We try to bring a certified "PEZ" approach to all the product we evaluate -- be it the latest carbon frame, helmet, shoes, or even coffee beans. So when a bag of Fast Freddie's Turbo Blend arrived, I went right to the source himself to find out what makes his coffee worthy.
I talked with Freddie while he was freezing at Paris-Nice, and it seemed a little "coffee talk" was in order to warm things up. It's taken Freddie about three years to develop the blend, and it's only just been launched to the market. A self-proclaimed "connoisseur" of the bean, Freddie told me he liked the idea of getting involved with a product that is so much a part of cycling culture.
But let's hear it in his own words:
PEZ: How about this coffee -- I just got the shipment in the mail!
Fred: You should try it before a good ride, it gives a nice boost!
PEZ: How did you get into doing coffee?
Fred: Well, ever since living in the Bay Area. It's a hub for coffee, that's where Peet's is located -- one of the biggest high-end coffee companies in the world -- Starbucks indirectly got their start from Pete's, and since they're located close to my house, it was easy to become a bit of a "coffee connoisseur." Then living in Italy and racing with Italian teams I was always in contact with espresso. I've had a couple of different sponsors on teams who were espresso companies.
Coffee is the biggest thing we have in our team bus. They first thing that happens when that bus gets parked at a race is the bus driver gets up and turns on the espresso machine and basically starts handing out espressos to all the riders -- so everyone's just doing coffee shots until you start the race.
Coffee is part of the cycling culture: Where do you start your training rides? You meet at the coffee shop. Why? Because it gives you that little boost to get on your bike and start your ride. So I'm part of this culture and I never really realized it that coffee is something we use to start our rides. And there's been plenty of scientific backing that coffee is a good thing to stimulate you to get a better workout, endurance, fat burning ...
So in a way I'm trying to bring that a little closer to cycling, and I've tried to develop a blend that has a good balance of coffee to give you a good buzz, but at the same time be very smooth so your stomach can handle it.
PEZ: So you actually spent some time learning how to blend coffee?
Fred: Yeah, it's taken me about three years to actually come up with this blend and get the company off the ground. So throughout this time I've been working with roasters to develop this blend. Depending on where you are in the world, you have really different tastes for coffee -- in the US you have people who are into the really dark roasted coffee for drip machines, and then the Europeans are really into espresso light roasts ... completely different tastes. It took some time to figure out what I liked and what I felt would appeal to the people who'll buy Fast Freddie Coffee.
PEZ: How long has it been on the market?
Fred: Just now basically. I started promoting it after San Francisco Grand Prix and we just started selling it in the winter. Specialized and Wrench Science have been selling it on their Web sites.
PEZ: How would you describe the Turbo Blend to someone?
Fred: The story on the Turbo blend -- I think it was the first name we came up with a couple of years ago.
PEZ: It's got a few good connotations to it ...
Fred: Yeah! And Fast Freddie is my icon -- it's how everyone has known me forever, so that had to be the name for the company -- and Turbo Blend -- it's coffee -- it gives you a bit of a boost, a bit of "turbo."
PEZ: So simple ...
[Freddie is rooming with teammate Cadel Evans, who's just walked into the room and seems to be creating some commotion.]
Fred: Cadel, what do you think ... is it good?
Cadel Evans: (in background with thick Aussie accent) It's awwww-some!
PEZ: What's the best way to brew up the Turbo blend?
Fred: My personal preference is both drip and French press. If you talk to any coffee connoisseur they're always gonna say French press because that's what extracts most of the flavor of the coffee. And drip also does really well if done correctly.
PEZ: What about running it through an espresso machine?
Fred: I like it -- I think it tastes good like that -- I think it's smoother than a lot of espressos. It's also so smooth you can enjoy it without sugar, but I like it with a little sugar.
And that was my biggest thing; bike riders drink a lot of coffee, so if you're making bitter strong coffee you're gonna have stomach problems, so the smoother it is the better.
PEZ: Can you see being involved with Fast Freddie coffee for a long time?
Fred: It's like everything that I try to get involved with; it becomes a passion of mine and it relates really well to who I am. I also use the company to help sponsor a couple of young teams -- Team Swift and NorCal Mountain High School Bike league -- and I'm using the coffee to help the kids earn money to support themselves. We also sponsor Subway Express Team, McGuire Cycling Team, Solano Cyclery Team and the Missing Link Cycle Cross Team.
So what do I think of the Turbo Blend?
Like Mikey ... I like it!
It's a nice brew. I found it had a bolder flavor than what I would consider mellow coffees. I prefer it with sugar, like all my coffee drinks. Is it worth a try? Absolutely.
Where to get it: You can buy it at Fast Freddie's Web site: www.FredRodriguez.com/
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