroleum-based cream substitute they give you to put in it."

The best? There have been several places, including a Copenhagen hotel, a Swiss McDonald's and a truck stop in France. Merritt says, generally, it's tough to find a bad cup of joe in Europe. Conversely, and just as generally, it's tough to find a good one in the Southern U.S. "Except for in New Orleans," he clarifies.

Caffeine and a life of touring go together like, well, coffee and cream. Early morning sound checks and late night gigs make coffee an on-the-road necessity. "Coffee plays an important role in every musician's life," says Merritt. "When you're on the rood, it's a comfort thing, a taste of home, but the caffeine bit is welcome as well."

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