This month, as part of Encounter Coffee Roaster’s Travel Series #adventuregoals, we speak to Andrew Laity, an avid runner, cyclist and self-proclaimed coffee nerd. Born and bred in the United Kingdom, Andrew recently moved to Dubai and within a short span of 4 months has cycled more than 460 kilometers from Abu Dhabi to Dubai stopping past every emirate as part of his 7 Emirates Ride. When he is not out in the desert, Andrew is a budding photographer and founder of “Run Beyond” – a project that aims to highlight off-the-beaten track running routes, nooks and crannies in Dubai.
Andrew shares all things coffee and cycling with us.
How does coffee fuel your adventure and how does it integrate into your very active lifestyle?
Cycling has always been a very important part of my life as it allows me to explore different areas that I would have otherwise not been able to experience. I feel free to travel, move and transcend beyond this concrete jungle and having recently moved to Dubai – I am so excited to move beyond the city and see what the UAE has to offer! I am constantly in search of out-of-the-ordinary experiences and this was the main catalyst behind me joining the 7 Emirates Ride, a 460 kilometer cycling ride from Abu Dhabi to Dubai via all 7 emirates.
Understanding the physical capacity required for my search of new experiences through my cycling, coffee plays a highly integral role in supplementing my needs. Mentally, coffee is also very important in fueling me seeing sometimes training and my rides would start in the wee hours of the morning.
In addition, I also see cycling as a social activity that allows me to meet new people. This is why coffee is so important to me! Not only do I thoroughly enjoy making coffee for people, there is a sense of a camaraderie (I’d even say there is a bond) that is built between a group of people who have just completed a strenuous activity together. Unwinding, celebrating, sharing stories over coffee at the end of the ride, especially when you know your favourite coffee shop is miles away, is something that I always look forward to. You can also see my friends’ faces light up when I pull out my coffee grinder and Hario kettle!
Needless to say as well, coffee invites conversation – how one person likes his or her coffee, the brewing methods, coffee type and the entire set-up of making coffee. You just don’t get the same response from other beverages, I mean – have you ever had a conversation over and about water?
What are your top tips on bringing coffee out with you on your adventures?
I love making fresh coffee and coffee equipment is often the first thing I pack! Understanding the importance of the freshness of the coffee and the impact on its taste, I’ve put together a portable coffee kit to bring with me everywhere I go.
My coffee travel kit consists of a Hario Kettle and Hario Pourover Kit as it’s not only travel-sized, reasonable and heats water up like a bandit! It’s also stainless steel so it makes it more resistant outdoors. With me, I also bring a micro-burner as well as a mini grinder to grind my beans on the go. With this travel kit, all I bring with me is just coffee and water when I travel. It always puts a smile on my friends’ faces when you’re able to share a cup of fresh coffee especially when you know you’re a long way from your favourite coffee shop.
What do you think of Dubai’s coffee scene?
I’d like to think I’m highly adventurous when it comes to exploring and trying different kinds and ways people enjoy their coffee! With this said, in the short span that I’ve been in the U.A.E, I’ve had the pleasure of making and drinking coffee with many new friends. Being a part of the 7 Emirates ride, I had the chance to make coffee for a group of Emiratis as well (who were as much into their coffee as their riding, like myself!) and what I’ve realized is that they enjoy the taste of cardamom in their coffee.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of coffee in the U.A.E is made from dark roasted beans. Conversely, I tend to drink my coffee without milk or sugar and incline towards lighter roasts of beans allowing for the flavours of the coffee variety to come through more. Currently my favourite is the Ethiopian Sidamo single origin blend from Encounter Coffee, it’s sweet yet citrusy and has light floral tones. Makes for a refreshing cuppa’ after a long ride!