Black Cat Project: Friday Morning Espresso Tasting

Get a glimpse into how Chris Kornman, a member of our roasting and QC team, ensures Black Cat quality every Friday.


When I started working for Intelligentsia nearly seven years ago as a barista in Chicago, one of the most exciting parts of my job involved working on a daily basis with espresso. Since then, Black Cat has undergone a number of changes, but it remains one of our most popular coffees and a staple in the grinders of cafes across the country. These days, I have fewer opportunities to serve drinks to customers in a coffee shop; I'm busy roasting, tasting, and blending at our Fulton Street Roasting Works, and buying coffee from Brazil and East Africa. Our partnerships in Brazil this year have flourished, and I'm very excited about the high quality of the coffees we've been able to secure for our espresso this year. Whether it's our longstanding relationship in Carmo de Minas or a fledgling project in the under-explored regions of Bahia, we've been able to find remarkable people growing and processing coffee of exceptional quality with unique possibilities and flavors. One of the most exiting parts of my daily routine still involves tasting espresso as the lead quality control agent for the Black Cat Project. On any given Friday morning, you can find a gathering of roasters, baristas, sales and customer service representatives, and other Intelligentsia employees slurping and conversing about our espresso inside our training lab upstairs in the warehouse. These weekly tastings have become a catalyst for open dialogue in a relaxed environment, bringing together those who make coffee every day for customers, those who roast it, and those who just like to drink it. This meeting of the minds has provided a conduit, not just for quality control, but for the kinds of experimentation that are a necessity in our continual pursuit of espresso perfection and allow us to explore new possibilities - from our rotating lineup of seasonal espressos, reserve single origin roasts, or changes to Black Cat Classic to keep it fresh, engaging, and most of all delicious.

Download a PDF version of Chris' story.