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Paniaqua EPO Coffee is designed specifically for cyclists, and it will certainly be enjoyed by those who like a cycling-themed caffeine boost before their Sunday bike ride. But the price will be steep for some, and the name – albeit ironic – won't appeal to everyone.
EPO, of course, is best known in cycling circles as the name of a performance-enhancing drug. Here it stands for Extract Paniagua Original. This coffee first appeared in early 2013, but it's now a whole new product: beans from a single coffee farm in Guatemala, specifically chosen for their quality and flavour, and harvested using traditional methods.
The beans come back to the UK where they're roasted and packed by the Extract Coffee Company, a team of enthusiasts with a preference for vintage techniques, to be sold by Paniagua alongside their other specialist cycling-inspired design products such as screen-prints and clothing.
OK, so that's the back story. But what does it taste like? Well, coffee, obviously, but it's a very unusual taste and texture, quite a change from your standard supermarket beans or regular coffee-shop brew, and a million miles from bung-in-the-cup instant.
Alongside the main coffee flavour, there's a vague hint of nuts and maybe unsweetened cocoa. There's also a sharp tang, although this is less obvious if milk is added. Information supplied by the Extract Coffee Company suggests this coffee evokes Snickers or Ferrero Rocher. That might be a step too far. At the end of the day, it'll be a personal thing: some people will like the unusual flavour, others may not.
EPO is sold ready-to-drink in many cycling cafes around the UK, but here we're reviewing the packs of fresh beans that you grind yourself to use in a proper espresso-style coffee machine.
On price, a 250g pack of EPO coffee beans costs £7.50 from Paniagua's on-line shop. You can also buy it ready-ground for the same price. That's more than supermarket stuff, where 250g of ground coffee costs between £2 and £5, but it's on a par with speciality on-line coffee merchants where beans are roasted and shipped same day to preserve the flavour, and 250g goes for between £5 and £10.
Of course, some cyclists will baulk at paying that much for coffee, when you can get a jar of Nescafe for under a quid, just as some coffee drinkers might baulk at a bike tyre that costs £50 when 'you can get a whole bike for that at Argos'. A lot comes down to your own taste preferences, and if you're a coffee aficionado or not.
And finally, that name. EPO. It's irony – a way of saying that a cup of coffee is the only drug you need. Some people will enjoy the joke. Others may feel uncomfortable with the reference to a substance that symbolised some dark years for the sport, especially when it's combined on the packaging with the word Paniagua (meaning 'bread and water' - a disparaging term once used in the pro peloton for riders that wouldn't dope) and a little picture of a syringe.
In conclusion, just as EPO is no ordinary name, it's clear that EPO is no ordinary coffee. Either way, it's well worth a try. If you like it, put in another order. If you don't, you can go back to your own favourite pre-ride caffeine kick.
Unusual name, unusual coffee; a caffeine kick especially for cyclists that may divide opinion
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Make and model: Paniagua EPO Coffee Beans
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This product is coffee. Specifically it's coffee beans that you grind yourself and use in a espresso-style coffee machine. Information on the Paniagua website includes this:
'This new EPO is a single origin washed Guatemalan from a farm called 'El Hato'....
.... we have used its wet mill to process this amazing coffee.
The coffee goes into the siphon where, with water, they separate the good cherries, which sink, from the bad ones – which float.
EPO Coffee is hand crafted in a vintage 1955 Probat roaster by award-winning artisans Extract Coffee Roasters.'
A pack of EPO coffee beans weighs 250g
A 250g pack costs £7.50. Compared to supermarket coffee, EPO is not cheap. Compared to specialist artisan coffee, it's on a par.
When you order on line, delivery cost an additional £3.65 - making the overall cost too much for some buyers.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a cup of coffee to provide a pre-ride caffeine-kick, this product worked very well. The unusual flavour may not be to everyone's liking, but then taste is a personal thing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Personally, I preferred to drink the coffee with milk.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Occasionally. There are other coffees with flavours I prefer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend they try it. Coffee favours are personal.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Flavour is personal - some will like it, some will not - but, either way, EPO beans produce a great cup of coffee that'll certainly provide a decent pre-ride boost.
Age: 53 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding and rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)