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Unpacking Coffee with Kandace and Ray: Onyx Coffee Lab

Onyx Coffee Labs bags. Needmore Designs photo.

On this week’s episode of Unpacking Coffee, Kandace and Ray chat with Jon Allen of Onyx Coffee Lab, which has been building a world-class coffee operation based in Northwest Arkansas.

K-Ray caught up with Allen while he was on a sourcing trip in East Africa, navigating the current civil unrest in the Ethiopian capital of Addis. With footage mostly captured in cars to and from coffee destinations, Allen talks about the challenges and freedoms associated with running a business (co-owned by Andrea Allen), Onyx’s elaborate packaging, the company’s “Terroir” line of specialty food products, and the push toward pricing transparency.

Packaging from Onyx Coffee Labs’ Terroir line. Needmore Designs photo.

On the latter, Allen said publishing info about costs throughout the supply chain sprung from his own frustration as a young coffee buyer with limited resources regarding pricing structures or conventions.

“There was no one we could talk to for any information on what the pricing structure should be like,” he said. “What was paid before? Is there a correlation in price to what this coffee is scoring? Does the producer actually know what’s being paid?”

Without further ado:

Unpacking Coffee is a show discovering new coffee roasters one episode at a time led by Kandace and Ray of the Portland-based studio Needmore Designs, which specializes in coffee, wine and lifestyle brands.