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Black Cat Coffee and other News
Black Cat Coffee and other News
Posted September 8, 2002 3:15pm
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Intelligentsia Cup with Black Cat inside

Update: I finally got around to posting my next eBay auction: I put the La Pavoni Professional up for bidding. This is an excellent machine and I'll be sad to see it go, but I need the bux for the website costs and expenses (there's a huge one listed below!).

I had the singular pleasure of having one of the best espresso shots of my life this week. It came courtesy of the Black Cat espresso blend, from Intelligentsia a roaster in Chicago. No, I didn't drive to Chicago for it (but I might, it was so good!), I had the shot at Cafe Artigiano in Vancouver, a cafe supplied by Intelligentsia.

This blend is the result of a hella lot of tweaking and refining, and and the tweaking was a huge part of the Espresso-In meeting at Intelligentsia back in June. Doug Zell of Intelligentsia wanted a bam signature blend, and it looks like he has found it.

What's fortunate for me is that it appears Doug and I seek the exact same tastes in the "perfect" espresso. The final Black Cat, which I tried for the first time this Friday and have been drinking ever since at home, has chocolate (number 1 thing I look for in an espresso blend), a wide variety and punch of fruits, spices all over the place, and another valued commodity in a perfect espresso blend - tons of natural sweetness.

This is truly a blend that you can drink sans sugar. And I like sugar in espresso.

In the home, I haven't been able to match the shot quality I got at Artigiano on Friday. I've come close, but I had to ramp up my pressurestat in my Livia a smidge and do some serious pressure-surfing (akin to temperature surfing, but I have a gauge to watch) to get close. This is a blend specifically tuned to precise brewing temperatures.

In fact, to be a "perfect blend" is demanding on the blend. It's so demanding that it will probably be less than perfect on most machines. Especially consumer machines. This is a blend specifically tuned to being produced on a La Marzocco machine with precise brewing temperatures.

I found out that it likes another machine too... it loves being put through an Elektra Micro Casa a Leva. The 15 minute temperature of that lever machine is almost perfectly suited for this Black Cat blend. I had a better shot from the Elektra than any other machine I've tried this coffee in. Wowsa.

I highly recommend ordering a few lbs if you can from Intelligentsia. This is the standard, as far as I'm concerned. Until the next "more perfect" blend comes along.

Other News

Click for larger image
New Fluke
New Fluke 53 Series II at work. I'm a bit disapointed that it includes no software for the price I paid.

I'm insane, I know. I just dropped $500 Cdn on new thermometer (btw, when they cost this much, they aren't pronounced ther- mau- mehter. I pronounce it ther moh meee ter :). It's a new Fluke 53 Series II with datalogging. My old thermoh meter was also a Fluke Series II, but the 51, which is single probe, no data logging. Also, my bead probe was more than a bit beat up, and I think it lost its accuracy. I sold it off.

I love and hate this new model. Love it because the data logging saves me a lot of effort. But I also don't like the fact that it doesn't come with ANY data logging software for the PC, which I would completely expect for the price jump between this and the 51 (an extra $175). Nope, I have to drop another $275 on the software if I want it.

It's also supposed to have an IR port built in, but I cannot see it, cannot find it, and when I hold it up to my notebook computer with its IR port on auto seek, it cannot find it either. I think it may be broken, which means only days after obtaining this I may have to send it back.

Still, look for much more comprehensive temperature readings on my future Detailed Reviews at thanks to this device. With data logging, I don't have to hang around and go take readings when my alarm goes off every hour. I missed so many readings because of this.

Till next time...

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