“I’ve always dreamt of opening my own cafe, but it took 13 years to make this a reality,” Graziella Ascenao tells me, looking around proudly at her cafe on Little Clarendon Street.
The Brazilian, who has lived in Oxford for several decades now, never gave up on making her dream a reality, working in Oxford’s hospitality industry, managing restaurants, waitressing and making coffee, until she had enough money and experience to open her own place.
“That’s why I called it Tree Artisan Cafe because the concept came from the seeds I planted a long time ago”
And the bustling customers in the Tree Artisan Cafe are testament to the fact that she was right all along.
“I knew what I wanted, I knew what it would look like; the vibe, the customers, I just had to save and wait until I could actually put my ideas into practice,” she tells me.
Patience is certainly a virtue for Graziella, but she never desisted from following her dreams, despite several knockbacks along the way.
“I just love my customers. It’s a privilege that they come back time and time again”
And yet when Graziella finally signed the lease, lockdown happened. “It was awful. I didn’t know what to do, but luckily the landlords were kind and deferred it until July.
“By then I’d got so far down the line I just went for it.” And? “I didn’t have a day off for eight months after that,” she grins. “So I’m quite tired but very happy with how it’s going.
“That’s why it’s called Tree Artisan Cafe because the concept comes from the seeds I planted a long time ago.”
What does she love the most? “The customers, the regulars, the way people know they can come here for something to eat and a great coffee, for a chat or a cry. I just love the people. It’s a privilege that they come back time and time again.”
“And while a coffee is a coffee and a bagel is a bagel, we make sure they are really good. Our coffee is Columbian and specially roasted by Ue in Witney, we have new flavours and fillings all the time and the cakes are amazing,” she smiles. “I studied baking for a year and trained as a barista, so nothing is left to chance.” The seahorse on my coffee is testament to this.
“I am just very grateful because I’ve waiting for this for 20 years really, ever since I came to England when I was 18. It’s something I’ve always been very passionate about which is why we have such high standards and work so hard. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
Tree Artisan Cafe is at 3 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford. OX1 2HP https://treeartisancafe.co.uk