Ritual’s Fazenda São João doesn’t need my recommendation. Chris Baca used it to win the 2008 WRBC as well as take 4th place in the country at the 2008 USBC. Kenneth Davids has scored this coffee an outstanding 92 points. And, Ritual found it good enough to use as three-quarters of their Sweet Tooth blend – their new house espresso. Nevertheless, since I picked some up for home, I thought I’d add my two cents.
My big regret is that I never had the chance to cup this coffee as part of my Bay Area Brazils piece. Ritual had been out the day I went to get their coffee. I think this one would have fared better amongst my friends than Ritual’s Fazenda Do Serrado. Both were good, but I think the the São João has more universal appeal. It’s sweeter, richer and tasted as thought its roasted just a tad darker.
The São João is sweet and nutty with enough fruit to make my head spin. For me, I got lots of soft, ripe cantaloupe and dark, black cherries with a hint of mint and ceylon tea. It’s not heavy, but it does have some depth to the cup which holds everything together nicely. It works terrific as a French Press, as a pour over drip (or on the Clover) and continues to be delicious well after it’s cooled off.
Not surprisingly (given its use in competition), it was also wonderful as an espresso. It’s neither particularly heavy nor particularly light. I didn’t have a lot of time with it as an espresso – just a few shots and never really nailed it, but what I did get indicated nothing but good things. The São João seemed to produce a shot that was remarkably similar, simply magnified really, to what I produced in a brewed cup. The sweets were sweeter, the fruits fruitier, the dark and rich tones darker and richer. Overall, quite a beautiful and versatile coffee.