Ritual is an interesting cafe. Set along the Valencia Street corridor its bright red flag marks the entrance, which often has line out to the sidewalk. Their logo is interesting to say the least. At first glance the design reminds you slightly of a socialist sickle and hammer, the symbol of the communist party in the old U.S.S.R. It seems they took inspiration from this design and morphed it into an open coffee cup sitting at the same 45 degree angle. They then added a small handle, dropped the hammer, and kept the star. What statement they are trying to make by co-oping this image is a mystery to me. The ritual image is on the left.
The espresso is excellent – one of my favorites. With its smooth and nutty flavor, it is reminiscent of French or Italian espresso. They also seem to be quite fond of heart shaped foam at this cafe. I got a cappuccino and an almond croissant.
They also sell cups of drip paper filtered coffee for $3.50 – $5.25, which I think is outrageously overpriced. They make a big point of explaining to you that their coffee comes from specially chosen plots in places like Brazil, Ecuador and Costa Rica. They roast up their own beans in these seasonally changing brews (saying that coffee changes seasonally – like purchasing fresh produce) and use words like strawberry, banana leaf, starfruit, raisin, walnut and floral aromatics. In their own words: “We walk with these producers through their small farms. We sleep on the farm, we breathe the farm, trying as hard as we can to understand how our producers make magic happen in our cups.” It seems that by discussing the varietal, elevation, climate, and somewhat imagined flavors (melon – really?) they are aiming to make the gourmet coffee experience into something akin to wine tasting.
Like many coffee shops in the mission, it’s patrons can be found typing away furiously at their Macbook Airs or reviewing each others poetry while wearing indigenous print sweaters.