Tree City, Kent’s “quintessential get-things-done coffee shop”


“I have worked here for five months. I love coffee and everyone here is really nice. It is a good environment and it is a lot of fun to work here in Kent,” Sam Senderoff, a worker at Tree City Coffee in Downtown Kent. Mar 4, 2020

As reigning champion for eight consecutive years, Tree City Coffee and Pastry holds its place as Kent’s best coffee shop. 

“Tree City is about making everybody feel welcome,” said Evan Bailey, co-owner of Tree City. “We believe coffee shops provide an important role in a community. Wherever you come from, everybody’s welcome here.”

Walk into Tree City Coffee and Pastry at any hour of the day and you’ll hear the soft buzzing of coffee machines as dedicated employees prepare drinks for their loyal customers. You’ll hear the murmur of customers talking to one another or typing away on their laptops as they sip their morning or afternoon cup of joe. 

In the early hours of the day, you can find many of the regulars ordering their usual drink or pastry, saving the mid-afternoon for the local students studying hard or gathering with friends.

Those who adore this friendly coffee shop are drawn to its welcoming atmosphere, fitting amenities and delicious drinks and pastries. Customers and staff alike have nothing but good things to say about their favorite coffee shop. 

“Tree City is the place to be to get things done downtown,” said Dak Powell, first year political science graduate student and Tree City customer. “They have everything you need. They’ve got food, coffee, internet and outlets. It is the quintessential get-things-done coffee shop.”

Charlotte Varney, assistant general manager of Tree City, has been with Tree City for more than seven years and noted her love for being involved with the environment co-owners Bailey and Mike Beder have created for both Kent State and the community. 

“I love my staff. I feel like they’re all my children or like I’m their aunt. And I love seeing all my customers every day,” Varney said. “When I come to work, it doesn’t feel like I’m coming to work. I feel like I’m just kind of coming to live my life.”

Since opening in 2011, Tree City has prided itself on its dedication to sustainability, using locally sourced materials whenever possible.

“You vote with your money,” Bailey said. “You vote to buy Starbucks or something local. We tried to vote as often as possible for something that’s a little more sustainable.”

Tree City embraces sustainable practices through its use of the direct trade model and locally sourced materials for both the products sold in store and the design of their shop.

“The more we kind of learned about the process of coffee plantation, washing station, exporter, importer, distributor, roaster, coffee shop consumer; we learned how big that chain was,” Bailey said. “You start to understand the economics of the whole supply chain, and how you can do a little better.”

Much of the interior of Tree City is made up of reclaimed wood, including all of its seats and its bar, which is a large piece of cherry wood from an old barn’s center beam. The parts not made up of reclaimed wood are made of concrete poured by the co-owners themselves, Bailey said.

In addition to practicing sustainable methods, Tree City also prides itself on its connection with its community through business partnerships, customer discounts and involvement with local events downtown.

Although many pieces factor into the success of Tree City, Bailey notes a major key is the right partner, Beder, who he has known since his time in student government at Kent State.

“Mike has sort of a natural sense of the market. He’s always sort of been a leader and just seems like he’s a step ahead of everybody,” Bailey said. “We complement each other nicely. He’s got the practical, entrepreneurial sensibility and then I’m sort of the communicator.”

In honor of winning its eighth year in a row with Best of Kent, Tree City provided a special drink offer to customers for a day: a dollar mint cold brew coffee.

“I hope they know how appreciative we are to be embraced by the community,” Bailey said. “We really love it. It’s a mutual admiration.”

Tree City is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and  8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. 

Contact Becca Sagaris at [email protected].