Roasting Plant – Photos By Afaf Humayun
DEARBORN HEIGHTS—“It picks up something from the ocean around it, from the humidity, from the surrounding trees,” said Mohamad Zeitoun, manager of the Roasting Plant coffee shops in Dearborn Heights and Ann Arbor, about the flavor profile of the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee bean.
The Dearborn Heights location opened in June; the Ann Arbor one in September.
“You can mix and match and find what [flavor of bean] works best for you,” Zeitoun said. He added that customers can customize their coffee drinking experience by combining up to four different beans for a custom-made drink.
The unique experience at the Roasting Plant isn’t just about the different high end beans the business carries, but the “Javabot” technology used to preserve, roast, and serve coffee.
The patented Javabot was invented by Mike Caswell, an engineer who opened the first Roasting Plant in New York City in 2007.
At Roasting Plant, the beans are still green because they’re roasted daily, even hourly, to provide the best customer experience.
Zeitoun said the Javabot provides a freshness to the coffee that cannot be found anywhere else.
The Javabot, which looks something like a robot made of tubes from a science fiction movie, shoots beans through vacuum tubes from the bean chamber to a grinder. Once ground, the beans travel to the brewer, which makes the final product.
There are also scales for customers to measure and buy beans in bulk.
Zeitoun was living in Arizona when he came to Dearborn to visit family. He met Mike Shehadi, a pharmacist and co-owner of Roasting Plant, who asked Zeitoun to use his knowledge of restaurant work to run the coffee franchise he planned to open.
Zeitoun agreed and was able to receive extensive training through the corporate side of the company. He also learned firsthand about the Javabot and different ways to set up the coffee shop at Roasting Plants in New York, Denver and Detroit.
Before his introduction to the company, Zeitoun had no idea there was anything more to coffee than buying it from the closest shop that carried it.
Now he’s become a coffee purist.
“I used to be one of those guys that used to get my coffee from any place,” Zeitoun said. “It all tasted the same to me. The problem now is that I can’t get coffee from any place else.”
He added that working at Roasting Plant is his passion.
“I love working with people,” he said. “I love working in a coffee shop setting. And no one can compare with this type of coffee shop.”
Another neat technology Roasting Plant offers customers is its flash chiller, 30 feet of condensed coils, which sits in ice water.
An iced cup of coffee always starts off hot, so the experience of the drink isn’t always optimal for customers.
However, the flash chiller quickly runs the hot coffee through the chilled coils, resulting in coffee the temperature of an iced drink without the ice.
Adel Makki, co-owner of the Dearborn Heights and Ann Arbor Roasting Plant locations, and a fellow pharmacist, said that he and Shehadi wanted to bring third-wave coffee to Dearborn Heights because they thought it would good for the “economic patchwork” of the local economy.
This is really a local company hiring local people,” Makki said. “That’s gotta be pride for us and the community that it’s roasted in.”
The Ann Arbor and Dearborn Heights Roasting Plants use Washtenaw Dairy, a local dairy distributor for more than 75 years. Hamtramck-based Golden Wheat Bakery provides the pastries.
Roasting Plant claims to gets its beans through ethical sourcing by having relationships with farmers around the world. The company’s professional coffee taster, Genevieve Kappler, travels the world to choose specific flavor profiles and beans for the company, and also to continue relationships with local coffee farmers.
Kappler told Extra Crispy in an article that once a person tastes a great bean, “it is hard to still appreciate cheap, stale coffee.”
She added that cultural factors [and] emotional memories will influence what we like.
“Even music is believed to have an influence on taste,” she said.
Hand-crafted and small batch-roasting coffee shops typically offer a high quality coffee for a high-priced cup, but Roasting Plant boasts it provides a high-end coffee for a low-end price.
Both coffee shops offer large spaces for studying, families and groups to meet and for local events to take place.
Roasting Plant Ann Arbor is located at 312 South State Street, and the Dearborn Heights location is located at 26931 Ford Road.