Dear PoP – Problems with Tynan Coffee & Tea


There have been a lot of comments over the last few weeks about Tynan Coffee & Tea at 1400 Irving Street, NW. There have been positive and negative comments. But I figured I’d make a new post after receiving a letter from a reader sent to the owners. It is very negative and I’m wondering what the overall sentiment is. I know that the owners will read this post so if you have suggestions def. make them. What’s your overall feel of the place so far? Following is a lengthy letter written from a reader to the owners of Tynan:

“I have visited your store for a total of 4 times, hoping the next trip will be better than the previous, but sad to say I was deeply disappointed.

I am a very active member of the Columbia Heights community since 2002. I love the neighborhood and am very excited about all business that opens up. I specially enjoy coffee shops and was very happy for Tynan Coffee & Tea opening. I send tons of emails to my friends and family (lots of them) about your business and was at the store the 2nd day it opened with my partner. Our initial reaction was that it was a beautiful space, a bit bright, a kind of space we would like to come frequently. We were not able to get seating that day so we got our lattés (skim with No foam) and left the store.

2nd trip was with my sister and her boyfriend. There were some seating by the fireplace. My sister loves fireplaces so they sat there as I proceed to order for everyone. 1 Coffee drink, 1 pumpkin spice latté, and 1 chi latté. The barrister women proceed to make the specialty drinks. I noticed that she was scooping powder out of the cups as she was trying to (I guess) get the right amount. I thought that was weird since drinks should have a pre determined measuring to get the right flavor/taste. I then saw her use the same spoon to mix both drinks without rinsing it in between. She then proceeds to cover both drinks with tops, but she realized she did not know which drink was which so I heard her say to herself “I don’t know which one is which…” followed by.. “I don’t care.” I was amazed by what I heard so I said to her, Excuse me? She did not even bother to look up to explain herself or anything, she just asked the male barrister guy to come and help her. She explained to him that she could not tell which drink was which. He opened the top from one of the cups, brought a small cup, poured some into the small cup, proceed to taste it, and decided which one was which drink, put the top back on (without refilling the cup with more milk) and handed it to me. During the whole time, neither of them seems concerned with what just happened, didn’t care less, and didn’t say I am sorry or anything like that. At this point, I am not happy, but did not want to spoil the experience to my sister and her boyfriend so I kept my cool. I went to get napkin and by then I have no clue which drink is which. I used the small strew to test both drinks, both tasted the same to me. I went back to the barrister guy and requested they do both drinks again, he did it correctly, and that was the end of that.

3rd visit, my partner and I went for latté. I ordered latté and it was a disaster. The latté smelled and tested so bad I only had one sip and that was it. The latté took on an Oder of some “skin condition cream” I never know what it is, but I know I do not like the smell whenever someone who had it on is near me. I really did not want to go back to the barrister lady to ask her to remake my drink since this would have been our 2nd interaction about a bad/incorrect drink. I really did not need the latté that much so my partner and I just decided to leave. Continues after the jump.

4th visit. My sister who I brought on my second trip knew what had happened on my 2nd trip, but was not directly affected by it since she was not near the counter when the ugliness happened. I did not want to give up with the place so I wanted to give it more chance so we walked in. We ordered our drinks (casher was pleasant enough). We got hot tea and latté with no foam. Moments later, there was a drink on the bar. There was no announcement as to what it was so I looked into it and it looked like latté (since it seems to have some foam). Second drink came and the barrister announced it was latté, so at this point I thought I had two lattés on my hand so I asked is the Tea coming? The barrister said to the cashier why didn’t you ask for tea, then the casher said the first one is tea, at this point I opened the top from the first cup to make sure it was tea, then she explained that even Tea’s have foams the way Tynan coffee & Tea makes it, I said oh ok thanks and gave the tea to my sister. I then took my latté, but noticed it had foam even though I asked for no foam. I then proceed to say excuse me to the barrister lady who had her face turned away at this point. After a second call to her, she mumbled something like: here we go again and turned. I told her this had foam I asked for no foam. She took my drinks and starting a new one immediately… She did not say I am sorry or execuse me, noting. I wanted to make sure she understood that I am displeased with the service so far 4 visits), she asked why? I told her about the “I don’t care” incident, at this point she interrupted and said to me that she thought we resolved it already, also she said she said she did not care and she said to herself, not to me. I try to tell her she shouldn’t do things like that in front of customers, etc…. at this point a supervisor steps in and asked what was the problem. I told him that I was displeased by the service I have received so far and I am really upset because I really was hoping for things to be different. I explained to him what had happened in the past, and what happened today. The whole time she was talking over me so at this point he told her to step back into the backroom, which she did for a little while. He said he was going to refund our money, I told him that is not the point and we are ok paying for the drinks. My sister was really upset by the whole thing and wanted to leave the store immediately. We both did not like the way the lady was treating us. She had a smirk the whole time and clearly, she had “I don’t care” attitude. I requested to talk to the owner/ manager; I was told none were around. I thought about leaving the store and never come back, but I thought it would be doing a disservice to the owners, especially if they are unaware of what is happening. We stayed in the store and try to recover some of the quality time we were hoping to have by going to coffee shop. On the way home we passed by Starbucks and we said to ourselves we could have been served nicely here and perhaps we should have come here instead.

Why am I writing all this and why do I care this much? Well, as I indicted before, I really like to support new business that are coming in my hood. I especially like coffee shops and was happy with the addition, and I really didn’t have any reason to come back to this store after the 2nd visit, but like I stated before I really wanted to give Tynan workers the benefit of the doubt, but 4 visit later I am more frustrated and upset by my experience there and unfortunately for your business Tynan Coffee is not associated with relaxing space, but stressful place with employees who couldn’t care less. I have the power to bring a lot more customers and those customers to do the same to your store, but sadly, I could not find any reason to do so anymore despite giving you 4 chances.

