Baring your sole

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 19 July 2009 20:47

This article has absolutely nothing to do with coffee, but if you enjoy running (as I do) I expect you will find this article of interest. I intend to venture out for a bare-foot strop around Hyde Park this week and fully expect to pick up a few stone bruises on my soft London feet. Still, I expect they’ll toughen up quickly. Incidentally I am not suffering from any chronic running injury but I am fascinated enough to give it a go. Imagine the positive effect on the environment if we reduced the number of running shoes we send to the landfill each year. If you are already running barefoot let us know. Personally I suspect it is going to be a lot more fun on the grass than on concrete & tarmac, but we’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure.

By STEVE KILGALLON – Sunday Star Times
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2009

OPINION: Thirty years ago, the modern running shoe was invented. Since then, running-related injuries have risen. And so a growing movement of runners are taking to the streets barefoot.

Perhaps no man has had more positive influence upon running than Arthur Lydiard. Yet you could, perversely, almost blame the Kiwi master-coach for the pernicious rise of the modern, high-technology running shoe even though Lydiard’s cadre of world-class runners trained only in canvas plimsolls.

American Bill Bowerman ran with Lydiard in the early 1970s, and returned home inspired to experiment with his wife’s waffle iron to create the first Nike running shoe. Lydiard was aghast; he thought such footwear would cause injuries and poor technique. And as with so many other things, Lydiard, it appears, was ahead of his time.

Since 2002, the 30th anniversary of the first Nike, and driven by statistics showing an alarming rise in running-related foot, ankle and knee injuries, a fringe community of runners have been rejecting shoes altogether and going barefoot.

Now it threatens to go mainstream, and the mad movement’s reluctant prophet is a very sane running writer, Chris MacDougall, whose story of conversion to barefoot theology makes inspiring reading. His manifesto appears in his new book, Born to Run, in which he writes: “Blaming the running injury epidemic on big, bad Nike seems too easy but that’s OK, because there’s a lot to throw at them”. He says the book sits 13th on the US bestseller lists.

Six months ago, sick of constant muscle soreness in my hips and adductors which stopped me running the big miles I wanted to, I began visiting a sports biomechanist called (ironically) Greg Pain.

Pain, who runs Auckland clinic BioSport, is a running heretic. He thinks 98% of people run wrongly and blames a Western culture which encourages us to take cars, buses and trains and sit at desks when we should be running and walking. He believes it causes us to become unbalanced, with overdeveloped thighs and hips which take on too much work and eventually lead to injury.

He reconstructed my unique running style, which resembled an old lady chasing a bus while carrying four bags of shopping. Now I run straight-backed, with shorter strides, tensing my core muscles, `firing’ my gluteals (bum muscles) and hamstrings to flick my heels behind me to get more kick. I’m faster, more efficient and injury-free.

A lot of what Pain and MacDougall say seems to fit. I threw Born to Run to Pain a fortnight ago. It was his Archimedes in the bathtub moment. “It’s a great book,” he says. “It challenges the way we wear shoes the way we do; even more so, it challenges our lifestyle.” Ten days later, we went barefoot running.
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As we trot through central Auckland, Greg spots two blokes looking at us as “if we were idiots”. We pass a woman who gives me the disgusted glance you might cast at someone who allows their dog to foul the pavement and doesn’t pick it up. We may be New Zealand’s early-adopters: I suspect there aren’t many other blokes running around the city without shoes.

But they all laughed when Christopher Columbus said the world was round. This may be the future. It certainly seems to work. It’s amazing how your stride immediately, unconsciously, changes when you run barefoot. It becomes shorter, choppier and lighter: something Pain preaches because it cuts the stress on your feet.

In shoes, you almost always land on your heel, where the manufacturers place the most padding. Barefoot, you land on the natural cushion of your mid-foot. It’s not painful, but you do feel every footfall, and not every surface is created equal: I found the dark asphalt of the road itself the best. In the interests of science, we burst across a muddy park. It’s very tactile: like squeezing jelly between your fingers. I like it. So does Greg.

On the phone from the US, MacDougall explains. “The foot is the greatest disciplinarian. You can’t over-pronate, can’t over-train, can’t over-stride … if you do anything wrong, the foot will tell you `uh uh, don’t do that’. Shoes are like morphine: a sedative that deadens the pain.”

Because the foot tells you how to run, MacDougall says anyone can make the transition within three weeks. He offers a few tips, then adds: “I still feel definitely the student here, not the master; very grudgingly I will give people a couple of pointers. I didn’t feel qualified to at first, but I found it is so easy, there is little to teach.”

The science behind MacDougall’s claims is impressive, led by a Newcastle University (Australia) study which found no evidence-based research to show high-tech running shoes are in any way beneficial.

MacDougall’s thesis boils down to this: the best shoes are the worst (one report suggested you are 123% more likely to sustain injury in more expensive shoes, because they offer too much support); feet like impact (and “it’s preposterous to think that half an inch of rubber is going to make a difference” when 12 times your bodyweight pounds through them); and finally, that humans are designed to run shoeless, and shoes weaken you. He cites one doctor who describes them having the same wasting effect as plaster casts.

Pain says the common ankle, back and knee problems his clients arrive with support these theories and says the shoeless science makes “perfect sense”, although he’d only use barefoot running as a measured part of training.

