Tucked comfortably into a live oak-shaded nook of Duck’s Scarborough Faire sits Treehouse Coffee Co. and Biscuits, a cool, comfortable, inviting space that is the personification of its owner, Craig Readman. Time slows down a bit when you’re talking to Craig, he radiates a peaceful calmness that’s contagious and relaxing and there’s a connectedness about him that seeps into his restaurant at every turn. The handsome hardwoods and grey tones on the walls are a cozy back drop for the shiny, state-of-the-art coffee equipment housed behind the front counter where friendly baristas greet you and take your order. You can watch as they quietly and patiently prepare your coffee or tea, a methodical process that feels soothing in a way, like someone is really doing something special just for you. It sets the tone for your day in the best way.
At Treehouse, Craig is treating coffee and biscuits with fine-dining respect, presented in a modern, southern comfort kind of way. Attention to detail and quality is a priority here. Craig talked to me about coffee in a manner usually reserved for wine and food and I came to understand that the “third wave culture” of coffee Craig supports and represents is truly an art form, born of passion for planting, cultivating, and harvesting the very best coffee, nurturing relationships with the growers and the people who buy from them, and passing those considerations on to all of us. Third wave coffee growers and roasters highlight the distinct flavor characteristics the place of origin infuses into the beans, offering something new, interesting, and delicious to the drinker.
Also part of the third wave culture is how the customer feels about it all. Craig has zeroed in on the experience at Treehouse; he embraces the folks who simply enjoy a cup of coffee as well as the affectionately termed “coffee nerd” who likely has a rather specific coffee preference and interest. Craig and his baristas seek to provide your perfect cup every time. They’ll get as specific as you please about what they’re pouring today, where it came from, and how they can prepare it for you.
Treehouse serves North Carolina’s Counter Culture coffee daily and typically features one other smaller roaster for folks to try. Where some cafes may take every bit of 15 minutes to create your ideal cup, Treehouse is operating on a family beach vacation timetable, with groups large and small eager to get in and get down to the business of enjoying their morning brew and breakfast. The baristas here work quickly while still minding the details of care and precision this coffee culture is known for.
The biscuits, now, are part two of the experience at Treehouse. Their breakfast menu is complete with yummy omlettes and gorgeous açaí bowls but I’m here to tell you, the biscuits are deliciously unforgettable. Craig, with a culinary degree from Western Culinary in Portland, Oregon, and his team of chefs in the kitchen are turning out biscuits the size of soft balls; fat and buttery, with a slight, mouthwatering dusting of salt.
These biscuits are a year in the making, following much testing and tasting to achieve an undeniable southern classic that’s just aching to be stuffed with a fried egg and country ham. Or, with my favorite – Treehouse’s fried chicken. A fried chicken biscuit may, for you, illicit visions of something flat and sadly drive-through/fast-foodish. Or maybe even something a step or two above that. These are not that. This is a two-hand situation ready to capture your appetite and I wish you luck in getting your mouth around the whole thing. When you do, you’ll sink your teeth into ripples of crunchy fried coating and plump, juicy chicken, all folded into that fluffy, savory biscuit with a slick of honey on top. It’s breakfast perfection and an example of Craig’s thoughtful approach to top-notch quality in a casual café atmosphere.
Craig also owns and operates Heart Restaurant, a stone’s throw from Treehouse in Scarborough Faire. Heart serves an upscale comfort food menu studded with exciting teases like ramen and poke. Craig clearly finds joy in creating inviting, stylish places for guests to come enjoy something tasty to eat and drink. He backs it up with continuous improvements, aesthetic or otherwise, to his spaces and ongoing training for staff to stay on top of the latest and greatest in coffee and food. If you are looking to nerd out over excellent coffee or just want to crush your breakfast cravings, you will feel right at home here at Treehouse.