Posted October 28, 2011 by Big Red Boots in Brewed Coffee

Intelligentsia fresh roasted coffee – La Perla de Oaxaca blend

I don’t normally review boutique coffees just because there are so many different places and varieties, that trying to cover them all would be a whole blog in and of itself. However, I must take a moment to share an brilliant roast from an amazing coffee company, Intelligentsia coffee, which only resides in a very few select cities. For only being 7 stores, they go out of their way to produce some of the most amazing and unique coffees in the world. If you are lucky enough to live in Chicago or Los Angeles, it is a sin to be a coffee lover and not head there for a cup (but not in 20oz size – they say that much coffee ruins the flavor of it).  Hey mom, if you are reading this – you know what to get me for the holiday season.. Screw the Chanukah Gelt – Ill take a pound of Black Cat espresso beans instead!

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to them from a wonderful person who couriered me a pound of the most delicious lovely roasted beans I have drank in years, maybe ever.  If only they lived near me I would only have this in my house .  Unfortunately, this single origin coffee costs 35 + dollars a pound with shipping, which means this is a very special treat, not just an ordinary get-your-ass-out-the-door blend.  This is a serious coffe for serious coffee lovers – people who can smell the difference between the difference between Kenyan and Columbian roasts, could go into in-depth conversations about coffee berries and would choose tea over settling for a  Pikes Place blend at Starbucks.  Intelligentsia fresh roasted coffees are just about the best cup of coffee you will have.  ever.  I mean, I could go on about how they win Best Of awards all over the place for their baristas or their roasters or their coffees, from every place from Playboy to AOL.  If they gave out Michelin stars for coffee – this would have three.

What makes Intelligentsia special is their care of the little things, and that includes everything from their beans to their packaging.  The basic design is simple enough, but the information on the package shows just what kind of attention they show to their coffees.    The package itself might be the same as every other coffee – but this one-way oxygen free heat sealed container is also packed with great info about where this particular bunch of coffees were grown, when they were picked, and just about everything you would want to know about the coffee.   According to this label, this particular botique coffee plantation is in La Perla de Oxaca, in Mexico, grown in season.  The information goes on to inform that this is typical bourbon grown at 1200-1600 m, and has an  annual harvest December 2010 – May 2011.   I also get to know the co-op where it came from, and just about everything about the coffee there is to know.  It is stored just fine for about a week or so in the bag – just don’t stick it in the freezer, where the beans will get moisture and lose some of their perfection.

Not to mention, you gotta love a coffee package whose side panel goes into the temperature you should have to brew the perfect cup.


According to the package and the website,  this should taste like an

Abundant creamy Swiss milk chocolate surrounds a lemondrop candy acidity with a tiny edging of fresh blackberries. Floral hints of violet blossoms whisper in the background while the finish resounds with warm chocolate cake notes.

Yes, that sounds like someone describing a wine, it is an almost perfect description of the coffee. I cupped a fresh pot, and found this to have very berry notes, almost like fresh cranberries in milk chocolate, more than blackberries or lemondrops.  It is very tart – almost like you can taste the coffee berry though the beam.   If you have never cupped coffee before, it is fun to do – and many specialty roasters have workshops on how to cup a coffee and learn how to really savor the flavors of a good cuppa joe.  You can also find out more about cupping coffee at http://coffeegeek.com/guides/beginnercupping too.  Intelligentsia has a couple places that do workshops, but there are many places throughout most major cities that have cupping workshops as well.  I don’t really need to go on – I am sure you get it.  This is the superlative cream of the crop – one of the best of the best.

Intelligentsia do not seem to care about caffeine content as much as they care about flavor, color and texture.  They do not carry or use any robusta beans, even in their espresso blends – and Robustas is where the bigger caffeine content lies. It is pretty common to use robusta coffee in an espresso blend, as it helps with the crema and body of the shot, and can up the buzz too.  However, as robusta beans are of lower quality, the flavor suffers – which is the paramount category for Intelligentsia.

If they ever came out with a Shock Coffee-like powerhouse of a blend, it would completely be worth that helft per-pound price tag.

Big Red Boots