Peet's Coffee & Tea


The latest Black Cat espresso from Intelligentsia

Pictured here is my afternoon espresso shot from The Hub Bike and Beans (@insidethehub on Twitter), located north of Chestnut Expressway on Boonville in downtown Springfield, Missouri.  They serve Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Classic espresso blend, pulled using a lever-driven espresso machine.

On Friday, I bought a quarter pound of Black Cat beans from the Hub, and over the weekend, I brewed Black Cat in my French press.  It was a very straightforward, balanced coffee, and I was confused because every time I’ve had Black Cat as an espresso shot, it’s been bright.  Before having Black Cat as a shot, my primary espresso experience was with La Bella Vita from PT’s Coffee at The Coffee Ethic (@thecoffeeethic on Twitter) in downtown Springfield, which has a rich, full-flavored, complex flavor, as well as PT’s Gizmo espresso blend, found at Hebrews Coffee (@hebrewscoffee on Twitter) and Dancing Mule Coffee (@dancingmule on Twitter) here in Springfield, and I was shocked by the fruity brightness of Black Cat on that first sip in contrast to the PT’s blends.  I’m come to appreciate the different espresso experience I’ve had with Black Cat, so when I was brewing up the Black Cat in my French press, I was missing that bright note that I was expecting out of my coffee.

I discovered via a Twitter post from the Hub over the weekend that the Black Cat I purchased on Friday was part of their most recent shipment, and this batch was the newest and latest Black Cat blend formulation.  As you may know, coffee roasters often have to adjust their blends due to the coffees that are available and in season.  A blend is initially created with a certain formulation of bean of different origin, but over time, most roasters will tweak the flavors by adjusting the ratios or beans represented in the blend, sometimes due to availability of beans and other times simply to meet their preference and desire to improve their coffees.

Commercial roasters must balance the desire for predictability of the flavors for their customer base, so blend formulation changes may be rare, but a good coffee shop will track and know when their roaster is adjusting the blends they use.  My understanding it that both Intelligentsia (@intelligentsia on Twitter) and PT’s Coffee (@ptscoffee on Twitter) have adjusted their espresso blends in recent days, and in that kind of situation, if you’re a coffee geek, it’s always worth trying a shot of the new blend to see how it’s changed.

So, today, I’m drinking a whole different Black Cat espresso that the one I had last week.  This Black Cat espresso shot is much more middle-of-the-road in its flavor combinations, not as brash and bold up front as the last version, but not as dark and brooding as the last version of PT’s La Bella Vita was.  I haven’t yet had it in a milky espresso drink, so I can’t tell you how it blends or contrasts with the milk, but as a straight espresso shot, I will miss the bright experience of the last Black Cat but I think I will be very satisfied.