I Tasted Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend Beans

by Nigel Ong

Let’s just say I actually quite look forward to writing this particular review. I have been seeing Intelligentsia coffee being raved online by drinkers, and it made me wonder if the coffee is as good as everyone seems to claim. 

Let’s start with the house blend – the most symbolic roasts of a coffee roastery. 

I will brew and sample the Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend in this review. I will also compare it with other relevant coffee in my collection before deciding if you should try this coffee.

About Intelligentsia House Blend

Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters was founded in 1995 by Doug Zell and Emily Mange in Chicago. To gourmet drinkers, Intelligentsia is seen as a pioneering specialty coffee company known for its influential role in the third-wave coffee movement. 

The third-wave coffee movement basically emphasizes: 

  • high-quality coffee production, 
  • direct sourcing from farmers and 
  • artisanal brewing methods.

The idea is to produce excellent coffee while improving the livelihoods of coffee producers at the same time. 

Intelligentsia stands out for its commitment to direct trade. They work closely with coffee growers to develop sustainable practices and pay above-fair trade prices for beans, ensuring quality and ethical sourcing. 

Intelligentsia offers single-origin coffees, unique blends, and limited edition releases, catering to a broad spectrum of coffee lovers. They also operate several coffee bars across the United States.

Their House Blend blends Latin American coffees that are 100% Arabic. You can get the House Blend as whole bean, ground, or in various coffee pods, such as K-cups.

First Impression

I picked up my bag of Intelligentsia House Blend from Amazon and several other coffee roasts. Mine arrived as ground coffee in a 12 oz bag. That’s 340gm for you metric folks. 

One thing about Intelligentsia coffee’s packaging is the color – you can’t miss the bright orange-like red packaging and the wing design. I don’t think you will miss it on shelves or aisles. 

The coffee’s packaging is also on point, covering all the expected essentials. There’s a foldable tab to help keep your beans fresh and a one-way valve that prevents oxygen from entering the packaging and ruining the beans.

The coffee is also dated – I can see a ‘Roasted On’ date and a ‘Best By’ date. This should help you get the freshest coffee possible for the best taste.

The aroma came rather gently when I first popped open the bag. After the coffee aroma, I picked up some chocolate and citrusy-like acidity. There’s also a bit of sweetness in the coffee too.

From the aroma, I believe this should be a comfortable, fun coffee with pleasant notes. But let’s see how it performs in cupping.

My coffee comes as grounds, meaning I cannot check out the beans or how dark the roasts are. We will have to leave this to brewing later.

Reviews on Amazon show that drinkers enjoy the great, light flavor of the coffee. Some also indicated that the coffee is easy on their sensitive stomach. Disagreements sort of come from the value side – some think the coffee is more expensive than it should be.

How Does Intelligentsia House Blend Taste?

Moving on to the brewing tests, I plan to brew Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend in three ways:

French Press: This technique should yield dense, robust coffee with floating particles. This should offer a more comprehensive taste experience. I anticipate a bold and full-bodied flavor.

Pour Over with Filter Paper: This method should produce a ‘cleaner’ coffee devoid of excess oils and particles. This should allow the more delicate flavors to shine through.

Espresso: Although typically associated with darker roasts, I find espresso exceptionally effective in intensifying flavors. This should help me to discern the coffee’s intricate flavor notes.

French Press

I turned to my usual Bodum Caffettiera when brewing my French press coffee. I also retained my usual coffee-to-water ratio of 1:12, mixing 15 grams of coffee in 180ml of hot water, heated to about 185°F (85°C). 

After stirring the coffee grounds, I allowed 4 minutes of brewing time before pouring.

The resulting coffee looks brownish, less dark than usual. There is also a touch of clarity in the color. The aroma was inviting, resembling chocolate and a bit of sugar cane sweetness.

The flavor of the coffee is about the same as the aroma. It offered a gentle and silky feel on the tongue, more like a soft caress than a smash like some darker medium roasts. 

As I continue to sip the coffee, I can slowly pick up some sweet and fruity notes. The sweet notes can be best described as sugary and chocolatey. I can also pick up some citrus notes, probably lemon. 

These gentle, fun flavors make the coffee enjoyable to nurse and sip on slowly.

The finish was satisfying, with a lingering sweet aftertaste that went away faster than expected. I also seem to pick up some apple flavor at this point.

Pour Over With Filter Paper

For my pour-over coffee, I used my regular setup:

I adopted the pour-over brewing technique from Starbucks, using 20 grams of ground coffee and gradually introducing 360ml of water into it. That’s a 1:12 ratio.

This method produces a lighter, cleaner coffee. The flavor profile is subtly less intense, too. This is probably because of fewer coffee particles present in the coffee. 

The filter paper has done well, keeping finer coffee particles from entering the cup. The coffee now gets to showcase its flavor even better here. 

On my first few sips, I can pick up a stronger dose of fruity notes here, allowing me to appreciate the coffee better. The citrus and apple notes are also stronger here.

The chocolate taste goes down slightly, but I may be nitpicking here – this may not be noticeable to many.

Pour-over brewing is ideal for coffee with a lighter, cleaner profile. This brewing method will work if you want to sample Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend in its most floral, fruity form. 

Personally, I find myself liking the richness of the French press method more.


Using my Wacaco Minipresso GR, I pulled a shot from the coffee. The result was a wonderfully aromatic cup of espresso topped with a rich, velvety crema. 

The crema was lighter, likely due to the medium roast and the beans’ lighter color. On the looks alone, this espresso could easily hold its own against what you’d get from a professional barista at a coffee shop.

The aroma is not smoky but mild and smells sweet and fruity. The espresso itself was light and had a slight sourness to it, especially at the crema layer. The sourness is the pleasant kind – citrusy, I would say.

This is one light and nice espresso to be sipped slowly or turned into nice cups of latte or cappuccino. You will not like this if you expect it to taste like a traditional, strong espresso.

Intelligentsia House Blend vs Medium Roasts

Since the Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend is a medium roast, comparing it with other popular medium blends makes sense. 

I pulled out these medium roast blends, made coffee with them, and sipped them one after the other with the Intelligentsia House Blend

From sipping these coffees, I think the Intelligentsia House Blend is a lighter medium roast – it has that fruity note associated with lighter roasts without too much smoke. 

This became evident when I sampled other more ‘proper’ medium roasts. It lacks body and a bit of smoke that makes coffee nice to enjoy, at least to my palate. 

However, the flavor notes in the Intelligentsia House Blend are nice – other medium roasts here have a very ‘regular’ coffee taste with some flavor notes.

Suppose I have to nitpick and force myself to rank this coffee. In that case, I will pick the Dunkin Original Blend as the most satisfactory and enjoyable to sip, with the Gevalia second. Intelligentsia’s coffee, well, let’s place it third.

Should You Try Intelligentsia House Blend?

The Intelligentsia Coffee House Blend is an easy-sipping, comfortable coffee designed to be sipped slowly and savored. 

The coffee is light and has no strong flavors but fun, enjoyable notes such as fruits and chocolate. This is a decent roast for those looking to try out specialty coffee.

I can see this blend as a great sip for lazy weekends when I just want a soft cup. I would not treat this roast as a daily go-to or a wake-up. The flavor is too soft to jolt me up.

I would not pair it with food, bar some lightly flavored biscuits or bread. The coffee is good enough that I just want to enjoy it.

This coffee can also introduce people to drinking coffee, as its soft flavors would be less intimidating to new drinkers. See this as the Moscato wine but for coffee instead. 

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