I was able to have some phone time with Jon, owner of Onyx Coffee Lab, and chat a bit more about the branding. He tells me that Northwest Arkansas is a strange microcosm. In it’s population of about 150,000, three of the top ten largest companies in the world come from the region: WalMart, Tyson Foods, and J.B Hunt. Why do you need to know that? You don’t, but with that entrepreneurial prowess it was a slight antithesis for Jon and Andrea to create something anti-big box, and more about creating new, something to stand out. With that slogan we mentioned last post on the inside of the Roaster’s Box “Never Settle for Good Enough,” they strive to make that all encompassing. There is an attention to detail that survives through their selection of coffees, to their Sugar Skull logo which is more of a tie in with their Latin American culture in the area and Central American offerings (not as Grateful Dead inspired as I thought) and their methods of teaching the community around them about excellent coffee and excellent coffee preparation, bet it weekly cuppings, brewing classes, a home roasters association, or their knowledgeable, friendly baristas. It’s been great getting to know more about Onyx and diving into their roast style, something I’ll definitely be back for more of. We’ll end this box with their Glaucio Carneiro, Brazil.
Glaucio Carneiro is a third generation farmer in the Sul de Minas region of Brazil. This was a small micro-lot they purchased after receiving his highest-scored samples. This coffee is a completely yellow bourbon varietal, and won early cup of excellence in 2013 in Brazil.
Onyx tells me this is their second year with Glaucio’s coffee. They worked with JC Coffee Farms, a producer of about 200 small farmers in Brazil. The first year out of about 20 top lots it was Glaucio’s that seemed to rise to the top on the cupping table. During this year’s selection they did blind tastings and again, it was Glaucio’s offering that jumped above the other offerings.
Sítio Grota Funda is situated 5 km from the center of the city of Carmo de Minas – MG, among hills and mountains (Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range). It was acquired in 1992, then soon after coffee crops were planted, which are in a good vegetative state today. The owner is the son and grandson of coffee producers, and has been in the activity since 1967, always producing coffee in the municipality of Carmo de Minas – MG.
The coffee is harvested with the maximum of ripe fruit possible, which are pulped on the same day and placed in fine layers on drying patios, raked constantly. Carried with a humidity of 11% to wooden granaries for rest for a period of time, later the coffee will be processed already in its state of complete rest.
Roaster: Onyx Coffee Lab
Origin: Sul de Minas, Brazil
Farm: Sítio Grota Funda
Process: Pulped Natural
Varieties: Yellow Bourbon
Woodneck | 30g © to 477g (w) | 4:30 total time | 200 degrees | 1.47 TDS | 21.62% Ext.
Dry aroma : sweet, caramel, praline.
Nose like cream soda and berries, whiffs of pepper and shortbread too.
Sweet fruit flavors on the highs mellow into smooth chocolate notes really sweet and dense chocolate.
Sparkling acidity on the sides of the tongue. Notes of nuts and grape come out. Really clear, rounded, really nice. Finishing with slightly spiced finishing. There is a nice sweet dessert wine/port characteristic that’s really enjoyable, or some sort of sweet liquor but can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. All I know is it’s comforting but playful at the same time.
Cooling more the acidity seems to liven and it takes on more of an orange-like acidity. Raisin becomes a bit more noticeable and more nectary peach and cherry filling and caramel sauce sweetness seems to fill the cup while the chocolate is a bit more subdued. It really becomes nice and settled in, comforting, and enjoyable with soft, refreshing, but lingering finishes. The acidity does take back down too as the notes become more quiet and easy going. Lightly syrupy, sweet, toasted nuts and whiffs of delicious chocolate.
Looking back at the notes, it is really hard to deviate. I get some nectary sweetness of peach, even though I find combined with the acidity it to feel a but more grape like. The smooth chocolate notes combined with cup sweetness really balance out and taste like a brownie in the mouth.
Really surprising for a natural to have that much diversity in flavor and not be so one sided.
Gino Dripper | 36g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 200 degrees | 1.40 TDS | 19.75% Ext.
Really liqoury aroma brewing. Nose of cherry cordial.
Cherry liqueur notes meet tangy or tingly high notes and woody and nutty notes in the finish with cocoa notes too.
Diving further it grows heavier with a richer chocolate forming and also a clear grape note jumps into the cup. It’s incredibly clear, you are able to detect a lot of what is going on. There is a creamy peanut butter element at play in the mids too, still carrying a fun liquor like note with spiced nuts and chocolate cake in the finish. It’s as if this coffee was barrel conditioned along with a fruit basket with a note that reads ‘dear sir, please enjoy the **** out if this coffee. Love, Onyx’ just waiting for me to take a crowbar to it and let it flow into my mouth.
Cooling further the sweetness turns up the volume and thick notes of caramel coated peach, plum and raisin join the cup, still flowing with spiced cherry liquor and chocolate bourbon cake in the finish. It has brightened up a bit, still seems like an orange-like acidity that hangs around into the finish.
Clever | 30g © to 500g (w) | 2:30 then drop | 197 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 23.98% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Really nutty. Softer notes of cherry, grape, peach seem noticeable but more fleshy, less juicy. Soft and creamy, buttery like croissants.
Cooling is syrupy and sparkling sweet. Still with woodsy hints in the finish soaked in alcohol.
Finish has a soft, dense chocolate play involved with hints of orange, tangerine, grapefruit - all steeped in alcohol, making me thing I just ate some orange slices and nuts, and smoked a cigar with a glass of bourbon.
Dense, liquor, sweet, lively.
Brazil was actually the place where I first fell in love with “coffee” in general. I remember the morning too. It was in March, 2008 - I was in the town of Teresopolis in a family’s home, eating fruits I’d never known prior to coming to this country. The mother was steeping coffee in a sock over a boiling pan of water. When it was done, it was the best cup of coffee I’d ever known. It wasn’t bitter and roasty like I knew coffee prepared in American to be. I sat out on their porch, looking over the hills and the homes in the village built upon them, just taking in the coffee and taking in the world. While Onyx’s offering didn’t remind me flavor-wise of the coffee I had when I was in Brazil, it definitely took me back to that place in memory with its rich, articulated, and clean cup.
I really enjoyed this coffee. I haven’t had a lot of experience with Brazilian coffees in the specialty coffee realm, but the ones I have had were far from my favorite cup of coffee. This offering packed so much balance between so many different characteristics, and ended on some really sophisticated and delightful liquor tones. As it cooled the sweetness was more than welcomed to the cup, as the one characteristic I did feel like was always present in Brazilian coffees I’ve had has been an overabundant nuttiness. While those notes were still there they were in no way a deterrent to the cup, but another welcomed layer. Creamy and layery, sweet and a bit spiced - this offering is one not to be missed.
Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.