TERROIR: IT’S A TERM THAT MEANS “flavor of the land,” and it’s a concept that the folks behind the award-winning brew at Onyx Coffee Lab take seriously. To be sure, it’s the very reason they opt for a lighter coffee roast—the better to make sure the flavor of the land where the coffee’s from is evident in every sip.
So when it came time to christen a new side brand—a line of bean-to-bar chocolate—choosing a name was a no-brainer, explains Jon Allen, who co-owns the Springdale-based company with his wife, Andrea. His intention behind the coffee-forward chocolate bars launched under the Terroir umbrella? To give the single-origin coffee growers Onyx works with new sources of revenue from the land they cultivate.
“It seemed like a natural fit for us and a fun side project,” he says. “It’s not a thing we’re looking to get rich off of; it’s just a way for us to expand flavor. And for the farmers we’re friends with, it’s a new cash flow. If they don’t grow cacao, maybe we can encourage them to do so on the land they’re now farming.”
While the folks at Onyx will be roasting the coffee that goes into the bars, the company has partnered with Kyya Chocolate, a Springdale-based craft-chocolate company, to produce the chocolate side of the bar. “We’re working with different experts on the chocolate,” Jon says, “because we know we only know coffee, so we’re going to stick to that.”
When you buy a bar of Terroir, a quick glance at the back label will tell you a great deal about the land where the cacao beans and the coffee beans in the bar were grown, including the specific name of the farms of origin. It’s a level of specificity that you’re not likely to get with your average craft bean-to-bar chocolate—as well as a unique taste experience, as the flavor profiles in the coffee and cacao combine to create “these really powerful notes within the bars,” Jon says, noting that the first Terroir bars are made from coffee and cacao beans grown on farms in Uganda, Guatemala and Colombia.
Even though it’s his first time putting his brand on a bar, the world of craft chocolate is familiar to Jon. Since its inception, Onyx has carried craft bars from local makers—and, Jon says, seemingly on a weekly basis, a new craft-chocolate company calls asking for shelf space.
“Coffee cafes are the brick-and-mortar outlet for a lot of this chocolate,” Jon explains. “So it made sense for us to kind of step into craft chocolate a bit.”