In all the years we have been travelling and cycling around Europe, we never grow tired of drinking coffee. Europe has some great coffee and arguably the best in the world in places, some countries clearly do it better than others. Cycling and coffee go hand in hand and nothing brings the two closer together than that mid morning coffee stop. Its a chance to step off the bike for a few minutes and take a caffeine hit with fellow cyclists before riding on refreshed, charged up and ready to take on that next climb.
The first thing to figure out when you stop is how you want to take your coffee? With the world of Starbucks and other big brand coffee houses sweeping the globe the options are endless. However mainland Europe has a resistance to the big corporate coffee world and favours small cafe’s, bars and coffee shops. Coffee in Europe tends to be much stronger than we are used to back home and is served in a much smaller cup. This is great when your cycling and gives you just the kick you need without the extra volume that otherwise bloats you up.
The French like their coffee strong and bitter, favouring a very dark roast. This makes for a coffee that has a slightly smoky flavour and can come across as almost burnt. This can leave a slightly thin in the mouth feel as most of the aromatic oils get stripped out in the roasting process. Order a Café (small black coffee), Café au Lait (flat white) or a Noisette (small black coffee with a hint of cream or foam). Don’t forget to order a croissant, pain au chocolate or other French pastry to complete your coffee stop.
Spain is an unsung hero in the coffee world, offering plenty of choice and excellent quality. Coffee here is dark roasted and the beans often sprayed with a little sugar before roasting to give a dark, rich and smooth caramel taste. Order a Café Solo (small black coffee), Café con Leche (Flat white) or a Café Cortado (Small black coffee with a dash of milk). Spanish coffee is often served with a small biscuit.
Italian coffee is the the true queen of the coffee world. In Italy they like their coffee strong rich and intensely aromatic. Although Italian coffee is strong it is very smooth and drinkable. They seem to get the perfect balance between strength and flavour. Order a Café Espresso (small black coffee), Café Cappuccino (Espresso with steamed milk medium in size) or a Café Macchiato (Small black coffee with a drop of steamed milk). Italians often take their coffee with a small amaretti or biscotti biscuit.
So which is the best?
We think the best tasting coffee in Europe comes from Italy but the Spanish come in a close second with so much variety. But at the end of the day we’ll let you decide. After all part of the fun is cycling your way around Europe and enjoying all the great coffee stops along the way.