What's Up with Ritual Coffee Roasters? Needing More Rest?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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Postby drgary » May 12, 2012, 12:44 am


Recently I tasted some Ritual coffee and learned that I may have pulled it too early so that the flavor was underdeveloped. I went on their site tonight and see that they recommend minimum rest of 6 - 9 days. They roast pretty light and I've heard this about other coffees that are lighter roasts and need to rest pretty long before they're ready. This thread drifted in places off of site guidelines to discuss concerns with vendors privately rather than give them unearned public exposure. Where you see any of my critiques quoted, please note that these have been amply addressed after I had their coffees properly prepared.

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Postby the_trystero » May 12, 2012, 1:22 am

drgary wrote:Recently I tried a bag of their Nina Darling Roast Seasonal Espresso. I opened it with Dan (DJR) 5 days post roast and there was almost no roast smell and there was little flavor when we tried to brew it. A couple of days later he told me there still was no aroma.

If you're not getting any aroma between 5 days and 8 days, there's something wrong. Underdevelopment?

So far I haven't had any lightly roasted coffees that had little flavor and no aroma.
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Postby dustin360 » May 12, 2012, 2:03 am

Hey Gary,

I got a chance to cup the "Steamed tomato/freezer burn" bag vs. new bag yesterday(same coffee different roast date). It became very obvious that the bag we all tried was under roasted. When I compared the grinds the new batch was darker by a couple shades. Whats weird is every batch ive ever under roasted (which has been a lot) has tasted very vegital. But NEVER like steamed tomatoes! My under roasted batches taste doughy/celery, or some other green vegetable. The new bag didnt have the tomato defect.

Tom gave me the old bag, and Im going to bring it to work tomorrow and see how many people I can get to drink it(co workers, not customers).

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Postby Bak Ta Lo » May 12, 2012, 4:19 am

I have found my under roasts (which sadly has been a few too many) have little aroma and are sour, where as my over roasts (rarely happens in my attempts to hit the perfect city to city + for my vac pot roasts) are very aromatic with a simple flavor profile. But, as they rest the over roasted beans become more tolerable if not a nice simplistic tasting cup, where the under roasted beans never improve and just seem to fade away. I am guessing that this is because the light roasted beans never had a chance to convert chemically during roasting, so there is little roasted "content" in the beans to improve. But an over roasted bean will be completely converted chemically in the roast, leaving a lot of roast profile in the bean to change as it ages.

From the commercial side I get a lot of beans that seem to hang on and taste better up to 10-14 days, but they lose the ability to hold together for a shot, run fast, after 14-21 days. I used up some Panamanian beans last week that were great at 3 weeks old, and were giving me great chocolates and spice right to the last day. I am almost tempted to order more if not for the shipping sticker shock. :shock:

I have never had a very fresh roast make a good espresso, talking less than 1-2 days post roast. Good drip, yes, espresso no. Why do I find I can get good drip cups from beans sometimes 1 or 2 days post roast, but never an espresso from beans that young?
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Postby drgary » May 12, 2012, 9:04 am

I'm interested to see if we can get Ritual to respond to our concerns. I'll go on their site and point them toward this thread. As someone just starting to roast I learn from tasting beans that were stillborn or succumbed in the flames. Added later: According to site guidelines it's better to address concerns with a vendor behind the scenes rather than do that publicly if at all possible.

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Postby Peppersass » May 13, 2012, 9:08 am

Bak Ta Lo wrote:Why do I find I can get good drip cups from beans sometimes 1 or 2 days post roast, but never an espresso from beans that young?

Most likely it's because the heavy release of CO2 from freshly roasted beans interferes with extraction to a much greater degree with espresso than other brewing methods. The ultra-short extraction time is a lot less forgiving.

FWIW, I drink a lot of commercial light-roasted SOs, and they can be underdeveloped if the roaster isn't careful. I've also found that they are drinkable earlier after roast than darker roasts, and they don't last as long as darker roasts. Makes sense to me.
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Postby yakster » May 13, 2012, 11:07 am

I've experienced this strong tomato soup note before in a commercial roast (not sure of the roaster, but it was a West Coast roaster) like I experienced in the bag Tom shared with us. I've also seen this flavor note for various coffees from Kenya and Ethiopia and other origins on a roasting focused website. It's not a flavor note that I enjoy in coffee.

As for young roasts and espresso, I've read advice to let fresh roasts out-gas for fifteen to twenty minutes after grinding to reduce or eliminate issues with espresso extraction due to high CO2 in fresh coffee.

