This is my next pick on Coffee Chronicler‘s list of the Best Coffee Beans for Espresso. A pattern is starting to emerge. This is a medium roast, though that post calls it a dark roast. There is no oil on the beans, it is light in color, and grinding it in my hand grinder takes a bit of muscle. All of this is like my previous pick, Stumptown Hair Bender, from his list. It is also like my planned next pick, Illy Classico (based on what I can find in local stores) according to this review. I had been expecting something darker and a bit more bitter tasting like Starbucks Espresso Roast but better tasting. My wife is more of a traditionalist and probably will not have the Black Cat again. Based on the descriptions on the bag, she was looking forward to it.
Black Cat Espresso is earthy tasting, like many of the Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal teas that are not too bitter. It is lighter roast than the Hair Bender. More of the bean taste is present and less of the bite or boldness of darker roasts. It is also not as strong a taste, a double shot with a half cup of dairy free half and half (3 ounces of almond milk with an ounce of soy creamer) tastes weak. Making a double shot and a single shot is too much work first thing in the morning. I may try that some afternoon. Making a cup of brewed coffee (Clever Coffee Dripper, review coming) with more beans is another way to try to improve the taste. Or simply cut the amount of almond milk.
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Note: both Stumptown Hair Bender and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso are tough beans. It takes considerably more effort to grind them by hand than Starbucks Espresso Roast and Siren Blend, and the Allegro Espresso Sierra and Espresso Bel Canto