Ritual Coffee: Roasted in San Francisco
Founded in 2005, Ritual spent the past decade refining their craft, making them pioneers in the Bay Area’s third wave coffee renaissance. Employing a combination of modern technology and serious attention to detail, the crew at Ritual goes to great lengths to ensure that every cup of their coffee has consistent sweetness, brightness and clarity.
Green buyer Steve Ford begins the process by identifying and developing relationships with producers around the world. After the coffee is approved, roasters Aaron van der Groen and Bryn Phillips, whom Ford refers to as “technicians as much as craftsmen,” develop a “line” (or recipe) for it, using software called Cropster. They chart time and temperature in real time, enabling them to calibrate the temperature of the roaster throughout the process to get each batch as close to the goal line as possible.
After each batch is roasted and cooled and bad beans called “stinkers” and “quakers” are removed by hand, a sample is pulled and ground and then analyzed by a photo spectrometer precisely tracking the color of the coffee. Then all of the information is recorded including the roast number, coffee varietal, the date and the Cropster file number. Additionally, each batch is “cupped” multiple times per day, allowing the roasters to observe the tastes and aromas of the fruits of their labor, and further ensuring consistency.
Ford emphasizes the amount of trust that he places in van der Groen and Phillips. “We are working together to deliver awesome coffee. We’ve cultivated a group of guys that understand that there are things that are quantifiable if you track variables, adjust to roast, you get what you’re looking for. That’s why we give our roasters the tools they need to know they’re doing their job well. All of this data retention helps crack the code to understanding our agency in creating better flavor.”
Ritual has four cafés—three in San Francisco and one in Napa. All offer public cuppings, and you can find their beans for sale online as well as in hundreds of cafés and markets around the area. Ritual also offers a coffee club subscription service for individuals and offices.