Royal New York

In Memoriam – Elroy (Bert) M. Fulmer, Jr.

written by: Jaime Schoenhut 

Bert passed away peacefully in San Francisco on November 9, 2017.  After receiving an MBA from UC Berkeley and serving in the US Army for 2 years, Bert sought a career in the coffee industry. He began working at Otis McAllister learning the business. Later he became a partner at B. C. Ireland. Finally, in 1969, after Bert married his wife Loraine, they moved to Singapore to explore opportunities in the Indonesian and Asian coffee markets and formed Gold Mountain Coffee. They resided in Singapore for 15 years before returning back to San Francisco where they have been living ever since.

I would like to share with you what Bert meant to me, my family and everyone that crossed his path in the coffee industry….

My five siblings and I got to know Bert at a young age as he was one of the more distinguished and fascinating visitors from the coffee industry that we encountered at our home. My father, Fred Sr., owned and operated C. E. Bickford & Co. and was the 1st generation coffee merchant in our family.  It
wasn’t long after our father got started in the coffee business that we learned of his good friend Bert Fulmer from the west coast.  Over the years
growing up we got to know many colorful personalities in the coffee trade. But Bert quickly separated himself from the pack; this was a man who lived in Singapore in the 1970’s and always had amazing stories of life in the Far East – this was quite a departure from life on Long Island and we ate it up.

He had an amazing way of communicating with us kids – he simply connected with us and talked to us more as peers than as an adult to a teenager (or even younger in my case) and it was cool.  He traveled and made connections throughout Indonesia that proved invaluable to opening up new avenues for coffee trading in the Far East.  He was a very driven, hardworking coffee man in every sense of the word who also made being in this industry fun.  His signature smile and laughter were unmistakable. 

Fast forward to the mid 90’s, my brother Fred, Richard Borg, Marilyn Remm and I collaborated with Bert’s son, Bob Fulmer, his wife Helen, their son Max, and Bob’s cousin Pete McLaughlin of Royal Coffee, Inc. in Oakland to start Royal Coffee NY.  We learned from the best and Bert was certainly a big part of our steep learning curve.  It is without question that Bert’s days in the Far East paved the way for many of the Indonesian and Hawaiian coffees that we and many source today.  Sourcing coffee in these areas is still far from easy today and I can only imagine the creativity and courage it took to initiate business back in those early days.  He was a true coffee pioneer with a rock-solid reputation.

On behalf of Royal Coffee NY and my family, I write this to honor and thank a man who forged a friendship with my father that helped lead us to our friends in Oakland and introduced us to this amazing industry. We are forever grateful.

Bert would have been 88 years old tomorrow, November 15th, so whether you’re drinking coffee or something a little stronger, take a moment and raise your mug or glass to pay homage to a great coffee man.

Godspeed Bert!

 – Jaime Schoenhut

Anthony Chango