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What happened to Black Cat...?
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Discussions > Espresso > blends > What happened to...  
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NewToTheBiz
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Posted Sat Mar 9, 2013, 10:13pm
Subject: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

What happened to Black Cat?

It use(d) to be the "king" of espresso - now I rarely see/hear it mentioned anymore...
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kboom1
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 7:18am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

Think they changed the blend a few years back and went with someone else roasting it. coffee also changes from lot to lot so they have to switch varital or bean to keep taste simular but it's rare to get exactly the same flavor profile with new blend or bean. I know it sucks, along with black cat one of my favs was sundae espresso from ritual, but they switched master roasters so sundae gone for ever.
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CMIN
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 8:48am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

Posted the same thing on here awhile back, as well as others... how it taste really odd, really sour/twangy but in a bad way. It's the only coffee that I could not pull a good shot with even after trying a couple times. Varied dose, grind, temp etc. Bought from them and from a place here that uses Black Cat shipped in fresh, even there with the barista still had the same weird sourness to it. I bought it too after reading so much about it being tops/king of espresso, after so many tries at home and pulls at the shop I was like huh?!? lol.
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Jmanespresso
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 10:09am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

The black cat of days gone by, the blend that made BlackCat the espresso which everyone bought, newbie and pro alike.. sadly, is gone.

It was a blend of wonderful balance and harmonious flavors.  Chocolate, Caramel, hints of fruit, hints of spice.  Back then, THAT was espresso, and if you could nail a blend like that, you were a top roaster.

But Intelligentsia, being on the forefront of the specialty coffee industry, make huge strides in transparency from farm, to cup, really doesn't jive with making an espresso blend that is based on replicating a certain flavor profile, regardless of beans available.  For instance, throughout the year, as new greens come in and old greens get used up, even the same coffees will change.  Maybe one year they no longer have acess to a specific Bolivia that the blend used.  Now what?  Well, gotta find a replacement.  The end goal, is that flavor profile.

Some Roasters still follow this method, WITHOUT comprimising on the quality of coffee being used.  Klatch is one of them.  Belle has a had a signature flavor profile for a long time, and though it does vary slightly(I can always tell when they add a big portion of a natural ethiopian, and then switch in a big portion of washed ethiopian)from iteration to iteration, the core of the blend remains.  Klatch, unless they change their opinion on Belle, is always going to produce a lovely bittersweet chocolate with stone fruits or berries drenched throughout.  THAT is what belle is.  To create that, they need to source coffees which will make those flavors.  As I said, slight changes are inevitable, but the heart of the blend remains.


Intelly, on the other hand, has taken a much different approach to their "Black Cat Line" of espresso.  Black Cat Classic is no longer a specific flavor profile.  It is, in the purest form, the best espresso they can make, with the beans they have available.  There is NO flavor goal.  The goal, is to use the best possible coffee, to create an espresso.  One iteration might be citrus heavy, and the next iteration might be heavy on body with very little citrus.  It all depends on the coffee.  They want the COFFEE, to make the decision.   Now, it seems to me, that with their three espresso offerings, Black Cat, Organic, and Analog, what they are doing is twofold.  First, they allow the coffee to make the decision.  Take whatever is freshest, and make an espresso with it.  And for Black Cat, that tends to be the fruit bomb.  Analog tends to be the bass note.  Organic tends to fall in the middle.  So they can try and create a wide spectrum of espresso's, without the constraints of having to follow a certain flavor profile and possibly sacrifice the ability to use top end coffees, because they dont match the "recipe".  Black Cat won't always be a citrus heavy cup of lemonade-coffee, but its probably always going to follow the acidic fruity trend.  Analog wont always be chocolate and caramel, but its going to present bass notes, for the most part.

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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IMAWriter
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 10:46am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

Interestingly, with the new packaging of greens that has developed, as roaster could conceivably store say 3-4 components of their blend easily for a year, losing no appreciable freshness of the green.
Thus, assuming the Master roaster is his/her game, you'd have exactly the same blend for a year.
I wonder if any artisan roasters are doing this presently. Maybe George Howell's company? I believe they are on the forefront of "proper" green storage?




