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Ritual beans - trouble brewing?

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Anyone else finding it increasingly difficult to get coffee out of Ritual's beans?

I've tried two sets of beans this month with really poor results, and while I normally like Ritual, these beans just do not appear to be roasted for home brewing.

After experimenting with different grinds, a fine grind managed to work in a french press so that it at least looks like coffee, but once poured, it's extremely weak with a separation of water at the top of the cup. It's even worse than their normal tea style roast, and adding a splash of milk dilutes it to the point where I'm basically drinking tinted caffeinated water. Not only that, the flavors are flat, and sour. I've added more scoops, let it sit longer, played with the water temp, but nothing works. Is there some magic trick to save these beans?

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  1. We're still using Ritual beans almost daily and have experienced nothing of the sort. In the past two weeks we have tried the two different Brazilian offerings. Both were great but the Fazenda Esperança was liked a little more the Fazenda Monte Verde. Both are full bodied and and full of flavors.
    On a side note: If you must take milk in your coffee, Ritual beans are likely not the best match for you.

    7 Replies
    1. re: scarmoza

      Thanks for sharing your experience....I'm using the Fazenda Monte Verde as well.
      Are you also using a press for your brewing?

      I've never noticed milk diluting the flavors previously. This has been strange.
      I feel like the jokes on me for having defended them before.

      1. re: sugartoof

        I only use a press for their coffees and prepare it just as it's recommended by them ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7AREK... )

        1. re: scarmoza

          Yup, I've watched those Ritual videos, and followed them to the letter....
          maybe my grind and water temp are off. I keep hoping I'm doing something wrong.

          1. re: sugartoof

            I suspect you don't favor coffees with (subtle) notes of citrus or fruit but rather prefer those with chocolate flavor profiles.

            1. re: scarmoza

              Perhaps, but like I said, the subtle flavors are meaningless if it's barely a coffee. I'd be better off going back to Yerba Mate. It's never tastes like a weak tea at the shop.

            2. re: sugartoof

              Suggestions:

              he brews for a total of 4 minutes (1, stir, 3). This is good technique, coffee can go to about 5 IMHO before it gets nasty. Stirring more is always good - stirring is highly unappreciated. Doing just 3 minutes is problematic, and his talk could be interpreted to 3 total instead of 4 total. Do 4 or 4 1/2.

              He uses 200 degree water - that's good too, although I've found I like even less (180 for me). Anything under 160 is seriously a problem. Use one of those little taylor meat thermometers to make sure you're in the right range. I've calibrated my microwave - 1.5 cups at 2:10 second gives almost exactly 170 degree water.

              He gives no guidelines for grind. In general, a finer grind is always better, until you've got lots of soot in your cup. Finer grinds means hardware pushing on the press. It should be fairly hard to push - that way you know you're getting a good grind. If it simply slides down, you're too coarse, which certainly leads to watery coffee. I once shattered a pot because I was using too fine a grind, but boy was the coffee good.

              You can also buy half a pound ground to "french press" and see what it looks like (and try it). It's also true there are subtleties between burr and blade grinders. Blade grinders have more variability in particle size, so just lead to different coffee taste. I actually like blade in french press, although at the shop they're certainly using burr.

              Never freeze your coffee - start at room temp.

              Consider doubling the amount of coffee grounds - or halving the amount of water - as an experiment. That'll make a thicker coffee, and you can add water to your desired strength, which gives you a good guess for the amount of water to add next time. When you have too much grounds, the coffee gets a metallic taste that's hard to describe, but you're certainly not there.

              I can't help you with ritual in specific. I don't like their beans much, I find the taste kind of "hollowed out". The less fresh the beans, the worse it gets. Your word "frail" matches my experience - but it was never like dishwater.

              Another explaination is the jaded gourmet problem. I was talking to a guy in a motorcycle shop, and he said the cheapest way to make your motorcycle feel faster was to ride on a smaller, slower bike for a week. It's true. Regarding coffee, I used to like Peet's beans, tried some other roasters, upped my technique, came back, and now Peet's is inedible. I don't think Peet's changed their beans! I think it's probably edible for most people.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Thanks for all the suggestions.

                I think I may be going past that 4 minute mark, so I'll try timing it more carefully. The video on Ritual's website implies you can just leave it in longer for a stronger cup, which appears to be true if I just needed more caffeine. I'll also try half the water, like you suggested and see what happens.

                If it wasn't blending like watered down coffee, I would be certain this was all psychosomatic.

      2. That's why I don't buy ritual beans. I don't think they work for coffee. They are acceptable as espresso in-store, but they fail to excite me every time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SteveG

          I guess it's fine for a cup at their retail locations, but yeah, I would have to agree these beans are a bit frail. I don't think their focus on pricier single source beans has help the situation, either.