Ritual Coffee Roasters is one of the original players in the game of specialty coffee or "third wave coffee" in the US. They've been consistently delivering great coffees out of multiple very cool locations in Northern California since 2005. For espresso, they typically keep two coffees going: Sweet Tooth, their rotating Single Origin espresso, and a seasonal blend. I've always been a fan of both, but their blends in particular are typically very friendly, approachable, and interesting, which makes them a lot of fun to work with. Their spring 2016 seasonal blend, Side Door might be one of my favorites so far.
An equal parts, 4-bean blend consisting of two Brazilians that comprise the creamy sweet backbone, and coffees from Kenya and Rwanda that make it alive with pleasant acidity, fruit, and floral notes. Ritual's description says it better than I can:
This quartet of coffees comes together in the following manner: a fruit-flower accord of watermelon, lime and jasmine on top; a rich and smooth texture like ganache in the middle; and an overwhelmingly cookie-like sweetness. That is to say, it’s balanced in a way that some other blends can only hope to be. It can be sweet, easygoing, and traditional; yet forward-looking, experimental and far-out - all while staying quintessentially “Ritual.”
All I can say is that this coffee stays true to its namesake of being far-out and a bit different. The watermelon component is definitely present, the coffee is very smooth and does have a milk and cookies like smooth-sweet finish that I don't know I've had on any other espresso. Body and color are on the lighter side, but the taste lingers on the palate in the best way possible. One thing I really appreciate about Ritual is that they list their recommended brewing parameters right on the bag, which usually make for some pretty tasty shots.
Dose: 17-18 grams in a "18g" VST or "17g" Strada basket
Temp: 198-200 degrees at the group
Time: 28-32 seconds
Brewing Ratio: 50-60% or 30-35 g of liquid
Pump Pressure: 8.5-9 Bar or 105-110 psi at the group
Days Rested: 7-12
I have definitely found this coffee to shine the most when favoring the faster and shorter shots. 18.5g in : 30g out in 27s or so seems to be the sweet spot for my setup.
The milk and cookies component gets turned up to 11 when served as a macciato, but it's been hard to keep myself from drinking this before I get the milk out. I do think this coffee will get lost in too much milk though.
With summer quickly approaching, it's time to get while the gettin's good. Order directly from Ritual, $16.25 for a 12oz bag.