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Postby Tag Team Jesus » May 13, 2012, 11:25 am

Love this thread because I have felt similarly about Ritual shots I got from baristas @ Ritual on Valencia street - yeasty, blond, thin, tart, tomato. I also had very little luck with their beans on my Silvia at home, but I was pulling them on day 2 - 3 past roast, assuming that because I got great results with fresh Blue Bottle, I should be able to do the same with Ritual. So, for a long time I thought Ritual was pulling one over on us with ultra-light roasted coffees. I also had a few shots of 4 Barrel Friendo Blendo that were very strong on the tomato soup front. Once bought a bag of Misty Valley from 4 Barrel that was so light the beans looked light yellow.

BUT! Astro Coffee here in Detroit has completely changed my mind about Ritual's beans. They have rotating roasters, and Ritual is often in the rotation. Their current shots of Nine Darling Road are awesome. I would say it is slightly tart citrus (but not sour or overly tart) and a nice smokiness like a burnt honey caramel. It's that sweet smokiness that I am digging in this blend. Their recent bag was roasted on May 1st, and they weren't pulling it until day 8. Day 9 was amazing. Day 10 needed to go up in temperature but was still great (200.7 brew temp vs. 199.7). So it does seem like Ritual beans need to rest on the longer side. Astro pulls Nine Darling pretty tall, a full 2 ounces on a Synesso Cyncra. I haven't tried to pull this at home yet, but now I at least know it's possible to get great results with Ritual.

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Postby jaminsky » May 14, 2012, 9:02 pm

Hello everyone, I'm the director of quality control and espresso at Ritual Roasters. Bring me your questions and I will give you answers.

I'm sorry some of you have been less than satisfied previously with our coffee. Hopefully I can set the record straight.

The first question (which is the title of this thread) is about resting or aging. I can tell you that as we have taken our coffee substantially lighter over the past two years (love it or hate it, this is my doing), we have also noticed that we need to rest/age the coffee longer in order to get the quality of extraction our coffee seems to need to perform best. "Best" meaning the optimal balance between quality of sweetness and quality of acidity, aroma, and flavor. My simple explanation for why this happens, is that when you roast lighter with freshly harvested, dense, high grown coffees as we do, you maintain a much tighter and denser cellular structure in the roasted coffee. This essentially makes it more difficult for the CO2 gas to make its way out of the coffee. With dark roasts, you'll notice the much larger, generally more puffy look to the beans. You'll also notice that they weight far less, bean to bean. Those dark roasts with the very porous cellular structures make it quite east of the gas to escape, meaning that they achieve optimal off-gassing quite quickly.

Just two years ago, we were roasting quite dark in my opinion and the coffee was best just about one to five days off roast, and became pretty lifeless by day seven or eight (very disappointing if you're a shipping customer like Astro in detroit who doesn't get the coffee until day three or so). This was true for espresso and filter roasts. Now, the coffee's really start to hit their stride by day six or seven and are fantastic up through day 14 or even 21. Espresso is best about 8-11 days off roast. A more narrow window to be sure, but such is espresso.

Just keep in mind, if the coffee's too fresh (gassy), it wont extract properly. Where there is CO2 gas, there cannot also be water. Pretty straight-forward physics. Those of you who play with refractometers or tds meters might note that you can achieve the optimal extraction without actually extracting much of the desirable soluble material in the coffee. This can result in high acidity (acidity = good) coffees that should taste of fruit having a slightly under-ripe, possibly sour, or even worse, tomato-y flavor. Tomato is always bad.

The other thing that is very quite possibly a problem, is the red paper bags that much of the coffee goes out in... These, sadly, do not provide a very stable environment for the coffee at all. We've found the coffee in some bags to oxidize exceptionally fast, though many of our employees take their coffee home in these bags every week and have no problems whatsoever. We are expecting new sealable valve bags in the next couple months. We had been waiting for a compostable option to come on to the market, but its taking far too long for wide release and unfortunately we are encountering far too many problems with the paper to wait any longer. Those of you who get coffee from our wholesale accounts (like astro in detroit) notice that all of that coffee goes out in white, sealed, valve-bags. While they leave something to be desired aesthetically, they certainly preserve the coffee quite a bit better than the paper bags. Any of you ordering coffee on our website can feel free to request that your coffee be shipped in a valve bag and we will bag it for you that way at no extra charge.

Otherwise, extraction is frequently an issue. Lighter roasted coffee generally needs to be ground much finer as its less soluble. I recommend always sticking to 60-65 grams of coffee per 1000g of water and dialing your grind in to taste around that dose. Very detailed specs for pulling our espresso are always available on our website as well.

Other questions?

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Postby drgary » May 14, 2012, 11:57 pm



Thank you for joining the conversation. Given Ritual's reputation and the lighter roasting styles that people have been innovating in Scandindavia, this makes sense.

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