Private Label is seen as pejorative, yet in definition it’s a collaboration between Roaster & Colleague. Defying this norm, we’ve created Public Label as a celebration of this partnership. A public arm in arm product uniting two brands in financial friendship. This creates a beautiful opportunity for us to learn from our partners and for our partners to share in beautiful coffees.
Cxffeeblack is primarily an entrepreneurial venture with specific social implications, started by Bartholomew Jones and Renata Henderson to reclaim the black history of coffee and remain its black future. Bartholomew says the goal is to generate a profit from apparel and events and consultations and then use those funds to provide opportunities for people of origin to create and generate inspiring work. His wife, Renata, does a lot of the graphic design through her company, @browngirllettering.
WHY THE X?
“In math x represents the variable, and that’s what we’re all about—highlighting the variables God has placed in each person to create a better sum. The x is also what black people have historically used to replace the sugars and cream they were given as a last name during slavery. Most did this until they found a connection with their origins powerful enough to become their new family name. The x served as a fulcrum to connect them to their natural notes as humans, and that’s exactly what we wanna do as well,” he explains.
Henderson started cxffeeblack just like he started his musical journey in college—as an experiment. “What would happen if cxffeeculture loved people of color as much as it loved their cash crops?” “What if we cared for and celebrated single-origin people as much as we celebrated single-origin coffee?” he asks.
“Cxffeeblack is a social experiment interested in exploring the impact people can have when they are empowered to live with no sugar and no cream. It’s a hip-hop cypher over a cup of probably overpriced coffee between the people who grew it, the people who roasted it, and the people who consume it daily.”
This coffee comes from our dear friends at METAD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aman and Tariku, who are brothers, run what is widely considered the best Ethiopian coffee sourcing in the world. They also own and farm the famed Hambela estate coffee farm, from which we purchase many micro-lots. This lot from the majestic Guji zone is a perfect example of talented farming and dedication to clean naturally processed coffees. Metad is one of our best partners, and every year our staff and customers highly anticipate what the new season of their coffees has to offer. Overall, METAD is a big part of what we do at Onyx, and over 50% of all our coffees from Ethiopia are either farmed or sourced through them. This year is an exciting new step for them, as they’ve built a state-of-the-art dry milling facility just outside Addis Ababa. They’ve strategically built this on a thoroughfare that can take the milled and stuffed containers of coffee straight to the port without getting too caught up in the traffic around the city. This mill has been custom built to process microlots, as well as the FCL (full container load) lots that they export around the world. This year we were able to be some of the first buyers to cup at the new lab, and all the coffees we purchased through METAD this year were processed through the new mill.
METAD, HAMBELA, & THE ADINEWS by Jon
I met Michael at an SCAA event back in 2013. He was probably the friendliest person I have ever met. We discussed his coffee farm, and I happened to be headed to Ethiopia at the beginning of the year, so a plan was made to visit. That visit turned out to be an incredibly fruitful trip (pun intended) as we contracted more coffee from a single farm than we ever had at the time. Five years later, we are in a full swing partnership and are so proud to represent the hard work, history, and quality the Adinews bring to specialty coffee. Michael now lives in the Bay area while his other two brothers reside in Addis Adaba. They have gone on to build a school in Hambela, supporting more than 400 students, and they supplement the salaries of the teachers.
We are very proud to say that this is second year that we are importing our coffees directly from METAD.. It was a stressful process for us, complete with new terms and learning. The Adinews continue to be crucial in helping us understand the process and be successful. We hope this marks a new beginning for us having more of a hand in the transport of our coffees from origin to our roastery.
NATURAL PROCESSED COFFEES
Naturals are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly and are pretty much the worst thing ever when not. Natural processing or dry processing refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. This means the coffee cherries are picked from the tree and placed on drying beds or on the ground in some cases. They are dried in the sun until they have 12% moisture content or so and then are hulled to remove the dry husk of the fruit. “Naturally,” they exhibit fruit-forward characteristics and have a good chance of tasting “fermenty,” which is usually a taboo in Specialty Coffee. However, with advanced technique in picking and drying, high-quality naturals are being produced, and the cup quality and taste profiles are astoundingly good. We have long promoted alternative processing methods, and naturals are at the top of that list. This Hambela coffee is one of those reasons we do. Fresh berries, vibrant lime, and a sweet, silky mouthfeel is just part of what makes this coffee so indulgent. Add jasmine tea, bergamot, and tropical overtones in both aromatics and flavor. This coffee will change the way you look at black coffee and may just convert those who don’t drink it currently. Clean, high-quality naturals can be a perspective-changing cup.