Did you know that Northwest Arkansas is home to an amazing business that’s breaking the mold for
coffee companies? In this episode of Naturally NWA, I’m going to visit Onyx Coffee Lab to find out how
they make the perfect cup of coffee. We’ll chat with Chaz Day, Wholesale Director of Onyx, to learn all
about their unique business.
Welcome To Onyx Coffee Lab
Onyx has been in business here in Northwest Arkansas since 2012. They started as a roaster for other
companies, sourcing good beans and sending their coffee to other companies. They then transitioned
into Onyx-branded shops, with the first location in Fayetteville.
While there are a lot of places in Northwest Arkansas where you can get a cup of coffee, Onyx is
different than some of the other companies in the area. Everyone at Onyx loves coffee, and they’re
coffee people. Chaz says they then make coffee for coffee people.
What differentiates Onyx in the coffee industry is the way they’ve approached the business and ethics of
coffee. Chaz says that for a long time, coffee has been a really closed-off industry and very secretive.
You couldn’t really find out much about where things came from, the supply chain, or where money was
One ethos that Onyx stands on in the coffee industry is transparency. Where is this coffee coming from?
How much is it being paid for? Ultimately, they want to make sure that the farmers who are actually
growing the coffee benefit to the same degree that a coffee shop in America does.
This is important because there’s a huge disparity between what big coffee shops are making and what
farmers are making back in their home country. Onyx has been pushing that point for the last six years,
being very intentional about putting everything on their website.
If you go to any of the pages on their website, you’ll be able to see exactly how much coffee costs at
each point in the supply chain. You can see what Onyx paid for it, which is really empowering for a
farmer to know what to charge other companies for their beans. Onyx wants to serve a space in the
coffee industry where they represent everyone in coffee well.
Sourcing Specialty Coffee
The only competition that Onyx has is themselves; they’re always thinking of how they can do better.
When it comes to the quality and taste of coffee, things can be pretty subjective. However, there’s a
fairly objective measure of quality called specialty.
This is a type of coffee that is graded a lot like wine. Rated on a scale of 0 to 100, anything that’s over 80
is considered “specialty.” Specialty coffee makes up about 10% of all the coffee in the world, which is
not a lot. It’s rated on qualities like acidity, flavor, and body. These are some objective standards that
the world has decided is what makes good coffee.
Based on that measurement, Onyx only sources the best coffee in the world. Of the 10% of all the coffee
in the world, a rating of 84 is about 1% of that 10%. Onyx only sources 86 and above. It’s objectively
some of the nicest coffee in the world. However, that doesn’t really matter if the coffee doesn’t taste
really good to a lot of people.
The Finest Quality
Onyx always strives to make the best drinks, whether that’s a mocha or drip coffee. They offer the
highest quality version of everyone’s favorite drinks, often with a different twist. For example, a darker
roast might have some chocolaty notes. This is similar to what someone is used to when it comes to
coffee. Then, they’ll add something surprising, maybe finishing with sweet or fruit notes.
In addition to serving the best coffee, Onyx also has the best baristas in the entire world. Every year,
there’s a worldwide competition that’s like the Olympics of coffee making. Baristas come to compete in
different areas and, this year, Onyx is competing in two of them. They’ve won several times before.
Onyx Coffee Lab has two owners, a husband and wife team named John and Andrea. Last year, Andrea
came in second place in the world. She also won the US in 2020. This year, one of the people on Onyx’s
team, Morgan, won for the United States for the Barista Championship okay. Elika, who is our head of
training, won the Brewers Championship.
Tea And Chocolate
In addition to being big in the coffee space, Onyx offers much more. Upstairs at the headquarters is a
little shop where you can buy T-shirts, hats, and all kinds of other merchandise. They also sell tea and
chocolate. Tea is another fairly new offering, and they create amazing blends.
Chaz says one of Onyx’s real big pushes is that the farmers who are making the products—including the
beans and the cacao—will someday be household names. They want people to know them well because
what they’re making is so widely consumed. It makes sense that people would know where that stuff is
Out of that desire, Terroir was born. Terroir is Onyx’s chocolate project, made on the same land that the
coffee comes from. Preston is the person in charge of Onyx’s chocolate program. He’s been in chocolate
food science for a long time and is a brilliant mind when it comes to coming up with new recipes.
For example, one bar is 54% dark milk chocolate with banana inclusions, made from cacao from
Ecuador. They also have a Matcha White Chocolate bar that features sesame seeds and salt for an
amazing flavor. Regardless of the recipes, everything uses the highest-quality ingredients.
Made In House
Onyx’s products are all made from very high-quality materials. Additionally, they also try to make
everything in-house as much as possible, allowing them to have control over the flavors and end
product. When it comes to all of the syrups, they make that in-house as well.
The Onyx Coffee Lab Headquarters is where most of everything is made. It’s the home of their small
bakery and sends everything else out to their four locations. This includes an Onyx café in The
Visit Onyx Coffee Lab
Remember, you don’t have to be a closer to enjoy some of the delicious coffee that Onyx has to offer.
Come taste what Onyx not only one of the best coffee places in Northwest Arkansas but in the entire
You can check out their website to learn more about this awesome local company doing big things all
over the world. Be sure to visit one of their locations in either Rogers, Bentonville, or Fayetteville. Thank you for watching another episode of Naturally NWA, where we support the residents and local
businesses of thriving Northwest Arkansas. If you would like to have your business featured on a future
episode of Naturally NWA, please give me a call. Stay tuned to see what I feature next!