Coming up to the entrance of Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House, there is perhaps a greater than 85% chance that you will come across the gate keeper of this café. A man with a mane of stark white hair, a long beard, and owl-rim glasses. I call him Santa Claus. Or his retired, embittered, and disgruntled double. During the off-season, it appears as if Santa enjoys spending his time here in Downtown Vancouver, watching the world go by while sipping on a cup of Organic Brew. I think I’ll join him. But from a distance; he gives me the creeps. I don’t think my niceness compensates for the naughty at this point of the year, and I don’t want a lump of coal being prematurely hurled at me so early in the year.
His gaze is constant, and his seat is right outside the door. Always the same seat. Always that same look. Implacable. Impenetrable. Calculating. Always. Me and my foodie compatriot do our best to tip-toe past his watchful eye. We open the door.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It’s a place that’s bustling with life, yet is still manages to feel cozy and avoid the rat-in-a-cage vibe that very busy cafes seem to be encompassing more and more. The lighting is soft and vibrant, yet still bright. True enough to its namesake, the pillars that line the center of the store are decorated with branches. Trees inside Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House. They take their marketing quite seriously.
“…I don’t want a lump of coal being prematurely hurled at me so early in the year.”
Judging from the fact that Cheesecake related articles from The Province’s (A Vancouver Newspaper, for you non-Canadian readers) food columnist have been splashed around this area, I would say that the hottest thing to order at this place would be Cheesecake. My foodie partner and I order a slice of Mocha and Key Lime Cheesecakes, and a Soy Latte to boot.
We take our warm, Cheesecake bearing, fresh-off-the-dishwasher plates to a corner by the window. It gives us a clear view of Santa Claus. Busily munching on our desserts, chatting about work, life, and other random things is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. And with a room with a view, (of none other than the illustrious patron of gift-giving) this place also doubles as a sort reality show. A Day in the Life of Santa: The Off-Season.
I take in the full sweet-and-sour flavours of the warm-on-the-outside, cool-on-the-inside Key Lime Cheesecake. Whip Cream adorns its sides and provides a great complement to the sweet Citrus and Cheese flavours. All the while, a show is unfolding before us.
Santa stands. Look at the lacquer and black stain marks on the bottom of his pants. He’s been sitting there so long, he’s slowing starting to assume the colour of the furniture. Santa is a chameleon. But I suppose he’d have to be, in order to blend in with mortals.
The Mocha Cheesecake settles in our mouths. Also possessing the familiar sour taste of Cheese, but combined with the pleasant tang of Dark Chocolate Mocha and Whip Cream. A firm but pleasing texture. A satisfying experience.
I look at my Latte cup. A cat is standing guard. Hastily etched onto the foam of the drink, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I take a sip. The Espresso is full bodied, prominent, yet also avoids the dreaded ‘Burnt Coffee effect’ that some Cafes seem to produce in their desire to create a strong Espresso taste. I wish the foam was a little more prominent, and a little thicker, but it’s still a reasonably pleasing drink.
My foodie partner and I continue our banter and watch the world pass by. We’re all feeling jolly right now. Especially when the Patron of Christmas is quite literally, right outside our window. Even Saints need their Coffee break.