INTELLIGENTSIA - Free shipping on all US Consumer orders over $40

Coffee from the Great Lakes for the Great Lakes. This blend of vibrant coffees reflects the best of Africa's Great Lakes region and appeals to the midwestern sensibilities of the Great Lakes region of the United States where Intelligentsia was born: steady, approachable, and full of depth.
  • SKU Great Lakes Blend
  • Country Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi
  • Region within Country Kayanza, Burundi | Nyeri, Kenya | Southern Province, Rwanda
  • Farm Greenco, Bufcoffee, Thiriku Farmer Cooperative Society
  • Buyer Geoff Watts
  • Cultivar Bourbon, SL-28, SL-34, Riuru 11
  • In Season No
  • Direct Trade Yes
  • Single Origin No
  • USDA organic No
Direct Trade 1
AppleStone FruitDark Sugars

Great Lakes Blend

Great Lakes

There are some wonders of nature that are so powerful in their majesty and grand in their scope they transcend time, cultures and borders. The Great Lakes of the world have captured humankind’s attention throughout history and never fail to make an impression when encounter them; we cannot help but be inspired by their profundity and calmed by their presence. They connect countries and peoples, serving as a shared source of freshwater and food as well as a medium for both transit and exchange.

Chicago is blessed to exist alongside one of them, the stunning Lake Michigan, fifth-largest in the world by area and fourth-largest by volume. Across the Atlantic in Africa, many of our Direct Trade partners live and work and grow coffee in the Rift Valley, home more than a dozen lakes, including the three largest on the continent: Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Malawi. The African Great Lakes are vital to people living in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda.

We have created a blend that celebrates the shared connection and the ability of lakes to cut across national borders. Great Lakes is our homage to one of the most important natural resources we have in common, and in recognition of the role of these massive bodies of water in sustaining life, agriculture, and coffee — both the seed and the cup.

What’s in a Blend?

We’ve been blending coffees for nearly 25 years, for various purposes. The art of blend-making is often lost in the conversations about the utility of blends or their pragmatic nature. Most of the time, blends are means of creating consistency in a medium that is inherently inconsistent.

We celebrate single-origin coffees for their uniqueness and idiosyncrasies, and seemingly endless dynamic range. They are the purest expression of nature’s work, and no two harvests are identical despite the best efforts of farmers to control the many variables that affect the quality of their crop. Single-origin coffees are also the most direct communication between a farmer and coffee drinker, a sensory experience that helps to give us a taste of place. That’s why we generally reserve our very best coffees from each harvest to release as single-origin offerings bearing the individual farmer’s name, as ambassadors that showcase the craftsmanship behind the coffee and represent the top quality that each farmer was able to produce that harvest season. But that can often be less than 10 percent of a grower’s harvest — the veritable cream of the crop.

The second tier of quality — those coffees that score over 85 points and constitute the majority of a talented farmer’s output — are what we use as ingredients to create most of our blends. Every blend we make has a purpose, whether it is tailored for use as an espresso like our Black Cat or designed to be a universally pleasing, steadfast, and balanced coffee for everyday use at a restaurant like our House Blend.

The Great Lakes blend is cut from a different cloth. Much like our seasonal blends, which are built anew every two months using the freshest and highest-scoring coffees in our inventory, the Great Lakes is meant to stand toe-to-toe with the best of our single-origin offerings and serve as a bridge between the realm of blends and the top-shelf lots that make it into our single-origin bags. We realized recently that many of our customers don’t get to experience the thrills of our most compelling East African coffees, either because they are deterred by the price points of those top-shelf coffees, or just prefer to drink blends because they learn to love a particular profile and find comfort in the familiarity. Whichever the case, the Great Lakes blend is an answer.

Great Lakes was designed to capture the exciting and highly refreshing flavors of East African coffees and present them in full, high-definition clarity. It is tuned to deliver maximum, high-fidelity pleasure throughout the year. It is built around Kenyan SL-28 coffees — arguably the most intensely flavorful and exhilarating coffees we sell — and complemented with coffees from Rwanda and Burundi. It is the most vibrant blend on our menu, and among the most beautiful. Curated throughout the year to maintain its character, the Great Lakes is your gateway to East Africa rendered with steadfast balance that reflects our midwestern sensibility. Like the Great Lakes themselves, it is at once energizing, breathtaking and endlessly comforting.

Espresso

Espresso

All home and commercial espresso machines.

Turkish Grind

Turkish Grind

If you need a little bit coarser grind for your espresso machine or utilize this favorite preparation in eastern Europe.

Stovetop Espresso

Stovetop Espresso

Moka pots and stovetop espresso kettles need a very fine grind.

Cone Filter - Paper

Cone Filter - Paper

Most automatic and electric brewers utilize this grind setting.

Cone Filter - Gold

Cone Filter - Gold

Automatic brewers with reusable mesh filters, or a Kone manual brewing insert.

Universal

Universal

If you're buying for a friend, or are just not sure - this is a good grind for most drip brewers.

Technivorm

Technivorm

We found this excellent automatic brewer needed a bit coarser grind than other cone filter brewers.

Vacuum Brewer

Vacuum Brewer

For those with an electric or flame-heated vacuum brewer.

Flat Bottom - Paper

Flat Bottom - Paper

Any basket-style brewer, including automatic and Kalita wave manual brewing.

Flat Bottom - Gold

Flat Bottom - Gold

For automatic brewers with basket-style reusable filters.

French Press

Hario Dripper

Manual pourover cone brewing is a simple, no frills way of brewing.

Grind Type

French Press

A classic of immersion brewing. Select this grind for perfect classical preparation.

Chemex

Chemex

The iconic Chemex, this grind provides a perfectly paired offering for the special filters made for this brewer.

Percolator

Percolator

Our coarsest grind, this also provides a good pre-ground solution for cold brew at home.

Whole Bean

Whole Bean

For those with a grinder at home, we love freshly ground coffee! We prefer burr grinders for a more even brew.