Arsaga’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas is now Onyx Coffee Lab. It only took five days for the folks at Onyx to turn around the twenty-year-old cafe with a brand new slate of gear, coffees, and menu offerings. Husband and wife team Jon and Andrea Allen installed hand-made wooden shelves and bar tops, a pour-over bar, several cold brew towers, and a Modbar. We asked them to tell us more.
As told by Jon Allen. Photos by Anna Hutchison.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Our new space is a renovation of a coffee shop that we’ve owned for the last four years and have operated under the name Arsaga’s. The shop opened in 1994. In August we’ll close for five days and reopen as Onyx Coffee Lab. The original Onyx Coffee Lab is our shop and roastery in Springdale, Arkansas.
The new space will be all about intentionality. The bar, countertops, and cabinets will be handcrafted using reclaimed wood and materials. Behind the bar the wall will be covered with slick, white subway tiles, and the other walls will be painted flat black. We have two long windows that open up to the South. The space will be a fusion of Ozark modern (clean lines that incorporate elements of raw wood, copper, and reclaimed materials) and what we have now (which is a hippy hodge-podge). But…seriously we are keeping all of our tables, which are mosaic concrete, and our chairs which are standard wooden chairs. It’s important to me to bring where we’ve been where we are going.
What’s your approach to serving coffee?
Our approach to serving coffee is quite simple: we want you to taste the bean. It starts with ethical sourcing and trading. When the beans arrive in Arkansas we profile and cup until it’s right. Then we pair our coffees with the brew methods that showcase their innate taste notes as precisely as possible. We also are into education. We have weekly public tastings and offer brew classes and make sure our staff knows their stuff so that our customers can really understand what we are trying to do. Above all else we want to be friendly. I love to see old ladies and college students sharing a table and an outlet. It’s even better when one of them has a pour-over coffee and the other is drinking a mocha.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Oh how we love machines!!! The first thing to mention here is our new espresso machine, the Modbar. What’s great about modbar (besides everything) is that all of the mechanisms of the machine are tucked neatly under the counter, leaving only swan-necked group heads and swooping steam wands on top of the counter. It eliminates the bulky espresso machine that separates the barista from the customer. We also will feature cold brew made with Kyoto Cold Brew Towers and serve it on tap.
In addition, we will have a dedicated pour-over space that features a hot water dispenser from Modbar. This takes the place of kettles and water towers and allows for quicker, more efficient service for manual brewing…. because let’s face it, it’s slow!
And… we’ve never had a dishwasher before, so we’re getting one and that’s a big deal.
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