The Roadtrip – San Francisco

June 17th, 2007

Being on the road like this is far more draining than I expected. Dragging ourselves out of bed the next morning was difficult and we rolled into Ritual mid morning. They knew we were coming but we still ended up spending 5 minutes casting furtive glances across the room at Chris Baca who eventually made the first move and came over to introduce himself.

Gabe was at the roaster, somewhat nervous because it was his first day or production roasting on his own. Their roaster is insane. I am sure most of you reading know it is a 5 kilo Probat from 1919 (Quite possibly the oldest working Probat outisde of the Probat museum in Germany). It belongs to Duane from Stumptown who found it down in South California somewhere.


The most unusual thing about it is the cooling – they dump into a rotating tray and for the initial cooling then the entire tray is transfered to another base that has a big fan to speed the cooling up. Very cool.

We had a few coffees and then Chris organised a little cupping for us. Their two Kenyans really stood out, nothing against their Gio Gio but I am a sucker for their Gethumbwini – complex, sweet, amazing fruit and delightful mouthfeel. I love it.

It is definitely worth mentioning that Ritual have a very cool Steampunk styled Robur working away there – it looks so cool:

Having hung out long enough we got out of their way and ventured down to the Blue Bottle Kiosk. Their espresso was great, perhaps because I had no idea what to expect from it. Stephen had a little chat to them and they were really friendly and gave us a couple of cups of a Colombian they had on the Melitta drips. (Their porcelain drippers are so pretty I had buy one!). Stephen even managed to blag a bag of an African blend which I am looking forward to trying. Stephen and I were chatting and we thought it only fair to do a Steve Ford tribute shot:

And that was about as much coffee as we wanted that day. Having upgraded out of an evil Best Western into the lovely Phoenix Hotel we decided to maybe spend some downtime in San Francisco and try and catch up on feeling human.

That evening we met up with Chris and Ryan from Ritual and wandered down to get some food. The table wasn’t ready yet so we nipped over to a bar called The Knock-Out. It turned out to be an odd memorable experience and I have never played highspeed bingo in a bar full of people yelling back the numbers called with such force. I could have stayed another couple of rounds…..

The meal at the Blue Plate was absolutely delicious. We were also joined by Lindsay who works for Zoka and had been hanging out at Ritual earlier in the evening. The food was great and Baca and Ryan make me laugh my ass off.

We drank no coffee then next day, as if to prove to ourselves we weren’t addicted. We did spend a little tourist time round the city and spent enough time snoozing to feel ready for the last leg down to LA.

Before we left we had to head to Ritual again. I love that place, and every one of us loves it. If I lived in San Francisco I would spend a great deal of my life in there. Eileen and Gabe once again made us feel welcome and thanks to Matt and everyone behind the bar for looking after us and for yelling goodbye to us so loudly on our way out. I look forward to going back.

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