Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso is elegant in it's simplicity : Ground Intelligentsia espresso beans steeped in milk and cream. "To make Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream, we steep roasted and ground Black Cat Espresso beans in grass-grazed Ohio milk. The beans—Intelligentsia’s signature (and most popular) roast—have a rich, complex aroma that super-charges our ice cream with a scent that unfolds slowly." "Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream is the product of our first full-fledged collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee. Based in Chicago, Intelligentsia has been at it since 1995, and we’re proud to team up with this band of like-minded men and women united in bringing to the world the finest coffee there is."
I thought this flavor would need complementary flavors and textures. Coffee is a flavor that's really fun to dress up, and plays so well with others. Toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, the list goes on and on, right? And Jeni's is generally ok with that. Jeni's social media presence touts a sundae featured at their scoop shops : The Calico Cat: Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, Salty Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Blackout Gravel, and whipped cream. They regularly encourage "cross-pollination" of their flavors, even showing a few suggestions in the form of a "pairs well with http://jenis.com/flavors/ice-creams/intelligentsia-black-cat-espresso/#pairs-well-with" for each of their flavors.
I couldn't resist pairing this with chocolate and caramel in the form of Copper Kettle Caramel by 2nd St. Creamery (another Grade A flavor in it's own right).My mental accounting was way off here. I made the mistake of believing this simple flavor would be lacking in terms of texture and flavor. Immediately upon my first taste I knew I'd miscalculated. Fortunately all that was at stake here was room in my dish, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't lamenting my mistake, pining for more Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.
Their engineering must involve constant tweaking and revising to get it so right. This combination of nonfat milk, cream, vanilla and espresso melts on your tongue, delivering a strong, balanced, sweet-tasting espresso without a hint of an acrid quality. The smell, the easy scooping and tempering, the perfect melt, the well balanced taste all add up to a top shelf experience. If I were one of the folks at Intelligentsia this is exactly how I'd want my high quality espresso expressed in ice cream form.
Where Elliot Found It: Straub's Market
Elliot's Grade: A