Ritual Coffee Roasters - Last Exit Espresso Blend

6.4

Acidity

8.0/10

Aftertaste

8.0/10

Aroma

0.0/10

Balance

9.0/10

Body

9.0/10

Complexity

9.0/10

Flavor

7.0/10

Forgiveness

7.0/10

Sweetness

7.0/10

Versatility

0.0/10

Pros

  • Great complexity
  • Excellent balance
  • 4 coffee bean origins

Cons

  • Acidity can overpower the shot at times
  • Slight parameter changes can throw off the balance

Today's coffee review is for all of you espresso lovers out there. This is Ritual Coffee Roasters' Last Exit seasonal espresso blend, a nicely balanced and remarkably complex culmination of Latin American coffee beans.

I picked up this bag in one of Ritual's newer locations in the Upper Haight of San Francisco. I still haven't had the chance to try any of the brewed coffee from this location, but I'm super excited to finally have a Ritual location in my neighborhood.

About Ritual Coffee Roasters

This will be the fourth coffee I've reviewed from Ritual so far. The others I've reviewed can be found at the links below:

Ritual Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roaster in San Francisco, CA with multiple locations in the city, plus one small location in Napa, CA.

Of the big names in the Bay Area coffee scene, Ritual is definitely in the discussion of the best of the best. Their coffee generally falls on the lighter end of the roast spectrum, which gives their coffee a ton of bright and delicious flavor.

Video review and script below:

Video Script

In today’s coffee review I’ll be taking a look at Ritual Coffee Roasters’ Last Exit. The Last Exit is a seasonal espresso blend that gets its name from Octavia Street, which connects the freeway to one of Ritual’s smaller locations in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
Though technically not the last exit in San Francisco when heading south on the 101, it certainly has the feeling of a “last exit”, since the freeway abruptly becomes Octavia St. Anyways, cool name, Ritual.
Super interesting sidenote (to me at least)…the Ritual location the “Last Exit” blend refers to also happens to be the place where I had the best espresso shot of my life. I became an espresso fiend after that fateful day at Ritual’s Last Exit location.
As you can see, the Last Exit has some complex tasting notes displayed here. Personally, I tasted a green apple tartness in most of my shots, as well as milk chocolate, cola, cinnamon, and caramel. These flavors rarely appeared  in the same shots though.
You can also see that this is a pretty diverse blend, with beans from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. The blend consisted of equal amounts of 4 different origins from these 3 countries for the 2016 season.
A cool little bonus that came with this bag of coffee were brewing parameter suggestions. I love when coffee roasters add this information to their bags, and I definitely tried my best to adhere to their recommendations.
And yes, my best shots did come more than 7 days off-roast. Coincidence? Maybe.
Again, the complexity they describe here is not something I was able to replicate. I imagine this had more to do with my technique and equipment than anything, but the description here still seems a bit embellished.
OK. Let’s take a look at the beans now. As you can see, it’s a medium-light roast with pretty consistent color despite 4 different bean types.
Let’s take a look at some shots now!
I started with the 18g recommended dose, tamped it down with my handy dandy Espro calibrated tamper, and finally pulled the shot with my usual naked portafilter through the MyPressi Twist. My best shot was a 32g yield in about 34 seconds with water temperature right around 199˚F.
There was a really nice balance in the shot with no bitterness or sourness from the apple flavor profile. Instead, it was smooth milk chocolate. Interestingly, when I tried to replicate this shot the next day using 201˚F water, the shot was totally over-extracted despite a faster pull time at 30 seconds.
Oh, and I had some fun making an affogato with the Last Exit in tandem with another local favorite, Three Twins Ice Cream. This was a straight up mouth orgasm…and I definitely plan to make more of these in the future.
So there you have it my friends, the Last Exit Seasonal Espresso from Ritual Coffee Roasters. Overall, a pretty complex espresso blend with good balance and not too much fussiness when dialing things in. I’m not sure I’d get it again since I’m more of an African coffee lover, but if I plan to make more affogatos, well then, that would be a whole other story.

General Notes & ObservationsRitual Coffee Last Exit

Roast: Medium
Producers: Monte Rey (El Salvador), Hacienda Carmona (Guatemala), Hunapu (Guatemala), Gigantes (Colombia)
Country of Origin: El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia
Region: Various
Variety: Various
Processing method: Unknown
Growing altitude: Unknown
Aroma: No notes
Roaster tasting notes: Caramel apple, rocky road ice cream, orange, lime zest
Coffee Concierge tasting notes: Green apple, milk chocolate, cola, cinnamon, and caramel

Summary

Great balance and nice complexity in flavor from shot-to-shot. Not very difficult to dial-in, but even slight changes could alter the results of the shot pretty significantly. Still, a pretty consistently forgiving espresso blend.

If you're a fan of Central American coffees and espresso, this is definitely a blend that's worth trying.

If you prefer darker espresso blends and/or coffees that aren't grown in Central America, it's probably not going to be very enjoyable for you.

But who knows? If you're willing to step outside your comfort zone, it may surprise you.