My sister and I both thought that the owners really need to be involved in the first few weeks of opening their business to follow/see how their employees interact with their customers, how they resolve problems, etc. In an even conflict happen they should be able to jump in to smooth out those conflicts, and teach their employees in the process how to do so. The same barrister lady when I told her that she hasn’t made my drinks properly in the last 3 visits, her answer to that was not I am sorry OR I will do better next time, she said to me “next time have somebody else make it for you.” Really, is this how your employee talks to your customers?

Also, it might be a good idea to read blogs and see what people are saying about your store. For instance, everybody I brought to the store (4 of us so far) agree that the lighting is brutal. You could have a much warmer, coffee/tea place experience with less light (no overhead lights please). One person in a blog said that your store look like an apple store. Some said butcher shop, etc. (not a good thing for a coffee shop).

Last night my partner and I visited Mid City Café for the first time and we were pleasantly surprised by the service and quality of product. The place was small and wasn’t as modern looking as yours, however, the lighting was much better than yours and the customer service was perfect and what one should expect from coffee/tea shop. Another favorite place is Columbia Heights Coffee. They are friendly, make you great coffee, but once again they do not have enough space. Your place has the potential to get a lot more clients that are loyal if your workers were pleasant and care for what they are doing.
Will I ever visit your store again, at this point NO. However, a receptive owner/manager who is willing to listen and correct what is lacking, cares enough to communicate with me, apologize for the bad services, will get me back there. Remember, it is not just me; I tend to be the person friends and family trust when making decision on where to go.
Once again, I am doing this only because I think you, the owner/manager, probably have no idea what is going on and do not want to penalize you for your employees mistakes.

The store supervisour already told me he would pass on my message to the owners/managers, but I thought I send this directly so that you have a fuller picture. Hope to hear from you the owner/manager very soon.”

131 Comment

  • I go to Tynan all the time and love it. The place feels good, I have been happy with the drinks/food, and have had pleasant chit chat with the employees. Based on the number of people that are there all the time, I assume others do too.

    Tynan, thanks for investing in our neighborhood!

  • I’m sure the management will benefit from reading this letter. All businesses should be lucky to benefit from such customer feedback. But sweet jesus, this writer is annoying. Get an editor!

  • I don’t mind the lighting and I’ve had decent service the couple times I’ve been to Tynan.

  • Never been to Tynan. I don’t like going into places that are incredibly busy and jam packed all the time. I suppose this is bad for me yet good for the owners.

    Sounds like sour grapes from this person if you ask me. How could this place be that bad if it is jam packed with picky yuppies all the time?

  • There are times when the service is a little spotty, but hey, we’re talking about a tea house next to a Target. This is not the Inn at Little Washington.

    I like Tynan.

  • I like the lighting just fine!

  • “We ordered our drinks (casher was pleasant enough).”

    What was the cashier supposed to do, dance the jig?

    I get so tired of people that demand amazing customer service. Maybe this is a fundamental disagreement with the original poster, but I think a lot of this derives from an amazing level of self-importance and it is really obnoxious.

  • Ditto what Dead Presidents said. I kept reading this unbelievably long letter waiting for some truly horrible experience — someone spat in your drink, yelled at you, was outright rude. Just because they didn’t fawn all over themselves while serving you seems to me to be, sadly, par for the course as far as DC customer service goes. And while that may certainly be irritating — and I don’t blame you for being irritated — I hardly think it merits a 1,000 word treatise on their overall business practices. Haven’t been to Tynan yet, but it sounds to me like it’s still a new business learning the ropes. Cut them some slack, geez…

  • Seems to me that the problem is more with the customer thinking he is owed something special rather than anything unusually bad about Tynan. Even if everything he describes as problematic occurred as dramatically as he claims, it is still a far better establishment than almost any Starbucks I have ever been to. He needs to temper his expectations for a coffee shop and learn how to express himself better in writing.

  • This guy has too much time on his hands.

  • I haven’t been in there yet, but the only friend I know who has hates it. Not too different from the story in the letter, she found the service very bad, and they got her drink wrong.

  • Two thoughts:

    1) It was a really good idea for the aggrieved customer to send this letter to the owners and managers. A detailed complaint is far more useful than “Your store sucks and I won’t be back” with no explanation offered.
    2) I think it was a really bad idea to reproduce this letter in full here. It made the author more of a topic than the store.

  • Wordy? Yes. High maintenance? Probably. But his letter is also very constructive. Not everyone has the same expectation of mediocrity. And with other options in the hood, he’s right to look for something that makes the experience rise above the others.

    I agree that he’s done the owners of Tynan an enormous favor.

  • P.S – What Marcus Aurelius said.

  • I’m dismayed by the number of barristers behind the counter. Can’t you go anywhere in DC without running into a damn lawyer?

  • Paying that much money for a cup of coffee is stupid anyway.

  • Coffee was never supposed to have 500 calories nor warrant notions of self-entitlement.

  • Normally constructive criticism would be great, but unfortunately this letter is wordy and has too many errors. Favorite error: “Well, as I indicted before, I really…”

  • It is not an “amazing” standard of customer service to ask employees to do their jobs properly and politely. The tone of the letter has more to do with frustration then anything. The letter writer repeatedly talks about poor-quality drinks and a snarky, rude attitude of an employee. The employee represents the company, so, yes, it’s a problem with the company if they choose to employ people who act like that.
    No one’s asking for a jig or groveling, just simple civility.
    Haven’t been to Tynan, don’t really plan on it because I rarely drink coffee or tea. It’s a good idea to give feedback to companies if you’re unhappy, though the letter was a little long. Like that’s horrible.
    And I have worked several customer service jobs, and would have gotten my butt kicked for acting like that barrista, if not fired.