EDIT: apologies for the slight off topic.
Please feel to ignore!

 
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NewToTheBiz
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 3:27pm
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

Jmanespresso Said:

The black cat of days gone by, the blend that made BlackCat the espresso which everyone bought, newbie and pro alike.. sadly, is gone.

It was a blend of wonderful balance and harmonious flavors.  Chocolate, Caramel, hints of fruit, hints of spice.  Back then, THAT was espresso, and if you could nail a blend like that, you were a top roaster.

But Intelligentsia, being on the forefront of the specialty coffee industry, make huge strides in transparency from farm, to cup, really doesn't jive with making an espresso blend that is based on replicating a certain flavor profile, regardless of beans available.  For instance, throughout the year, as new greens come in and old greens get used up, even the same coffees will change.  Maybe one year they no longer have acess to a specific Bolivia that the blend used.  Now what?  Well, gotta find a replacement.  The end goal, is that flavor profile.

Some Roasters still follow this method, WITHOUT comprimising on the quality of coffee being used.  Klatch is one of them.  Belle has a had a signature flavor profile for a long time, and though it does vary slightly(I can always tell when they add a big portion of a natural ethiopian, and then switch in a big portion of washed ethiopian)from iteration to iteration, the core of the blend remains.  Klatch, unless they change their opinion on Belle, is always going to produce a lovely bittersweet chocolate with stone fruits or berries drenched throughout.  THAT is what belle is.  To create that, they need to source coffees which will make those flavors.  As I said, slight changes are inevitable, but the heart of the blend remains.


Intelly, on the other hand, has taken a much different approach to their "Black Cat Line" of espresso.  Black Cat Classic is no longer a specific flavor profile.  It is, in the purest form, the best espresso they can make, with the beans they have available.  There is NO flavor goal.  The goal, is to use the best possible coffee, to create an espresso.  One iteration might be citrus heavy, and the next iteration might be heavy on body with very little citrus.  It all depends on the coffee.  They want the COFFEE, to make the decision.   Now, it seems to me, that with their three espresso offerings, Black Cat, Organic, and Analog, what they are doing is twofold.  First, they allow the coffee to make the decision.  Take whatever is freshest, and make an espresso with it.  And for Black Cat, that tends to be the fruit bomb.  Analog tends to be the bass note.  Organic tends to fall in the middle.  So they can try and create a wide spectrum of espresso's, without the constraints of having to follow a certain flavor profile and possibly sacrifice the ability to use top end coffees, because they dont match the "recipe".  Black Cat won't always be a citrus heavy cup of lemonade-coffee, but its probably always going to follow the acidic fruity trend.  Analog wont always be chocolate and caramel, but its going to present bass notes, for the most part.

Posted March 10, 2013 link

Ah... figures...

So, it is exactly like the Fair Trade and Organic trap...

They use Fair Trade and Organic ingredients to say it is Fair Trade or Organic - even though the resulting product may not be as good/taste as good.

Kind of like Monin vs. other flavorings...

Monin uses "pure cane sugar" - where others use other sweeteners, like corn syrup.

However a few of those "others" (1883) flavor profile and taste are superior to Monin with its "pure cane sugar" - but coffeehouses still insist on using Monin because of its "pure cane sugar".

Not a very good business model - especially since people who go to a coffeehouse or restaurant want their food to taste the same every time.

Nothing worse than liking a dish at a restaurant, going back the next time and it tasting different.

Just my two cents:)
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JonR10
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 8:47pm
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

NewToTheBiz Said:

What happened to Black Cat?

It use(d) to be the "king" of espresso - now I rarely see/hear it mentioned anymore...

Posted March 9, 2013 link

Of those who seem to be "dissing" the Black Cat, who has tried it recently?  

I know that they experimented with the Cat a while back...but it seems to me that the last couple of times I ordered it they were right on the money with a blend that was very close to the original I knew and loved.  Perhaps it was a response to the online commentary we all made.  

