Ritual Coffee has been changing the way people know coffee since 2005.
13 years later, they source the vast majority of the coffee they roast and serve from the farmers who grow it, and return to work with the same farms year after year in some of the longest standing direct buying relationships in the specialty coffee world.
Today, Ritual runs 6 cafes, and we certainly hope you have had a chance to try their coffees! If not in Ritual’s cafes, you can find them at most specialty grocery stores around the Bay Area.
You should check out Ritual’s website and should definitely follow their Instagram.
We got a chance to interview Ritual’s Owner, Eileen Hassi Rinaldi, in June 2018.
How did Ritual get started?
Ritual opened on Valencia in 2005. It was the first cafe in San Francisco serving coffee in the style that San Francisco is now world-famous for. We opened on a Thursday and there was a line to the corner by our first Saturday! Some people were familiar with the style of coffee from having lived in the Pacific Northwest and wondered why it took so long to come to SF, and other people couldn’t understand what we did to make the coffee taste so good!
When I moved to San Francisco, no one was roasting coffee in the style that I had gotten used to living in Seattle. So instead of just opening a cafe, I decided to open a café and roastery.
What about you, Eileen? What’s your story?
I grew up working in small businesses, all owned by women! The first and most influential was my sister’s shop, which is a gourmet food store and catering business in Rye, NY. It’s kind of funny how long it took me to realize that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, even though all of my make-believe games as a child were about running my own business! I eventually sought out places to work where I was mentored by amazing women small business owners.
At Ritual, in addition to the cafes, we wholesale coffee to other cafes and restaurants. I love being able to be involved in other peoples’ small businesses and helping them be successful.
What makes Ritual coffees special?
Seasonality is a huge part of what makes Ritual’s coffee exceptional. We receive the unroasted “green” coffee directly from producers we work with as quickly after harvest as possible, and roast in a way that showcases the natural characteristics of the coffee – from soil to processing method. We are best known for coffees that highlight brightness, sweetness, and clarity. Like the denim of Levi Strauss, fresh sourdough or Anchor Steam Beer, Ritual has a local flavor with a global appeal – we’re another San Francisco original!
Can you give us a few facts and numbers we don’t know?
You can easily find that we have 6 cafes and 75 employees, but here is more:
- Only 4 people roast all our coffee, using 1 roasting machine
- We roast 32 pounds per batch
- Our coffees come from 45 coffee farmers and 17 co-ops in 13 countries
- 30% of our employees have visited coffee farms that Ritual buys from
- Sometimes we taste 60 coffees to find ONE that belongs on our menu
- We taste a coffee 5 or 6 times before it’s ready to leave the Roastery
What are the main products you offer?
We roast 4 coffees:
- Single origin espresso,
- A seasonal espresso blend,
- Single origin filter coffees
- And one delicious decaf!
But because they are seasonal, they are changing all the time, so you can always look forward to a newly arrived, fresh coffee.
Our upcoming espresso will be Lucky Thirteen to celebrate Ritual turning 13 this year!
You also partner with other SFMade manufacturers, right?
Yes! We collaborate with Dandelion Chocolate and are going to be using their chocolate in our cafes soon. We are selling their bars, and they serve our coffee in their cafes.
Etta & Billie makes soap with our coffee – stay tuned for a special line of soaps based around specialty Ritual drinks!
Joyride Coffee also does cold brew and nitro with our coffee, and distributes us to offices.
What does the future hold?
My dream is to have Ritual be an iconic San Francisco institution, somewhere between the Swan Oyster Depot and Anchor Steam.
Why manufacture locally?
Roasting in San Francisco is part of what has made Ritual who we are – there’s such an incredible ecology of art and innovation, an incredibly diverse array of people who make the best employees and appreciative customers.
Why did you join SFMade?
I’m proud to say that I was at the inaugural meeting of SFMade. Mark Dwight from Rickshaw Bags called a meeting of a dozen or so San Francisco-based manufacturers and asked if creating an organization to support manufacturing in SF was a good idea. It was 2009 and we were still roasting all of our coffee in the back of the cafe on Valencia. We were running the roaster 7 days a week, and it was ridiculous! We were desperate for a real production space. And everyone assumed I’d move to South SF or Oakland. Ritual’s employee culture was based on bikes! And going somewhere people couldn’t bike to work seemed unimaginable! So I was happy to know that I wasn’t alone in sticking it out and fighting to keep my business in San Francisco.
– an interview by Pierre @ SFMade. Thank you Eileen!