Review: Intelligentsia Coffee Honey Badger Espresso (Chicago, Illinois)

During my short visit to Chicago in February, I popped into Intelligentsia Coffee’s Monadnock location and picked up this bag of their Honey Badger Espresso. They had lots of really fresh beans that day, but I was curious to see if I would like this better than their Black Cat Classic.

Whole bean: Fresh, fruity, and very sweet aromas.

Espresso: These beans make for some very fruity shots. If you’re looking for a classic nutty/toasted/chocolate flavor to your espresso, you won’t find it from these beans. Instead, the flavors that came forth were those of sour cherry, brown sugar, and raspberry. Reminded me of a really nice fruit pie. Assertive, energetic flavors, like its namesake, the shots were tart and lively with some sweetness to take the edge off. Higher temperatures dampen the fruit and bring out more of the brown sugar flavor.

Favorite parameters for this blend: 18 grams in, 40 grams out, 25-27 second extraction. Temperature – it was nice at a wide temperature range, between 200-209 degrees F! No one shot stood out as “best” in that temperature range.

With milk: I never actually tried this espresso with milk… it was so bright and fruity that I didn’t really feel compelled to try it as a milk drink.

AeroPress: Toasty, sweet cup of coffee with a juicy and fruity character. It tasted primarily of mango, red berries, and sweet brown sugar. When I tried the Black Cat Classic, I personally liked it better brewed in the AeroPress vs. having it as an espresso shot, and I think the same is true of this Honey Badger blend. It’s hard to get the flavor balance just right when concentrated into just 1.5-2 oz of liquid.

French press: THIS was the best preparation method I tried for these beans by far. The coffee came out sweet and obscenely fruity, with a rich and delicious aroma of vanilla ice cream. What a stunning cup of coffee this was!! Once I tried it this way, I ONLY drank it in the French press until the bag was gone.

Summary: Even though Intelligentsia sells this as an espresso blend, try it brewed as coffee – it really shines in a French press, as that method brings out a plethora of flavors that I think espresso shots do not. When pulled as espresso, this blend is like a sour cherry/berry pie with brown sugar. Bright flavors with some lovely sweetness on the finish.

From the roaster: raspberry, tangerine, brown sugar

Intelligentsia Coffee Honey Badger Espresso

Review conducted 14 days post-roast.

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