When most people think of Arkansas, they think of rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, spelunking, the Razorbacks, and, of course, Walmart. Onyx Coffee Lab, though, based out of Springdale, Arkansas, with cafés also in Fayetteville and Bentonville, are making such a name for themselves that coffee is now making that list. And if it isn’t on your list, then you should definitely check them out.
Onyx Coffee Lab is a small batch coffee roasting company who sources coffee ethically and skillfully mixes science and artisanship to bring about great coffees.
Throughout my coffee journeys, I had heard so many wonderful things about Onyx Coffee Lab, but I never had the chance to try any of their coffees. Thankfully, that has now changed. When writing this post, I have tried three of the four coffees that Onyx sent me in exchange for reviews. And all three of them have been superb; so great that I would consider them one of my favorite roasters at this time!
Not only are they great at roasting coffee, their cafés are known for being extremely intentional in all that they do. An article on Spurge back in January 2016 said, “Onyx Bentonville is more coffee showroom than coffee shop, an exercise in grandeur, and it’s something Southern cafe cultures need more of.” Yet the focus on aesthetics does not end with the building, Onyx Coffee Lab’s packaging for their coffees is marvelous. They clearly did not skimp on the bags, or even the boxes that the bags are sent in. But that is not the end of their focus on aesthetics either, because Onyx Coffee Lab is also known for having extreme care for drink presentation, creating drinks like the S’mores Gibraltar.
On top of this, I must note that the roast date on the coffees that I received were 7/25, and I received them on 7/27, which is really impressive. One of the issues that I run into with reviewing coffee is the time between roasting and receiving, so I was especially surprised and grateful for this!
The first coffee that I will be reviewing in this post is their Kenya Nyeri Barichu. This coffee is a Kenyan Washed processed coffee, meaning that it includes both wet and dry fermentation. This coffee is a blend from the Barichu Cooperative in the Nyeri Region of Kenya, specifically from the Karatina washing station near the Ragati River. This cooperative, Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society, consists of 972 coffee producers who grow both SL-28 and SL-34 varieties (the notes on the bag also included Ruiru 11). Onyx Coffee Lab contracted this coffee from Red Fox Coffee Merchants. All of this extremely helpful information can be found on Onyx Coffee Lab’s website.
Brew Method: Chemex – 50g Coffee – Medium Grind (21 on a Barazta Encore) – 800mL Water – 203*F – 5min Brew Time
Analysis: Upon looking at the whole beans, it is clear that they were roasted very consistently to a lighter, maybe cinnamon, roast. The dry and wet aromas were beautifully complex. Fruity and creamy, with notes of wine, honey, lycheee, rose, peach, blackcurrant, vanilla, Crème Brûlée, and almond extract. Flavor notes included many of the above, but emphasized wine, Créme Brûlée, and grapefruit. I literally did not smell grapefruit when analyzing the dry and wet aromas, and I figured that the bags description of grapefruit was simply a way of speaking of the acidity. But after the water was added, and it began to cool enough to taste, grapefruit became quite prominent. It had a nice medium+ body, sporting a creamy mouthfeel, and had loads of sweetness, which seemed to balance this cup exceptionally well with the high level of acidity, which was also similar to a grapefruit.
The bag says mouth-watering, and I definitely agree. I truly want more of this coffee!
This bag can be purchased on their website for $18.50, which I think is definitely worth it!
Thanks for the review beans, Onyx Coffee Lab! It is clear that you did not settle for good enough!