Ritual Coffee Roasters by Caleb Savage

Ritual Coffee Roasters was founded in San Francisco in 2005 by Eileen Hassi Rinaldi with the desire to bring the specialty coffee revolution to the Bay. Now with five cafes, Ritual continues to be a leader in the coffee community through its devotion to honest and fair sourcing, roasting, and brewing. Eileen Hassi recently sat down for an interview for Victionary’s BRANDLife: Cafes & Coffeehouses, an awesome book that is definitely worth the read. You can pick up a copy from our neighbors, Commonplace Books. All quotes below come from Eileen and the interview from that book.

Vision & Opening

For many coffee lovers, the first taste of specialty coffee is an eye-opening experience. Coffee drinkers notice a lighter cup that’s sweet, bright, and clean. Baristas have better tools and opportunities available to better extract the great flavors in coffee. More attention is given to where the coffee comes from and how the coffee is handled and cared for. While we can see a clear evolution in coffee development and quality, most already apply the same filters and care to the other areas of food and drink. “People paid attention to where their meat came from and who grew their vegetables. People cared about heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. Coffee simply wasn’t on the same level.” Enter Ritual.

Photo Courtesy of Ritual Roasters

Photo Courtesy of Ritual Roasters

“Drinking my first coffee is the only thing I do every day that feels...sacred. It is a special moment when you put the warm cup to your lips. Every day is full of opportunity, and having coffee will just make it better. It feels like a ritual to me. It conveys that coffee is something special and sacred. Not just a habit or a necessity.” This sacred moment is prepared and cared for in Ritual’s focus on creating an environment in their shops and workplace where people can thrive and coffee is given everything it needs to shine.

The People’s Coffee Roaster

Opening back in 2005 meant bringing a new way of thinking and talking about coffee that not a whole lot of people had exposure to.

Leslie, head roaster at Ritual (Photo courtesy of Ritual Roasters)

Leslie, head roaster at Ritual (Photo courtesy of Ritual Roasters)

“The first thing we did was to get them to drink the coffee. We had to gain people’s trust, which we did by giving them something delicious, that they’d never had before. Once they tasted it and wanted to talk about how they found it different, we were excited to have those conversations. We were enthusiastic, we were earnest, and above all, we were passionate about it.”

This is why we love Ritual. Anyone who loves connecting the dots between a love for people, whether they’re the farmers and producers caring for the coffee or the new-to-coffee customer, and a love for preparing and serving the best offerings available to them, is a winner in our book. We have Ritual’s Farami de Dota from Costa Rica on bar today. If you like warm M&Ms cookies with a hint of lemon zest, you’ll want to give it a try!

Home Brew Techniques & Troubleshooting Class Recap by Caleb Savage

We had a great time talking pour overs and extraction in our first Home Brew Techniques & Troubleshooting class! We’re so glad we were able to spend time sharing insights, techniques and cups of coffee with our friends! For those that missed out, here’s a quick recap on what we covered:

The Best Cup of Coffee

A great cup of coffee is a cup you like to drink. If we want to dive a little deeper into making coffee, we’d say that a great cup is one that’s extracted evenly, pulling out all of the good qualities of the coffee while leaving all of the bad qualities behind. When brewing at home, a great cup should also be one you enjoy making. We don’t believe there’s only one right way to make coffee. If you don’t enjoy what it takes to make the “perfect” cup at home, then it’s not perfect for you and we can find a method that works best!

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Extraction and the Importance of Brew Recipes

When we talk about coffee brewing, we’re talking about extraction. We can combine and change variables like the time coffee is in contact with water, the quality of the water, how even and how fine the coffee is ground, the temperature of the water, and how much we disturb or agitate the grounds to create an even extraction that leaves the coffee balanced in sweetness, acidity, and bitterness.

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With so many variables taking place in coffee brewing, one of the ways we can control for them is by using brew recipes. We discussed how variables like grind and time work with each other and how using brew recipes that come from companies whose coffee you enjoy is a great place to start. In the class we discussed recipes from KLLR, Heart, Ritual, & Blue Bottle!

