Onyx Coffee Lab sent me a ton of samples to taste and their Sugar Skull Blend was one of them (these were complimentary samples, but Onyx is not an advertiser nor is this a paid review, nor did they even expect or ask for a review on any of their samples). You can find Sugar Skull at the link above for a very reasonable $14.50/bag!
As you can see in the graphic from their website this blend has the type of flavor profile you’ll see in many blends, where the recipe is tweaked for the cocoa/chocolate sweetness, nuttiness and fruity/acidic components we love in coffee. With blending the roaster can attempt to offer all the flavor highlights people love in one cup, which is usually not possible with single origin coffees.
According to Onyx’s site, the current makeup of Sugar Skull is a mix of Guatemalan and Colombian coffees. I cupped this coffee against a few others recently and I was struck by a very obvious blueberry flavor that I associate with Ethiopian natural coffees. I’m waiting to hear back if my palate is nuts or if there is some Ethiopian coffee in there right now, possibly. The flavor is a little less obvious in the cup (as opposed to slurping with a cupping spoon!) but still there a bit. I pulled some toasted coconut flavors out of the cup and found it “roasty and warm” overall, although that’s hardly a flavor description, is it?
There is some nice bitterness in this coffee and the perceived acidity is pretty low. The walnuts and chocolate come out in the aftertaste.
I thought this might make a good espresso and I used my usual recipe of 19g of coffee and got a 40g shot in 26 seconds (timing from the appearance of the first drop of espresso). It was interesting, but surprisingly it was almost all acidity. Super bright lemon highlights just slammed my tongue! My extraction was a little fast, but nothing too crazy, so this really surprised me! It wasn’t a bad shot, especially if you like super bright, tart lemony third-wave-or-die espresso, but for such a mellow drip it was unexpected. Not my first choice for an espresso blend, but then again, Onyx made no recommendation that this should be espresso in the first place, so it’s not their fault! You know me, if it’s coffee I’ll try to make it espresso! LOL
Anyway, I liked the Sugar Skull Blend but I have enjoyed all of Onyx’s single origin coffees more, so I think this suffers a little from the downside of blends and that’s that they can be a little tame and a little safe at times. Absolutely nothing wrong with this coffee, but given that they roast so many excellent SO’s, I would lean toward Onyx’s other excellent offerings, personally.