“Stories of my first visit to Coffee Tree”


Dear John and Susan Bate:

It is so difficult at times to believe that 25 years have passed since the opening of your wonderful cafe, the Coffee Tree — and, even after all these years, it still remains my favorite coffee place in all of Toronto … and indeed, all of Ontario.  Both my wife Kathleen and I love to go to the Coffee Tree whenever we get a chance to do so (we’re from the “East End,” after all, and we don’t get out to Bloor West Village as often as we would like), and we’re always happy to purchase your Brazilian Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee and your Guatemala Santa Clara coffee too!

My memories are dim after all these years, but some nuggets of recollection still shine through.  It was around 1990, and I was walking in Bloor West Village in the early evening when I walked by this place called “the Coffee Tree.”  The cafe was not open — it was around 8:30 p.m. at night, after all — but I quietly said to myself that I would come back to this place sometime during the daytime when it would be open.  That was a difficult proposition, mind you; I was working in the wilds of Markham in the early 1990s (in the 7/404/407 industrial park), and I was crashing in a basement room (which I dubbed “the hovel”) in the Yonge/Finch area during the week, and commuting back to London on the weekends — and so I was as far removed from Bloor West Village as you can imagine.  Nevertheless, on one weekday when I was not at work (in 1990), I decided to go to Bloor West Village and check out this place called “the Coffee Tree.”

Your sign is right: the first thing that one detects when one walks through the door is, indeed, the aroma of roasting coffee.  That alone made the Coffee Tree stand out in my mind — but it was your engaging personality, Susan, that also left an impression.   The place was very comfortable and inviting; even though the space was narrow, it was nevertheless welcoming, and the coffee was superb.  Already I was dreaming of coming into the Coffee Tree on a weekend when I would be in town, and taking a newspaper with me and reading it at one of the tables as I sipped a cup of wonderful, aromatic coffee.

I kept those dreams with me even when I was far away from your cafe … which was most of the time, due to my circumstances.

When I left that bad job in Markham and began working in downtown Toronto by the fall of 1997, your wonderful cafe suddenly became more accessible.  Then, when I met the wonderful woman who would become my wife — and who remains the love of my life — I introduced her to your cafe, as I recall, on February 14, 1998 (Valentine’s Day).  We’ve been coming to your cafe on a more frequent basis ever since.

It was a pleasure to meet you too, John, and your love of country music is a pleasure to behold — and I can talk to you about Jim Reeves, Lefty Frizzell, and so many others … and I’ll know that you’ll know of whom I speak!  Susan, as always, it is a delight to see you as well.   Both of you, and your staff, past and present, have always made us feel welcome and at home in your cafe — and that is a great part of the charm and appeal of the Coffee Tree.

Both Kathleen and I thank you both so much for the memorable experiences that we have had at the Coffee Tree, and for the past exhibits of Kathleen’s work — and for the upcoming May/June 2013 exhibit of her work, in time for the 25th anniversary of the cafe … and Kathleen and my 14th wedding anniversary (June 5).  We look forward to more future experiences … and great coffee, as always.

May you both have a Happy and Blessed Easter weekend.

We’ll be in touch again soon, as Kathleen and I are still working on “Oh Coffee Tree” (set to “Oh Christmas Tree”).  🙂

All the very best to you both, and see you soon, BVD



Author: Susan Bate

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