Brewing with Brendan: In the Detail

This blog post is brought to us by our very own Brendan O’Brien. Look for Brendan every Thursday at Diesel from 12:30pm-2:30pm, and every Friday at Bloc 11 from 9am-11am then later at Forge from 12:30pm-2:30pm, where he will be serving up new and exciting coffee from Intelligentsia.

“Great coffee is not the result of chance.” These words can be found on every bag of Intelligentsia coffee. You can confidently pick up any coffee from Intelligentsia and know that years of tireless attention to detail went into putting that bag on the shelf. After a coffee tree seed is planted, it can take up to three to five years of meticulous cultivation before the coffee cherries start to produce. Once the cherries are ripe, the intricate preparation stages of harvesting, processing, and roasting begins. An enormous amount of effort goes into bringing high quality coffee to our cafes and homes, where it then becomes our responsibility to prepare and brew it as well as we can.

One of the exciting aspects of having a home brewing set (complete with a burr grinder, kettle, brewer and a scale), is that we have control over the variables that go into brewing coffee. We can experiment with the amount of coffee we use, the ratio of water to coffee grounds, the grind setting and even the rate in which we introduce the water. This allows us to make adjustments and hone in on what makes a better brew, because if we want to make a great cup of coffee, why leave it to chance?


Black Cat Classic Espresso: This incredible bag of coffee is always a crowd favorite during the weekly coffee tastings. What we taste in this coffee is a result of Intelligentsia’s selection of particular beans and their direct collaboration with farmers to produce a specific flavor profile. Their intention is to create a blend of coffee beans that, when brewed as espresso, makes a perfect, classic shot that has a syrupy smooth texture with a sweet and balanced taste. If you order an espresso beverage at any of our cafes, it will be made using these beans. While it clearly excels as espresso, it also makes an incredible dark roast coffee. For coffee drinkers who love a dark roast, but wish to avoid the over-roasted ashy taste that is characteristic of many, Black Cat Classic is the perfect choice.



Gaspard, Rwanda: Most coffee from Rwanda is the result of many farms delivering smaller crops to a single local washing station. Thus, some of the coffee Intelligentsia has recently received from Rwanda has been named after the washing station where they are processed, like Ruvumbu, Rwanda, named after the Ruvumbu washing station. Others were given their name by the folks at Intelligentsia such as Zirikana, Rwanda, named after the Kinyarwanda word “Zirikana” which means show your commitment. This Rwandan coffee, however, is one of the few named after the farmer of a single, larger estate. If you are looking for a light and comforting coffee, this is the one that I would recommend. It has a light body with mild acidity and a sweet buttery finish that becomes more pronounced as it cools.

Home Brew Tip of the Week: Invest in a quality burr grinder. We will happily grind your coffee for you here at Bloc! But coffee tastes fresher and sweeter when it’s ground immediately before brewing. It is important that the coffee grounds you are using are all a uniform size. A blade grinder will be a lot cheaper, but it will chop up the beans indiscriminately. You will end up with both large and small particle sizes, and a cup of coffee that is both under and over extracted. Yuck. With a burr grinder, you have the ability to adjust the distance between two abrasive, flat or conical shaped burrs. This means that you will have a consistent particle size in your coffee, and will be able to control how fine or coarse it will be.


A set of conical burrs

Happy Brewing!

One Comment On “Brewing with Brendan: In the Detail”

  1. So much more goes into the brewing process than you might think–so interesting!

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