Monday, April 02, 2007
CC: Ritual Coffee Roasters
What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Ritual Coffee Roasters
Location visited: San Francisco, CA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]
Coming from a frigid, Montanan climate to the Bay area must be one of the loveliest feelings I've felt this year. A wonderous transformation of landscape unfolds as you hit Reno, cross the mountains, hit California, and keep driving until you see ocean. Though cliche', it's beautiful.
One of the many things I wanted to catch while in SF was Ritual Coffee Roasters, a renowned roaster and espresso hub in the Nor Cal area (though they're not alone in the top half of Cali...). As random blessings come, I was navigating a large entourage of friends up the hill-acious streets when I recognized the street as the home of Ritual (I had done some major recon on coffee locations before we hit the city). Needless to say, we turned left and found it but three blocks down. After pulling to the side into a (temporary) spot, several cohorts and I jumped out of our van to check out the place.
The shop exterior didn't really stand out from a distance, but the interior caught my eye with crisp set up and a plethora of people. I was amazed at the expectant patrons in a line nearly out the door as well as the many more already served, packed out in the ample seating.
To accommodate the masses, Ritual had about eight (or more) staff behind the counter taking drink orders, whipping out shots of espresso, etc. Their efficiency and yet personable attitudes really impressed me (even when I asked a really random, not-a-one-word-answer question, they gave me a nice smile and good answer).
Though their name would denote they roast their own, apparently (according to their website), they use Stumptown out of Portland. This raises two questions on my end:
1. Why would you call yourself a roaster if you don't roast?
2. What does Gretta (bottom of the page) do?
Maybe this is just a case of poor website communication and/or failure to update?
Regardless of who roasts the coffee, it's excellent. They don't do drip coffee, only french press service (brew it in the press, then store it in a pump pot) and the brew hit the spot with a real nice finish (I think it was a Papua New Guinea that day). The espresso also hit the spot beautifully; a full, chocolatey-tangy shot. In my rush, I failed to note the tea.
Needless to say, if you inhabit or visit SF, you must stop by Ritual to get a good cup of joe or great shot of espresso. My only warning is that if you can avoid driving a 15-passenger van, it would be wise to do so.
Turns out they do roast all of their beans, and that they don't serve Stumptown anymore. So sayeth this Coffeegeek post. They just need to update their site a whole lot more often...