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The newly opened Coffee Tree is a family affair

By JT Coupal (news@cnybj.com)

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The café in Sherrill is off to a good start

Business owners Kathleen Roberts (holding scissors) and Kaylee Sierson (next to her on the right, wearing brown pants) cut the ribbon on Oct. 13 to celebrate the formal opening of their new café, The Coffee Tree. They held the ribbon-cutting event with the Greater Oneida Chamber of Commerce. (PHOTO CREDIT: GREATER ONEIDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE)

SHERRILL, N.Y. — The Coffee Tree — a new café owned by the mother-daughter duo of Kathleen Roberts and Kaylee Sierson — opened in Sherrill in mid-October to “astronomically” good business.

Sierson tells CNYBJ that “support from the community has been three times what we had projected” since the small business’s formal opening. The Coffee Tree held a ribbon cutting with the Greater Oneida Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Oct. 13 and a two-week long grand opening from Oct. 15-29, offering various promotions and customer perks.

The café is located at 506 Sherrill Road in the city of Sherrill, in about a 5,000-square-foot building Sierson owns. She leases extra space in the building to a hair salon and a massage therapist.

While this is the first business venture for both owners, Sierson says that she has experience running a fast-paced coffee shop and that her mother, Roberts, had been baking for farmers’ markets in the area. “People loved her like crazy,” Sierson says, and that became the impetus for striking out on their own.

After trying for four years to get a start in Vernon, the pair established The Coffee Tree name in December 2020 before Sierson closed on the location for the building in Sherrill in January 2021. 

The Coffee Tree name stems primarily from the phrase “families are like branches on a tree; we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one,” Sierson says. But that’s not the end of the arboreal connections. Sierson and her husband, Daniel, run a Christmas tree farm. Also, Sierson’s brother and sister-in-law Andrew and Molly Roberts operate the Karl Matt Family Maple Syrup Farm in Lee Center, which supplies some of the products and ingredients for The Coffee Tree’s menu.

That family maple farm is the source of the name for what Sierson says has been the café’s most popular offering: the Sapsucker sandwich, so-called for the nickname given to kids who like to suck sap directly from the taps in maple trees. 

“Nobody expected it to sell as well as it did,” Sierson says of the sandwich, which according to a post on The Coffee Tree Facebook page is “a yummy combination of applewood bacon, tender turkey breast, Twin Orchards Macintosh apples, New York State cheddar cheese, organic spring mix,” and an in-house maple mayo made with Karl Matt Family syrup.

The facility was built by Daniel Sierson and other family members. COVID-related supply chain issues pushed back The Coffee Tree’s opening from May to October.

Kaylee Sierson says most of The Coffee Tree employees are family members and that they’ve had to hire more to keep up with demand. One of the original employees, Travis Placke, a cook, painted a mural on a wall inside the shop, designed the shop’s logo, has watercolor paintings displayed throughout the store, and according to a Coffee Tree Facebook post, wants to be known as “the guy who makes the soup.” Besides family, the other philosophy that Sierson emphasizes is farm-to-table. 

“We’re very, very seasonal people,” she says, explaining that the menu changes with availability and seasonality of ingredients.

The Coffee Tree uses coffee from Tug Hill Artisan Roasters of Croghan, which is described on its website as a “husband and wife team … dedicated to purveying specialty coffees from around the world and roasting them in small batches.” 

The café’s lunch menu is anchored by sandwiches and paninis, a daily homemade soup, and salads. Sierson emphasizes the baked goods, which she says are all “handmade in-house, and they’re not your typical delicate bakery items,” which she says comes down to the farm-to-table ingredients and her mother’s famously large portions.

Sierson isn’t getting ahead of herself despite the success so far. She says in an email that, “We have a second location lined up for The Coffee Tree’s expansion,” but notes that they’ll be waiting at least a year before making any final decisions.    

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