“I liked to have a coffee and smoke a cigarette, even at the Tour de France: it calmed my nerves”. (Eddy Merckx)
Ah the seventies! Drug, sex, rock’n roll, flare pants: what else?
The golden age, who started with Fausto Coppi, was just ended with Jacques Anquetil and the Saint Rapahel team. Now companies from outside the industry want their names on jerseys. Before it was only bicycle or parts makers. Faema was among the first. They started their first cycling team in the late fifties in Spain but it wasn’t until 1969 before they got global popularity thanks to, well, a certain Mr. Eddy Merckx and an unusual (for the time being) jersey design. The “Fabbrica Apparecchiature Elettro Meccaniche e Affini” opened its business in Milan, 1945. They made, among other things (“Apparecchiature Elettro Meccaniche”, electromechanical equipments), coffe machines! And the time couldn’t be more right because the culture of espresso that started in Italy a couple of decades before was about to make the big jump from cafes into homes. And this is the moment when the magical bond between coffee and cycling was created.
Riders used to sip an espresso (until it was banned from antidoping regulations) before starting a race. Normal people were doing the same at home while watching them. Those same people would then repeat the rite in cafes (funnily “bar” in Italian) while talking about cycling with friends. A new pop sub culture was born. Today Café Racers is a thing among motorcyclists but the same principle applies to cyclists as well. A friendly group ride usually starts or ends with a coffee together. Cyclists gathers, gravitates around cafes to the point that sometimes bicycle stores revolves around the coffee machine. Some of them sell more coffee than bicycles. The bond is so deep that there are cycling companies that offer discounts for coffee to their loyal customers and even develop their own roast. It’s one of those things that we will probably will never get rid of. Which after all isn’t so bad…
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