Durham, N.C. — For Cocoa Cinnamon owners Leon and Areli Barrera de Grodski, it is as much about the history as it is about the coffee.
They are fascinated by the origins of everything – from the beans to the chocolate used to make drinks like their Almoka, a riff on the classic mocha featuring Kallari chocolate from Ecuador.
The shop, located at 420 W. Geer St. in Durham around the corner from Motorco and FullSteam, is in the midst of a soft opening. New drinks are rolled out daily and the menu is starting to take shape. Right now, they have signature espresso drinks and hand-brewed coffee, which means each cup is made to order.
Teas are also on the menu, with tea lattes and pots of tea in the future.
A full drinking chocolate menu is also going to be a staple of the shop. Areli said they plan to offer Persian style and water-based drinks.
European sipping chocolate, basically a melted down chocolate bar, will be served in shots.
All drinks will be single origin, Areli said, meaning the coffee or tea comes from the same geographic region.
For coffee aficionados, there are four specialty beans to choose from, including ones from Counter Culture and Carrboro Coffee. If you are wondering how these beans differ, a menu breaks down the flavors in each. Areli said coffee is much like wine, you can taste the differences.
But if you aren't into the intricacies of your brew, that's OK. Baristas can help you figure out the right drink. And if you are in a hurry, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Cocoa Cinnamon has a drip brew. Just leave your money on the counter, grab a cup and go.
If you get hungry, there are locally made pastries and desserts for sale.
Local beer and wine are also available.
Local touch of art
Fans of mobile bikeCoffee, a favorite at many food truck rodeos, might recognize some of the signature hand-brewed drinks on the menu. The couple started bikeCoffee as a way to work up to their own brick and mortar shop.
Community support and involvement was a huge component in creating Cocoa Cinnamon. The couple used Kickstarter to help raise funds.
"A lot of the community really chipped in," Areli said.
Local artist David Solow basically curated the shop, which is located in a renovated gas station. The decor colors come from spices. The walls are a mustard seed yellow and the lights, which are holdovers from the gas station, are a paprika shade.
Local artists like Heather Gordon also chipped in.
Gordon is known for her works which convert original analog data to digital binary code. The floor she did for Cocoa Cinnamon contains elements of literary giant Walt Whitman and the brainwave recordings of Carl Sagan's wife, Ann Druyan.
"We really wanted the front room to be geometrics," Areli said. The design Gordon created is a bright collection of tiles in soaring patterns.
The drink condiment station is a converted cabinet with interesting trinkets inside the front panels.
Much of the decor is from re-purposed materials, Areli said.
Garage living has its perks
During the warmer months, they will open the garage doors and add a canvas canopy for people to enjoy dining outdoors.
Iced drinks are also on the horizon.
Plush chairs and couches inside and free Wi-Fi make it a great place to get some work done or read a book.
Cocoa Cinnamon opened last week. Their hours are Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to midnight and Saturday 9 a.m. to midnight.