You might recall that I was a big fan of Truestart Coffee when I first came across their wares in the Fuelit Selection Box last year. While I am, like most cyclists, a purveyor of ‘proper coffee’ I have to say that I found their instant coffee not only tremendously effective but also great tasting coffee.
And I’m happy to say that the company has been going from strength to strength over the last year winning many awards and building #teamtruestart, a hugely impressive collection of sporting individuals. Their coffee has become widely available in all the major stockists and the brand is booming on social media, a testament to the indefatigable nature of owners Helena and Simon Hills and their team.
But it’s one thing selling coffee, it’s quite another breaking into a crowded energy bar market. That said, it all tends to get a little over complicated on occasion, all you really need is a decent energy hit, long lasting if possible, easy to handle on the move and easily eaten. Now I’ve laid that out there it does seem a little harder I guess.
The raison d’etre to the Hero bars is the same as the coffee, a controlled, precise caffeine hit, so it doesn’t matter which flavour you choose, you’ll get 95mg of natural caffeine in each bar, the same as one scoop of their coffee. Let’s do perspective, that’s a bigger caffeine shot than a normal can of Red Bull and marginally more than a shot of Costa Espresso (other coffee shops are available). And it’s guaranteed to be 95mg every……single…..time. I won’t bore you with science but there’s some pretty good evidence out there that caffeine consumption during exercise encourages your body to use fat cells as energy rather than glycogen. So consuming caffeine before or during tends to aid endurance. And as yet no-one’s been doing much in the way of adding this level of caffeine to energy bars or gels.
There are 4 flavours available each being with each consisting of a ‘main flavour’ plus coffee. So we have Coffee and Cherry, Coffee and Peanut Butter, Coffee and Beetroot and Arabica. The observant amongst you will note that, essentially, the last one is Coffee only. Each 43g bar is pretty much the same in terms of kcals (200 or so) and each of them is gluten free. The ingredients vary but chiefly they consist of oats, seeds, nuts and TrueStart Performance Coffee, bound with coconut oil and agave nectar.
It’s quite interesting to read the genesis of the product in Helena’s blog which can be found here.
The coffee arabica is, naturally, the most coffee tasting of the bunch. The coffee cherry is what it says on the wrapper, cherry like without being synthetic tasting.
Beetroot has become quite a big thing in energy products now. It tastes good and defies what you might expect. But my overall favourite has to be the peanut butter version. With that hint of coffee in the background it’s spot on.
These are easy to carry and easy to eat. There’s no stubborn packaging to wrestle with, the bar comes out easy, it’s moist, chewy and not sticky. There’s no mess in the wrapper when you roll it up and put it back in your jersey pocket. They taste excellent, the energy provision is good and that caffeine hit should provide a useful pick me up deep into that endurance ride.
Pricing is excellent. £21.48 for a box of 12 (£1.79 each). At the moment you need to make a choice in terms of flavours as you can’t mix and match.
I’m impressed. These do everything I need them to do on a long ride. They taste great, they’re easy to handle, they don’t create any mess and they’re good value. Getting that caffeine hit to keep you going is a big bonus. I’ve quite a few of them to get through so I guess I need to get out on some big rides now. That’ll also stop me eating them in the house as, actually, they’re a damn good snack as well.