Get Your Motors Running
WRITTEN BY: JENNIFER LE | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: PATRICK MARTIN
THE EXPERT | DEAN TOMPKINS | Creative Brand Manager of Diesel Brew |Known For: Giving away free coffee
“COFFEE IS LIKE THE WORLD’S BLOOD, ” Dean Tompkins, Creative Brand Manager of Diesel Brew claims. For many of us, this idea rings true. Whether waking up naturally or hitting the alarm repeatedly, coffee seems to be a follow-up to our wake up, while extra doses make their way into our busy schedules as the day rolls on. Whether serving as a stress solution (and security blanket) to help prep us for that fast-paced and on-the-go Southern California lifestyle, or a simple side to our breakfast, it’s undoubtedly an in demand product.
Providing an alternative way we look (and drink) our coffee is DIESEL BREW. With a tagline that reads, “Fuel the Machine, ” the company seeks to keep us going with strong, black coffee cold brewed for 12-14 hours in brewing tanks. For iced coffee lovers who prefer the real deal as opposed to the sugared up and watered down menu items often found in stores, it’s a must-try.
Tompkins, new to the brewed beverage scene, fell into the world of coffee on a whim. Already a busy man, ruling life as a hairstylist at Magnolia Salon and entertaining as a musician in the bands Mammoth Thunderpower and Unicurse, he took on the title of coffee connoisseur, making him a triple threat.
Interested in this cold-brewed world, we caught up with Tompkins, who filled us in on how to “fuel the machine” the right way.
Q: First, can you tell us how Diesel Brew came to be?
Dean Tompkins: Jesse and Loren Nason are the owners behind the company. One had a soda addiction and thought, “There’s got to be a way for me to get caffeine without all this sugar.” They had already been brewing beer, so they started to test some ideas out, cold pressing different coffee blends. That was a couple years ago. They finally got the right bean, the right grind, the right steep time and the right ratio.
Q: You are a hairstylist, musician, husband and father. Did you ever predict that you would be doing what you’re doing now at Diesel Brew?
DT: No. I had no idea! I serve beer, water and alcohol to my clients at Magnolia Salon. Jesse would come in and get his hair done by me, always bringing me coffee that I’d give out to people. Everyone loved it. Everybody raved about it. I was doing his wife’s hair one day and I asked, “What’s going on with the company?” This was in January. She mentioned they needed someone push it to the top. I was like, “I’ll help them out!” Once they brought me on, I became their ambassador. I now help with getting the word out there. They came to me because they were aware that I knew a lot of people and that I knew how to sell something. I stepped into my role and we’ve skyrocketed since then.
Q: What does the position of Creative Brand Manager of Diesel Brew entail?
DT: I give away a lot of coffee. It’s a small business, so we all do sales. We all do everything, but my job is to set the brand image and get it into the hands of the people that we want to have it. All the CrossFit gyms around right now are drinking it. We’re just getting our coffee into all the little places that we want it to be, opposed to going to the big chain supermarkets. We want Diesel Brew to be in unique places.
Q: How do you want to represent Diesel Brew exactly?
DT: We are a small group of guys. There are three of us and we are all trying to make a good coffee that represents the Southern California lifestyle. We are a fast-paced area. We need energy and we need it fast. I had some friends I tried to give coffee to and they said they only do hot coffee. I was like, “That’s because you’re retired and can sit around and enjoy a cup of coffee!” We can’t do that. I have two kids. The other guys have kids too. Everyone’s got to get going.
Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
DT: I really like meeting all the people that are interested in this. I like introducing them to and teaching them about cold brewed coffee. We have all these guys at The Hood Kitchen that are doing the same type of thing we are. We all get to know each other. The Hood is helping us a lot. I love the sense of community around here especially in Costa Mesa. I think everybody wants to help the little guys out. Everybody likes the unique brands. Costa Mesa is a special place. We are a big city with a small mind mentality.
Q: For a coffee amateur, what is good to pair with cold brewed coffee?
DT: In the morning, I do a lot of the nutrition bars. I pair the coffee with Rise Bar or OhMyBar. OhMyBar is made here at The Hood Kitchen. Rise Bar is also from around here in Irvine. We all sponsor the same athletes, so we all get to know each other well.
Q: Are people usually open-minded when you give them coffee?
DT: When you tell them it’s black coffee, they’re very opposed to it because you either like coffee, or you don’t at all. When I tell them it’s black coffee, they say no, but then I tell them it has over 700 milligrams of natural caffeine. They either absolutely love it or hate it. I haven’t witnessed too many people hating it—they’re just not coffee drinkers. We’re going after the energy drink market. There are people guzzling chemicals that we don’t even know about. That stuff is new. Diesel Brew is all coffee and water. We’re not a concentrate. Our stuff is bottled and ready to go. One shot. It’s easy to drink because you don’t have all that acid.
Q: Is cold brewed coffee usually packaged in beer bottles? Where did this concept come from?
DT: No. Ours looks a little different. Jesse and Loren already made beer. The craft coffee thing is the next big rush. I think that’s where it came from. We want to be unique. We sell it to a lot of bars. Some people are sober and don’t want to drink, but they don’t want to have a soda. It’s always funny when you see someone say, “Oh, having one early?” And you’re like, “No, it’s coffee!”
Q: You are tackling so many roles all at once! Can you give us insight as to what your typical work day is like?
DT: On a typical day, I wake up, get my son ready, get everything organized for school and make breakfast. My wife goes to work. I’ll come into The Hood Kitchen, depending on whether it’s a coffee day or a salon day. I’ll service up a couple of accounts, make deliveries and drop off samples for someone. We are still in the growing phase. I’m still giving away so much coffee to people just to get them to try it. Once they try it, they want it. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s not a hard sell. Then I take care of my clients, go home and make dinner. I split my day with coffee in the morning, then clients in the afternoon and evening.
Q: Is there anyone in particular that you look up to as far as branding? Has anyone helped in perfecting your craft?
DT: My friend, Ryan, is the marketing man over at Stance Socks. He’s given me some help with branding, which has been great. Everyone’s been so helpful. Then, there’s Seaworth, the other coffee that’s made at The Hood Kitchen. Bryan, the guy that owns Seaworth, lives in my neighborhood. He’s been someone that’s helped us out along the way. We’re all working together. Even though we have the same product, we’re two different brands.
Q: Since you guys are still in the growing phase, how can Diesel Brew become better and improve as a brand?
DT: We’re always at home making different coffees in little batches with different beans, different grinds and different times. Different everything. The next thing that we are doing is aluminum bottles. They’re lighter and they ship better.
PHOTO SHOOT LOCATION | THE HOOD KITCHEN