As always, we love talking about coffee. Anytime you have a question, we are more than willing to hunt down the right answer and find a solution that works for you! We loved taking these fun deep dives into various parts of the coffee experience! If you’re interested in learning more about our monthly events, you can sign up for our email list here!

Ethiopian Single Origins and Last Exit Espresso by Michael Power

This week at Clarity we have one single origin from Heart Roasters in Portland, OR and both a coffee blend as well as a single origin offered by Ritual Coffee in San Fransisco, CA. 

From Ritual, we are offering a single origin Ethiopian from the Gera District of Jimma, Yukro. This area, which has often been overlooked for more well known regions such as Harrar and Kochere, is beginning to gain spotlight with their high-quality beans. With incredible attention to detail, the Yukro Cooperative picks only the ripest cherries, carefully processes these cherries, and then dries the coffee on raised beds. The wild coffee that is grown in this region, paired with the the close attention to detail, presents a coffee that is both bright with floral aromatics, as well as an extremely clean finish. In short, we dig this coffee. Secondly, the blended coffee, which they've named Last Exit, is comprised of two Guatemalans, a Columbian, and an El Salvadoran coffee. Named after a beautiful and nostalgic underpass in the Bay area, this coffee offers notes of pear and honeycomb (also note for a more elegant explanation of this coffee please look up the coffee description on Ritual's website, you will not be disappointed). 

Next, from Heart, we have another Ethiopian single origin from Nano Challa in Jimma. Nano is a cooperative- well known for its incredible management that leads this crop to be more tasty and successful harvest after harvest. After the coffee is picked, it is hand sorted to ensure the de-pulping and washing of only ripe cherries. The coffee is then washed and fermented for a small period of time before it is dried on raised beds. It is not often that we get a coffee, known for its floral notes that also stands out in milk, but Nano Challa definitely fits the bill. Finally, we have Heart's excellent Stereo Blend, comprised of Ethiopia Yukro and Colombia Milagrosa, offering notes of cola, cherry, and dark chocolate. 

Three New African Coffees by Steve Willingham

If you're in the shop a lot, chances are you've noticed that our coffees change a lot. A lot a lot. We usually have two or three roasters per week, each one with multiple coffees on our bar. It keeps things interesting and keeps us on our toes. However, you may have also noticed that we feature a lot of Ethiopian and Colombian coffees. That comes with the territory in specialty coffee. First, because we try to focus on coffees that have just arrived in the US, so they're tasting as fresh as possible. Second, because Ethiopia and Colombia, along with a few others, dominate the specialty coffee market because they produce almost two and a half million pounds of coffee each year and really have their acts together when it comes to producing consistent, high quality coffee. There are about 70 different countries that grow coffee though, so we've got plenty of new origins to explore here at Clarity.

This week, we're going to focus on three of the smaller producers in Africa. Three origin countries that just came in season: Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. Three neighbors, nestled just southwest of Kenya.

Right now we have a Rwanda from Ritual Coffee out of San Francisco. It's our first time working with them, and we're so excited about it. This Rwanda is grown by about 600 small producers in basically the perfect conditions: high elevation, volcanic soil, a nice cool breeze off of Lake Kivu. All the things you want for deliciously sweet coffees. 

Later this week, look for Heart's Tanzania from a wet mill called Tarime in the Mara District around Lake Victoria, an area known for producing low grade coffee, far away from the farms known for quality. This outstanding coffee shows how much potential that area of Tanzania has. It is the first Tanzania we've ever featured. Expect to see this on both espresso and pour over.

Toward the end of the week, we'll have a Burundi from Blueprint Coffee Roasters. Farmers in Rango, Kayanza teamed up to sell their coffees together as a cooperative they call Kinyovu, so they can demand higher prices for their coffee. This makes a huge impact on their community, and we're more than happy to pay a little extra for a coffee this good.

We're looking forward to sharing these coffees with you!  Come grab a cup or a bag, and let's talk coffee.