Upon recommendation by a friend I ordered a couple bags of Intelligentsia coffee. I couldn’t order it direct because they only ship UPS now and, uh, shipping for a single bag was $55…! (They had a USPS option that seemed to work, too, but even that was $12.) Anyhow, a few selections were available on Amazon so I ordered two, 12 oz. bags (to get their free shipping) of the House Blend ($27 total).
For the past decade or so, I’ve almost exclusively used Peet’s. I’ve personally found this brand the best of the widely available brands. Even so I have to get it shipped since the groceries here don’t carry Peet’s. The cost is usually around $35 (with shipping) for two 1 lb. bags.
From a cost perspective then, the two brands are comparable at around $1.10/oz.
I had a taste test this morning. I ground up a cup’s worth of each, placed them into a cup, and boiled some water in a pot.
The Intelligentsia House Blend (IHB) looks like a medium-light roast. The Peet’s Café Domingo (PCD) is a medium roast.
I found that the IHB has a much more lively, fruity and floral aroma with hints of nuts and chocolate. The PCD just couldn’t compare in this regard. There just wasn’t much there beyond the “coffee” aroma.
I added a bit of water to the grounds to let them “bloom.” The IHB continued to develop its aromas. The PCD remained flat in comparison.
I poured in more hot water to continue the brewing and then gave each a taste. The IHB had a more lively taste to it. The PCD was darker and more mellow. I ran each through a filter into a mug to continue sampling. The IHB definitely is a lighter, more lively coffee with a definite acidity to it. The PCD is smooth and mellow with virtually no acidity.
My verdict is that they are both very good in their own ways. They are so different it is difficult for me to say which one is better. I’m not a huge fan of coffees with acidity so in this regard the Peet’s wins out. But I do like the more complex aromas and flavors that the IHB offers. For me the contest ended up more or less a draw.