DURHAM | Cocoa Cinnamon is a group of three Durham cafes that, despite expansion, has managed to keep the quality of its product and local’s vibe intact. That’s largely down to the influence of owners Leon and Areli Barrera de Grodski, who see their cafes as places to “infuse craft with story, drink with design in a way that is simple, layered and beautiful, a kind of open invitation to wonder as one would discover a foreign land, a new language”. Indeed, each Cocoa Cinnamon has its own slightly different menu and feel.
I visited the original Downtown branch on W Greer Street, which opened in 2013 in a refurbished former service station. Designed with the help of David Solow art + design, the space felt to me almost like the cafes I remember back in college – casual melting posts of different people and ideas, and community engagement. Very welcoming and vibrant. There’s re-purposed furniture, lots of comfy seating, free WiFi, and murals from local artists.
As for the coffee itself, there’s a Central and South American theme that runs throughout the menu. Cocoa Cinnamon have their own roastery, Little Waves Coffee Roasters. They relationship source and micro-roast select coffees from around the world, all fair trade and ethical. Filter and espresso is fantastic, but do try the flavoured and infused options.
I usually run the other way when faced with flavoured coffee drinks, but at Cocoa Cinnamon the flavours are carefully considered and quality. Try the Dr. Durham. It’s a latte with house-made vanilla bean syrup, maca root, and ginger, topped with black lava salt. There’s also a great selection of teas and other non-coffee drinks here. Try the Antepasados, a type kakawas (a pre-Colombian cacao beverage) with cacao, pumpkin seeds, almonds, allspice, cinnamon, and agave.
There is no set food menu at Cocoa Cinnamon, however a small selection of a light snacks and baked goods supplied by local businesses is available. Cocoa Cinnamon also hosts food trucks in their parking lot.
Cocoa Cinnamon (Downtown)
420 W Geer Street
North Carolina 27701
Telephone: 919 316 7978
Mon – Thu: 7:00am to 10:00pm
Fri: 7:00am to 10:30pm
Sat: 8:00am to 10:30pm
Sun: 8:00am to 9:00pm