What type of coffee bean to choose in the morning, before a ride? What is the degree to which coffee beans should be roasted to go well with your cycling lifestyle and preferences? Let’s look at the basics.
Taste, acidity, caffeine
Firstly, you always want coffee that tastes good. Secondly, you want to know where it stands on the acidity and caffeine content spectrum. There are many factors influencing these parameters, like country of origin, age, the environment the bean was grown in, the processing method, the grind and the brewing method. But one factor is arguably even more important: the roast level. It can give you a good idea about what kind of taste you can expect, plus it plays a major role in the beans’ acidity and caffeine content.
Roasts, from light to dark
You’ve probably heard about light, medium, medium-dark or dark roasts; that’s how they are generally categorized, and this is what you can infer from it:
- As coffee roasts get darker, they lose the flavours of the original bean and flavours from the roasting process become more pronounced.
- The darker the roast, the heavier the body of the coffee.
- Light roasted beans are dry, while darker roasts develop oil on the beans’ surface.
- The lighter the roast, the more acidic it is.
- The lighter the roast, the more caffeine it has.
A cyclists’ choice
There’s not much you can do about the taste you prefer, but you can always choose the right roast for the right occasion. For example, you may prefer a lighter roast with more caffeine in the morning before demanding mental work. A darker roast could be useful just before or during a long ride, because it’s easier on the stomach due to its decreased levels of acidity. Darker roasts are also a good choice later in the day because of the lower caffeine content.
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If you have a very sensitive stomach but want a strong light roast, you should look for coffee beans grown on plantations such as those in Mexico; they tend to be less acidic. On the other hand, beans grown on higher ground, such as the popular ones from Kenya, tend to be more acidic.
What if you’re not in charge of selecting the bean?
Now, let’s come back to the real world where you don’t always have the option of selecting the bean you want. How do you make a good choice if the only options are Starbucks or McDonald’s? Well, you don’t. But at least you can try to keep in mind the caffeine content. A healthy person can safely handle about 6 mg of it per 1 kg of body weight. Check out the table below and see how many coffees a day you can have.