The Birchcliff is a rustic coffee shop near the Scarborough Bluffs. The only third-wave coffee shop for miles, this neighbourhood gem stands out in a desolate area that's slowly developing from its suburban roots.
Eager to own a coffee shop, bright-eyed owner Olivia Peters left school as a full-time business student at U of T to open a café of her own in a neighbourhood stuck in a dry spell without coffee.
The daughter of neighbourhood House and Garden Florist Irene Makeeff Peters, Peters renovated the vacant space into a cozy coffee shop with beaming natural light, exposed brick and warm, woodsy colours that look and feel like a homely cottage in Prince Edward County.
Proudly born and raised in Birch Cliff, Peters brings a ray of hope for a neighbourhood lacking coffee in a hot spot of chatty locals eager to share stories and hourly updates.
"I know everyone in the neighbourhood. Birch Cliff is so full of rich history; I really wanted to create a beautiful space for friends and family to enjoy coffee." Peters explains. "All the pictures on the wall are from the Scarborough archives; it's a place to celebrate the history of our community."
Serving Brothers Coffee , a small batch roaster based in Oakville, it's a full body blend that's rich and full of flavour. Peters recommends I try their latte ($3.50), a customer favourite that hits the spot.
With a snack menu that includes Nutella Chocolate cookies ($1.75), banana bread ($2) and other treats from Circles + Squares , there's also a handful of gluten-free snack options and pastries to pick from.
In addition to a classic coffee menu with single ($2.50) and double shot espresso ($3.50), there's also a loose leaf tea selection from Metropolitan Tea ($2.50) featuring seasonal flavours like Apple and Maple.
While Olivia jumps behind the barista bar, a friendly gentleman eavesdropping on our conversation pipes in, "You know, this is the best coffee shop for miles. The neighbourhood is changing for the better with places like this around."
He tells me about a roaster that folded a few months ago, around the same time that The Birchcliff opened and quickly become a neighbourhood stable.
And he's right. Olivia Peters is only 20 years-old, and she's already changing Birch Cliff with a steady flow of caffeine and ambitious dreams. Lining the walls with historic pictures of the neighbourhood dating back to the 1920s, Peters knows this area like a Toronto historian, and she's proud to make this coffee shop a part of its history.
Bringing gourmet coffee, upscale design and yummy pastries to the heart of Birch Cliff, there's an irresistible smell of good things in the air, all thanks to a woman who left school to run a business herself. It's nice to see a fresh young face making big changes in a community well-deserving of new opportunity.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.