I spent last weekend in Chicago taking care of some business and thought I'd try to visit the much touted Intelligentsia there. I was on West Fulton and drove by the address listed on their website, missing it twice. I know it was supposed to be closed that day but, man, either the address was wrong, I'm an idiot or they do a great job of blending in with all the other non-descript buildings in that area.

Anyway, I did manage to grab a 1/2 pound of black cat from a shop in Lincoln Park (Thanks Delicious/Stubbs Cafe!). I just got around to grinding and pulling a double this morning and it was fantastic. It was not nearly as sharp as, say, ancient Starbucks espresso roast. It was much more subtle with lots of interesting notes (to borrow wine terminology). I'm not sure I'll like it as much in my sweet coffee drinks though. It might be too quiet when blended with hot chocolate or other stronger flavors. I guess I'll see later this week.

Any thoughts?

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If you don't know your way around Chicago it can be a little difficult to spot. It's not like a store front with a giant sign or anything. It's a big warehouse right on the corner. The thing that gives the building away to me are the exhaust pipes and afterburners on the roof.

"Too strong" or "too quiet" is a very general and personal thing. What exactly are you expecting to cut through the milk/flavor?

If you are hoping for that carbony, pungent flavor that 'Bux beans posses to come through it won't happen because Intelli doesn't destroy their beans with over-roasting. The coffee can definitely cut through milk, though. If it didn't, it wouldn't be their flagship blend.

-bry
Bryan Wray said:
If you don't know your way around Chicago it can be a little difficult to spot. It's not like a store front with a giant sign or anything. It's a big warehouse right on the corner. The thing that gives the building away to me are the exhaust pipes and afterburners on the roof.

I'm actually on West Fulton frequently. It was more of an anecdote to the blending in.

Bryan Wray said:
"Too strong" or "too quiet" is a very general and personal thing. What exactly are you expecting to cut through the milk/flavor?

Agreed. Also understand that I am learning to be more specific and was hoping for other's opinions on preferences when drinking straight versus mixing.

Bryan Wray said:
If you are hoping for that carbony, pungent flavor that 'Bux beans posses to come through it won't happen because Intelli doesn't destroy their beans with over-roasting. The coffee can definitely cut through milk, though. If it didn't, it wouldn't be their flagship blend.

That was what I was wondering about. I look forward to trying it with different things. How much do you think it will "cut through" heavier flavors, like my wife's favorite hot chocolate? Does anyone prefer a more pungent flavor when mixing it with sugary garbage (or is everyone here above that)?
Honestly, I would say the vast majority of people here drink their coffee straight up.

Everything depends on ratios.

My personal preference is 2 shots in a 6oz drink, regardless of what I am adding to it. Once every couple months I'll get a sweet tooth and make myself a 6oz mocha with a double ristretto and the espresso cuts through just fine.

The coffee is going to cut through no matter what, it's just a matter of what cuts through and to what degree.

For example, with our espresso blend at our shop:
-Straight: Vanilla and cherry up front with a hint of lime, fading to cedar smoked chocolate. It's a strange description but when you drink it you get it.
-With Milk: Caramel and chocolate with a slight tobacco in the finish.

-bry
A Call said:

"How much do you think it will "cut through" heavier flavors, like my wife's favorite hot chocolate? Does anyone prefer a more pungent flavor when mixing it with sugary garbage (or is everyone here above that)?"

I am a huge fan of the Black Cat Project, though not necessarily the black cat product. Usually I prefer a sweeter straight espresso versus the slightly more acidic black cat. That said, when I get a black cat capp or macc, I really enjoy it. It cuts through the milk nicely when you put it in a traditionally sized drink. It's just not my favorite as a stand-alone espresso (personal preference).

