Thursday 18 December 2008

Intelligentsia Coffee

I've been back from the States for a couple of weeks now, but just haven't managed to get around to blogging a bit more. However, amidst the silence, there has been one thought that has been running through my head this whole time: the cup of coffee I had at Intelligentsia.

I don't think it would be a stretch to say that the latte I had at this Chicago based coffeehouse was the best cup of coffee I have ever had. Now I'm no coffee connoisseur, but I do know the difference between bad, mediocre and good. This particular cup was excellent.

Why was it so good? I'm not sure. Like I said, I'm not a connoisseur. However, it was so smooth, a great micro-foam, wonderful aroma, a full taste and not a hint of bitterness. The last sip at the end of the cup was just as good as the first.

I'd heared about Intelligentsia some time ago on a podcast at Coffee Geek, but had forgotten about it. Then, while in America I came across it again on an AOL poll of the best coffee in the USA - it was ranked second. I was interested to see that they had three cafes in Chicago (and one in LA) especially as we were going to be spending a couple of days in the windy city. And then I discovered it was just five blocks from our hotel!!!

We were staying in Chicago for two nights which meant that, once the kids were in bed, one of us would explore on one night and the other the next. My research told me that Intelligentsia where open until 10pm. I took the first night and made my way from the corner of Diversey and Clark, up Broadway to the coffeehouse. Eventually I found the location...only to discover that they had closed early for staff training!!! I could see them through the window, sitting around a table laughing and drinking America's second best coffee. I managed to catch the eye of one employee and quickly seized upon the opportunity to mime flying a plane then pointing at myself then pointing at her, but it was to no avail. (Now that I think about it, I wonder what she thought I was trying to say?)

Anyway, my wonderful wife, faithful and generous partner that she is, came back early the next night so I could try getting that coffee that I wanted without flaying my arms around in the process.

I brought home a couple of bags of their coffee which I'm trying to make last until Christmas morning, but I'm getting through the beans pretty quickly. There in lies the only downside to the experience. Intelligentsia only send their coffee beans (sold within 24 hours of roasting) across the USA and Canada. However, a bar has been set for standards in coffee. I suspect it will be sometime until I meet that standard again.


Judith said...

I am so pleased to hear that you had a wonderful holiday. Your dad, Val & Edward popped in yesterday morning. Edward was off to THQ and Peter & Val were on route to Kerry & Nick. Lovely to see albeit briefly.

What are your plans for Christmas?

Phiasmir said...

Haha, hopefully she didn't think you were going to fly a plane into her or something, that wouldn't go down too well! The headlines: "Crazed Irishman threatens cafe worker with plane over cup of coffee"

JmC said...

Wow! Thanks for the kind words and your persistence! I work on the wholesale side for Intelligentsia but I'll forward this along to our staff. Cheers!

Cosmo said...


I was more worried that she might have thought I was suggesting we run away together and fly off to some faraway land.


Double wow! Someone from Intelligentsia stumbling across my humble blog.

PLEASE COME TO IRELAND!!!! (Or at least ship to there).

Anonymous said...

I may have seen you flying your airplane. I am the manager of the store and am so very pleased that you enjoyed our coffee so much! Thank you for telling everyone of our great product! Please come back again!

RJ said...

So glad you are home, brother man. Merry Christmas and blessings always

Miz Melly said...

Cosmo, I'm not a coffee expert but I love cafe atmosphere and I've two cafes that one day I hope you have the good fortune to visit. One is Cafe Gratitude ( in San Francisco and the other is The Abbey which is a coffee house run by Vintage Faith church in Santa Cruz.
Hope we can meet up for coffee in Joy of Coffee when I get back from the US in Jan. Happy Christmas!
Miz Melly

Cosmo said...


We're staying in Dublin for Christmas. I hope to get over to my folks in the new year.

Anon (Manager),

Thanks for your note - that's so cool. You can guarantee that next time I'm in Chicago I'll be coming your way!


Thanks, man. Happy Christmas to you!

Miz Melly,

Cafe Gratitude looks like a good cafe for body and soul - your kind of place.

Give me a shout when you are back in Dublin. I'd like an excuse to go to Joy of Coffee again.

Dana said...

Cool comments.

I've never heard of Intelligentsia. But I've not got past worshiping at St. Arbuck's...must get out more and visit the other "denominations". :)

Cosmo said...

Hi Dana,

I'm afraid the nearest Intelligentsia cafe to you would be in LA - but you're still closer than Dublin!

Their coffee is far better than *bux. In fact, in the poll I mentioned *bux didn't get a look in, but 7-Eleven did! Maybe you should give them a try? Let me know.

Dana said...

I'm afraid 7-11 has closed it's doors here in Texas. Too many other Stop 'n Robs (as we call them).

I did notice the absence of Starbuck's...very interesting. Then again, I've had several people voice their dislike of the establishment. From too expensive to burnt beans.

As I said, I need to expand my coffee horizons. :) Hope you and your family have a very merry, Christ filled Christmas!

Ali said...

have a great Christmas Cosmo. you're home will be busy tomorrow morning! Hope you get time for a quick, or even better slooooowww coffee!

Miz Melly said...

happy Christmas to you and yours Cosmo. Look forward to a coffee catch up in 2009.
Miz M

Judith said...

Thanks for popping by Marcus - wishing you, Jane and children a Happy Christmas - lots of love, Nigel, Judy & Karl xx

Dana said...

A very merry Christmas to you and your family as well Cosmo!

Wallace said...

Nollaig Shona Daoibh!!

hope that you and your family have a very merry Christmas!

RJ said...

Blessings, always, Cosmo and merry, merry Christmas.

Wallace said...

Thanks for the note! It is great to be back at home in Eire!

Just wanted to comment on the picture of you "cosmo" coffee on the blog... I love it! Really works well for the title!


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