Mitch and Matt Faulkner are cousins, and they established Onyx Coffee Spirits in 2012 with their friends of four decades, Pete the distiller and Scaysey and Ini the coffee brewers. It started with a taste for coffee, a flair for cocktails and an observation of market demand for both.
"Mitch, Scaysey and Ini have been championing Australia's coffee industry for decades. With their experience and creativity, and my business and production experience, we thought we'd try something a bit different and give the coffee spirits market a crack," said Matt, Co-founder and Director at Onyx.
The courageous leap of faith led them to ask their mate Pete, Central Coast spirit connoisseur and professional distiller to spike their coffee.
"Before we knew it, our small group of mates had combined forces to create a premium quality cocktail. Our local resources meant that the finished product came in at a really accessible price. Once we realised that, things started to happen quite quickly," Matt said.
The team produced six variations of their product to meet consumer demand: Onyx Espresso Martini, Coffee Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Coffee Pure, Spiked Coffee and Nitro Espresso Martini. They entered their products in the International Wine and Spirits Awards, sweeping up two bronze medals for Onyx Coffee Liqueur and later, securing distribution at some hot night spots like Florida Beach Bar in Terrigal, The Beresford in Surry Hills and The Newport on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Virgin Airlines and Tiger Airways have also picked up Onyx products, expanding their reach to national scale and considerably amp-ing up the inflight experience.
When asked about Onyx's appeal, Matt reckons it's simple: "Quality is king. Australians know good coffee, and we combine art and science to roast, grind, brew and blend our own. We let our coffee and spirit experts do their thing, then we bring it together to make something incredible.
Convenience is important too. Our packaging and distribution makes it easy for retail and service customers to stock us, and for consumers to access and enjoy."
But like any business, it's not always smooth sailing, and adjustments are always being made. They are currently looking to expand their production premises to keep up with demand, and need to evolve their smart investment options.
Robson Director, Troy Marchant, and Associate Director, Nikki Schumacher, have been integral partners, providing business intelligence and financial acumen to help Onyx stay true to their core business values.
"Troy and Nikki have helped us to make educated decisions, and they take a personal interest in our success. They're solutions-oriented and that's what we need right now," Matt added.
Despite many invitations to re-locate to a major metropolitan area, the Onyx team remain loyally based on the Central Coast. It is their hope to continue to grow their family business for the next generation. As far as we can see, there is little in their way.