  • Yes it is good for businesses to get feedback from their customers.

    But customers also need to be accepting of attempts to resolve any problems, and this author clearly refused repeated attempts at apologies, refunds, managerial oversight, everything—and even used those attempts as further ‘evidence’ of ‘bad’ service! Some people are just never satisfied by anything.

  • I liked the comparison of a small business open for a few weeks to a huge corporation like Starbucks. They will work the kinks out soon. I’m sure they will start with firing all those British lawyers they have making coffee.

  • I stopped reading after the fifth grammatical/spelling error. I am sorry, but if you are going to write a letter and want to be heard – proofread it!

    With that said – having worked at a coffee shop during college some customers can never be pleased but most can. And really, being snarky to customers only makes the day go by slower.
    I haven’t been to Tynan but have rarely found a good cup of coffee or a well made latte outside Seattle.


    Coffee Snob

  • I agree with those who say the letter should be useful to the owners. In this economy, there are plenty of people looking for the opportunity to do a good job, care about what they’re doing, and do it with cheer.

  • so you got some bad coffee. fine. dont go there again. there are other places to get coffee.

  • Remind me not to have sex with this person. Would not want to read the 12-page treatise on why my foreplay technique lacks style, substance, execution, and how I keep rubbing a pimple thinking it’s the clitoris.

  • I couldn’t get through that letter.

    After reading about the horror of watching someone (gasp) use the same spoon to mix two drinks I realized that this could only end with a grand finale, perhaps involving a server accidentally using 2% milk instead of 1% milk, as requested.

    That is a godawful amount to write about pretty minor complaints. Have you been to Columbia Heights Coffee? It takes 10 minutes to get a cup of drip coffee.

    If you don’t like the way Tynan’s doing things, go to Starbucks and receive corporate-trained consistency in service. It sounds like that’s the most important part of your coffee-drinking experience.

    But the amount of ranting here over pretty minor operational glitches is pretty unreal. Echoing “Dead Presidents”… where’s the spitting?

    Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  • What Coffee Snob/Andy(2) said–if you want to be taken seriously, write a decent letter! And, dialogue should be indicated by quotation marks. Don’t waste those quotation marks on descriptive terms for the apathetic baristsa.

  • Well excuuuse me, princess!

    What a big baby! Is this guy unemployed that he has so much time? I know you want everything in your little neighborhood to be perfect, but it isn’t, so just stop going there. wow.

  • I think that businesses should aspire to a high level of customer service. Having said that, I’ve been to Tynan a dozen times now and though I was never blown away by the service I was never upset by it. I dp think that if you are unhappy with service you have the right to complain constructively. But I think it’s wrong to complain about the lighting. That’s a pretty subjective element. I happen to love the lighting at Tynan. It’s bright enough for me to read and work while I am there. The food is good, and the coffee is much better than Starbucks.

  • I am shocked that this writer has been so criticized.
    Yes it was a lot to read (too much).
    Some people are harder to please than others, sometimes it’s only because they want to buy the specialty items that the store purports to sell.
    I only ever order coffee. Just coffee. I have never ordered a special coffee or whatever it is these place specialize in, BUT, that is the point–they make special drinks.
    The bigger point is how customers are treated. The biggest point is how customers are treated.
    Tynan may think they are selling coffee, but all businesses are really selling customer satisfaction, a big part of which is customer relations.
    To the writer: Just don’t go back.

  • I can’t believe all the ragging on the letter writer. (Well actually, sure I can, this is PoP comments) But seriously, how can tell someone what to expect and what to be happy with?

    Clearly he was dissatisfied with his 4(!) experiences at Tynan, and clearly the barrista didn’t know what she was doing and was rude to boot.

    I’ve worked as a barrista before, and it’s really, really, REALLY not hard to do it right and to give good customer service while you’re at it. It’s not fawning, it’s not bowing down, but getting the drinks right (and graciously redoing them if the customer isn’t satisfied) IS YOUR JOB.

    I absolutely think the writer did Tynan a service by writing. If the owners are serious about their business, they’ll listen.

    (Yes, the author could benefit from some proofreading and some brevity, but that’s NOT the point.)

  • Have to admire the guy for giving the place four chances before he gave up. I love CH Coffee and Sticky Fingers, so if I had one bad trip to this new place, I might just never go back. The letter is a bit intense, but I guess it’s nice of the person to care so much about CH that he wants local businesses to succeed.

    Customer service jobs aren’t for everyone. When I used to work in a restaurant, it was easy to get annoyed with customers, but geez, that’s when you fake smile at them and make fun of them with your coworkers as soon as they leave the store.

    I definitely agree with everyone who has voiced their concern with the lack of management being there, especially in the first few weeks of the place being open.

    I heard that this place only gives a half hour of internet access at a time. Is that true? Anyone been there to try and get work done?

  • If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter – T.S Eliot

    Yes the complaints are valid, but they do not warrant such a lengthy letter. It is distracting and makes the writer’s complaints moot. Which is obvious when you read most of the comments here.

    I’ve been there twice and never had a problem but I only ordered the tea.

  • I would like to provide some constructive criticism to the individual that wrote this letter to provide some constructive criticism.

    You sound like a high maintenance crybaby! Shut the hell up!

  • Spelling and grammar aside, this gent was simply looking for a smile and a thank you from the people behind the counter. Is that too much to ask? Being a douche bag hipster isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and in my personal opinion the standards of customer service all throughout the DC region could be raised. Working at a coffee shop does not make you entitled, and owning one doesn’t either.

