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We Asked Chicago’s Most Exacting Coffee Expert to Do a Blind Taste Test

His tasting notes would put the snootiest sommelier to shame.

While profiling roasting maestro Chris Chacko in the June issue of Chicago, we learned just how precise his taste buds can be—even detecting a 10-second-long roasting temperature variation just by drinking the final product.

So we asked this expert to do a blind tasting of seven store-bought coffees and rate them using the Specialty Coffee Association’s 100-point scoring system. The association deems anything above a 70 “very good” and above an 80 “excellent.” In his own coffee, Chacko won’t use any beans that get less than an 80.

Intelligentsia House Blend

Intelligentsia House Blend

$14 for 12 oz.
Score: 86

“A winy, beautiful coffee. I’m not keen on the aftertaste, but it’s wonderfully balanced.”

Starbucks Pike Place Roast

Starbucks Pike Place Roast

$13 for 16 oz.
Score: 82.25

“This is definitely a dark roast, but as dark roasts go, it’s OK. It hasn’t been totally carbonized. It might make a good espresso.”

 

Dark Matter A Love Supreme

Dark Matter A Love Supreme

$15 for 12 oz.
Score: 82

“The flavor is under-developed, but it’s well balanced.

 

Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend

Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend

$7 for 12 oz.
Score: 80.5

“There’s a nice light green note, but this roast is underdeveloped, too. These must be the oldest beans in the bunch.”

 

Allegro Organic Whole Foods Blend

Allegro Organic Whole Foods Blend

$12 for 12 oz.
Score: 79.25

“All you taste is darkness. There’s some lactic acid for a pleasant mouthfeel, but the aftertaste is not pleasant.”

 

Trader Joe’s Joe Blend

Trader Joe’s Joe Blend

$5 for 14 oz.
Score: 70

“There’s a subtle blueberry note here—you can tell these beans are Ethiopian. Unfortunately, they’re old, and the roaster they’re using is too full.”

La Colombe Corsica

La Colombe Corsica

$12 for 12 oz.
Score: 67

“It’s extremely old, and it’s carbonized. That’s all you can taste.”

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