Coffee and Cycling

Kalf’s guide to caffeine by Kalf’s in-house barista

Nothing beats the simple pleasure of sitting outside a cafe with a good coffee, before, during or after a great bike ride. But what makes the perfect caffeine fix? Cyclists are naturally the obsessive sort, so we’ve taken the time to look at what makes the perfect cappuccino. Just don’t ask for one after lunch!

Cappuccino is traditionally a breakfast drink in Italy, the home of espresso, and if you ask for such a milky coffee after lunch, you can expect to be laughed out of the bar. The makeup of a cappuccino is roughly 1/3 coffee, 1/3 hot milk and 1/3 foamed milk but you may also hear people ask for a dry cappuccino (more froth) or a wet cappuccino (less froth). In Italy a cappuccino is served in a 6-7oz cup, using a single espresso as the base. In the UK and USA riders tend to go for larger cup sizes than this, typically 10-12oz, so the constituent parts are simply multiplied up using the old Italian ratio to suit whichever cup size you are making.

To start, prepare the required amount of espresso in the bottom the cup.

Next, start foaming the milk. In order to do this keep the nozzle towards the top of the milk to start with as this will get more air into the milk to make it expand. You don’t want it blowing lots of large bubbles into the milk, you will be able to tell if it’s too close to the top of the milk as it will make a spluttering noise. If that is the case push the nozzle slightly lower into the milk, typically about 1-2cm below the surface, however this will vary depending on steamer arm, pressure, milk used and milk jug size. As the milk begins to stretch, lower the jug so that the nozzle stays the same distance below the surface. Once the milk has stretched to about double its original volume move the nozzle to the bottom of the jug until the correct temperature is achieved.

Tap the jug on a work surface several times in order to break up any large bubbles, and swirl the jug in a circular motion. When the milk achieves a shiny or glossy look, it’s ready to pour. A good tip is that when foaming, never fill the jug more than about a third full of cold milk as you need some room left in the jug to be able to tap and swirl it.

When the milk is ready to pour, start pouring from about 10cm above the crema of the espresso, into the centre of the drink. This makes the milk go through the crema rather than cover it.

Move the jug closer to the coffee until it is practically touching the cup, keeping the pour in the centre of the drink. You will see the white of the milk starting to take over, creating a circle.

Just before the cup is full, gently flick the jug forwards. This draws a line in the circle of white making a heart or apple shape.

Cocoa powder can be used to decorate the top of the drink although in Italy a cappuccino is often served without any topping. It is better to avoid other chocolate sprinkles as they tend to be sweet and hide the true flavour of the coffee. All that’s left is to admire your own handiwork and enjoy your coffee. Buon appetito!