  • Wow. I can’t believe there are so many people willing to accept crappy customer service. If you’re paying 4-5 bucks on specialty coffee drinks then you have every right to expect a quality customer service experience. If you want to be snarky then do it behind my back after I leave the store. That employee sounds like she lives in the New Amsterdam and hates serving the yup yups that are now living in CH. Tynan needs to fire her or put her in a customer service training program.

  • Not a great fan of either the letter writer (hereafter referred to as “the whiner”) or Tynan.

    I agree with the whiner that sometimes it’s the little things that leave the biggest impressions. I never drink lattes, because I think they’re sort of bland, but last time I was at Tynan, I decided that it would make me happy to see a pretty little foam swirl on top of my coffee, so I ordered one anyway, “for here”. They gave it to me in a to go cup with no fancy swirl. Did it ruin my day? No. Did it ruin my hour? No. Did I think “oh. well that was dumb of them. Christ, the fancy latte swirl is literally the logo of the store.” Damn right I did.

    I have got to work only to find that the wrong kind of scone is in my to go bag, and I have not been given a pretty latte swirl when ordering “for here”, and I’m a little annoyed that you can’t get any of their specialty beans when you order a french press. These things are not going to make me file suit, complain to the better business bureau, and demand the barrista’s firstborn as recompense, like the whiner, but they do leave a bad impression.

    And I think it is too bright, but that has a lot to do with that huge white wall, and they’re supposedly putting a mural there, so that should make a difference.

  • Dear owners of Tynan C&T,

    This city is full of morons like this – pretentious pricks who write poorly despite their overpriced educations – who will make your life hell if you take them seriously. Please continue to refine your store in the manner that you see fit as your broader customer base will take complaints like this with their due grain of salt.

    the Columbia Heights Misanthrope

  • For all of you ragging on the grammar/spelling, clearly English isn’t the author’s first language, so give them a break.

    When one is running a coffee shop or is a barista, you basically have one goal – make people’s drinks correctly. All too often at coffee shops (Starbucks included) I see serious miscommunication between the people working the register and the people making drinks, and drinks end up coming out in whatever order just plopped on the counter with no explanation as to what it is.

    Some of the author’s complaints are valid, some aren’t. I don’t expect people serving me to bend over backwards or prostrate themselves in front of me, but I have never worked anywhere in the service industry where rolling your eyes at a customer and giving them attitude is OK. If you get easily annoyed by customers, either lock your emotions down or the service industry is not for you. Also, for those of you complaining about his complaint that two different drinks were mixed with the same spoon, that’s a serious food industry no-no. This isn’t your house; it’s a business and there are certain standards you have to hold to.

  • This guy is a joke……Tynan is awesome….I love the lighting too….please do not change a thing….

  • Let me sum-up this commentariat feed: You’re all a bunch of a-holes and the complainer is a terrible writer.

    Bad customer service should always be reported to the manager/owner, so props to the complainer. Next time, try to limit it to a paragraph. It helps managers if you can provide the exact time and day of the incident, so they know which employee screwed up.

  • I never understood the fascination with places that serve coffee. It’s a downright travesty, almost out of entitlement, when people order one drink and sit at a table on their laptop for hours on end. Those people that do that are like the worst people on earth. Yes, even worse than Escalefters, bike riders, and pedestrians that jaywalk.

  • Dear PoP – Never mind the content or length, if you are going to post people’s questions/requests for assistance/diatribes/whinefests – especially long ones – please edit them first. Better yet, insist that people check their own spelling and grammar first before submitting things to you. It’s hard to pay attention to whatever his point is – something about a coffee shop, I think – when I’m repeatedly distracted by all the errors.

  • Man, talk about being up your own arse! This guy is some kind of latté prima dona or something.
    Yes, I believe the English attorney behind the bar could have handled her comments better, but my guess is she had to put up with his coffee whining for quite a while before she started into the smart-ass comments. She definitely needs some customer service training, but he needs to chill out and unscrew the butt plug a few notches.

    My take on Tynan:
    a little too bright, but no big deal;
    staff was *very* cheerful, polite, and efficient;
    coffee was tasty.

    My only beef with the joint is the half-hour limit on internet use, which I whined about earlier….

  • My only response is that perhaps one of us with the time (of which there are many capable) might write a detailed 3,000 word opus/dissertation on this post and its writer.

  • Oh come on, it’s obvious he just wants to have the feeling of being contacted by the owners. If you were really over Tynan, you just wouldn’t go.

    This is the winner though “Remember, it is not just me; I tend to be the person friends and family trust when making decision on where to go.” Seriously? Maybe all that coffee has you too jacked up.

  • A barrister is a British lawyer who advocates for clients in court. A barista is a person who works at a coffee bar.

    Carry on.

  • I think that the writer had the right idea, it just wasn’t executed very well.
    As far as customer service goes… I agree that a lot of places lack in this department. I’m one of the least cheerful people I know, but when it comes to dealing with the public, I think we can all try to put on a happy face. I’ve definitely noticed a lower level of stress since I’ve decided to function in such a manner. And I think that a lot of DC residents could take a page from that book too.

    Since I don’t drink hot liquids very often, cook my own breakfast, do not own a laptop and am always borderline broke, I have yet to visit Tynan. However, they supplied my building with free breakfast food & beverage, so I plan to stop in soon. Between this and the fact that they’re always full when I walk by, it seems that they’re doing at least something right.

  • This letter is way too long. Why does this person care so much? Vote with your feet, man.

    PoP, not sure why you posted this.

  • Is it so outrageous that we expect good customer service? I think the standards in DC are so very low that people think bad service should be tolerated and complaints are pointless. I think we can all relate to feeling frustrated by wanting to support a business that is plagued with bad customer service. While posting the letter here may not get you the end-result you want I think people are overly harsh and judgmental towards your experience. Hopefully Tynan’s owners will extrapolate the relevant points of the letter and try to improve their service.

