Early Riser Coffee – Ultimate Review

Running caffeine
Image Credit: Lucy Bird

Let me start this review with a confession: up until recently I never really ‘got’ coffee. That’s probably a dreadful admission to make at the beginning of a coffee review, but, hey, at least you know I’m honest.

For me coffee was a means to an end. You get up, wondering why a certain time of day exists, shove some bitter black substance down your throat and then trot on with your day. It wasn’t that I necessarily disliked the taste of my coffee, but I just didn’t understand how people could truly love and appreciate the liquid java boost that I was just using as a pick-me-up.

Then I tried Early Riser Coffee.

So right off the bat I’m a big fan of the packaging. 100% compostable and comes with a convenient re-closable tie that keeps the bag fresh. Much better than the hair clip I was using to keep my other coffee bag closed. 

I was raised by a coffee snob, so a disdain for bad coffee (aka instant) was instilled in me at a young age. I could tell from the smell alone that this wasn’t going to be poor quality. The fresh earthy smell woke me up on its own, so I was excited to try it. 

I like really strong coffee so out of the three flavours my favourite was the punchy workout blend. I only have a coffee machine so I added a bit more in than recommended. I found one spoonful for every cup of water (so about 2 for a standard mug) worked out the best. 

Overall I’d recommend this coffee. It tastes great and does what coffee should. I didn’t notice any particular boost in my running but I’ve never found caffeine Affected my athletic performance either way. For a boost of energy in the morning Early Riser was perfect. 

– Danica Priest

Coffee confessions

Running caffeine
Image Credit: Lucy Bird

Another confession: Early Riser Coffee was my first ‘true’ coffee experience.

For my entire life coffee came in one form and one form only… and that was granules.

I don’t know why this was the case. Probably convenience on the part of my family and then habit, but I didn’t even know how to make coffee when I received my Early Riser Coffee. But I knew it was a product worth learning for.

Running and coffee are my two great loves and I would definitely describe myself as somewhat of a coffee snob. So to discover a coffee that could help improve my running and that has a blend for before, a blend for during and a blend for after, got me excited to try them. The coffee is best suited to be being brewed in a cafetière, filter machine or espresso machine.

‘Punchy’ doesn’t disappoint as it’s full bodied, has a good depth of flavour and will give you the kick start you need to get your sports kit on and get out there doing the sport you love. ‘Smokey’ is ideal to keep sipping away at throughout the day, so if you like to keep your caffeine levels topped up it’s great for that. A lighter smokey flavour makes it easier drinking.

And then when you’ve done the hard work you can turn to ‘Sweet’ to help with your recovery. It’s just as itS name suggests, but with a deep richness that makes a more satisfying coffee. It’s a good reward for your hard work and great to kick back with whilE you put your feet up on the sofa.

– Max Beech

Coffee, but more

Early Riser Coffee
Image Credit: Max Beech

With coffee beans originating from Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua and Vietnam, the Early Riser Coffee range is java with a runner’s twist.

Unlike your conventional brands, which are purely about the boost, Early Riser Coffee has added an edge for runners: cascara.

Cascara is the skin that covers coffee beans because, you know, coffee beans are technically the seeds of a fruit (add that to your trivia list). The word literally means ‘peel’ or ‘husk’ and, typically, cascara is discarded while making conventional coffee.

But cascara has some incredible benefits, especially for runners. Did you know, for example, that cascara has more antioxidants proportionally than the already potent green tea? You do now and, given the inflammatory nature of running, this fact alone should give you an idea of why cascara is the perfect addition to a runner’s cup of joe.

Cascara has also been associated with increased energy levels, mental clarity and liver health, adding to its health-boosting elements.

Essentially, where normal coffee boosts a runner pre- or mid-race, cascara-infused coffee offers support for both race and recovery.

Now that’s a coffee which rises to the occasion.

I was really excited to receive three different varieties of the Early Riser Coffee to review: a workout blend, a recovery blend and an all-day blend. As an avid coffee drinker and insatiable runner, the thought that I could justify drinking vast quantities of coffee in the name of sporting research was compelling, to say the least. Early Riser Coffee did not disappoint. The coffee is created for sporting performance, it is robust, has great flavour and is gentle on the stomach. Whether it actually helped my sporting performance or not is debatable, but the psychological effects of drinking a decent cup of coffee before and after training is invaluable.

Early Riser coffee is easy to make. You can use a cafetière, filter coffee machine or percolator. It makes a good inky black cupful that smells delicious. It has a slightly earthier aroma than many coffees and definitely a lot of depth to the smell and flavour. It is quite a robust coffee and I found that I needed less of it than with my regular coffee to get a good wake-up message to my brain. 

