We were very lucky to get a sneak peek at Intelligentsia’s latest Black Cat limited blend with an animal moniker: Fruit Bat Espresso. Like previous Black Cat limited Blends, the choice of animal has had a lot to do with the cup characteristics: Honey Badger realized a thick, honeyed espresso, and Sugar Glider delivered a sucrose sweet demi of marsupial goodness. The fruit bat, the animal, is frugivorous or nectarivorous: they feed only on fruits and nectar. Fruit Bat, the espresso, promises to provide its drinker with a distinctly fruit-forward experience, and boy does it deliver.

Here’s what Intelligentsia has to say about it:

Rotund in dimension, accented with tropical fruit flavors and an effervescent brightness. The nose is strongly floral, evocative of hibiscus blossoms and lavender. Intertwined in a silken and buttery presence on the palate are residues of mango nectar, dried pineapple, and candied ginger and punctuated by acidity reminiscent of lemon-lime bitters and fresh green apple.

We followed their initial brewing recommendation for the first course: 19-20g, 200F, 6-8 seconds pre-infusion, 24-26 seconds total brew time, 30g brewed weight. We applied the necessary machinations with a La Marzocco Shot Brewer and a Versalab grinder.

The first shots at 20g were assertive and effervescent. A whiff of gardenia rushed to the nose when the crema was stirred. The fruit was there, but in an ephemeral, Champagney way that floated above the sumptuous, silky foundation.

Still at 20g but drawing the extraction out by a few seconds, we felt the fruit really shined: lip-smacking, jammy mango, hot pineapple juice. The acidity was not bracing, but resonant, Caps lock JUICY. The floral qualities were less pronounced but better as the backup singers to the fruit’s epic lead. We cleansed the palate with some soda water: there was the ginger they were talking about.

Wanting to explore the extraction space a little bit, we dropped the dose to 19g and fined up the grind to bring us to about 26g brewed weight in 27 seconds. This extraction pulled the fruit into the fold, tightly integrating it with its pillowy parfait texture. We felt at this extraction, 7 days out of roast, would sit pretty in milk, so we tried it as both macchiato and cappuccino.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE. Seriously. This is good. Fruit bat has quite a presence in milk but meshes nicely with the sweetness of whole milk.

Fruit Bat is a great espresso to really play around with: it tastes great across a range of extractions, coaxing a different bouquet of aromatic fruits at each pass. The fruit is assertive, but never cloying, and it tastes great in milk. This is what the Black Cat project is all about: finding a theme and really nailing it.