It’s coffee, we don’t have to explain it to you. The prelude to cycling, the stop in the middle, and potentially the accompaniment to the debrief after, coffee is cycling’s hot, caffeinated lifeblood.
Prioritising modernity, speed, and lightness, it’s appropriate that cycling’s drink of choice is the compact and stimulating but nutritionally empty espresso. Shot from hissing machines operated by technicians whose job is somehow infinitely more glamorous than that of a short-order cook, its theatrical preparation only adds to the attraction.
Sipping weak tea out of a styrofoam cup just doesn’t have the same glamour as quickly emptying an espresso al banco before heading back out onto the road.
Cycling’s obsession with coffee isn’t a one-way street either. While Belgian teams might be named after gambling products, flooring, and fixatives, coffee producers have historically made for more glamorous patrons; from the Faema team of the young Eddy Merckx, through the south American Café de Colombia squad to Saeco and Trek-Segafredo.
Why do we drink it? There’s plenty of peer-reviewed evidence for the performance-boosting qualities of coffee, with the World Anti Doping Agency at one point banning high levels of caffeine among racers. Yet coffee has mainly gained its exalted status through deliciousness.
Ensuring you make the most of your next bag, we’ve collected the most impressive coffee machines available, plus grinders and a couple of travel options so you can stay fully caffeinated at all times.
La Pavoni S.p.a PL Lusso Professional
£749, Shop La Pavoni
This enormous gleaming tank-like espresso maker is largely constructed of cast brass. Extremely simple, its classic levered design makes it easy to use but allows for complete control and will require some skill to master. When its central lever is lifted, a piston inside the group is raised, allowing pressurised water to infuse the coffee in the filter holder. When lowered, this same lever causes the piston to force the water through the coffee into the cup.
With deft hands, the user can therefore vary the speed at which the water passes through the coffee, ensuring a cup is made exactly according to their own taste. Hardwood dials, a classic pressure gauge, and large boiler make this a beautifully functional choice.
£32, Shop AeroPress
I once inhabited a desk between two cycling journalists who’d spend each morning hand grinding their own coffee beans before brewing them in matching AeroPresses. Now I work at home and my only colleague is an elderly cat. While this is generally an improvement, I will finally concede that an AeroPress does indeed make a better cup of coffee than the office drip pot.
Initially resembling a French press, the AeroPress’ pressurised plunger both avoids creating the bitterness and high acidity inherent to that method of brewing and allows you to create espresso-style coffee. You’ll have to do without a crema layer, but both long and short coffees are far richer than you’d have reason to expect. Compact in its standard form, this micro AeroPress Go fits into its own cup and is perfect for work, travel, or camping.
Il Magistrale Racing Wasps Coffee
£14, Shop Il Magistrale
OK, it's not a coffee machine, but it is fantastic coffee, and we do sell it ourselves.
Given how crucial coffee is to the production of each issue of Rouleur, we’ve gone to great lengths to secure a varied supply for our store. Here you can find cycling-specific blends from roasters Five Rings, Il Magistrale, and Grand Tour.
Suppliers to the Jumbo-Visma team, Wout van Aert is on record as attributing the majority of his recent success to Il Magistrale’s Racing Wasps blend, which takes its names from the squad’s yellow and black kit. Produced using coffee beans from the Huabál district in Peru, unsurprisingly it's an espresso type, and features a high chocolate flavour paired to a degree of fruitiness and a strong finish.
La Marzocco Linea Mini Espresso Machine
£3,690 Shop Marzocco
A staple sight across Italy and Europe, La Marzocco was founded in 1927 in Florence by brothers Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi. Since then it’s focused on high-end machines for bars and cafes. We've also seen it in the kitchen of more than one WorldTour pro. Instrumental in the design evolution of espresso makers generally, in 1970 the firm produced the first machine featuring two independent boilers. Allowing it to separate coffee extraction from steam production, this dual-boiler function is still the star attraction of the La Marzocco Linea Mini Espresso Machine.
Using many of the same internal components as the brand’s professional bar-top options, not only is it infinitely serviceable, but it promises the same level of thermal stability. Along with easy temperature control for home use, there’s no reason it should produce anything but the perfect shot.
Rocket Espresso “Appartamento White”
£1,169 Shop Rocket
Rocket is arguably the coffee machine of pro cycling. The brand is commonplace on pro team buses and in the stylish offices of bike manufacturers across the world. It’s clear why, as Rocket’s machines border on caffeinated artwork, it's the Campagnolo of coffee machines. It balances a handsome chrome finish, bold branding with supreme functionality and power.
As high-end coffee machines go, this is on the compact side, measuring only 27cm across. Yet it still contains a E61 heated group head, heavy duty portafilters, a thermosiphon system and a copper boiler. At 20kgs, it's also heavy as lead, which while being a negative on bicycles, is a top feature on appliances.
Plus, you can brew and steam simultaneously – a big advantage when sneaking in a last pre-ride flat white.
Sage Duo-Temp Pro
£299, Shop Sage
Much as we can dream, few of us can splash out on the likes of La Marzocco. Sage’s Duo-Temp will admittedly still set you back a fair whack, but is slightly more within the reach of many of us non-World Tour contract schmos.
It uses low-pressure pre-infusion to nail the perfect espresso, just as with higher-tier and professional setups. A PID controller is also fitted as standard, which is impressive at this price. It lacks a little of the steaming power of some of the shiny Italian machines, but this is an impressive starting point. A gateway drug to an expensive future in high-end coffee.
£1025, Shop Lelit
Lelit’s machines bridge the gap between professional and consumer coffee, meaning you get pro-level features, but in an easy to control package. Catering to both experienced baristas and those with only a passing interest in the production of their next espresso, it’s good looking and extremely solid. Annexing a small amount of your kitchen top, its high-quality E61-style head is pretty much industry standard and allows for pre-infusion of the grounds.
At the same time, Lelit has managed to reduce the time needed in between shots, allowing you to pour back to back espressos, while the machine can also idle without the need for a cooling shot before creating a further cup. With a double probe system sensor and electronic control, brew temperature is kept constant and can be adjusted electronically. With a stainless boiler and cafe-quality accessories, it’s a little bit of Italy imported into your kitchen.
Baratza Sette 30 Grinder
£339, Shop Baratza
Of course posh coffee needs a way of getting from bean to machine. So you’ll need a grinder. A rare diversion from Italy, Baratza designs its wares in the American coffee hub of Seattle. With a medium cost, but serious controllability, its machines feature a macro/micro grind adjustment system to dial in exactly the grind you want. With a conical burr set that took eight years to design and put into production, this Sette 30 Grinder will grind your beans without heating them.
With an electronic timer, it can be programmed to within 0.01 seconds to eliminate wastage, while the machine itself features 30 different grind settings. Able to generate 300 to 400g of ground coffee at a time, its automatic shut-off feature means you can remove the hopper without any beans escaping.
Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Dripper
£35, Shop Snow Peak
If coffee is essential to waking up having rolled out of a comfy bed, it’s even more so on having crawled out of a frosty tent. While an AeroPress will make a better cup, cycle-tourists will pay for this in pack space. Ideal for lightweight bikepackers, you won’t get any of the features of the above machines, but on the plus side, you will be able to fit it into a handlebar bag. Made of stainless steel and weighing 140-grams, the collapsible Snow Peak Coffee Dripper unfolds to hover like a landing-craft above your camping mug. Slot in a filter, drop in a scoop of coffee, pour over hot water, and let gravity do the rest.