I feel like a large part of why we don't hear about BC in every thread anymore is that there are a slew of new artisan espresso roasters and blends on the market now, following in the wake of the Intelly guys and riding the third wave.  Years ago we had only dreamed that such great coffee could be available from so many roasters in so many variations of SO's and blends.  Now it is the reality. It has become commonplace.

Just a few years ago, Black Cat was one of the very few espresso blends out there that was artisan composed and roasted fresh to order, with consistently high quality.  In my humble opinion, that is why it was the "standard" and everyone was talking about it.  Now we have a whole long list of favorite roasters.  

Here's a suggestion: visit the Intelly site and order some espresso coffees.  I feel like Black Cat Classic is very close to how I remember it from years ago, and now they also offer a few other variations as well as the seasonal SO's.  Intelly still rocks out loud in a big way, but now they aren't the only ones out there.  Now our focus has widened and they no longer stand out as a singularity.  It is a good thing, if you ask me....

But it doesn't mean that Intelly has become less than they were.  In fact, I think they have evolved and improved.  
Again, just my opinion, but I feel that they are still one of the great USA roast houses.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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IMAWriter
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Posted Sun Mar 10, 2013, 9:31pm
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

JonR10 Said:

Of those who seem to be "dissing" the Black Cat, who has tried it recently?  

I know that they experimented with the Cat a while back...but it seems to me that the last couple of times I ordered it they were right on the money with a blend that was very close to the original I knew and loved.  Perhaps it was a response to the online commentary we all made.  

I feel like a large part of why we don't hear about BC in every thread anymore is that there are a slew of new artisan espresso roasters and blends on the market now, following in the wake of the Intelly guys and riding the third wave.  Years ago we had only dreamed that such great coffee could be available from so many roasters in so many variations of SO's and blends.  Now it is the reality. It has become commonplace.

Just a few years ago, Black Cat was one of the very few espresso blends out there that was artisan composed and roasted fresh to order, with consistently high quality.  In my humble opinion, that is why it was the "standard" and everyone was talking about it.  Now we have a whole long list of favorite roasters.  

Here's a suggestion: visit the Intelly site and order some espresso coffees.  I feel like Black Cat Classic is very close to how I remember it from years ago, and now they also offer a few other variations as well as the seasonal SO's.  Intelly still rocks out loud in a big way, but now they aren't the only ones out there.  Now our focus has widened and they no longer stand out as a singularity.  It is a good thing, if you ask me....

But it doesn't mean that Intelly has become less than they were.  In fact, I think they have evolved and improved.  
Again, just my opinion, but I feel that they are still one of the great USA roast houses.

Posted March 10, 2013 link

Very cool, Jon. I loved the old BC, but haven't had anything from Intelly for a while, mostly for the reasons you cited.
I'm machineless now, but a neighbor has an Alex Duetto. I just found a reason to visit him more often! A little BC left behind will sweeten the pot. :>D

 
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scjavadr
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Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 8:41am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

It might just be your conditions.  In the past few months, I've had Black Cat at Modern Coffee in Oakland several times, and it was actually fantastic.  I bought a few bags for home, and it was a little different than in the shop, but it was still great.  Maybe it just takes more playing around with to get dialed in, which is frustrating in of itself for home espresso.  But I really like the roasts they've had within the past 6 mos.

Greg
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CMIN
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Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 10:41am
Subject: Re: What happened to Black Cat...?
 

Last time I had it was about a month and half ago when I was at a shop here that serves it (been there plenty of times, they get fresh shipments in twice a week I believe). Still didn't care for it, reminded me exactly like last year trying it at the shop and ordering from Intelli myself. Temp/grind/dose didn't seem to make a difference.  On the other hand they serve Anodyne and much prefered their espresso. Barista there one day even said its not near as good as Black Cat used to be, said the old one was like a chocolate bomb.

I've seen others say they like Intelli other coffees more than Black Cat. So I may try their other offerings.
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