One consequence of running one's own small business is a) keeping costs down b) not being distracted working at home c) staying alert and focused.

How does one do this? Simple - cycle everywhere and drink coffee. And when the library gets too oppressive, cycle to a coffee shop with free wi-fi. Particularly one as creative and inspiring as "My Coffee Stop" on Enfield Chase station. Karen, the co-owner, always has good ideas and when we got into a discussion about the difference in the milk/foam the idea of a "science of coffee" blog was born. I decided to do a bit of research. Although my first thought was to write about aromatics in coffee or science of microfoams in milk, whilst, researching the subject I came across some interesting research about the impact of caffeine on cycling.

Coffee and cycling (and cake!) are close bedfellows, and many a cycling trip is incomplete without a stop for the aforementioned refueling. Many pre-race pictures of pro cyclists involve them imbibing an espresso in the continental sun; and some cafes even set themselves up as "cycle" cafes.

Anyway three studies caught my eye – from 2006 (placebo effect of caffeine)2009 (effects of low/medium doses of caffeine on cyclists endurance) & 2011 (effect of caffeine on cyclists perceptions). This is a blog – I'm not pretending I fully read and cross referenced all the studies – but in essence: caffeine doesn't really improve performance; thinking you've ingested caffeine might; and even if caffeine doesn't actually improve performance, you don't feel so bad - which considering pro cyclists have to be able to “suffer” is no bad thing!

Conclusion? “Cyclist” cafes can sell any old black liquid to cyclists, and if they think it's caffeinated they'll probably perform or at least feel better!

On a final note, research by Cycling Australia suggests that caffeinated chewing gum popped into the mouth for a few minutes near the end of a race can help fatigue. Product opportunity for coffee shops perhaps?