Brandon of Ritual Roasters met my family and I when we’re in San Francisco on one bright and early June morning. All in the name of great coffee.
I know a number of you might be screaming at your screens, essentially at me, “Why didn’t you visit [insert well known San Francisco coffee cafe and roaster]?” One main reason: We have it in New York City. Three locations. My purpose to visit, dine and/or drink at certain places when I travel is because I can’t find them at home and it has to be good.
Back to Ritual’s coffee… Brandon and my family met at their Proxy location in Hayes Valley. It’s a small, outdoor kiosk-like space that is straight forward and simple. The baristas would take your order and make your fine coffee beverage of choice. You may enjoy it on the go, or linger a few feet away by standing or grabbing one of those few stainless steel round tables with chairs.
Since my family’s coffee preferences are vary from mine, we had a relatively wide range of espresso based drinks. My mom was enamored with their cafe latte. Rich, syrupy espresso shot cascading down the iced, cold, creamy whole milk. My brother wanted something barely on the sweet end and had the beautifully balanced mocha. My dad can’t handle espresso straight like I can so he opted for a still-potent but wonderful macchiato. I had the wonderful El Salvador espresso shot. It’s fragrant, complex and lively. A great way to start my morning.
Eventually, Brandon met us at Ritual’s roastery about a mile away. A large warehouse space that’s almost easy to miss if we didn’t have the actual address.
Ritual sells their beans to us consumers based on seasons. For example, when we visited SF it’s considered late spring/early summer so they’ve released beans that tend to have a lighter, brighter coffee blends than what you’d encounter during the winter that might taste spicier and richer flavor profiles.
They source the majority of their beans from the Central and South American regions because the small coffee farmers they find were willing to keep their quality consistent. This roastery support these small, independent farms by providing some funds to assist and hope they’ll keep growing great beans.
Occasionally, there would be a few African origin beans but it’s far and in between because of the lack of consistency and the problems with bureaucracy on that particular part of the continent. What I’ve learned that even though they may purchase several hundred pounds of green Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans, they tend to be mixed from various farms of the region – and this does not make good coffee.
The video clip above shows you a snippet of the roasting process (technically, cooling shown here). There’s a few computers that graph and gauge how the coffee is roasting and reacting to the roaster’s temperatures.
Even though there’s a science behind growing and roasting beans with the vintage Probat roasters but the only way to really know if each blend and/or roast of beans are good (or great) is only by tasting. Many stories were told about Brandon’s colleagues getting really high on the caffeine that after a number of cupping sessions (e.g. resulting with eyes very wide open).
I was craving for another caffeine kick so Brandon was gracious to make an espresso shot of their seasonal 9 Darling Road beans they had for testing. It’s indeed light yet complex. There was a floral aroma with a background of pleasant smokiness. When sipped, it’s dark with midtones of sweet fruit and has a hint of tart apple finish.
At the end of our tour of this really cool roastery, we received bags of their amazing (and surprisingly sweet tasting) Los Crestones: La Cima Costa Rican coffee, especially when brewed with a Chemex. Those bags of coffee pulled me through my hectic week back in NYC.
Also, I found out that the awesome cafe Sweetleaf, who’s originally based in Long Island City, NY and recently expanded to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, utilizes and serves Ritual’s beans! Now, I have another reason (of a lot) to visit Brooklyn…or even LIC.
If you do ever visit San Francisco and you do care and appreciate your cup of coffee, Ritual is one of the several coffee places you should make time to visit.
To view more of my photos of this visit, please scroll through the slideshow below (or click through my Flickr set):
Cafe location visited:
432b Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94102
District: Hayes Valley
Telephone: (415) 865-0989