  • Though I find the letter ridiculously whiny, I do see some constructive criticism in it. Complaining about the lighting is really pushing it but the patron has a right to be upset about the quality of service and drinks.

    I haven’t checked this place out but I will still try it. And for the record…I couldn’t get through the whole thing. The more I read, the less sympathy I felt for the customer.

  • The person who wrote the letter, just needs attention. They probably write this stuff all
    over the internet. I have a neighbor in Brightwood who writes weekly on the listserv
    about her likes & dislikes. These people are delusiional & are very needy. The world is not a perfect place. Rejoice that!

  • “PoP, not sure why you posted this.”
    The perennial question.

  • I spent this last weekend in NYC with a fellow DCer. We were both amazed by how wonderful the customer service was at restaurants, neighborhood coffeeshops, and Starbucks. The one CVS we went to was even clean and orderly! So yes, I agree that DC has a low bar for service.

    That being said. A latte HAS FOAM. I blame the “no foam” people for the fact that so few lattes are even served with foam these days. Grr.

  • Perhaps this long discussion will lead to greater empathy of Nick Cho’s urges to junk punch coffee whiners. We could use some more of that.

  • Christ its just a latte. You must be a real hit at parties.

  • Yeah I gotta say I kept looking for the horrible incident and didn’t find one. Clearly not a great experience but want a whiner.

  • The widespread “expectation of mediocrity” around here, as Ian C put it above, is the number one reason why D.C. is known far and wide for having world-class bad customer service. So many people simply put up with it and don’t say a word, that it’s become an expected behavior. Kudos to the author for speaking up, and all of you who find it necessary to criticize his/her grammar instead of focusing on the real issue at hand need to get a life.

    I know Tynan Johnson and he is a fair businessman who cares deeply about the neighborhood. I am sure this matter will be taken care of, post-haste.

  • “Christ its just a latte. You must be a real hit at parties.”

    Rat King, thanks for the laugh! Hilarious!

  • I feel so blessed that I don’t naturally walk around with such a negative, self-serving attitude. The shear detail that went into this complaint — about service at a coffee shop, no less — just shows how affected this person much be by slight bumps in the road.
    I’m all for constructive criticism, but for the love of Christ: Get a life.

  • The OP should probably stick to country clubs, where he can pay extra to comment on the lower classes.

  • POP. This letter is not worth of your site. Maybe a summary of it would have been OK, but as a whole, the letter is a whinny, poorly written example of someone who takes himself and his lattes too seriously.

  • Thanks commentariate.
    Both the letter and the comments are cracking me up. Im curious, how old is this chick anyways? (TL;DR)

    Snowflake; Generally a small percentage of customers create the most profit for a company. Another small percentage of customers cost more to service vs. profit creation. Credit Card companies are a good example of this business practice. Basically dumping high cost low profit customers. Guess which one you probably are.

    Its a coffee shop probably staffed with kids making $6/ hour. Its not a Mercedes Benz Dealership. The point is that customer service levels are industry and brand specific based on how companies are competing in their market space.

    Since it is a coffee shop in a saturated market with almost no way to create a niche, there are few if any competitive advantages that arent generalized acrross th market ( service and quality for example). But due to saturation its commoditized so there has to be other competitive factors like environment, convenience or perhaps they are using the organic marketing approach of fair wage fair farming.
    So, since the barriers to entry are low and profit margins are slim and competition is high, its a commodity. Customer turnover and therfore retention are acceptably limited.
    Summation: losing a few customers in a low retention environment has as much impact on the business as any lack of differentation within the competitive environment.

  • The writer of this letter needs to learn to STFU.

    Go sulk, sob and soak your diapers somewhere else.

  • Ok, so this letter is a bit ridiculous, but please count some of us more reasonable types among the people disappointed with Tynan. Like several other people have said, everything is overpriced (and that’s compared to similar-level coffee shops in DC, not compared to Missoula or something) and the quality is pretty low (I’ve never had problems with surly baristas). But my bigger objection that I’m just not sure what they’re trying to be. Primarily a to-go spot? Presumably not, since there are many tables, the fireplace, etc. But if it’s trying to be a hang-out location, it’s failing. The lighting is far too harsh, as others have pointed out, and there’s been no effort to cultivate that comfy, hang-out feel. When a friend and I met up for coffee at Tynan, we left within 20 minutes because it just felt weird. I work from home and am always looking out for a good place to get some work done, but I can’t do it at a place with a 30 minute wi-fi limit. Are we as customers entitled to hours of free wi-fi? Of course not, but either you’re a place that encourages people sitting around working (and you find creative ways of keeping revenue up; see Tryst’s latest experiment), or you’re not. Tynan seems to be trying to straddle the middle, and I just don’t think it’s working.

  • I’d be a bitch too if all my legal education got me was a job slingin’ coffee.

  • why attack the poster? is it so much to ask that when spending my hard earned money i get the item i ordered? in general customer service in dc is abhorrent. i constantly receive an attitude like “i’m doing you a favor”. no you’re not, you’re doing what you’re being paid to do and what’s paying you is my and every other customers’ money. if i’m expected to perform correctly and behave respectfully in my job why doesn’t that same standard apply to the service industry?

  • I once asked my friend why he said “Thank you” to the cashier at the coffee shop after paying for his latte.
    He answered: Well, someone had to say it!

  • I wonder what would happen if you ordered an iced espresso there.

  • I find all the comments telling this person that he is a pretentious crybaby and then telling him how to learn to write properly incredibly IRONIC.

    I don’t like coffee shops for just the reasons that he is complaining about – poor customer service, no place to sit, and snotty barristas. But good for him for trying to improve a local business in our community. His letter was a complaint but at least he was trying to have a positive impact by alerting management to what seems to be a systemic problem with this place.