Born to Run isn’t just an anti-Nike manifesto. It’s also a fantastic tale of a reclusive tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who embark on two-day trail-race adventures wearing home-made leather sandals. It’s the story of how MacDougall and a group of crack ultra-runners tracked them down to engage in an epic desert ultra-race. It’s how the experience changed them all, and how MacDougall learned from them exactly how to run. The Tarahumura, incidentally, are aware of their subsequent impact on the running community, but, says MacDougall, don’t care. “It’s irrelevant to them; like talking about Hollywood to the Amish.”

The most extreme of the book’s ultra-runners is ‘Barefoot’ Ted MacDonald. By email, he says he doesn’t think the movement will threaten the shoe giants. “Threaten, no. Allow 1000 blossoms to bloom, yes. I am not dogmatically barefoot, even though I think it is the best. I have no problem endorsing companies making minimal shoes and not telling me I’m broken by design.”

MacDougall, meanwhile, who ironically only began barefooting after the epic race (pushed into it by a broken toe) is now a devotee. Has it made him a better runner?

“I see it differently than I would’ve a few years ago. If I could do a 3:59:59, instead of a four-hour, marathon, that was better. Now I couldn’t give a shit about that 1sec. Better to me means I don’t ever get hurt, I enjoy it, and I never dread it.”

Daterra Reserve

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 19 July 2009 18:01

New in to stock on wednesday (15 July) is Daterra’s Reserve coffee

We have managed to set aside some time to fire up the test coffee roaster since then, and will be pulling a few shots over the next couple of days to see how it is shaping up

Daterra yellow bourbon

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 13:09

Hopefully Weds (15/7) will bring some Daterra yellow bourbon our way

This will give you the chance to benchmark against the Rainha farm yellow bourbon we have sold for some time & draw your own conclusions as to which you prefer

From memory we will also take delivery of some Daterra Reserve

Call us old fashioned, but as things stand we are yet to be persuaded by the current rush to vacuum pack green coffee in foil bags. I think the time honoured hessian bags allow the coffee to breath & age in a way that is certainly helpful for us espresso roasters as the acidity drops aware with a little aging. This doesn’t occur in the vacuum foil packed method. That’s before we get to any concerns about the environmental impact!

Anyway, for the time being we will keep an open mind & welcome your feedback

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 12:33

You are probably familiar with this website already, but if not you simply must pay a visit.

There are simply thousands of hours that have been sunk into developing first class content, in particular some of the most measured and balanced coffee equipment reviews you will find anywhere on the internet.

Images from the Rainha Farm Estate, Brazil

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 12:04

Below is a selection of images from the Rainha Farm Estate in Brazil, where our Brazil yellow bourbon coffee is grown. In particular note the yellow bourbon coffee cherries.

The Columbian La Manuela Estate is all gone

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 11:40

The storms that passed through this region a few months ago have severely restricted the supply of Columbian coffee in general & those from the La Manuela Estate in particular. We will be replace it with another Columbian coffee until probably Oct-Nov when the La Manuela coffees are expected to come back on stream with a new crop.

This is what makes the coffee business so interesting! The forces of nature flow through to our cup in a way that simply doesn’t occur with the ubiquitous homogeneous products of today’s world (e.g. Coca-Cola, mass market blended coffees of undeclared constituents where the blend is in a semi-constant state of flux to maximise profits).

Australian Skybury due in Weds 15/7

by Reiss Gunson on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 11:32

All being well we will have some Australian Skybury in stock for those of you who have made this request

It is very creamy, and some not given to coffees of this style might dismiss it as bland

Where we have had a lot of fun is adding a few beans to a stroppy coffee (i.e. high acidity) like an Ecuadorian for example… it is just like adding cream… it works like magic to smooth a coffee out if you think it is a little bright for your taste

Coffee Republic set for administration

by Reiss Gunson on Sunday, 05 July 2009 03:59

LONDON, July 3- British coffee retailer Coffee Republic looked set to go into administration on Friday after it asked for its shares to be suspended from trading.

â The board of Coffee Republic has requested the suspension of the quotation of its shares pending clarification of the financial position of certain subsidiaries including Coffee Republic (UK) Limited, the principal UK operating company,â the firm said.

It said documents had been lodged with the court in anticipation of the appointment of administrators to these subsidiaries.

Administration is a form of protection from creditors. Nobody was immediately available for comment at Coffee Republic.

Shares in Coffee Republic, which have lost two thirds of their value over the last year, closed Friday up 2 percent at 22 pence, valuing the business at £2.8m ($4.6m).

UK Coffee Scrappage Scheme

by Reiss Gunson on Saturday, 20 June 2009 12:42

Are you already buying whole bean coffee and are very skeptical as to how Londinium Espresso could be exponentially better?

Let us make you an offer you can’t refuse:

Post us an unopened bag from your favourite roaster and enclose a note requesting which Londinium coffee you would like to upgrade it for, your name and an address to which you would like us to post your coffee.

We will send you one 250g bag of any Londinium coffee beans offered for £5 on this website, completely free of charge

We can’t play fairer than that in our endeavour to introduce you to what lies beyond.

You may only exchange whole bean coffee for Londinium coffee (ground coffee is ineligable)
A limit of one bag of Londinium coffee per customer applies
Offer only applies while stocks last (no obligation to supply a specified coffee if we sell out of it, your alternative choice will be provided)
Coffee will only be shipped to UK addresses.
The Londinium coffee provided will be one 250g bag of any coffee offered on this website for GBP5, regardless of the number or weight of the bag(s) sent to us.
Offer expires 31 July 2009.


by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 12:39

Inoculatte – To take coffee intravenously when you are running late

Decafalon (n.) The gruelling event of getting through the day without caffeine

Coffee, (n.) The person upon whom one coughs.