HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What have you made lately? Get great advice


Tobias Dec 16, 2006 10:37 PM

Stopped in at Ritual today and found a line out the door. I'm willing to wait in line for good coffee, and the espresso was pretty terrific, but Ritual is in dire need of some better management -- a second machine, perhaps -- or I'll take my business elsewhere.

With Organica closed, Ritual and Blue Bottle remain top choices. Aside from Philz, which I don't like, are there any new cafes making particularly good coffee?

  1. c
    Calvinist Mar 4, 2007 09:06 AM

    The sketch reminds me of that stretch of 16th street, out in front of Potrero Hill. But that's just my impression. I've got nothing to base it on. Of course I wish the would open up a store on Courtland, but that is just my self interest talking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Calvinist
      Atomica Mar 4, 2007 05:05 PM

      That would be nice, but I would worry about the survival of Martha's. Or maybe they'd be fine.

    2. Atomica Mar 4, 2007 05:58 AM

      I just found this on a blog--speculation that Ritual is opening a second location, but where, and is it true?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Atomica
        Atomica Apr 29, 2007 12:52 PM

        Apparently this new Ritual is open now inside the new Flora Grubb nursery location. "South of Cesar Chavez, off 3rd St." The Flora Grubb site says 1634 Jerrold St., opening May 2007, but a few of my friends, independent of one another, mentioned today that it is open now. Maybe just the Ritual and not the nursery yet?

        1. re: Atomica
          chipman Apr 29, 2007 01:28 PM

          yes it is open with the clover in full operation.


          1. re: chipman
            Atomica Apr 29, 2007 04:39 PM

            I ended up going there today after Open Studios at Hunter's Point. An absolutely gorgeous, peaceful setting. I had no idea what a Clover was until about an hour ago.

            1. re: Atomica
              readingstand Apr 29, 2007 04:56 PM

              Ritual has clovers in its original Valencia St location as well, FYI (or FEI). (In case folks are curious, see http://cloverequipment.com/whyclover/...). I like the Clover a good deal--it makes coffee with the mouthfeel of tea.

      2. c
        Carciofi Jan 12, 2007 12:18 AM

        I agree that the coffee is worth any wait (though I've never had one) and defend the staff and management wholeheartedly. I love nice hipsters!

        1. psb Jan 10, 2007 03:05 AM

          I've been to Ritual maybe 25 times, and I think I'd consider
          the wait to have been "long" maybe twice. Maybe if you are
          just walking buy for a cup the typical wait is unacceptable,
          but if you are planning to sit down and linger, I dont think
          it is ... I am pretty sure Tartine frequently has longer waits...
          I cant help but think some of those people waiting 20min at
          Tartine didnt know what they were getting into [See Rosamunde
          Super Tuesday Burger].

          What really does annoy me at Tartine and Ritual are the
          born-in-a-barn patrons who dont bus their own tables when
          many people are obviously waiting for a table ... yes,
          I really want to sit amongst your cake crumbles and powedered
          sugar and crumpled napkins. Now does this phenomena explain
          the failure of communism or what?

          5 Replies
          1. re: psb
            swag Jan 10, 2007 03:37 AM

            The lines at Ritual aren't that bad. They run into moments of confusion still with multiple drink orders colliding at the machine now and then, but they're line is typically far better than most any downtown Peet's or Starbucks during the morning rush.

            Tartine is a whole other story. Amazing bakery, of course. But they seem to service one customer every 2-3 minutes or so. It's maddeningly slow and needs a modern-day Henry Ford to come in a whip the place into shape.

            This aside of the fact that their espresso, while loved by many, is disappointingly weak and watery.

            1. re: swag
              psb Jan 10, 2007 03:58 AM

              I'd add Ritual has the following "customer friendly" attributes:

              1. reasonable prices

              2. open late [11pm most days]

              3. decent quality wireless [now] and good number of outlets
              [eventhough it's unclear the massive laptop-lingering this
              causes benefits them]

              I'm sitting at RR right now!

              1. re: swag
                Atomica Jan 10, 2007 02:21 PM

                "they're line is typically far better than most any downtown Peet's or Starbucks during the morning rush."

                Especially Peet's. I've been to several Peet's lately, and I think they need a giant overhaul of their customer service. You can have 8 employees scurrying around a Peet's with only 1 person taking orders and 1 person making drinks (4th St. in
                Berkeley this Sunday). Twice in the last couple of weeks, the Westfield Ctr. Peet's has taken my money and looked at me blankly until I had to remind them, "Coffee?"

