An early Friday morning flight, and we were breathing California, bay area sun by 9:30. Baggage claim, tram to parking garage, and rental car, and we were 10:30 highway, viewing Candlestick Park out the passenger seat window.
First stop, Ritual Coffee Roasters.
A right on Fulsom, left on Russ, we couldn’t miss the red building staring at us 12:00. We compiled every bit of spare change we could find, and three dollars later, had one hour accounted for on the parking meter, just as our neighboring SUV flashed a red ‘expired’ across its meter window, a visual scent to parking cops, like red-meat and carnivores. It was lunchtime, and we rang the bell to ask for a good place to eat nearby, and were directed to a Vietnamese restaurant just up the street.
We returned roughly one hour later, with full stomachs and quarters rattling our pockets, yet with anticipation and appetites for Ritual’s coffee. Eileen greeted us at the door and, as we unshouldered our bags and withdrew our cameras, offered us some coffee, Rwandan specifically.
We sipped our way from inspecting roaster to discussing bag fillers, to other roaster and new lighting installations, all the while commenting on how delicious the coffee was. Not long after emptying our cups, we peeked into their lab, where G3‘s were set up to simulate the SWRBC, as Eileen suggested we take a drive past some of their five shops, throughout the city; (not including wholesale customers).
Our first stop, Valencia, to the original Ritual, where Eileen had begun five years prior with just the one shop and 1920’s Probat, on loan from Stumptown.
From there, they have grown into four more shops, including one, inside of a shipping container; the first ever cafe to do so; but it was neat to hear the story unfold, very much from the understanding that it is still unfolding. They’ve now moved the roastery out of the shop on Valencia, and into its own building, the one we first visited.
We were served Rwandan espressos, complimenting its black coffee pair previously enjoyed at the roastery; (and the first time on this trip we’d tasted the same coffee prepared for black coffee and espresso); while taking in the atmosphere of the shop; and noting how impressed we were with the baristas, their reception of us and overall confident understanding of the coffee and trade.
We said thank you to the baristas and loaded back into the car, to make one more stop at the ‘shipping container’ cafe across town.
(After learning that a housing block, or building of some kind was going to be built in a empty lot up town, some number of years in the future, a San Francisco architect gathered together a group of bold business owners, in hopes of placing several shipping containers on the site, where this building would eventually be built. By placing their coffee, sandwich, ice-cream, and beer shops in shipping containers, it would only be a process of transporting them somewhere else, once the building construction got under way. Until then, great food, coffee, beer, and ice-cream exist within a neat part of town, that people can enjoy, and in large numbers if our visit was any indication of a typical weekday afternoon).
We stopped back by the roastery, where Eileen offered coffee and supplied us with stickers and northbound directions out of the city. A great many thank you’s, and we were Golden Gate by late afternoon, and wine country by early sunset; glad to have experienced an operation that makes us proud to be coffee producers.
To be continued: Wine Country