an open letter to waves, the coffee shop.

January 18, 2007

dear waves:

hello! welcome to mount pleasant! although you’ve been part of the neighbourhood for a scant six months or so, i haven’t had the opportunity to greet you properly. maybe that’s on account of your storefront being a tad on the garish side, but i do digress.

in east van, we’re used to a few things at our local caffeine dispensaries that are missing from your establishment. also, there are several things present that, generally speaking, are out-of-place to varying degrees in our community. for your convenience, i’ve compiled a list of what’s good and what needs improving.

first, the good:

  • your complimentary wireless internet is a good thing. however, this is pretty much a standard these days. also, considering that just a few doors down, as well as across the street, both soma and lugz offer free wireless internet, this isn’t much of a selling point.
  • it’s very nice that you’re open 24 hours a day. indeed, vancouver sorely needs more all night places. however, for many reasons (outlined below), i’ve only once been a patron of your coffee shop late at night. in addition, the grind gallery, located a jaunt away, provides another 24 hour coffee shop in the main street area, further reducing your raison d’être.

now, the bad:

  • as i previously alluded, your storefront is reminiscent of a scale model of times square. however, the difference between times square and your coffee shop is, frankly, that one is a world landmark, and that one is a lame coffee shop. if i’m trying to study late at night, the last thing i need are neon lights shining in my eyes.
  • rest assured, there are enough caffeine addicts in town to keep your business afloat, however, you might want to pay attention to the other coffee shops in east vancouver. most of them are locally and/or independently owned – how many blenz, second cup or starbucks are there compared to the west side? you, however, bask in the (harsh blue) glow of corporate sell-out-ism. even starbucks, who keeps corporate-owned stores with a (fairly) uniform benefits plan, manages to soften its image while acknowledging its status. your claims of being a independently-owned franchise grants you as much credit as the average mcdonalds. everyone knows that you have no soul; the least you could do is admit it.
  • your employees trash the other coffee shops in the area. while you are entitled to a sense of (delusional) self-superiority, you are advised to keep it behind the counter, where it belongs.
  • if i order food, i appreciate it not tasting or looking like plastic, rubber or both. i also appreciate not paying over $5 for such a tiny piece of pastry. i’ve eaten better on an air canada. seriously.
  • you make some of your drinks with store-bought ice cream mix. while i am fairly confident that starbucks does a similar thing with its frappuccinos (frappuccini?), it at least has the good taste of disguising the fact. you should do the same.
  • your coffee is sharp and acidic. seriously. i can taste it in the back of my throat right now, in fact (and i haven’t even been back for months). if you sell coffee, you should at least know how to do it right.
  • last, but most definitely not least, would you please do away with the giant fucking muted plasma-screen television on the wall? this is a coffee shop, not a sports bar. i suppose that someone out there might want to know the news or something at some point, but considering that everyone’s here’s plugged in with their notebook computers, here’s a news flash of my own: nobody’s watching it. it’s trashy, distracting and a symbol of everything that’s wrong with you. get rid of it.

now, you may say that i’m unnecessarily harsh. perhaps i am. however, when i learned that one of your prodigal franchisees bought out the sugar shack, my favourite café in lynn valley, i had to draw the line. you see, you destroyed a family establishment, the brainchild of three brothers, in order to put forward your disgusting blend of crappy coffee and cut-throat corporate business acumen. while i never knew these brothers personally, it’s what they stood for that really mattered: hard work, creativity and local ownership (the real stuff, not your hypocritical, franchised variety).

in conclusion, while i cannot wish you well, i do hope that we’ll be able to form a working relationship where we do not interfere too much into each others’ lives. in the short term, this is guaranteed, as i have gone overseas for a year. in the long run, this is not so certain. i hope you are revenue-neutral over the next year, and then get firebombed (with no injuries to your staff) sometime in the wee hours shortly before i return. alternately, you can do away with the “zen-garden-in-a-box” approach and actually put a bit of thought or feeling into your establishment. who knows? you might even do a bit better.

sincerely yours,


ps. your website sucks ass.

pps. matcha lattès suck ass. nobody actually likes them. not even in japan. if i really want matcha, i’ll go to a tea house or grab some bubble tea. so, for the love of god and all that is holy, stop promoting them, ok?

ppps. i just realized something: you should turn yourselves into a 24-hour bubble tea shop. you’d make a killing! even i’d go! and you already have the tacky décor! can anybody say “turn-key”?


2 Responses to “an open letter to waves, the coffee shop.”

  1. Kayvan Rahmati Says:


    My names Kayvan Rahmati, director of waves coffee. I belive you are a little misinformed. suger suit in n vancouver was owned by three brothers, but they could not keep up with the rising rent cost which forced them to sell there shop. You do have some great ideas, maybe a little hard words, but that is your opinion and you are more then welcome to express your opinion. I hope your next experiance at Waves is more enjoyable.

    Thank you,
    Kayvan. R

  2. mkushnir Says:

    hi, kayvan.

    this is mike, the author.

    i know that i was a bit brutal in my account of waves. while i won’t say that it isn’t completely without merit, i do believe that communication is equal parts “what you say” and “how you say it,” so i can understand how you might feel defensive about it.

    the harshness was partially my sense of humour that got the best of me. i really should let you know that i don’t mean for anything to be taken personally; i’m sorry if that’s what i accomplished.

    i have to say that i was quite thrilled to receive your reply. most people (especially businesspeople acting in their professional capacities) would not have had the courage to do so.

    regarding the sugar shack, i’m glad to know what really happened. i’m sure you can understand how i came to my prior conclusion.

    i hope that things go well with you and your business (i don’t really think that it should be firebombed).

    take care,


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