                1. re: Atomica
                  bernalgirl Jan 10, 2007 02:27 PM

                  Yeah, that's a weird phenom, because when I worked downtown, the Peet's at Market/Bush had the most amazing morning rush hour team, it was fun just to watch them fly through the orders. But that process never seemed to touch any other Peet's location.

                  1. re: bernalgirl
                    Calvinist Jan 10, 2007 06:29 PM

                    The Peet's near my work in Sam Mateo always seem very slow given the number of customers and the complexity of the orders. Ritual is a model of efficiency in comparison.

                    The best attribute about Ritual, asaide from the high quality of their beans and roasting technique, is that exeryone I've encountered working there is genuinely nice, not just "corporate nice"

            2. s
              SteveG Dec 19, 2006 07:37 PM

              It's not a cafe, but the blue bottle kiosk on the Embarcadero side of the Ferry Plaza building on Saturdays doesn't usually have a line. They only make coffee, and they're kind of hidden. The main kiosk on the south side of the building sells beans, coffee, etc.

              Otherwise, just bring a friend to chat with while you're at Ritual.

              1. Atomica Dec 17, 2006 06:05 PM

                It's the luck of the draw. Sometimes there's a line, sometimes there isn't (we were there yesterday at noon and there wasn't much of a line--then later there was). They seemed to me to have an efficient system of order taking and fulfilling, which is more than I can say for Peet's.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Atomica
                  Cynsa Dec 17, 2006 06:59 PM

                  and Peet's is just another Starbucks brand.

                  1. re: Cynsa
                    monday Dec 17, 2006 08:16 PM

                    Peet's is a 40 year old Bay Area institution. Would you explain what the connection with Starbucks is? I couldn't find anything on line in a quick search to support what you assert. Did I miss a buyout?

                    1. re: monday
                      Robert Lauriston Dec 17, 2006 08:26 PM

                      There's an historical relationship between the two, but they're separate public companies. More details on the Chains board:


                2. t
                  TopoTail Dec 17, 2006 05:27 PM

                  Eileen Hassi and Jeremy Tooker built Ritual from the ground up, in response to a Bay Area cafe scene that had been left in the dust by the Pacific Northwest, where they both came from. They did it on the backs of 18-hour days and ended up with the first state-of-the art cafe in the Bay Area.

                  There's a line out the door because they are 100% committed to doing it right. To attack Ritual's "management" for the long line out the door strikes me as pretty wrong headed. Would you prefer a quick cup of the bitter swill that passes for espresso in most cafes?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: TopoTail
                    Tobias Jan 8, 2007 02:05 AM

                    Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the quality of the product. That's why I'm there from time to time. But the counter is usually a disgusting mess, and the wait is sometimes interminable. These seem like management issues to me. It should be possible to make great espresso drinks and still clean up the joint. And I hope they figure out a way to expedite the service.

                    1. re: Tobias
                      bernalgirl Jan 8, 2007 06:08 AM

                      Wow, I have never noticed the counter being dirty, and actually find them quite efficient, considering the coffee is dripped to order.

                      I also find the folks at the counter incredibly friendly for such a hipster joint, they're always happy to do a lukewarm steamed milk for our toddler along with our coffee -- something a lot of cafes get snotty about... Don't get me started about how you can order five layers of special direction for your capuccino, but ask for less than hot milk and they act like you're asking them to chill it down with hand-applied ice.

                      1. re: Tobias
                        ccbweb Apr 29, 2007 04:50 PM

                        The wait is a function of how long it takes to make the drinks and, probably, how quickly other customers handle their end of the transactions. Getting another machine isn't a simple matter as good machines costs thousands of dollars.

                        At some point, criticizing a food service establishment for having a line just makes absolutely no sense. The lines are there because the product is worth it, especially when there are so many other places to get the product (I'm thinking not just about coffee but also about a good taqueria or a good pizza place among others).

                    2. t
                      twinpeaks Dec 17, 2006 03:49 AM

                      Capricorn. handsdown!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: twinpeaks
                        chipman Dec 17, 2006 09:51 PM

                        Tobias was asking about espresso, the last I checked Capricorn didn't even serve serious espresso, just some crap from a super auto vending type machine. Correct me if I'm wrong.

                        1. re: chipman
                          twinpeaks Dec 19, 2006 04:30 AM

                          if you call it "crap from a super auto vending type machine," so be it. Maybe you should have your eyes checked, but then, maybe not. Good espresso, coffee, tea, etc. Great service! Can't beat beans roasted within 20 feet.

                      Show Hidden Posts