Commercial Coffee Roaster News, Customer Stories
Steady as They Go: Nathan Hamood and Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters
Nathan Hamood, President and Director of Coffee for Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters, roasts on an MCR-3, 3 kilogram roaster in a commercial production facility in Rochester, Michigan. He is one of five on the roasting team, supplying three locations with over eight hundred pounds of coffee weekly.
Setting the Scene
Dessert Oasis started as a small family shop in downtown Rochester, Michigan in 2009. Nathan Hamood’s parents envisioned a small, low-maintenance shop initially: “the idea was it would pay its bills,” Nathan says.
While Dessert Oasis, true to its name, focused mainly on sweets in the early years, Nathan soon became curious about the coffee side of the menu. He convinced his parents to split the cost of a Ronco Rotisserie Oven drum roaster. They obliged, and Nathan, just thirteen at the time, started roasting one-pound batches as a hobby.
Through experiment and YouTube research, Nathan found solid footing in roasting. “I was free labor for them,” he says. And when the coffee became available through Dessert Oasis, the Rochester community responded to it. The operation began expanding slowly, fueled now by coffee instead of dessert.
What followed was a period of growth. In 2011, the Hamoods invested in a 3-Kilogram roaster from US Roaster Corp to supply the evolving business. And in 2012, the storefront moved to an outdoor mall on Main Street, where foot traffic drove an increase in sales.
The Way Up
Nathan took over Dessert Oasis gradually. By 2014, he was working full-time as Director of Coffee, heading the company’s steady scaling.
“We’ve always been very scrappy, and that’s something that is now just in our fiber as a company,” He says. Controlling the growth of the company allowed the team to be intentional about where to put their time and energy.
As sales increased, it became clear that the best direction to grow was brick and mortar expansion, and so the second Dessert Oasis location opened in Detroit in 2015. True to their resourceful and thrifty roots, the team did most of the buildout themselves, only contracting when necessary.
The third location opened in Royal Oak in 2019. The following year, when the pandemic impacted in-person business, they took the opportunity to develop an online presence and an ecommerce platform.
In early 2022, the team invested in an MCR-3. When the USRC broke down, Nathan made a late-night inquiry to find what Mill City Roasters had in stock. The MCR-3 was delivered within days, solving several emergency supply chain issues at once. Nathan always had an interest in Mill City Roasters, and the emergency ended up an opportunity for him to make the switch. “It all fell into place,” Nathan says. “We’ve loved working on it ever since.”
In the thirteen years since Dessert Oasis launched, the team has developed just as much as the menu. Nathan, originally the sole roaster, now shares roasting duties with four others, who work rotating shifts to meet the coffee demand of all three locations and wholesale partners, an amount that averages 800lbs per week.
“The steps necessary to continue our growth have been surprising,” Nathan says. “We learned over time how much more goes into running the roasting operation than just turning green beans brown.”
Because of the amount of hands on the roaster each week, Dessert Oasis has created a batch protocol to make sure the product is consistently high-quality. “It’s a challenge, but also something our team takes pride in,” Nathan says.
The full team numbers about fifty, and includes administrative positions such as VP of Personnel and Director of Finance, as well as managers, supervisors, and barista staff for the cafes and, of course, the roasting team. Nathan’s parents are still involved, although they work less on the floor and more in development these days.
Roasting happens at the Rochester location for now. The operation has reached a tipping point; soon, roasting and greens storage will be moved to the soon-to-be fourth location in Ferndale, where there is more space for a streamlined roasting process as well as warehouse room for greens storage and office space for administration.
Since a fourth location will solve the challenge of space constraints, the biggest hurdle Dessert Oasis now faces is rising shipping costs and longer lead times for cafe products like cups and lids. “We have to be a bit more creative and deliberate in our approach,” Nathan says. He foresees the new location alleviating much of the supply chain pressure, as it will be easier for the company to plan ahead and store more backstock.
The Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters Menu
Dessert Oasis currently offers a menu of seven single origins, with coffees rotating out one at a time on a monthly basis. The lineup currently includes origins Rwanda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.
As Director of Coffee, Nathan is most often the person in charge of green buying. His philosophy is based on adaptability; that way, he can account for harvest seasonality as well as promising samples that end up on the cupping table.
The Dessert Oasis bestseller changes. “Most often, it’s the newest one,” Nathan says. It’s a sign that their customers are willing to get excited about new things just as he is. Since he’s built his customers’ trust, Nathan feels less pressure to order greens to fit an existing roast profile.
While he loves the surprise of a great sample, Nathan still has to plan in advance while buying greens. Dessert Oasis’s importers have been a great help in that regard. They use a number, including Onyx, Red Fox Coffee Merchants, and Artisan Coffee Imports for their specialized focuses on Central America and Africa.
In-house, the cafes offer a traditional cafe menu as well as pastries and cheesecakes baked at the Royal Oak location.
Short-term, the Dessert Oasis team is focused on the build-out and opening of the Ferndale location. With the increased space and capacity in the fourth store, Nathan foresees more growth in the company’s community education, for both employees and the public. He would love to host more seated events such as cuppings and tastings to give customers a chance to step out of their practical everyday coffee habits and consider the craft element of their beverage.
In the new space, the team will also have the ability to expand their number of wholesale accounts. Nathan will develop systems for the company to roast for more businesses, so that each account will get the time and attention it deserves without anyone sacrificing expectations or needs.
With the new changes happening, it’s as important as ever to Nathan and the rest of the team to keep the operation as controlled as possible; growth at a simmer and not at a boil.
Bring Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters Home
You can visit the Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters Team at any of the three locations: Rochester, Detroit, or Royal Oak. The Ferndale location is expected to open in early 2023.
All coffees are also available retail on the Dessert Oasis website, alongside a selection of merch and brewing equipment. Otherwise, you can keep current by following them on Instagram.
Want your company to be featured on our blog & social media? Send us your story using our Customer Feature form?
Leave a reply