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At Dessert Oasis, 16-Year-Old Roaster Knows 'A Good Coffee Speaks for Itself'

Adams High School sophomore Nathan Hamood runs the downtown coffee shop and knows all about quality java.

While the Friends' Central Perk had the white-haired, Rachel-swooning Gunther as its resident coffee expert, downtown Rochester has something better.

Meet Nathan Hamood. 

He's the head roaster and "Director of Quality Control" at .

He's also 16 years old.

Every day after school, and all day when school's not in session, you'll find Hamood at The Dessert Oasis, doing what he loves best, which he says is "basically anything to do with coffee."

From Caribou to hand-crafted 

When Hamood's parents first opened The Dessert Oasis nearly three years ago Hamood thought it was "a cool thing," and although he drank coffee — usually from Caribou — he didn't know much about it. 

"I started researching coffee when we opened," Hamood said. "It was a surprise even to me to find the interest in coffee that I had."

Based on his research he really wanted The Dessert Oasis to roast its own coffee beans.

He convinced his dad, Jamal, to invest in a $600 roaster.

"It was small, like a convection oven," Hamood said. "Soon it had paid for itself and as demand grew for our roasted coffee, including wholesale accounts, we upgraded to a bigger and better roaster."

The new roaster can roast 32 pounds in an hour, which Hamood says is still small enough to focus on quality but large enough to be time-efficient.

Hamood also rotates the coffee selection based on what's in season to make sure they're serving the freshest beans.

"We usually have six to seven coffees, each from different farms and regions, at any given time," he said.

Hamood's personal favorite right now is Finca Santa Ana from Guatemala. 

"It's a nice, complex kind of coffee with lots of facets. It has bright fruit tones and a caramel quality to it," he said.

According to Hamood, that quality is what separates the hand-crafted coffees The Dessert Oasis serves from the chain coffees.

"A hand-crafted coffee doesn't need a ton of mild or flavored syrups to taste great. A good coffee speaks for itself."

Favorite things

Besides the coffee itself, Hamood's favorite aspect of his job is the people. 

"I get to deal with a lot of coffee farmers and importers and that's my favorite thing," Hamood said. 

"We work with small farms that are really quality-driven. We make sure the farmers are paid fairly. That's important to us. In the grand scheme of things it also creates incentive for the farmers to grow better coffee each year."

And because neither man — nor boy — can survive on coffee alone, Hamood's other passion is playing drums, which is another nice fit with The Dessert Oasis.

"A lot of how The Dessert Oasis came to be revolves around music. My sister, Stephanie, sings and plays the guitar. My dad's business partner had the idea of opening a coffee shop after watching an episode of Friends so Stephanie would have a place to play."

Live music is featured nightly; Stephanie, now an student, performs.

Although the drums don't lend themselves to the intimate vibe of The Dessert Oasis, Hamood works with his family to select the musical acts.

"It's a cool business to get into," Hamood said, "And it's been a great surprise how open people are to specialty coffees."

The Dessert Oasis will be open throughout the  serving coffee, light lunch items, specialty desserts and the.

The Dessert Oasis is located at 205 South Main, at the corner of Second Street. It's open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There's live music nightly and specialty desserts baked in house daily. Call 248-453-5239 with questions.

Heather February 24, 2012 at 01:38 PM
This is really one of the coolest places in downtown Rochester. Their coffee is absolutely amazing. Really, everything there is great. Amazing hot chocolate and cheesecake as well.
Patrick Mulrenin February 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Nathan is amazing. The Desert Oaisis is a gem.
Jaymes Vettraino February 24, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Nathan is the best. The Desert Oasis is an great community gathering place.
Catherine Grace February 24, 2012 at 02:14 PM
You have to try their signature hot cocoa. Made from real Ghirardelli shaved chocolate. Mmm!
Erin February 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Love this place. So glad we have it in Rochester. Great job Nathan!
Mike February 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Great coffee and lattes. Try the Mexican Mocha on a cold winter day. I encourage everyone to support this place. It's local and unique.
Carol Jackson February 24, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The article forgot to mention that Nathan also refined the recipes for some of the specialty drinks that are not pure coffee. In fact, one of my favorites -- the dharma bomb -- is his take on chai. The Mexican mocha (coffee & chocolate plus spices), as noted above, is quite good. D.O. offers a white chocolate raspberry mocha that I confess I prefer with dark chocolate -- they will make that for you, too. Also Nathan does excellent latte art -- in addition to the standard leaf or heart design, he's done a swan & a teddy bear for me.
Sandy Tabacchi February 24, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Nathan demonstrated a speciality brew for us (our book group has used the private room which is great) and we felt like we were In a science class as he explained how the water flowed through the coffee grounds then back into the beaker... I'm not sure of the process but he amazed us with his knowledge of the chemistry of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee!
Sherry February 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Amazing!! I have had coffee at Dessert Oasis and enjoyed it, but now I will have to return with a new appreciation.
chris santella February 24, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Nathan its meghann. Everyone should go to the dessert oasis its so good! Their smoothies are awesome and the latte art is sweet last time I was there someone made batman haha
Amanda Kirksey February 25, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Are there any dairy alternatives here? Hubby and I are always trying to find a good coffee shop that offers coffee with soy milk or creamer...
Carol Jackson February 25, 2012 at 05:42 AM
When I went in tonight, I checked with the owners about your question, Amanda. Yes, they have both soy & almond milk -- just ask.
Laurin Parker February 26, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Yes, be sure to ask. My hubby is lactose intolerant so we've asked before. They will modify what that they can to accommodate-- even the chocolate fondue. Great place!
Colin McConnell February 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I am blessed to have met Nathan (and his family). I reccomend everyone to stop in and have Nathan make you a Latte... you will be glad you did.
Larry N. February 27, 2012 at 05:59 PM
This place is a jewel of our downtown . They serve the best coffee I've had anywhere in Southeast Michigan. Nathan brewed a cup for me and my daughter using the siphon and it was like watching a chemistry experiment. His knowledge of coffee amazed me.
Shannon Santella March 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Nathan and his family are amazing! Such a perfectly relaxing place they have and I'm glad someone mentioned Nathan's talented latte art. He is an amazing kid!

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