EDITOR’S NOTE: I love writing those words. Makes me feel special. Anyhow, thanks to my good friend and climbing waif Jon (twitter.com/jonnarbett) for this review. Coffee is one of the things that, generally, unites us cyclists and, I have to say, I have a bit of penchant for a nice cup. That a nice cup comes with a cycling theme is to be welcomed. If you’re interested in the products reviewed here then head over to Coffee and Cols for a browse. (I’ve allowed Jon some latitude with his inclusion of certain musicians though, of course, the natural complement that he was looking for was Freddie Mercury and stage.)
Fish and chips, Morrissey and Marr – the list of things that pair naturally is almost endless. Coffee and cycling have been similarly associated for decades. Pro riders have graced the roads of Europe and beyond bearing the names of Faema, Saeco and Segafredo. Join any club run and the chances are that you’ll end up at a favourite café to discuss the ride over an espresso, an Americano or (morning rides only please) a cappuccino.
If, like me, you enjoy a pre-ride shot before leaving the house then look no further than the Coffee and Cols range. This London-based company makes a range of espresso, cappuccino and latte cups in eye-catching cycling-related designs. They also supply a variety of freshly roasted coffee in bean and ground form.
The man behind Coffee and Cols is Guy Elyahou, sometime lawyer, airline pilot, veteran of several Haute Routes and a qualified BC track coach. I asked Guy about his thinking in setting up the company.
‘The inspiration came from wanting to have some subtle way of being a cyclist in the home’ he said.
‘We wanted each cup to look great on its own (we sell a lot of the World Champion cups to non-cyclists!) but to a cyclist and his friends and family they signify something special that is part of cycling heritage.’
Guy and his team do the designs themselves – cycling friends and colleagues make ideal focus group members!
I have four of their cups – two espresso cups and saucers and two mid-size cappuccino cups. All four are impressively thick and weighty yet very well balanced in the hand.
The designs are certainly striking. My first purchase was the Velodrome espresso cup, inspired by the coloured tape that marks the racing line on indoor tracks. The inside of the cup has a cheering crowd motif. To guarantee their quality all the cups are individually handmade in England and each motif is applied to the porcelain by hand.
All the cups are then kiln fired, which results in a high quality gloss finish which is still as new on my two-year-old cup.
I also have a velodrome cappuccino cup and a similar sized cup celebrating the spring cobbled classics (with races including Paris-Roubaix, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Liege-Bastogne-Liege etched on the inside). My newest arrival, appropriately delivered last Friday, is a special edition Giro d’Italia espresso cup and saucer in traditional maglia rosa colours featuring the names of some of the famous climbs, including Passo Dello Stelvio and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which have graced the Giro over the years.
As I mentioned before, Coffee and Cols also supply the coffee to fill their cups. There’s a choice of four freshly-roasted blends, ranging from mild Columbian to strong Continental and their rocket-fuel Coffee & Cols offering. I’m a big fan of the latter – very strong, good and bitter and not at all watery even with my feeble home espresso machine. Again, all are available either as beans or pre-ground.
‘All our coffee is roasted in London in small batches, around 5kg a time,’ explained Guy. ‘The coffee roasting machine dates back to the 1920’s so the process is local, controlled and family run.’
Delivery is via Royal Mail and tracked and the cups come in a sensible sized box and very well protected. And if you’re quick you can be enjoying a cup of their secret blend before this weekend’s rides!