  • I’ve been there three times now and have had pleasant experiences each time. Their chai tea latte is so so good and not from a box, although I could live with paying less than $5 for a small cup…

    Glad to have a non-corporate place to get coffee a block from my house.

  • A whinier, more self-righteous screed I have never read. My only problem with the place is that I have to pay $9 for a latte and a cookie, but c’est la vie…

  • “I find all the comments telling this person that he is a pretentious crybaby and then telling him how to learn to write properly incredibly IRONIC.”

    You and me both Moxie. You and me both.

  • sweet jesus I hope PoP never posts anything from me on here. i dont think i could handle all the insults… i would develop a complex. however, this person is a whiner and a baby.

  • It’s pretty amusing to see all the people bitching and moaning about someone who dares to complain about bad service. It’s pretty sad that you’ve all grown so accustomed to crap service in DC that you actually seem to be offended when someone complains about it. Douchebags.

  • I haven’t been there but after reading that letter (ok I lied, reading about 50% of it) I plan on going soon.

  • All you people who believe in accepting bad service, bad product, bad behavior, and overcharging should join your comrades in London, or anywhere in Britain for that matter.
    The have the same expectations.

  • @Anonymous 10:22

    I once asked my friend why he said “Thank you” to the cashier at the coffee shop after paying for his latte.
    He answered: Well, someone had to say it!

    Awwwwh! For a second there I just thought your friend was polite. I find politeness, a smile and a genuine, non-judgemental positive attitude gets its return plenty. Try it out.

  • Yes, the writer also lost me about halfway through. On the other hand, I sympathize about that hand creme latte. Almost nothing else matters to me, but when something like that comes across the counter to me (assuming that’s what it was), there’s a pretty good chance they’ve lost my business for good. It’s incredibly onerous to have to call out someone about basic food preparation hygiene when they’ve already shown that they don’t care.

    My advice to the writer: pick your battles, keep your composure, speak with authority, and vote with your feet.

  • i have found the service at tynan to be incredibly slow. my biggest problem is that they only give you 30 minutes of internet time with every order. after 30 minutes, i still hadn’t finished my waffle or coffee, yet the woman at the counter wanted me to order more food or another drink. i packed up my stuff and went to sticky fingers instead.

  • This letter and all the comments are hilarious. Thank you for making my morning more amusing, Insane Coffee Fan and PoP Commenters!

  • Never ceases to amaze me that people will pay $3-4 for a drink made of powdered sugary crap and expect to be treated like something other than a slobbering bovine. You’re lining up to pay for the privilege of be fed powdered garbage in hot water, you should act surprised if you’re not being herded with electric prods.

  • to E: Re my post.

    @Anonymous 10:22

    I once asked my friend why he said “Thank you” to the cashier at the coffee shop after paying for his latte.
    He answered: Well, someone had to say it!

    Awwwwh! For a second there I just thought your friend was polite. I find politeness, a smile and a genuine, non-judgemental positive attitude gets its return plenty. Try it out.

    You missed the point, or chose to focus on the least relevant aspect.
    There is nothing wrong with anyone saying thank you at any time.
    There is something wrong when a customer is not thanked after a purchase.
    BTW there is no friend, I made it up.

  • I have nothing to say, just want to help the silliness hit 100 postings!

  • @Anon- I didn’t miss the point.

  • Are people really wondering about the ‘mystery’ of how customer service here in DC is so bad? The cost of living here is really high and hardly anyone working in customer service/retail is paid a decent living wage or benefits. Has anyone applied for a job there and asked what starting pay is? Half of us probably wouldn’t get out of bed for that kind of money nevermind put on our ‘happy face’ and be all sunshine and giggles for ten hours. When you combine that with the level of entitlement a lot of middle income folks [and even worse the ‘strivers’] here have it’s like oil and water…subtle class [and sometimes race] issues on a micro level.

  • Anon 11:27 wins this funniest comment award for this round.

    OntarioRoader: I mostly agree with you. Which is why I do make a point to go back to the few places I’ve found where the underpaid staff is particularly friendly.

  • wow this is crazy. I’m shocked at all people who think it’s ok to get treated like shit at a coffee shop… I guess this explains why customer service is so bad out there.

  • Stay open later. Starbucks closes at 9. Give people another option other than Tryst or Open City. It will be a profitable decision.

  • I’ve managed retail and while I never received anything like this letter, I did appreciate criticism as an opportunity to do better and certainly would have made some changes (better training, perhaps). However, after some time in my tenure, we realized something very important. People like this letter writer should be let go. A couple of times, I actually asked a person to do their business elsewhere. Initially, I thought it would be a hit to business but well worth it for the well-being of my staff.

    A person who says they ‘send tons of emails to friends and family’ is a liar. Or at least has no effect on business. What kind of person spends their time sending tons of emails about a coffee shop? And what kind of people would be friends with this person? We found that trying to let a person go – harder to do than you would think as they actually tend not to leave but at least change their tone – allowed us to focus better on our other customers, including those who are constructive in their criticism.

    How to tell the difference? A constructive person would accept an offer of a refund. If a letter, the person would appreciate getting more to the point. And wouldn’t tell me the lighting was better at a competitor’s.

    I completely understand the value of treating a customer very well. But letting people like this go allowed us to do that better.

  • @Anonymous 11:27 am

    You win the thread.

    When it’s complaining because people are complaining, or complaining because complainers aren’t complaining about the right thing, one thing is for certain: DC blows.

