What We Do

Cocoa Cinnamon is locally owned and operated by Leon and Areli Barrera de Grodski.

We employ a diverse crew who are dedicated to excellence in our craft and strive for down to Earth service.

Super sweet Valentine for CC's dedicated crew!


Cocoa Cinnamon strives to be a vessel for discourse and sustainability. We believe it is more subversive to be a space in which diversity of idea, belief and background are sought and cultivated than to profess a specific politics.  Coffee, chocolate and tea are age old lubricants for ideas.



Sarah McLachlin to crowd at DPAC – 2015 “Best coffee and cocoa on tour so far.”

Buzzfeed – 2015 “Top 24 US Coffee Shops to Visit Before You Die.”

Green Plus Program – 2014 Winner Sustainable Enterprise of the Year
Durham Magazine – 2014 Winner Platinum Award for Best Coffee Shop
Indy Week – 2014 Best Coffee Shop in Durham County
Downtown Durham Inc. – 2013 Best Downtown Renovation
Congressman Butterfield – 2013 Congressional Record certificate for inclusion in Southern Living Magazine’s Tastiest Town in the South
Indy Week – 2013 Winner Best New Business and Finalist for Best Triangle Coffee Shop
Durham Magazine – 2013 Finalist Best Coffee Shop
Preservation Durham – 2013 Winner of the People’s Choice award for Best Adaptive Reuse


Cocoa Cinnamon came in a dream.  The name comes from a couple key spices that have played major roles in the rise and fall of civilizations, ingredients we love and whose histories are easy to forget.

The quest for spices initiated a romantic yet harried story, for which the world has been transformed. Languages, religions and cultures have been spread and obliterated.  Our menu touches upon this.

The drink names and recipes as the names they carry and the spices that are used in their making and come out of a simple curiosity.  Where do cloves originally come from? How did cacao play a role in history? 10264450_791924690819141_6467556101477666327_n

Cocoa Cinnamon is our way of experiencing these amazing tastes and and the stories that go with them.  It is also a way of making small decisions that undo longstanding patterns. And committing to working towards being part of a thriving community, city and world.  We believe that through commerce, we can be part of creating sustainable and pleasurable habits. We mean this in a direct way. Wherever possible we source all of the ingredients that go into what we make as locally and sustainably as we can. This is an ongoing process and we aim to get better as we grow.

We have a living wage guarantee for all crew members who have completed basic FOH training and aim to be a contributing and positive catalyst in our local community.  Non-tipped crew make a minimum of $13 per hour.  Certified by the Durham Living Wage Program.

Cocoa Cinnamon uses part of its profits to support local organizations and efforts that aline with its mission. Please see our blog for last year’s contribution stats and our donation page to make a request.


As a space we aim to be open, creating a kind a public house, where difference is a pleasure and no belief is assumed.

People from all walks of life, backgrounds, economic statuses, languages, beliefs and ideas are welcome and hoped for*…we have a community coffee program for anyone who might not be able to afford a coffee, tea or chocolate drink.  Simply ask for a “community coffee” at the counter and we’ll ask you what you would like.

Thank you for taking part and enjoy.

Leon and Areli
Cocoa Cinnamon


A little about us:

Areli, born in Tijuana, has worked in her family’s retail businesses since she was a little girl. She has assistant managed and served at coffee shops for a total of 5 years and has been creating Cocoa Cinnamon since 2010.

Leon managed and was co-owner of a coffee shop in the NC mountains, near the entrance to the Smoky Mountain National Park for 6 years.

We also wear other hats

Areli fulfills her secret lifelong dream as a Luchadora (sorry identity secret), DJ aka birdgherl, enthusiastic dancer & immigrant rights supporter.  She ardently believes in treading lightly, yet giving girls and women the quiet power to believe in themselves and act the way they believe. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from UNC, misses her mom’s no recipe Mexican cooking.

Leon moved to North Carolina in 2003 after a month long artist residency at Western Carolina University.  He has worked in and out of Durham since 2001 producing installation work for Durham artist, David Solow.  Before coming to the NC Leon produced art, theater and film such as the Miss Saigon Helicopter scene (US Tour) and Shirin Neshat’s Logic of the Birds.  He has shown his own work at The Scrap Exchange Durham, NC, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, de Balie, Amsterdam, Extra City, Antwerp, the Centre Pompidou, Douz, Tunisia, Indonesia National Gallery.  In 1996 he was an au pair in Cologne, Germany.  After an unexpected paid year teaching while completing an MA in English Ed at Columbia University, 1998 marked a year of wine induced dancing in Paris.

Together we aim to bring the best, sustainably sourced coffees, teas, drinking chocolates to you in a friendly, thoughtful and comfortable setting.

We are incredibly fortunate to be part of the amazing community that is Durham.

Leon and Areli

Areli’s blog: http://luchadoresandrobots.wordpress.com

Leon’s site: http://the-sushi-bar.com
*with the exception of being violent, hateful, disturbing customers or committing a crime.