I don't know how it would do in a flavored drink, simply because I have never had it in any. I think we all started out drinking ridiculously flavored drinks (there was a thread on that a couple weeks ago). My drink of choice was a starbucks iced caramel macc with extra flavoring. Why did we all drink those drinks? For me, it was because I didn't like the taste of the coffee, but I wanted the status symbol in my hand. Looking back, since starbucks was the only "specialty coffee" I had had at the time, it is pretty easy to see why I didn't like the taste. The more good coffee I drank, though, the less and less flavor I put in it, and now there is never any flavor. Why? Because true specialty coffee is so delicious! It's not that we are "above that" for the sake of elitism. We simply are enamored by the taste of espresso and the natural sweetness of milk. It allows us to easily see if the drink was made properly, and we all like to taste new espressos. Not to mention, it is healthier. We do have reasons why we drink what we drink, and those reasons are not for the sake of an "image" and they are not for the sake of elitism to show that we are more highly evolved. We are in the business of producing quality, and we like drinks that display the natural quality of the cup, free from flavors that taint it.
Thanks guys. I'll be interested to see what the wife thinks when I switch on her.
I didn't mean to imply elitism (though, as I re-read it, that's certainly how it comes off). I also really, usually, prefer straight coffee and espresso but also occasionally like a "milkshake," too.

Daniel, you suggested that Black Cat was "slightly more acidic." It is certainly sweeter than what I was using so now I wonder how sweet straight espresso can get. Any suggestions for roasters or, by chance, a place to try in St Louis? (My nearest shop has never impressed me, there must be better around here.)
Not living around there, the only shop of value I know of in St. Louis is Kaldi's. I only hear wonderful things about them. Here's a link to their St. Louis location:
http://www.kaldiscoffee.com/page.aspx?article=cafes

They would be the ones to check out to both get a wonderful drink, and geek out.

A Call said:
Thanks guys. I'll be interested to see what the wife thinks when I switch on her.
I didn't mean to imply elitism (though, as I re-read it, that's certainly how it comes off). I also really, usually, prefer straight coffee and espresso but also occasionally like a "milkshake," too.

Daniel, you suggested that Black Cat was "slightly more acidic." It is certainly sweeter than what I was using so now I wonder how sweet straight espresso can get. Any suggestions for roasters or, by chance, a place to try in St Louis? (My nearest shop has never impressed me, there must be better around here.)
Daniel Williamson said:
Here's a link...

Thanks, I'll check them out. I know the local place sells Kaldi, but brews something else (the baristas don't know or won't tell what). I didn't realize it was local.
A Call said:

Daniel, you suggested that Black Cat was "slightly more acidic." It is certainly sweeter than what I was using so now I wonder how sweet straight espresso can get. Any suggestions for roasters or, by chance, a place to try in St Louis?

Get your hands on some stumptown hairbender. You'll know what I mean when I say sweet. I would also suggest Vivace Dolce or Vita, but they are EXTREMELY finnecky and difficult to get right. So, if you don't do it exactly right, it will not taste as good. For that reason I sheepishly suggest Vivace. But Hairbender, on the other hand, is easy to work with (read forgiving) and provides a sweet and balanced cup. I love it! Also, it cuts through milk nicely.
Yeah, I second going for some Kaldi's if you're in the St Louis area. One of their peeps was a finalist for this years USBC. Not too bad for the Midwest.
Yeah speaking of the midwest, how did Mike Phillips do in the USBC, I forget... :0)

-bry

Lorenzo Perkins said:
Yeah, I second going for some Kaldi's if you're in the St Louis area. One of their peeps was a finalist for this years USBC. Not too bad for the Midwest.
I'm pretty sure he won.

Bryan Wray said:
Yeah speaking of the midwest, how did Mike Phillips do in the USBC, I forget... :0)

-bry

Lorenzo Perkins said:
Yeah, I second going for some Kaldi's if you're in the St Louis area. One of their peeps was a finalist for this years USBC. Not too bad for the Midwest.
Try Ambergris from DoubleShot Coffee House. You can find it here http://doubleshotcoffee.com/DoubleShot.html Before I opened my coffee shop I tried BlackCat and George Howell's different espressos and I believe DoubleShot was far better. More chocolate, more complexity and as a light roast has the ability to cut through the milk.

I have been running it at my shop for about a year now and some customers have said it is the best tasting espresso they ever have had. By the way this is the same DoubleShot that was featured in the video "The Perfect Cappuccino."

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