If you follow my Instagram (you should!) or have been reading this blog (you should do that, too!) for a while, you know what a sucker for packaging I am. You can imagine, then, that the first time I saw Onyx Coffee Lab’s branding it was love at first site! I was finally able to obtain some coffee samples from Onyx and what’s inside is as interesting as what’s outside! This review of Onyx’s Ndaroini coffee from Kenya is the first of many that will be appearing on KCcoffeegeek.com in the coming weeks. Enjoy! You can buy this coffee for $19 per bag direct from Onyx.
Disclaimer: This coffee was provided as a complimentary review sample to KCcoffeegeek.com from Onyx Coffee Lab. Onyx is not an advertiser nor is this a paid review (nor are any others on this site).
This is a really, really interesting coffee but I’m going to preface my review by telling you that it isn’t for everyone. My first impression of this coffee was, “This is the West Coast IPA of coffee.” For those who aren’t beer drinkers, India Pale Ale (IPA) is a style of beer known for its hop-forward flavors, and no one adds more hops to these beers than the brewers of California, Oregon and Washington. If you’re a hop-head, then the more hops the better, but if you’re not really into hops as a flavor, you’re like my wife and you just think these beers are gross. A lot of hops varieties carry huge citrus, especially grapefruit, flavors and that’s what I found with this coffee.
My first cups of this coffee was from the notNeutral Gino pourover dripper, which is a lot like a Kalita Wave. I found all the same flavors from a cup I made by AeroPress, but noticeably toned down. If you’re interested in my parameters, there is a link under the KCcoffeegeek logo at the top of the page.
Kenyan coffees are famous for their bright acidity and this one from Onyx is one of the brightest of the bright! Slurping from my cupping spoon I got an interesting note like unsweetened cherry cola. In the cup with regular sips this coffee was a massive grapefruit bomb, which is what made me immediately associate it with West Coast IPA beers. Specifically I was getting a lot of the grapefruit pith (the white stuff inside the grapefruit peel) flavors and it was accompanied by a drying sensation on my palate that the coffee created (kind of like my tastebuds were tightening).
While this grapefruit pith flavor dominated the cup, as it cooled I picked up occasional savory notes not unlike tomato, which I have found in other coffees (Tanager’s Zelele from Yirgacheffe), as strange as it sounds. But, really, this coffee was just hugely acidic, bracingly so, with giant grapefruit flavors. It was quite striking, actually, and it would be a great coffee to calibrate your palate to understand what an example of an acidic and grapefruit citrus coffee would taste like! There’s no mistaking this one!
Because of this I would fathom a guess that there are a good number of coffee drinkers who wouldn’t love this coffee, just like a lot of beer drinkers don’t appreciate a hoppy IPA. Personally, I love this coffee and while it wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice every morning, it is a brilliant example of what an acid-forward, citrusy coffee can be. If you like acidic coffees, grapefruit or are a bonafide hop head when it comes to beer but don’t know how you land when it comes to coffees like this, I would say you’re going to love this!