Coffees of the month – Yemen Mocha Matari and Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Red Bourbon

Another month, another ‘coffee of the month’ review. This time I look at coffees from very different places.

Coffee from the finest estates
Coffee from the finest estates

Yemen Mocha Matari
The classic, original mocha (not to be confused with the chocolate coffee drink). I was keen to give this a try as Yemen is an old and high profile coffee growing country and mocha it’s most famous ‘brand’. I found this quite delicious – rich and, not surprisingly, a bit chocolately. I liked this and am keen to try some more mocha.

Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Red Bourbon
This was a very drinkable coffee, nice and fruity and a little acidic! I am finding over time that I prefer smooth, less acidic coffees so while this was good I much prefered the Mocha this month. I also generally found that this coffee didn’t particularly stand out from others I tried so I may not be getting it again.

Triathlon 2009 – Southwater Sprint Relay

Im not a free man, Im a number
I'm not a free man, I'm a number

I can now call myself a triathlete. What a bloody relief! It might only have been a sprint distance (400m lake swim, 18.5km cycle, 3.8km run) but they all count.

As mentioned in my previous post my training for this event wasn’t quite what I’d hoped and I was very nervous about it. At least things turned out ok in the end.

Getting there
After another really early start (5am) and a bit of a drive through the semi-deserted roads of Sussex we got to the Southwater Country Park. The start and transition area was a bit of a trek to get to particularly as you have to get a bike and all the various paraphernalia needed. As an added bit of anxiety I couldn’t find my team captain who had my race number that would get me into the transition area. No matter how I try to plan things I always seem to have a last minute rush and panic at these things.

The Swim
I’d already seen one of my relay team-mates complete her three events and I was waiting in the hand-over section all wet-suited up and worried when I had my revelation. Instead of trying to front crawl on the swim and having to revert to breast stroke or just resting I thought ‘why not just do the whole thing as breast stroke’. That way I reckoned it at least looked like that was my plan all along.

My favourite supporter!
My favourite supporter!

I didn’t regret my decision. I kept up a steady pace in the lake, out to the buoy and back and even managed to pass someone! Got out feeling a little tired, but that was mainly my arms, and jogged off to the transition area to get ready for the bike ride.

The Bike
Getting out of the wetsuit was no easy or quick thing for me and took a fair bit of grunting, kicking and squelching. When done though I soon got on the bike and was on my way. The ride itself was very pleasant with a couple of rises and several nice long straights for a bit of power riding. Again I managed to pass a few people which was a morale booster.

At one point I approached a bunch of riders and as I got closer noticed that a few had panniers and I thought to myself ‘a bit casual for race’. It was only as I was passing that I saw that they didn’t have any numbers and I realised that they weren’t part of the race at all.

Knowing the run wasn’t going to be very long I really went for it on the cycle and quite enjoyed the burn.

The Run
Quickly slipped into my running shoes, started off and immediately my legs felt heavy which wasn’t helped by the stiff hill that starts the run. Ironically I found myself feeling better the longer the run went on as the heaviness slowly went away. I have to congratulate my triathlon club for the fantastic waving and support as I went round on the two laps. I really enjoyed coming into the change-over area to tag the third person in my relay team. That was it, I was done.

The southwater relay was a good fun race and pretty ideal as one to start with. The relay element gives you a bit of team spirit which I really liked. What a relief but now I can plan for next year – an Olympic distance I should think.

Special thanks to Deborah and Rose who gave me great support and who didn’t grumble at getting up so early.

My lovely team mates - Emma and James
My lovely team mates - Emma and James

Triathlon 2009 – Pre-race nerves

Well, here I am with the Southwater sprint triathlon on Sunday but without feeling very prepared.

After doing a marathon in May I intentionally decided not to be very ambitious in Triathlons this year and only have a sprint distance to worry about. The bit I’m concerned about though is the swim as it’s in open water and again I’ve done hardly any practice. In fact I’ve had just the one.

Serpentine swim
My swimming has certainly greatly improved since last year, but I still struggle with it and am not able to give it the time I should. In particular I’d not done any open water training which as I know from last year is very different from the pool. To that end and a little belatedly I went to the Serpentine in Hyde park for a dip the week before the race. Looking out it looked like I was going to be the only one in the Lido.

Getting in I immediately felt the extreme anxiousness that I did when swimming in the sea last year so I thought I’d start with a gentle bit of breast stroke. This turned out to be harder than I’d thought as the buoyancy on the wetsuit makes you slightly too high in the water to do a good stroke. I had a quick go at front crawl but only managed 3-4 strokes before I ran out of breath and had to go back to breast stroke. None of this boded well but I carried on and was determined to do at least 4 lengths. In the end I managed 8 lengths, approximately 800m but with hardly any front crawl and a bit of resting at each turn.

The other worry was how long it took me to get out of my suit. I’m pretty sure there is a knack to it, but i’ve yet to get it.

Bike and Run
Whilst I’ve not really done that much cycling or running either the distances are quite small and I’m kind of confident of at least finishing.

All done, if it wasn’t for the fact that i’m in a team and would be letting others down I might have given the race a miss. As it is I feel that I should be able to finish and if I do then I can at least call myself a ‘Triathlete’ which would be a reasonable achievement on top of the marathon earlier this year. Hopefully that’ll keep me going.

Coffees of the Month – Kenya Gethumbwini and El Salvador Finca La Fany Bourbon

Another instalment of ‘coffee of the month’. This time I have a couple of corkers.

Kenya Gethumbwini
Fruity and yet smooth I really liked this coffee. Kenya as a region makes coffee I like very much and this one didn’t disappoint me. I would have this again. Perfect in the french press.

Coffee from Has Bean
Coffee from Has Bean

El Salvador Finca La Fany Bourbon
Steve from Has Bean eulogises a lot about the great coffee from El Salvador so I thought I should give one a go and picked this one more or less at random. Very nice indeed particularly in the aeropress. It was nice to have two coffees that lent themselves to different brewing methods, something I might try to do going forward.

All top coffee people advocate the grinding of coffee in a burr grinder as it produces a much more even result than the blade machines. The burr grinders are, however, quite a bit more pricey and I’ve been using a reasonable de longhi blade grinder so far. It produced a fairly even grind to begin with, but now it has had a lot more use it’s slowly getting worse. I need to save some pennies…