Whenever I’m out and about, I love checking out new restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Part of me wants to find the “best” coffee, home fries, or cocktail to replace my current favorite. Also weighing in are the service and the atmosphere. When I find a place that delivers all three, I get excited and tend to tell everyone about it.
When my office moved to Tenleytown, I began to search for my next “goto” coffee shop. It had to be nearby, easy to park and grab coffee to go, and not too expensive. I tried several and had varying experiences. Years ago I met a client at Coffee Nature I decided to give it another try.
I’m a sucker for jazz…
Walking into this small coffee shop, I immediately noticed the music playing and art of the walls. Each visit, I’ve been greeted by super friendly customers and helpful staff. I noticed that each time an espresso drink was ordered, a man sitting at a table would run behind the counter and make it. And he always took the time to make foam art on top.
So when I asked to speak to the owner so I could interview him, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was the one I’d be meeting. Below are his answers to my mini interview I’ve been doing with business owners who are members of Tenleytown Main Street. His name is Joseph Oh of Coffee Nature.
Why did you decide to become the owner of Coffee Nature?
I wanted to be a business owner. I’d been a manager of a retail store and I’d managed restaurants. I took over Coffee Nature from the previous owner.
Why did you choose to run a business in Tenleytown?
I was a customer and loved the neighborhood and the people. They were so friendly. There was a sense of community. There were improvements I thought I could make to the existing business. There are some other coffee shops that I really like and I wanted to strive to add the things I like from them into Coffee Nature.
Talk to your customers.
I honestly didn’t like the coffee that was being served when I took over. I drink espresso and the coffee they served was too bitter and needed tons of milk and sugar. I wanted to offer the best quality coffee I could find. So, I went and found a much better coffee. It was a hard transition for some customers. I had to explain why I was making the change and ease them into it. I wanted them to understand te reasons behind the changes I was making.
By talking to my customers, I learned that one of them was a musician who needed a place to play. So I let him play live music outside on Saturdays from 10-1 or 2. He has a place to play, he plays for tips and our customers enjoy it.
Another one of my customers is a local artist, so I made a gallery for her art. It’s displayed on our walls and she has a gallery and the customers enjoy it.
What is your favorite thing about running Coffee Nature?
It’s different every day. Though it may look similar, I take my time with each latte I make. I’m listening, responding, watching. I take my time with the foam so people won’t add anything to it. I want customers to know that our coffee doesn’t need sugar. It’s not bitter. I want them to really enjoy it.
Anything you’d like to add or anyone you’d like to thank?
We may not be the best coffee shop. We know we’re not perfect. We are growing with our customers and growing with our neighborhood. We appreciate our customers. They are loyal. We are a community.
Want to give Coffee Nature a try?
4224 Fessenden St NW
Washington, DC 20016