This was written for a university nonfiction course.
Downtown Rochester is a lively place, to put it mildly.
Throughout the days, hundreds of vehicles weave in and out of parking spaces as their owners come to and go away from the bustling city. By day, downtown Rochester is a hotspot for trendy citizens out looking to spend their money on the newest, shiniest things they can find within shop windows; by night, it’s a party zone, drawing in countless socialites with the allure of nightclubs, alcohol, and exquisite dining.
It would be accurate to say that downtown Rochester never sleeps — and it certainly never calms down.
Despite this, though, folks who prefer a mellow and relaxed atmosphere aren’t without a place of their own. Hidden among the vivacious crowds and five-star eateries lies a cozy, classy café where the only thing more relaxing than the homey ambiance is a taste of homemade dessert and freshly-brewed beverages.
I’m talking, of course, about Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters.
In 2009, couple Jamal and Charlene Hamood had the idea to start a family business, with the goal being to bring people together in a comfortable, welcoming environment filled with live music and high-quality, house-made desserts. The business’ name? Dessert Oasis.
Soon, their children began to help out, too.
“My sister, Steph, would play music almost every night for hours on end, with myself and my parents working behind the counter washing dishes and serving cheesecakes and coffee,” writes Nathan Hamood, who is now the president of the business. “I was 13 years old back then, and began to fall in love with the coffee side of things. I felt like we could apply our attention to detail to our coffee program as well, and do and be so much more as a company.”
Soon, Nathan became interested in studying coffee and how to make it. This would end up being one of the most critical parts to the family’s success over the years.
“I sort of became obsessed and began trying to learn as much as I could about coffee, which led me to save up to buy our first roaster. It was a tiny little rotisserie oven converted to a drum roaster (it was my life’s savings at the time), and that’s what I learned to roast on,” explains Nathan, who is now also the company’s Roast Master. “I was learning and improving, and we were getting a great response, which led us to buying a larger, more professional roaster – the very same one we roast on today. It was at that moment that coffee became a large focus of the company (and when we tacked on “Coffee Roasters” to our name).”
And thus, Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters was born, right in the heart of downtown Rochester. Since then, the family has been hard at work serving customers night-and-day. And while the business has opened new locations in both Detroit and in Royal Oak, downtown Rochester is the preferred spot for many Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters regulars.
As the name implies, Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters feels like a relaxing, cozy needle in a haystack of noisy urban festivities. Rich leather armchairs, thickly-cushioned sofas, and polished wooden tables make up the majority of the coffee house’s interior. To the left and right, there are autumn-colored brick walls filled with artworks and open plug spaces for charging phones or laptops; above you, you’ll find a tiled ceiling with warm lights that softly illuminate the room, and below you lies a gorgeous wooden floor, waxy and free of dirt. The café’s aesthetic strikes that ever-evasive sweet spot between casual and class right on the head, and as a result, it makes for a wonderful place to mellow out. You’ll almost always find musical talent, local or abroad, performing jazz or soft rock on the small stage in the corner, too.
While the atmosphere is certainly a large part of what makes Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters special, the refreshments are what keeps people coming back after all these years.
They see their biggest success with their coffee, which they sell both in-house and in bags that you can take home yourself. The Hamoods have prided themselves on their brews, using only the finest coffee from the most highly-respected coffee farms around the globe. A few examples of these include the Ngila Estate in Tanzania and the Nano Challa station in Ethiopia.
Then, thanks to their legendary roasting method (I don’t know what it is; trade secrets!) and skilled baristas, the Hamoods are able to bring out the full flavor potential of this coffee and deliver it to you right in your cup — and with some beautiful latte art to boot. If you’re not a coffee person, don’t fret; rich hot cocoa and piping hot cider is also available, too, and these beverages are every bit as fantastic as their famed counterpart.
Of course, coffee isn’t all that Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters does supremely. “Dessert” is in the name, after all, and it represents the other main aspect of the business that the Hamoods pride themselves on.
Without a doubt, the best desserts you’ll find on the menu here are the cheesecakes. Baked fresh in-house on the daily, these creamy delicacies have been a fan-favorite ever since the coffee house was just Dessert Oasis back in 2009. After ordering some for myself and doing a double-take at just how incredible the flavor and texture was, I understood why.
The most impressive thing about the cheesecakes, though, is just how many flavors there are. From Classic to Caramel Apple and Brownie to Banana Nutella, they have everything you could ever possibly want to put on a cheesecake. There are even flavors that incorporate cereals, such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cap’n Crunch Berry.
If cheesecake isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options available to you, too. One of Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters’ other big hits are their cookies; whether you get them with chocolate, peanut butter, or oatmeal, their gooey and chewy texture is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. They serve out-of-this-world muffins as well, and if you want something that perfectly compliments a cup of the world-class coffee, go with one or two of the flaky, freshly-baked croissants.
No matter what you get, though, be prepared for an unusual (but fun!) form of identification. When you place your order, you aren’t given a number or asked for your name. Instead, the barista will slide you a playing card from a deck. When she said, “You’re Three of Spades,” to me, I didn’t quite understand what she meant until I looked down. Then, I understood (I’m telling you about this to spare you the embarrassment I felt when you go).
So, if you’re not someone that fits in with the buoyant and boisterous commonfolk of downtown Rochester, or if you simply just want a break from the high-intensity partying, don’t miss out on an opportunity to stop by Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters. It feels just like home, even if it’s in the middle of a place that’s anything but.