Onyx opens Rogers studio, wins chocolate awards

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,293 views 

Preston Stewart

Rogers-based Onyx Coffee Lab now has two award-winning chocolate bars and a 4,196-square-foot space to shoot promotional and educational content for its award-winning coffee and tea.

The 2nd Street Studio at 219 N. Second St. in downtown Rogers will also be a potential location for film crews, producers, photographers and creatives to use.

On April 29, Onyx’s chocolate brand, Terroir by Onyx, was named a winner in the 2024 Good Food Awards. The Terroir (pronounced ter-wah) Chai Milk Chocolate + Pink Peppercorn and Terroir 69% Madagascar Dark Chocolate bars were winners in the chocolate category. The bars were previously named finalists.

Preston Stewart, Onyx’s director of chocolate, represented the brand at the Good Food Awards Ceremony at the Portland Center Stage at The Armory in Portland, Ore.

“We’ve been making chocolate for a little over three years since I joined the team, but for the longest time, it’s been a little bit under the radar to an extent,” Stewart said. “Onyx coffee is still the mothership, but this Terroir chocolate project has been kind of a slow burn – more and more production each year … As a chocolate maker in the chocolate community having been recognized as an award winner for a couple different chocolate bars, it’s like, ‘OK, so it’s not just like this little side project. It’s something that they’re taking seriously.’”

The Chai Milk Chocolate + Pink Peppercorn bar has a “complex flavor profile,” he said. “The cocoa beans are from India, which is the motherland of chai. We utilized a couple different chia blends from our friends at Savoy Tea in Springdale.”

The bar has many flavors one might find at a coffee shop, including black tea, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorn spice. “All of those things harmoniously blended, and being in a milk chocolate, you get a little of that creaminess that you would associate if you were having a latte,” he said. “One of the things when I started working here was not only did I want to create great chocolate, but being a coffee company, I wanted to create some flavors that were intrinsic to the coffee shop.”

The 69% Madagascar Dark Chocolate bar comprises “a single-origin chocolate without any inclusions or flavor additions,” he said. “As a chocolate maker, it’s exciting because … the flavor of the bean is what’s on display. There’s nothing to hide behind. If you can make a high-quality dark chocolate with a good balance of sweetness, intensity, acidity, and bitterness, that’s high praise.”

Onyx offers various chocolate bars and chocolate-covered products. The company plans to relocate its chocolate factory from Rogers to the basement of an Onyx cafe in the former First Security Bank complex in downtown Springdale, which is undergoing a $3 million redevelopment.

Stewart said the plan is to open at least one aspect of the new location in November. He noted that ice cream is in the works for the new location. Onyx will soon purchase an ice cream machine, and Stewart hopes to attend a training course about ice cream making in North Carolina. He also wants to expand the variety of confections and chocolate-covered items Onyx produces.

Onyx’s 2nd Street Studio is owned by J Allen Investments, a company led by Jon and Andrea Allen, owners of Onyx Coffee Lab. Kaylee and Richard Williamson manage the studio. Kaylee has experience as a director and producer, while Richard has experience in cinematography and camera operation.

The studio has three kitchen sets, a camera prep area, high-speed editing suite, soundproof podcast booth, conference room, a shared workspace and 10-foot by 20-foot LED wall. The kitchen sets include furniture, decor and appliances.

“We’re excited to broaden opportunities for Arkansas’ creative and film ventures with the opening of 2nd Street Studio,” Jon Allen said. “There’s so much creative talent in our state, and Onyx saw an opportunity to design a space where our team can continue to shoot high-quality content while also providing a new area for other creators to do the same.”