Sweet Tooth

Ritual's new espresso (Sweet Tooth) has settled in.
I've run through a couple pounds of it now.

Overall thoughts...

1 - This is a true "signature espresso" in the sense that it is a unique and personal espresso the represents the values, taste and goals of Ritual. That's something special - and something all coffee roasters should shoot for.

2 - It's not an espresso everyone is going to love.

3 - It's reasonably easy to work with - though I think home baristas with non-stabilized HX machines might struggle.

It's a very (very) well named coffee. First sips are dominated by intense sweetness (cane sugar, light, processed molasses, honey, touches of caramel) and floral notes (jasmine, rose). As the coffee cools it becomes quite tart and bright, with strong flavours of pomelo, green grape and persimmon. The sweetness continues, but the cup becomes dominated by the acidic fruit. In the end of the cup a nice pomegranate note emerges (though I do get some hints of astringency as well).
It does seem a little hollow however. It hits the center of the palate almost exclusively and there is a "hole" in the middle of the profile.
This hollowness become more noticeable when combined with milk - where the lack of the deeper darker tones results in "simplistic" profiles.
I found it best quite significantly updosed - and at a higher brew temp than I'd expected. Shot volume was good - and the shots look gorgeous in the cup.

Because of the tartness - I think home machines that have a declining brew temp could prove challenging. Shots could come out as noticeably sour in some cases. I'd suggest pulling shots quite short in this case.

Overall... a good espresso and a big step forward for Ritual.


New Harvest Competition Blend

I received a pound of the New Harvest Coffee Roaster's Competition Blend last week. Oddly enough, my cousin works there - and thought to send me some of the coffee. They're a little coffee roaster in Rhode Island.

I'm assuming that this is a sort of "one-off" espresso as it's not on their site.

Working with, and drinking, this espresso was a really interesting experience for me.
I've been spending a lot of time recently drinking coffees that strive for the sort of balance, finesse and sweet acidity that seems to be the emerging standard among a certain group of roasters. From the Hairbender through the various Ecco Caffe espressos to the Ritual Sweet Tooth to the random other coffees - there is a common thread here.
In addition, I've been drinking more and more espressos that, if not actually single origin, are at least made of very few beans.

As a result, I'd lost sight of the fact that there are other styles and approaches to espresso.

This Competition Blend is a representative of another type.
Instead of going for balance and finesse - it goes for flavour and "big-ness." It's definitely a "more is more" approach. It's all over the place - with bright berry notes and dried fruit; with bakers' chocolate and leather; toast and tobacco. If it were a beer it would be one of those Stone experimental Imperial Ales.
In milk, this approach worked out very well - with drinks that were dominated by the toast and chocolate notes and a nice sweet fruit note riding along the top. Even tall milk drinks still tasted of coffee. Nice.
As a straight shot, however, this was a bit of a palate hammer. The shear profusion of flavours was a bit much for me. Beyond that, however, hidden beneath all these flavours were some not so nice notes. There was an ashy and acrid note that lurked beneath the tobacco flavours - and a hint of mushroom emerged now and then.
That being said - honestly, this was a totally serviceable espresso in many ways. I drank it happily in short milk drinks. And saying "it's no Hairbender as a straight shot" is kind of unfair.
It was very easy to work with - and really tolerant of changes to extraction parameters.
It looked absolutely gorgeous in the cup.

More than that - it was really cool to be reminded that there are a lot of ways to skin this particular cat; that there are a ton of different ideas of what espresso is and should be.
And at the end of the day - it's all what you like.