The Senseo armada, laying waste to all in their path. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Reviewed: the Official Coffee of the Tour de France

Is it quick? No. Is it convenient? No. But does it taste good? Also no.

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I don’t self-identify as a coffee snob. It’s important that I flag that up front, just so you’ve got a baseline understanding of where I’m approaching this article from. I enjoy a nice coffee, I can tolerate a sub-par one, but I have just reached my limit.

Senseo – the Official Coffee of the Tour de France – is the company that has pushed me to this breaking point. I did not speak up in 2019. I did not speak out on all of the stages to this point in 2022. I cannot let this slide a moment longer.

French coffee is not something that I would describe as ‘world-class’ or even ‘good’, but the crimes of Senseo transcend any preconceptions I had about what people might enjoy drinking. Actually, not transcend. What’s the opposite of transcend? There is something fundamentally broken happening here.

So: Senseo. They are in the press room, they are in the Tour de France caravan, they are in the Tour village. They are everywhere.

In the press room, you approach a table that looks like this:

What they offer is not a coffee pod, not a coffee bean or grounds, but a little round pouch. Here, it looks like this:

That pouch is then placed in a machine that looks like this:

Some time later – maybe 30 seconds, maybe three minutes, there really is no way of knowing – some black coffee starts dribbling out.

It is very important that you do not drink it immediately. It is magma.

You will observe the comely surrounds of a Big Vittel Fridge (the Official Water of the Tour de France, also quite bad) upon which I have chosen to take this picture. The crema, such as it is, has been disrupted by the addition of a sachet of sugar. I do not normally take sugar with my coffee, but much like you add sauce to iffy meat, it helps patch over some underlying flaws.

Those flaws, primarily, are the bad flavour. I haven’t downed an ashtray mixed with water on the verge of becoming steam, but if I had I think I’d recognise some fundamental synergies.

If a more literary reference would swing it for you, I would point you to the section in The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, when Merry and Pippin have been kidnapped by some orcs and are fed something black and bitter. I can only imagine that the professor was basing this memorable passage on his experiences with Senseo.

From what I can glean, Senseo is a popular product in this beautiful country. People jostle for their giveaways when the caravan passes, and queue for their produce, at least if it’s free. Julian Alaphilippe, national darling, has been sighted with a Senseo machine in his home (his real home, not his portal to a cursed dimension).

Even if I have misjudged the extent of Senseo’s popularity, the fact of its existence in the market is enough. This is a national sickness. It must be stopped.

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