Dessert Oasis' Nathan Hamood pioneers coffee and pomade in Rochester and Detroit

Nathan Hamood isn't very good at sitting still. That's not to say he's an angsty or fidgety sort of person. He just doesn't stop working.

Hamood spends 13 to 14 hours a day between his family's two Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters locations, one in downtown Rochester and one in downtown Detroit's Capitol Park. And when the shops shut down for the night, he somehow finds the time to develop his own hair pomade company, Ace High.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is a family business. Hamood's parents opened up the shop in 2009, and he his sister Stephanie soon became partners. Today, each Hamood remains involved. Dad Jamal is a business law attorney who handles business administration duties for Dessert Oasis. Mom Charlene can often be found helping out around either shop. Sister Stephanie, a talented musician working in the music industry in Nashville, books the music acts. She's turned the two locations into destinations for live music, especially for fans of Americana and roots music.

Hamood's role has increased substantially. He began to study coffee in earnest and by 2010 was experimenting with coffee roasting techniques in a small rotisserie oven. A year or two later, the Hamoods purchased a full-size coffee roaster.

"People started to seek out our coffee more and more," says Hamood. "I was beginning to become really proud of the coffee we were putting out, because what we do next year will always be better than what we do this year."

Dessert Oasis first opened on the edge of downtown Rochester in 2009. After a couple of years in that location, the family began to develop a new business model emphasizing craft coffee and moved to a central location within downtown Rochester. The first day they re-opened, sales doubled. A few months later they tripled. 

While Dessert Oasis remains a family affair, Hamood is the face of the business. He says he does as much as he can, including buying coffee, roasting coffee, training employees, quality control, and day-to-day administrative work. 
He also regularly works behind the coffee bar. Being hands-on is important to him. While sitting down for this story, Hamood left the interview for ten minutes, joining an employee to help make lattes behind the counter.

"There isn't a job here we ask our staff to do that isn't something I'd do," he says.

The success of Dessert Oasis in Rochester led to the Hamoods opening a second location in Detroit's Capitol Park in late 2015. While the brand remains consistent between the two, each has its own vibe. The Rochester location feels warm and living room-like, while the Detroit shop has a more stark, contemporary style.

The Hamoods are excited about Detroit and their place in it. With several residential projects undergoing construction around Capitol Park, Hamood certainly got in at the right time.

Hamood plans on continued growth for Dessert Oasis. He'd like to increase wholesale coffee sales to other shops as well as online. This past spring, Hamood took his beans to America's Best Espresso Competition in Dallas, where he placed second in the contest, qualifying Dessert Oasis for the final round in Nashville later this year.

There might even be more locations in the family's future, though Hamood says he won't do it at the sacrifice of identity and quality.

And then there's Ace High hair pomade, which Hamood developed with a Dessert Oasis employee. The pomade, which is sold at both Dessert Oasis locations, is named after old cowboy slang for someone being first-class and well-respected. It fits the country and western theme present in both shops, something he picked up from his musician sister in Nashville.

"Over time, me and one of our guys started playing around with making our own pomade. We thought we could come up with something kind of cool and brand it cool. We've just been chipping away at it whenever we had spare time," says Hamood. "After hours, late at night if I couldn't sleep, I'd just work on the pomade."

While coffee and pomade may seem a surprising combination, it's that craftsmanship, that attention to detail, that keeps Hamood's imagination. Even when he's trying to sleep.

Quick Facts on Nathan Hamood

Title: President, Director of Coffee Roasting Operations at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters

Date of opening: July 2009 (Rochester), December 2015 (Detroit)

First job: "The business in a way was actually my first job. Before that I played drums, though I never did so all that professionally."

Favorite musician: "It's hard to name one favorite musician. I listen to all sorts of stuff, anyone from the Clash to Ray Price, but I'd maybe have to say Hank Williams overall."

Favorite western: "It's a toss-up between 'Stagecoach' and 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'"

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.