Walking into a bustling coffee shop and seeing the tables full of customers enjoying coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, it’s easy to see that Cuppi Coffee in Dumfries has become a popular meeting spot since opening earlier this year.
You can find owner Hyunsung Shin at the Dumfries location from opening at 7 a.m. to closing at 6 p.m. as he works to get his second location firmly established and running up to his standards. Motivated by his love of creating delicious food and offering exceptional customer service, he trains his team to offer the level of service that he believes each customer deserves.
"I know that to compete with the franchise coffee shops, I have to provide an in-person experience that cannot be beat,” says Shin. “My coffee shops have 5-star ratings on Yelp and Google, and that’s really important to maintain."
Cuppi Coffee works with Door Dash and Uber Eats to offer delivery at both of their locations, and that option has proven popular with his customers. But many of them prefer to come in person to see what’s new, view the fresh pastries, and peruse the ever-changing menu before settling down at a table to visit with friends and family.
“I love to create new food,” Shin explains. “I especially enjoy coming up with new flavor combinations, whether it’s for our smoothies or brunch items. I choose the ingredients myself early every day. I want everything to be as fresh as it can be.”
Cuppi Coffee features brunch every day until 2:00 p.m. during the week and 3:00 p.m. on the weekend. Shin changes the brunch menu regularly and features a seasonal ingredient, such as pineapple or eggplant, to design the menu around.
After coming to the United States in 2005 with his family from South Korea, Shin grew up in Northern Virginia. He chose to forgo college, so his sister could go instead. Shin discovered that he had a real knack for customer service, and he wanted to make a career that used those talents.
While trying to figure out the next steps for his career, his mother asked him if he might be interested in opening a restaurant next door to her barber shop in Bristow. The space was available, and Shin saw this as the opportunity he had been looking for.
He signed the lease right before the COVID-19 pandemic forced everything to be shut down. They were closed for three months, and they still had rent to pay.
"It was devastating. Those were my life savings going toward rent, and we couldn’t be open to bring in any money. Things were not off to a good start."
They finally were able to open with social distancing requirements in July 2020, and business began to build. Customers began to appreciate what he had to offer, but staffing proved to be difficult at first. Shin persisted and built his team to provide excellent customer service.
Then the landlord of his current location in Dumfries approached Shin about opening a coffee shop there. Hiring the right team of people again proved to be a challenge, yet Shin now has 10 part-time employees he is training.
When asked if he thinks he’ll open a third location, Shin and his wife are expecting a baby soon, so he’ll let his wife decide if a third location is a good idea.
Cuppi Coffee Locations:
Bristow 9110 Devlin Rd #100 Bristow, VA 20136
Dumfries 16830 Dumfries Rd, Unit 120 Dumfries, VA 22025