The rise of specialty coffee roasters looks a lot like the rise of craft and microbreweries of yesteryear. Albeit at vastly different scales, the biggest names in specialty coffee — Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia — are similar to names that have endured and scaled in the craft beer business (Sam Adams, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, etc.). But, very much like craft beer, it’s the smaller creative endeavors that seize the attention of the industry. Right now in coffee that’s Onyx Coffee Lab.
Out of the northwestern corner of Arkansas, Onyx can be found on virtually every “Best Coffee Roaster” list the world over (including ours), its head roaster has finished in the top three this year and last year (coming in first last year) and its team of baristas has been all over the competitive brewing circuit for the last few years. “The coffee I tasted [from Onyx] was one of the best espresso coffees I’ve tasted,” McKnight said, “sweet, balanced flavors of ruby grapefruit and apricot with a great finish. Clearly the exposure to competition at the highest level in the US is paying dividends,” said Phil McKnight, multi-decade specialty coffee veteran and Global Business Manager for beverages at Breville. Senior Coffee Specialist at Espresso Supply, David Inman called Onyx “an innovative coffee lab that would make even the mildest coffee consumer shiver with envy.”
The best part? Its various single origin, espresso, cold brew and decaf beans are available — roasted and shipped fresh — through the world’s largest retailer, where bags start at $18.