It’s difficult to identify the impact of one single thing on your fitness, health and wellbeing, and I am always rather sceptical of claims made about the incredible effects of what amounts to a small part of one’s training regime. However I really like Early Riser coffee and it is standing the test of time very well in this household. It doesn’t upset my stomach, which is a vital consideration for long-distance runners. It tastes great, without a doubt it tastes better than almost any coffee I’ve had in the past few years, and in doing so has really highlighted the fact that so many supermarket blends are frankly horrible. I love the added cascara. This appears to be an overlooked ingredient and part of the coffee making process; it has potentially significant health and performance benefits and environmentally it means there is less waste in the production process. I like that the coffee is blended in Dorset, designed for athletes and packaged in an environmentally sound way.

My main issue with the coffee is that my family have discovered it in the cupboard and now it has nearly all gone. It’s obviously a winner with them too!

– Lucy Bird

A purpose-built booster

Early Riser Reviews
Image Credit: Danica Priest

Early Riser Coffee’s cascara boost is enough to click about, but the brand doesn’t stop there.

Naturally, you don’t want the same coffee for every occasion, at least not if you’re a runner who is serious about optimising the outcome of their coffee intake.

A pre-workout drink is different to a recovery drink, which is different to a daily drink, etc.

Thankfully, Early Riser has you covered there with a selection of three different blends for the three main uses a runner might have for coffee.

The ‘Punchy’ coffee is your workout blend. With 15% cascara it is more about delivering a satisfyingly bitter kick up the rear end with a 5/5 strength rating for caffeine.

The ‘Sweet’ coffee is a recovery blend. It has a 3/5 java rating and is comprised of 30% cascara. The cascara is what gives it the sweet taste, as cascara is naturally fruity and soft in flavour. It’s also what makes it an antioxidant powerhouse, perfect for dealing with the oxidative stress caused by running.

Then, you have your ‘Smokey’ blend, which is a 2/5 with a 2% cascara content. This is the coffee that gets you through the day as standard. Although this may be your ‘average’ blend, though, there is nothing average about any of these offerings.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Early Riser Blends
Image Credit: Lucy Bird

As said before, I never ‘got’ coffee before trying Early Riser Coffee… or really tried it… at all.

It was a strange filtration device that my partner put on our hob to transmogrify grounds in to a consumable liquid. I mean, I’m sure it was just a standard coffee maker but, to me, it was a chemical magic.

Especially seeing as, when that first sip of the ‘Recovery’ blend of Early Riser Coffee met with my mouth I suddenly ‘got it’.

The bitter baseline of the flavour; the warming sweetness; the subtle creaminess which was almost reminiscent of an exceptional bar of dark chocolate; and all of a sudden I was a coffee convert and, even though Early Riser Coffee was my first venture in to ‘proper coffee’, I knew it was extraordinary.

My now-frequent ventures into more-considered coffee consumption has since confirmed this to me. As said above, the ‘Recovery’ blend is a strong flavour but with a subtle sweetness that soothes the soul like a hot water bottle on a rainy day. I’ve had it after many events and I do feel it’s made a difference, while simultaneously keeping my energy levels up after a weekend of marathons, or similar.

The ‘Daily’ blend is probably my least favourite of the bunch. It’s tasty and sociable with a rather commonplace flavour. It’s the type of coffee I get out when I have guests around, while I guard the ‘Recovery’ and ‘Punchy’ blends for my own personal needs.

The ‘Punchy’ blend. Ho boy. Let me tell you about this bad boy of a blend.

Sturdy in flavour and with a richness that lives up to its name, I decided to take a risk with the ‘Punchy’ blend and opted of fuel an entire race with it. My race of choice? The Cream Tea Caper.

In my mind I had an ultra in mind that day, but I wasn’t sure just how far I could go. Throughout my 8 hour adventures I had moments of fatigue but, thankfully, it was a lapped course and I had my secret weapon.

Every time I came in to the aid station I opened up my flask and swigged down a few gulps of ‘Punchy’.

Was it pleasant? More surreal, really. Fuelling a race on coffee takes some adjustment, especially running with the taste of it lingering in your mouth.

Yet, each time I took in my experimental beverage I suddenly got that kick of energy I needed to get me through enough of the next mile for my body to be on board with continuing further in to the lap.

The result? Third Lady and a lovely little gem-based plaque to commemorate my completely experimental achievement.

I’ll take that!

Ever since I’ve made sure I have a soft sports bottle filled with cooled Early Riser Coffee on me for harder races. So far it’s never failed me.

The last hurrah

Early Riser Coffee Logo

Will Early Riser Coffee guarantee you a place on the podium? That I can’t guarantee. But, as my review and those of the other testers in this review suggest, this coffee is a great asset for recreational athletes.

As runners, we try to optimise almost every element of our performance. Early Riser Coffee takes something many of us already drink and turns it in to yet another potent performance tool that can be utilised almost daily.

What more could a coffee-addicted runner want?

Consider me a firm convert.