  • I have not read any of the above commentss, but initial reaction after reading the lengthy letter – sounds like service in DC to me. I went to Starbucks out in Fairfax this morning and was greated with a “hello – how are you” – and I was like wow – who are you people? Why are you saying hi to me – just give me my damn drink…anyway…I find the service in DC whether at Starbucks, Wendys or West Elm or any other place pales in comparision to other places just over the DC borders or anywhere for that matter. While I don’t think I should be treated like a queen – when people are in the service industry then they need to accept that and treat people with respect and good service. That is what the service industry is all about.

  • For every person who bothers to write a letter like this, there are 20 people who don’t bother, they just won’t come back and will bad mouth the place to all their friends. So kudos for taking the time to tell the owners they need to get their ass back into their new store and replace a few employees. With the economy the way it is it should not be hard to find someone with a better attitude, and more energy and attention to detail.

  • Do any of you actually work? There are way too many people with down time.

    I know that I just post to these blogs is because I am lazy, don’t work, drink way too much, and benefit from the extension of unemployment benefits!

    That’s my contribution to get to a 100 comments!

    Off to write stupid notes on some other blogs.

  • I was excited to have another choice for Sunday morning coffee in Columbia Heights. After my first trip to Tynan, I was disappointed with the organization of the coffee shop. My friend and I both ordered coffee and waffles. While the waffles were delicious, it took over 45 minutes to have them delivered. After we realized the “server” had probably delivered our waffles to the wrong table, we went to the counter to ask what the hold up was. We watched 4 or 5 more waffles come out before the problem was resolved. There was no apology for the delay, and the staff was rude after we implied that they had forgotten us.

    I’m hoping it was just opening quirks, but the staff certainly needs some customer service training.

  • I got a “Hand Cream Latte” a while back. It was worth the extra $50.
    /Ill be here all week, tip your waitress.

  • The problem in places like this is that the product is not a cup of coffee, but an atmosphere!!!!

    Personaly I’m not the type that drinks coffee or would pay this much for coffee, but a lot of others do. What they want is a warm, friendly, neighborhood place to hang. If THEY feel like the employees are not friendly, then they will not come back. The owners should take this into consideration.

    Now, maybe there are more than enough customers for the owners to make $$$, but if they have a desire to expand in the future you never want to reduce your customer base. Especially if whatever is bringing in the customers who don’t care as much about customer service don’t come as much….

  • seriously, just go to sticky fingers or CH coffee. it’s better anyway.

  • Yeah, Ch Coffee rocks. The only problem is the small space – a problem they tried to correct by getting the next-door building, but couldn’t because of DCRA…

  • @rg, according to Idiocracy, that will be the special at Starbucks in the fiture.

  • @Rusty Shackleford: I would sentence the author of this Tynan manifesto to one night of rehabilitation.

  • @ Petworth Newbie

    “With the economy the way it is it should not be hard to find someone with a better attitude, and more energy and attention to detail.”

    I’ve done hiring in this area for retail before. This is by far the most difficult market I’ve ever encountered when it comes to finding good help.

  • I am the writer of the original letter and I just want to say it was quite entertaining to read your replies. I would have loved to reply to each, but I figured that would take many pages and tons of time so I decided not.
    I wrote the letter to the owners directly and only sent it to PoP community after not hearing anything from them for three days.
    As one of you pointed out, English is not my first language and I am still learning every day. I apologize for the mistakes. Spell check told me all was well… sorry.
    Some of you thought I am a self-serving, whinny, high maintenance person. Sorry that perception overshadowed the real message. I also do not think I am either of those things since I also mentioned that I went to other coffee shops and I enjoyed my visits.
    The reason I did not take the refund offer from my last visit was because I was not there to take advantage of them. I want to pay for the products. I do not believe in complaining, getting refund, and move on. I want them to learn from their mistake, apologize for bad service, and do a better job next time around. I did mention that I want businesses to succeed in my hood.
    Long time ago I worked in coffee shop setting and I enjoyed the interactions I had with my customers. I also learned being nice to your customers helps you a lot since the clients were appreciative and often tip tons. I just wanted the same type of service from this coffee shop. I could make my own coffee drinks at my house and have it there, but the point of a coffee shop, to me, is a place you go to relax outside of your home. Friendly people behind the counter are key to your overall experience.
    Once again, sorry for the long letter (this and the original). Happy Holidays.

  • @ rg

    *Golf clap*

  • The claim by someone above that it is so terribly difficult to expect people who make minimum wage to be polite to customers is ridiculous. If that were the case, why do service employees in every major Northeastern city (and, as someone else noticed, even in Fairfax) do their jobs well?

    Saying “I don’t care” to a customer in my college bakery job in New York would’ve had me put out on the street before I knew what happened. Here, it is tolerated by a great group of spineless people who don’t know any better [and by a bunch of business owners who a.) probably have difficulty finding a decent worker, and b.) have no financial incentive to improve].

    Washington has a disgusting race problem that too many “new” residents like to pretend doesn’t exist. There is nowhere else in the country where employees treat customers with such overt hostility, and anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this is fooling himself.

  • HG-you go girl!

  • This place is the pits! I have now been there twice and do not want to return, even though it is so convenient and so close to my house.

    First, the drinks are horrible. My skim latte had a weird soapy aroma and my Darjeeling Tea was foamy (???) and filled with loose tea that made that I kept swallowing with every sip.

    Second, their NEW internet policy is atrocious! One hour of internet per each purchase? I bought a drink and a water at once and asked the guy whether I could get two hours of internet. He printed me out a slip with a password and told me that after an hour when the internet timed out, I should go back to the counter with my receipt and ask for another hour of internet. The problem was that once my internet timed out in the middle of sending an important email, the guy who initially rung me up was no where to be found and I had misplaced my receipt.

    Third, their non stop Michael Jackson music was WAY too loud.

