I’ve been a fan of Onyx ever since I discovered them several years ago. They specialize in what is sometimes termed “third-wave” coffee. The waves are pretty simple: The first wave would be diner coffee, or the robusta beans that would come in the old metal coffee cans sold under various brand names. Second wave is Starbucks, which shunned robusta for quality arabica beans, as did other establishments that began their life in Seattle and elsewhere, and one by one have either failed or been bought by, you got it, Starbucks.
Third wave is kind of the “anti Starbucks”. It seeks to bring the coffee experience back to its neighborhood employing techniques such as pour-over coffee, which is brewed precisely over a period of 3 minutes, using scales, timers, and water at a precise temperature. It’s a difference in taste that’s marked. The beans are more expensive since they are sourced from a region and even sometimes a particular hill, much as is wine. The espressos are individually drawn using technique, not from an automatic machine such as Starbucks now uses. The foam at the top of a latte is poured in a pattern to show that your drink has been carefully prepared. For the coffee lover, it’s quite an experience.
Onyx Coffee Lab has been the embodiment of third-wave coffee in NW Arkansas, from the moment they broke away from Arsaga’s in 2012. To be fair, Arsaga’s was the first third-wave coffee player in the market, and offers a full-featured restaurant menu at their flagship location at The Depot.
I learned and grown in my appreciation for fine pour-over coffee, including the many ways to prepare it, which extend beyond the plunge pot to include the Kalita dripper, the Clever immersion dripper, and the hi-tech siphon dripper at the Springdale location. The baristas, cuppers, and head roaster are not only great at customer service but are a wealth of knowledge.
That said, I’m tiring of paying what seem to be higher and higher prices that rival the most expensive third-wave stores in the biggest cities. The cheapest pour-over during my last visit was $4.50, and a similar sized Grasshopper, a peppermint latte, was $5.25. Prices do include sales tax. The prices for beans and mugs also either match or surpass comparisons to Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and Intelligentsia. I’m fairly certain that rents and employee costs in their Onyx’s strip-mall location don’t rival those of Blue Bottle, for instance, which has locations in the basement of NYC Rockefeller Center and San Francisco Ferry Building.
I might have to be content with just buying their beans, and preparing them myself at home.
Rating 4.0/5.0 – Really liked it
Onyx Coffee Lab
2418 N Gregg Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72703