Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Intellegentsia’s Decaf House Roast Review

Roaster: Intelligentsia
Roast: Medium / Medium-Light
Origin: Blend
Decaffeination Method: Swiss Water Process
Taste: Milk Chocolate, Grapefruit, Blueberry

The Roaster

Intelligentsia Coffee is one of the biggest names in recent coffee history. Since their founding in 1995, the Chicago roaster has been one the major success stories of third wave coffee. They first expanded outside of Chicago in 2007, beginning with cafes in LA and eventually branching out to the East Coast. 

In 2015, JAB Holding – the company that owns Peet’s – purchased a majority stake in the company. Since then, however, founders Doug Zell and Emily Mange have remained in leadership positions with the company. Today, Intelligentsia does their roasting on two 90-kilo, German cast-iron roasters that date to the 1950s.

Intelligentsia also made headlines in 2022 when workers at several of their Chicago cafe locations voted to unionize and joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Later that year, the union ratified a contract with management, the first contract that the IBEW had ever negotiated with a coffeeshop. 

All that said (and we salute the workers at Intelligentsia winning better working conditions through collective bargaining) we are here to address one thing only, and that’s Intellegencia’s decaf. 

The Roast

I sampled Intellegentsia’s Decaf House Roast. If you’ve ever had decaf at an Intelligentsia cafe (or “coffeebar” as the company refers to them) this is the coffee you had. Intelligentsia’s caffeinated House Roast is a fantastic coffee, so I had high hopes for a decaf itineration.

The coffee is a medium roast that is Swiss Water decaffeinated. Intelligentsia offers an exemplary amount of information on their beans too. In addition to the recent roast date on the package, their website includes when the coffee was harvested, how it was dried, and more. The coffee’s aroma came across as light and sweet, with plenty of milk chocolate mixing with brighter berry tones. It definitely made me lean forward, and it boded well for the cup’s taste.


Tasting Notes

Like the caffeinated House Blend, this is a very light and fruity coffee. Although Intelligentsia lists it as a medium roast, it tasted much closer to a medium-light or even light roast to me. The caffeinated House Blend also makes a delicious cup of coffee, and the Decaf House Blend did just the same. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a decaf-skeptic who likes Intelligentsia could be converted by these beans.

The coffee was complex, with lots of bright notes harmonizing together. There was a strong base of milk chocolate, but there was also complex citrus (grapefruit especially) and juicy berry layers as well. That much sweet at once may sound out of balance, but everything was dialed in beautifully. I made my coffee as a pourover, using a gooseneck kettle set to 201. I found these beans were especially well suited to a pourover.

The coffee’s brightness was also quite welcome in a decaf. I love the Swiss Water Process for many reasons, but it has a tendency to mute the acidity of coffees. This cup had its acidity intact, which was crucial in keeping its juicy tones in balance. I found myself returning to the thought that this was a very “full” cup of coffee. That is to say, it’s complex and it has body. And yet it never feels overbearing.

Final Thoughts

To put it simply, Intelligentsia’s Decaf House Roast is a top-line coffee. It offers sweet, fruity, and juicy tones in equal measure, yet it always tastes balanced. This is the kind of coffee I like to start my day with because it’s both bold and drinkable. All in all, I give these beans a hearty recommendation.

the Kick-ass Multipurpose WordPress Theme

© 2024 Kicker. All Rights Reserved.