The café where cyclists meet

By Emily D. Singbenco

Coffee ride, anyone?

While there is no specific definition for what a coffee ride is, this term may mean a recovery ride after a long and vigorous bike training session, a meet-up with kindred enthusiasts in a local coffee shop to exchange stories, discuss politics, argue about cycling, or encourage each other to join local bike races.

Or it could also refer to a bike ride where routes are planned around coffee stops – and in the world of Ilonggo cycling where subcultures and subgroups exist, one coffee stop is a common denominator that unites them all: Yahn’s Coffee Shop in Tiring, Cabatuan.

So what’s special about Yahn’s?

Before unlocking the secrets of this revered café, let’s delve into the special relationship of the two popular pastimes: coffee and cycling. Caffeine is a stimulant that can improve concentration, speed reasoning, memory, and alertness. One can have a 75 mg serving of caffeine from a cup of instant coffee, a 185 mg from a shot of espresso, or a 100 mg from a mug of brewed coffee.

No worries, the recommended safe amount of caffeine per day is 400mg. Hence, consuming two to three cups of coffee a day may benefit the drinker. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recognizes that caffeine can increase endurance performance and capacity by 15% while doing sports activities and reduce perceived exertion.

The bond of coffee and cycling started when Faema, an Italian espresso machine production company sponsored a cycling team led by Eddy Merckx in 1956. Merckx won five Tour de France titles and with this glorious athletic stint, Faema started attracting the biggest names in cycling. As competition, there was Café de Colombia powering Colombian cyclist Luis Herrera, and Saeco with Italian rider Mario ‘Super Mario’ Cipollini. As such, the coffee-cycling tandem trend continued to be part of some countries’ cultures where cycling is flourishing, and the Philippines is not an exemption.

Now, back to Yahn’s…

The café is championed by both Ilonggo and tourist cyclists among others because it is recognized as a community driver.  Regardless of the type of bike you ride or your cycling skills level, beyond status, profession, or accomplishments, once you are inside Yahn’s, you are a cyclist of equal footing (or should it be pedaling?), seated relaxedly to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Known for its classic native coffee – which is usually served straight black or with milk – Yahn’s also offers affordable silog meals, boiled saba, hard-boiled egg, pan de sal, and home-cooked Filipino food like laswa, ampalaya with egg, nilaga, and pancit, which are undeniably popular among student-cyclists and those preparing for a long ride. Beside the café is a bike shop where you can have your bike tuned-up while enjoying your coffee ritual. Moreover, one needs not to worry about bike parking: the café is a literal haven for bikes.

Different spots inside Yahn’s radiate varied vibes: lawyers, teachers, seafarers, students, professional cyclists, politicians, police officers, doctors, and even retirees are all brought together with their mutual love for the bike and coffee. One encounters this sundry crowd meet and chat over steaming cups of joe, praising the power of caffeine and the cycling extravaganza: in this common table where bread and brew are broken and imbibed, they form connections that transcend social hierarchies.

There are regular patrons too: one special group of cyclists doing peloton (from French, meaning little ball or platoon) or a pack ride every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday is Team Cyclck. The pack of around 30 to 40 riders start at Bangga Cinco, Pavia riding all the way to San Miguel and Cabatuan, maintaining a speed of 35 to 40 kph for 30 kilometers. This group ride targets both aerobic and anaerobic training and helps increase one’s VO2 max (i.e. how much oxygen your body uses while exercising). And what better way to end the ride than with a coffee session at Yahn’s?

And the practice continues: no ride is complete without a coffee stop. Then again, cycling and coffee both embody wellness, inclusivity, dynamism, and the joy of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

So, where’s your next route? Fancy a coffee ride?

[The author is a sports enthusiast and an advocate of healthy living and research.]

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