Friday, March 23, 2018

Roaster of the Week: Dessert Oasis and Nathan Hamood

Mar. 23, 2018

Roaster and Co-Owner Nathan Hamood
"Dessert Oasis" has got to be one of the best names for a cafe I've ever heard. Who wouldn't love to go to a "dessert oasis"?! So we are thrilled to send our roaster shout-out this week to Nathan Hamood and his crew at Dessert Oasis in downtown Rochester, Michigan this week! The company is family-owned. Nathan's parents ran the business before he "came of age" and started moving the coffee menu towards its current firm footing in the specialty arena. Nathan is the roaster and director of coffee for their two locations, one in Rochester and one in Detroit (1220 Griswold, near Capital Park) and a soon-to-be third location in Royal Oak! He carefully curates the coffees, looking for single-origin coffees with brightness and complexity that is striking and pleasant. From the tables filled with happy customers mid-day, it was my impression that he has many people appreciating his tasting and roasting skills!

In short, they live up to their mission:
We strive to deliver an unrivaled coffee, dessert, and entertainment experience through close attention to detail, an unbelievable knack for quality, and intense love for our communities.

The namesake dessert case - mouth-watering!
One example of the Dessert Oasis offering is the Rwanda Ejo Heza from Artisan Coffee Imports. While there, I also got to taste the Kenya AA Karimikui, Gichugu, Kirinyaga county. Nathan says he has no problem filling half his menu with East African coffees if they are good coffees. He doesn't try to balance the number of S. American, Asian and African origins as some roasters do. This kind of purist dedication to single-origin taste promotes great conversations between the baristas and customers who want to know more.

Nathan roasts on a US Roaster, 3 kilo machine, carefully monitoring computer read-outs of his profile. He said he gives the Rwanda Ejo Heza a light roast, being sure to monitor it carefully after the first crack with very low heat.

The Dessert Oasis company has a wonderful team, including baristas Tyler and Olya, whom I got to meet the day I was there. They all seemed skilled at latte art, which shouldn't be surprising since the company also regularly hosts latte art throw-downs. A recent throw-down was "very successful" in Nathan's words, drawing 60 contestants and 200 attendees.

The business maintains an emphasis on live and local music with frequent concerts on its mini-music stage, an offering of CDs from local artists and music-themed decor.

Hats off again to Dessert Oasis for creating a great place for coffee, dessert and music. Thank you for offering your customers Rwanda Ejo Heza!

Nathan (L) and barista Tyler (R)

Live music is a theme at Dessert Oasis - helps create community!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Roaster of the Week: Peet's Celebrates Women in Coffee

Mar. 7, 2018
Our roaster of the week this week is Peet's Coffee!

Some call him the "godfather" of specialty coffee - Alfred Peet certainly holds a very special place in the history of coffee. He founded Peet's Coffee in 1966 in Berkely, CA.

Today, Peet's is ahead of the rest with a massive Celebrate Women in Coffee promotion of the United Nation's International Women's Day 2018 on March 8, 2018.  Peet's is offering a Sisterhood Flight Collection of three types of roasted beans from three countries: Rwanda, Colombia and Nicaragua. Their website lists the locations across seven states and Washington D.C. where the special collection of coffee can be purchased, and they give a step-by-step recommendation of how to throw a tasting party with your sisters!

There is another part of this promotion that we at Artisan Coffee love even more than all that goodness - Peet's has named the International Womens Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and their Research Alliance as the beneficiary to receive 10% of all proceeds! Well done, Peet's. The Research Alliance is a volunteer group that brings together researchers who accelerate credible research results on gender issues in coffee that are otherwise side-tracked or ignored. So please, dear blog readers, go out and buy some! If it's not possible in your area, keep reading... there's another great option to support female coffee producers!
Women of the Rwanda Ejo Heza coop holding coffee cherry.
To their credit, Peet's is supporting women in coffee in ways that are less well advertised, too. We hope it is "cool" on this special International Women's Day to share that the buying team at Peet's chose Rwanda Ejo Heza women-grown coffee to go into their great-tasting "Uzuri Blend." Uzuri means "beauty" in Swahili. The Uzuri has a long-standing tradition in the company, as it represents many projects supporting coffee producers that Peet's has supported in East Africa for years. Starting this year, the blend includes the hard-won and delicious results of the Ejo-Heza sub-cooperative, which Artisan Coffee Imports was able to offer Peet's.

A Visit to Peet's HQ

Artisan's president, Ruth Ann Church, was able to visit the Emeryville headquarters of Peet's and witness first-hand how the "Berkley-esque", mid-60s roots of the company still permeate the offices, mixing well with modern renovations and updates. They're waving the flag of diversity in many ways, incorporating a love of Americana by naming the open-conferences areas with names of famous regions and labeling the rows of office cubes with well-known streets in San Francisco, like Vine, Fourth and Solano. I was impressed with their large, newly-opened demonstration cafe, fully equipped and ready to help customers immerse into the Peet's Coffee experience!

Map of the Bay Area in the lobby. (Not Europe!) Sean Coutts, Green Coffee Buyer, shows Peet's location.

Ruth Ann in the customer experience area.
Passageway painted to feel like a coffee farm.

Diversity always.

Sign posts in "cube city" keep the culture fun and help you find your co-worker!
Next visit, Ruth Ann hopes to tour the roasting facility. It is a completely separate building!