    Owners listen up. Get rid of your Moronic internet policy immediately, and teach your Barista’s how to make a god damn drink. Otherwise I hope you get closed down by the holidays!

  • I go here regularly and have always thought the service was particularly good (especially the week day morning crew). Although, there is one girl who works in the afternoon/evening who always seems to be complete uninterested in being there. I’m a big hater of bad lighting, but I’ve never thought the lighting here was harsh. I’ve been super excited about this place opening up, and have been generally satisfied. This place is very welcoming, comfortable and has free wi-fi! The quality of the coffee can be improved, and the prices (especially for sandwiches) are a bit high, but overall, Tynan is the best thing that’s happened in CH in a while. I’m not doubting the the authors story, I just haven’t had these experiences at all.

  • their service isn’t very good. i didn’t have any horrible experiences, but yeah, not attentive and kinda careless in general.

    more than the lighting, i think they need to play better music!

  • the letter is written by an OCD-driven fool. get a grip. It is an OK coffee shop, staff no better or worse than elsewhere

  • There is your gimmick Tynan: Service in DC with a smile! How novel. People will come from miles away.

  • I’ve been to Tynan twice, and am pretty underwhelmed. The lighting is kind of flat and too fluorescent, and the space just feels a little too big. I went on a weekday evening and the place was completely packed with laptoppers, which made it feel a bit like a library. Granted, this isn’t Tynan’s fault exactly, and I kind of liked it, but that’s not that kind of ambiance that’s good for doing just hanging out and chatting or people watching.

    Service was alright, about as good as I’d expected. The tea was watery, and the coffee was so-so.

    So, no huge complaints, but like I said, underwhelming overall. That being said, I’m sure I’ll be back!

  • I support you HG.

  • Also, some of the furniture (e.g. my stool) was falling apart.

  • I am not one of those people who obsess over slavish and extraordinary service but I find too many people in the D.C. area put up with crappy service for mediocre meals. But then mediocre service is a fairly common no matter what city you are in. This isn’t a comment on Tynan but just a general comment.

  • I’d agree that posting the entire letter seemed a bit over the top (not necessarily writing it).

    But if the owner really is reading all these comments, a chance for me to say that I was very disappointed with the tea — only had it once and it was I think the second day open. (I’ve been back once or twice since then.) My impression is that you’ve invested in some expensive probably good quality tea, but not in knowledge/training in how to brew it. The sencha I had was undrinkable, seriously, I suspect because the water was much too hot for green tea.

    I’m used to being disappointed in tea at coffee places, but you actually put tea in the name of the place!

    The few times I’ve been, I’ve had very nice service.

    I don’t really like the Starbucks decor/style, but that’s a matter of taste, I guess.

  • I was surprised to read on here that some people like the lighting. Seems like a good compromise, if the owners are listening, would be to keep the bright lights up front and allow for a dimmer area in the back by the fireplace, or some other mixed lighting. I’ve been in twice but walked out before ordering because I couldn’t imagine relaxin over a cup of coffee and conversation with those glaring lights. However, now I realize people go to these places for all kinds of reasons, so there should be options.

  • And furthermore …
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • I had a good laugh last night watching people pick up job applications posted outside the new Chipotle. It was an enlightening moment as I watched one girl spit (unknowingly or habitualy) right at the enterance to the store. I wish the hiring manager could have seen it and marked “FAIL” on her application. Unfortunately the barista at Tanyan may have “slipped through the cracks”… I hope Chipotle does a better job. Hiring from the local community may be nice and all, but you get what you pay for…

  • The most heartwrenching line in the original letter was “More after the jump.”

  • @ Print Reader – I just read that article too. That’s kind of a low blow and largely irrelevant to the issues she was talking about. Obviously she wanted to highlight the irony, but still…

  • In over 100 comments so far on this page not one has mentioned Mayorga. Just sayin’.

  • Go to Sticky Fingers! It is locally owned, way better service and quality and NOT a chain coffee store which Tynan IS!

  • DearPoP……….self importance is not self confident or high self esteem………it is super annoying.
    With that said, I am 100% sure Tynan’s management is working through the kinks of operating a NEWLY (6 weeks) opened Coffee shop. Is the Barista wrong? Absolutely! Is the Supervisor clueless? Definitely! Should there be more of management present? Perfectly evident! BUT………..learn to focus your constructive criticism….make it concise and to the point. You want slavish customer service? Hire your own servants.
    Just don’t go back…..PERIOD!
    Barrister = Attorney in England
    Barista = Espresso/coffee preparer in Italian
    Self Importance = A&*hole
    Clueless and self important = you

  • This guy is a jerk…arrogant, self centered, think he is high and mighty, look down on people asshole….with way too much time on his hands…get a life and dont ever go back…youre just one person, not the entire community…who cares…everytime i visit tynan, the expierence is wonderful and they play the best michael jackson songs!!! the best vanilla chai’s that ive ever tasted….keep rocking tynan!!!!! ill be back soon…

  • Was this a race issue or homophobia issue?

  • A “barrister” is a lawyer in the U.K. A “barista” is a person who makes coffee drinks. That said, the writer of this letter needs to get a life. Use all the extra time and money you have to go buy an espresso machine and make your coffee at home. Spare the rest of us your whiny rants.

  • dcgirl6 – I suppose you and others who can’t believe someone misspelled some words in a letter have never made a spelling mistake in your life. Good for you.

    Anon 3:42. The fact that you say all that about a person you have never met is pretty sad especially since the original letter did not insult any person or the business, but was talking strictly about the service and the product. You stated that you have positive experiences when you visit the coffee shop, which is great, but so I suppose if anybody else have the opposite experience then it must be the customers fault. What does that say about you and your simplistic thinking?

  • i can’t believe i subjected myself to reading that entire letter.

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