Okay… I decided to give in. I’ve seen Blackout Coffee advertised by a couple YouTube creators I follow. And I’d been… wishy-washy about trying them out given my less-than-stellar experience with Black Rifle Coffee.
But I decided to give in. After looking at their site and seeing they have an espresso blend, I decided to try it.
Espresso machine: ECM Technika IV Profi with VST 18g basket
Grinder: Compak K-3 Touch
Accessories: 58mm 13mm-tall dosing funnel, WDT tool, 58mm Coffee Distributor
Blackout’s Pitch Black Espresso is… well… pitch black. “Dark” is a bit… light of a word to describe this.
It took a few tries to get this dialed in. Largely because it initially would not grind through. This was my fault, though, as the very oily bean seemed to bind onto latent grinds in my grinder. I should’ve run Grindz through before this, but had just run out with my last bag of coffee and neglected to pick up more. (For those in Kansas City, The Roasterie plant off 27th Street typically carries it for less than Amazon.) To get around that, I needed to open the grinder up wide after also dumping out what I attempted to grind.
Anyway… the final dial-in was about 16g with the grind being only slightly coarser than with Messenger’s Relay at 17g. Pulling shots, even while dialing in, I noted a very rich crema.
16g in, about 35g out on the shot. Milk is A&E Whole Milk. Steamed enough to make about a 16oz latte.
And… smoke… Wow, there’s a heavy taste of smoke and charcoal that penetrates the milk. I’m used to the flavor of the coffee being sweetened by the milk, tempered by it. The coffee flavor blending into the milk. But this charcoal flavor just punches right through.
And lingers on the tongue as well.
Experience through to the end
The smoke and charcoal flavor died off quite a bit during the run through the bag and was not nearly as pronounced toward the end. So it’s definitely most intense at the start of a bag. I typically extract the shot directly into a mug, and I noticed the crema creates a very pronounced concave meniscus. Something I’ve never seen before. (And somehow I remembered that term from my high school chemistry classes before verifying I had it right.)
I also had to back off the dose. I’m not sure what about my initial dial-in landed me on a 16g dose, but I had to back off to about 15.5g on the dose the next day. That proved to be the sweet spot, going for about 32g to 35g out. I did not need to adjust the grind or dose any further beyond that.
The resealable bag Blackout Coffee uses does not have a one-way valve for degassing, so I transferred the beans into an Airscape for storage. And during the time I worked through the beans, I did not notice the beans going stale. They stayed as fresh at the end as I’d normally expect, and was in line with my typical experience with Messenger’s Relay Espresso. Again the only “aging” I noticed was the smoke and charcoal flavors not being nearly as pronounced.
Overall, it was a pleasant experience with Blackout’s Pitch Black Espresso. The strong smoke and charcoal flavors are not for me. I definitely prefer medium roasts. But thankfully that wasn’t so overpowering it completely turned me off. Though it had no difficulty overpowering the flavor of the milk. I don’t think adding flavor syrups would’ve done much to temper that.
And when you have that strong of a charcoal or smoke flavor, you definitely need to be careful what flavors you pick to avoid creating something… unappetizing. But then if you’re buying this kind of a dark roast, you’re likely not doing any kind of adulteration to it anyway. Instead you’re buying it because you want that smoke and charcoal flavor.
How the coffee performed during the time I had it was most important. It took me about a week to get through the beans, and during that time they stayed as fresh as I’d expect being stored in an Airscape.
So overall if how I’ve described the flavor is something you typically go for, then give it a try. If you’re new to dark roasts, this will probably feel a bit extreme on the flavor spectrum, meaning you’ll either really like or it’ll send you straight back to the medium roasts.
Just make sure that you clean your grinder first before trying to put this through to avoid the issue I described above.