“This coffee, sourced by the fam at Onyx, is the perfect example of a coffee built to be enjoyed—bright, fruit-forward, and incredibly perfumed—its value speaks volumes on its own. Cxffeeblack is a social enterprise that seeks to reintroduce the black history of coffee into black communities and help reimagine its black future. Cxffeeblack believes that African peoples, learning from African origins, can remix it and sample it from their history to elevate their present experience, building generational wealth throughout the diaspora.”
Modern. Heirloom. Natural, Raised-Bed Dried.
Cup Notes: Perfume, Elderberry Syrup, Dark Chocolate
Private Label is seen as pejorative, yet in the 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 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 cipher 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.”
We at Onyx are super excited to see this coffee come to fruition. Since the ECX changed its rules, we have seen single producer lots from Ethiopia offered up to us. It’s not until now that we have purchased one that hit our quality standard, demarking the slow shift of single producer lots becoming more and more ubiquitous in Ethiopian coffee. Here’s what our good friends over at Catalyst Coffee have to say about this coffee:
“In 2014, we began working with Asnake Bekele. Now; you might recognize Asnake because of his signature modest, gold-toothed grin—but you might not know that he is single-handedly responsible for us all having the privilege of drinking (importing, roasting, serving) quality natural-processed Sidama coffee! Many years ago, when Asnake worked as the manager of the prominent Sidama Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union, he presented the idea to the producers to add raised-bed natural processing to their washed processed coffee. At the time, he was laughed at! But luckily for us all, he persevered, and of course, now we all know the glory of natural-processed Sidama coffee.
While Asnake’s career in Ethiopian coffee has spanned many high points, we’ve had the privilege of partnering with him on a number of projects which included groundbreaking processing work in Kochere and Gelana Abaya (together we introduced honey processing) as well as on a researched article which directly resulted in over $8 million USD being invested by the Ethiopian government into the Gedeo Zone to repair dozens of washing stations damaged in the 2017 riots. He also helped us organize several producer groups in various parts of Ethiopia as well as served as an incredibly wise Ethiopian coffee expert and resource to us. When he began his latest endeavor—partnering with outstanding Sidama single producers such as Basha Bekele—we were on board from the first moment, and in fact, we have the privilege of being his very first collaborative partner and of building this program with him.
Basha Bekele is part of the producing group Asnake and his partner Aklilu Admassu has vertically integrated with. He’s focused on quality and on advancing the future of traceable, single-producer Ethiopian coffee. In a recent event co-hosted by Asnake’s company and Catalyst Trade, Basha spent two days with us learning details of advanced processing, financial management, and many other aspects of successful coffee production before taking to a boat to enjoy the bright sun and the hippo sightings on the Great Rift Valley Lake of Hawassa, where we held the retreat.
Asnake shares that on Basha’s farm, “Red Cherries are harvested by hand-picking. This is very labor-intensive, and around 86 seasonal and daily laborers are employed for selective harvesting, transporting, sorting, and drying. Pickers many a time have to return to the same tree multiple times as coffee cherry doesn’t ripen all at the same time. Carefully harvested cherries are then are loaded into bags or baskets and taken to the drying location. The cherries are spread out in thin layers to dry in the sun. Only special raised drying beds or tables, which are made out of wood posts, are used and covered in bamboo mats. In order to ensure even drying and to avoid mold, fermentation, or rotting, the cherries are turned 6 times per day. It could take 15 – 21 days for specific lots to reach optimum moisture content depending on the sun access and temperature. This is determined by observing the brightness of the skin and cracking sample dried cherries with teeth. When the drying is complete, the dried cherries are loaded into poly bags and stored in a temporary warehouse. It will then ultimately transported to the dry mill and warehouse located at Daye town.” At that point, the dried cherry is removed and a phase of pre-cleaning is done by hand before the coffee is loaded into bags for transportation to Addis Ababa for further export preparation at the final dry mill.”
- Catalyst Trade