The Costa Rican arrives, more Intelligentsia delights & Hooooorah – er, I mean Harrar!

Good news, the rather lovely Costa Rican that Scott from Happy Donkey ( kindlyCopyright CakeBoy 2008 allowed us to sample in February has now been added to his intentory. We have tried a bag or two of this medium roast coffee from the new stock and it remains every bit as lovely as the original sample. From our tasting log, “Lovely smooth sweet coffee with a good thick body. Nice honeycomb, frutiness with honey tones. Another very nice Costa Rican indeed”. And that says it all really, well worth trying. Good on Scott too, he is one of very few commercial bean suppliers that cares more about quality than bottom line. He selects his coffees very carefully and turns most around within a month – a week is not unusual for his top end blends. It would be nice to see other commercial suppliers emulating the gourmet market by keeping things high quality and as fresh as possible.

Talking of the gourmet market, roasting demi-god Steve over at Has Bean ( has just put this year’s Ethiopian Harrar crop up on his site. I’ve heard from a couple of people that this year some of the beans are particulary good, though beware not all Harrars are equal, so make sure you buy from a source you know and trust. Steve describes this one as “Intense, with a complex taste of fruit, wine and chocolate”. We Harrar fans all know that if the crop is good and the preparation is right it can be the biggest blueberry bomb you can imagine. If you haven’t tried it, now is the time!

Following further visits from Canadian relatives, we sampled two more bags of Intelligentsia goodies last month. Having largely enjoyed the “Kid O”, I was very much looking forward to sampling the equally legendary “Black Cat Espresso Blend”. Now this was an odd one for me. I know and try to account for the North American general preference towards darker roasted coffees, but I still struggle to enjoy anythingCopyright CakeBoy 2008 when the flavour of the roast is present in more than the slightest of hints. The “Black Cat” started with nice front end fruit, quite specifically cherry, acidity. It was well balanced with dark chocolate and cocoa, yet there was a nice sweetness present as well and it lingered nicely. However, throughout the cup, I could taste roast. Not loads, but more than I was comfortable with, though others may be fine with it. I wonder whether the roast level is necessary in order to achieve the fine balance of flavours or it is simply a preference? Either way, I like the flavours, but not the taste of roast. Nevertheless, this was “Black Cat” and I was very pleased to try it.

The final bag of Chicago’s finest was the formidably named “El Diablo Dark Roast”. Perhaps an anomaly, although without doubt dark, I felt this blend suffered less than the “Black Cat” with unwanted (surely they are unwanted?) roast tones in it’s flavour profile. A direct trade coffee, “El Diablo” is not so much a devil as a bit of a big-hearted tough guy. Dark, with lots of good citrus and cherry front end acidity, the flavour suddenly mellowed off to leave a rather nice, somewhat mild coffee with wonderfully balanced floral and chocolate tones. I liked this one quite a lot. Any roast tones present seemed to fade as the the balance changed to something altogether smoother following the kick-start. Less well known than “Kid O” or “Black Cat”, and rather like “Los Delirios”, this one shines in it’s own right, demonstrating that the whole of Intelligentsia’s catalogue is well worth trying if you get the chance. Our thanks to Peter for making the samplings possible.

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