After four years of touring with the rock band Spoken, Jonathan Allen shaved off his dreads, hung up his guitar, and traded his rock star lifestyle for a career in coffee. Embarking into a field he never anticipated to find himself in and with nothing but a distant dream fueling his expedition, Jon began his quest to get to know personally the coffee bean. Opening Anonymous Coffee in 2009, Jon used his private label coffee company to learn the trade and perfect the craft before putting his own label out for coffee snob scrutiny. Through Anonymous, the tools were given to Jon to build up an elite coffee brand that needed no certification because its name was all the reassurance needed, Onyx.
Onyx came to fruition in 2012 and has soared in popularity over the past two years (Foolish Thing’s go-to roaster). Through what Jon learned from Anonymous, a heavy focus on sourcing was set in place for Onyx, visiting the farms himself to confirm that every coffee purchased has a clean cup. For those new to coffee, clean cup means that the coffee has been harvested properly at the prime ripeness, is defect free, and contains high sugars and acids. Often Onyx pays three to four times more to the small farms producing these magnificent beans to create loyalty, and help provide for what’s needed to cultivate a consistent crop for the following year. Making the quality of the crop first priority gives Onyx head roaster, Mark Michaelson the opportunity work with coffees that harbor the sweetest flavors and can be coaxed to reach their full potential.
Padawan (Mark Michaelson) surpassed his Yoda (Jon Allen) in the art of roasting only a year into his apprenticeship, rapidly earning the title of head roaster for Onyx. Equipped with two roasters Mark has the ability to dedicate each machine to different tasks. A vintage 40 kilo roaster, Jon found rusting away at a vineyard was purchased and pieced back together then fondly nicknamed “Frankenstein.” This favorite of theirs is specifically used for their blends and higher volume coffees, manly house coffees and espressos that you can find at all three Onyx locations and often at Foolish Things. The 12 kilo roaster remains dedicated to their single origin coffees that are forever changing with the seasons to insure freshness and variety for their customers. However, the care for the beans does not stop after they come from the fire.
Cuppings are held daily at the roastery, where Onyx most skilled taste buds gather to sample each batch roasted to insure quality and remove any coffee that does not reach the standard that is Onyx. The precision, time, and effort that goes into each cup is why the Specialty Coffee Industry is worthy enough to call itself special, and Onyx works every day to make sure they make the industry proud. When asked about what made Onyx successful Jon replied “we set the bar as high as possible and dedicated ourselves to never waver from that standard, making sure that Onyx in itself stands for something.”
“Never settle for good enough” –Onyx Coffee Lab
Stay thirsty Tulsa because our creative minds at Foolish Things are fast at work to create the most refreshingly unique drinks for these scorching summer days, and I’ll be giving out the details shortly!