During the 1946 Milan-San Remo, the venerable Fausto Coppi was far enough ahead of the field that he stopped at a café to enjoy a coffee… and still went on to win by 16 minutes.
Outside of Coppi’s supreme talent, the tale is believable because of the indelible link that exists between cyclists around the world and coffee. Where to gather before a group ride? The café, of course. The start village at the Tour de France has seen more than a few riders miss the start of the race because they were busy drinking coffee. At least an espresso makes it easier to chase the peloton.
And while the caffeine in coffee has been shown to improve performance in athletes, there’s a stronger bond between coffee and cycling that’s rooted in culture, tradition, and camaraderie.
Jens Keukeliere, our team’s coffee connoisseur, is known on the team as one of the most energized and enthusiastic riders in the peloton. And his enthusiasm for riding is possibly rivaled only by his love for coffee. We sat down with Keukeliere to learn why he thinks cycling and coffee go hand-in-hand.
Why do you think cyclists love coffee so much?
I think coffee stops are one of the best things about bike riding. You sit down together with your friends, you talk about the ride, you have something nice to eat, something sweet or savory, and a good coffee. You also can’t ignore the benefits of caffeine. When you are a bit tired, it always gives you a little boost to continue, or start the training.
When did you first start drinking coffee?
When I turned pro in 2010, I didn’t drink coffee yet. So coffee rides or stops for me meant having a hot chocolate. But very quickly I started drinking coffee. It wasn’t until my first visit to Australia in 2011 that I really discovered good coffee. After that I started looking for good coffee at home.
What’s your favorite type of coffee to drink?
This depends a bit on the situation. At home I switch between filter coffee and cappuccino. At the races it is not always easy finding good coffee, so I often bring a French Press.
Do you stop and get coffee on training rides?
I often stop on training rides. Easy rides and recovery rides will almost always have a coffee stop in the ride. Longer rides depend on what type of training I have to do, and the weather. If it is really cold, it is always nice to stop and warm up. Also when I feel a bit tired on the ride, I will most likely do a quick stop.
What country has the best coffee?
Of all the countries I have visited, I have to say Australia.
How many cups a day do you drink?
Between 1 and 5 cups, but on average not more than 3. Since last year I also enjoyed drinking matcha tea, so sometimes I switch between coffee and tea.
Do you ever pack any coffee with you to other races?
Cold brew coffee in bottles is now easy to get, and I often bring this to the race as well. Also it is easy to bring the matcha tea to the race, which is always good to have as an alternative.
Do you take it with milk or sugar?
Never sugar. Sometimes milk.
Who is your favorite rider on the team to get coffee with?
Do you ever drink tea?
Are there any other types of coffee or espresso drinks you enjoy?
I had a training camp in 2015 where there was no option for coffee, let alone good coffee. My roommate decided to get some Nescafé instant coffee. The first day I did not want to drink it, but the smell of coffee in our room practically forced me to give it a try. After two and a half weeks of training camp, I got used to the taste and now I actually don’t mind drinking it anymore.
I also recommend our nutrition partners Neversecond’s energy gels which can be taken with or without water. They have a great option that comes in an espresso flavor.