Micro-Roastery, Third Location and Freshly Made Churros!

Cocoa Cinnamon will be opening a micro-roastery and final retail location at 2013 Chapel Hill Road. Now that we’re out of beta mode at Hillsborough Road, we have begun developing the micro-roastery that will supply our three locations with our own coffee as well as continue to enjoy some guest roasters. The three shops together will make one cohesive whole, each part a piece of the puzzle.

















With David Solow art + design and Linton Architects, we are working to design the Chapel Hill Road location to gel with the Lakewood neighborhood in feel. We have several team members who in the neighborhood and participate on the neighborhood board. The design of the shop itself will be a bit more akin to a Mexican feel, where the beauty and feel of the hand are present. We went to a place around the corner from our Tia Nenna’s house in Guadalajara last year that is a touch point for inspiration, plus some elements of the trip Areli and I were just on in the Mediterranean.

This location will have a menu that plays off of what we do and supports the addition of made to order churros (and chocolate of course)! It will have a kind of cross section price structure with some deliberately more accessible pricing, the community coffee option (a gift card where anyone can get a coffee paid for by the community) as well as a tailored menu to fit this feel and timing.

Areli walking through Linton Architects architectural plans for the #CacaoCanela micro-roastery and shop in Lakewood with our landlords Billy and Stuart.

Areli walking through Linton Architects architectural plans for the #CacaoCanela micro-roastery and shop in Lakewood with our landlords Billy and Stuart.



Don Javi’s in Guadalajara, one of our touchpoints for design inspiration.




Alcazar Tile - connecting back across the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Alcazar Tile – connecting back across the Atlantic and Mediterranean.



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Cocoa Cinnamon on Hillsborough Road!


Update! We now have a full menu at the Hillsborough Road location with about 40% of the drink being unique to that location. It includes everything from a pour over with chocolate, turmeric & ginger inspired by Malala Yousafzai to an iced seltzer with espresso, local honey, cardamom and maca after my Great Grandfather Francesco Fontana who lived for 10 years in Tunisia. We’ll leave the rest for you to explore.


Linton Architects visualization of building as it will appear when complete.

Beta Phase – during beta phase we open for “regular” business but in our own way…something akin to a software launch.¬† We start with fewer hours and a small menu and add on modules and a few more artworks as we test and grow.¬† We will also be adding more seating, finishing some small building items (outdoor sign/cover), doing some finishing touches with aesthetics that feel better to complete in a living, unfolding shop.

Build Phase – this title may sound counter-intuitive, but for us this is our regular operations mode.¬† We will enter the “build” phase as post beta….which most people would call normal operations.¬† We never want our operations to feel “normal,” so we think of our daily activities as continual opportunities to build, research, serve and participate in our city as part of the vision we have for it, the company, our crew and community.¬† You can learn more about that in detail on our website…but if you’re getting this note, you probably already know what we mean.

Thank you for taking part!

Artists and Craftspeople:

David Solow¬†of David Solow¬†art + design¬†— Designer, Site Specific (shop) Installation Artist, Producer, Barfronts, Cocoa Cinnamon would not be possible without David’s ability to draw out, design and orchestrate a one of a kind place. His friendship is what drew us to Durham starting back in 2001. His contribution is great and part of what makes CC unique.

Coby Linton of Linton Architects РBuilding Designer, Architect, Landlord, Neighbor

Maryah Smith-Overman¬† — made the red bar tops throughout the shop, as well as the magical realist busing station and ‚Äúladder/shelves‚ÄĚ. She also built the upper cabinet along with Blaine Johnston.

Art Knowles of Word of Mouth Carpentry – Upper bar mahogany and wenge with hand made inlay depicting stellar/subatomic universe of energy and fixins station tree (coming) made of wenge and ambrosia maple.

Heather Gordon¬†— Upper cabinet mural made of Heather Gordon signature design using the geo-coordinates of the history of the travel of coffee

Al Frega of Frega Creative – railroad track structure for front bike racks, railroad truss planter bases, friendship and support.

Elijah Leed of Elijah Leed Studio¬†– built the two large table tops, four bench seats, and eight small table tops in the shop. They are oak treated with vinegar and steel wood and inlaid with brass lines and dots. The brass lines are a part of a portolan chart that ties into the one on David‚Äôs barfronts, intersecting with Durham and the place in Ethyopia wheEthiopian humans first originated. The brass dots are part of the map of the night sky at the autumnal equinox above Cocoa Cinnamon and tie into two of Luzene‚Äôs figures, who are part of the same map. Elijah also built the retail shelving unit and all of the shelving in the shop, except for Maryah‚Äôs ‚Äúladder/shelves‚ÄĚ. Elijah was also responsible for the cutting and installation of the FSC certified cumaru for the outdoor tables, benches and planters, with help from Leon..

Art Knowles of Word of Mouth CarpentryArt Knowles of Word of Mouth Carpentry made the mahogany and wenge upper bar with inlays of dozens of different woods in hundreds of pieces depicting the bending of time and space in the stellar/sub atomic universes of energy. He made the tree with cave and tree house at the fixins station going through the upper cabinet and up into the rafters, refering to Coby Linton‚Äôs Lace Bark Elm in the courtyard. Artie also made the ‚Äútree‚ÄĚ shelving unit in the bathroom.

Andrew Preiss of ARP Design Studio РAndrew Preiss of ARP Design Studio made the bases for the Elijah’s large table tops and bench seats. He made the hefty steel shelf brackets. He also built the steel frame structure of the outdoor benches, tables and planters.

Blaine Johnston of Red F Studiospretty much the wood Macgyver. He helped build the upper cabninet and applied the bar front panels, among other things.

Cornelio Campos Рhistory of Cacao mural in the cupping room

Luzene Hill РFifteen daughters of Lucy (AL 288-1) inspired star inspired beeswax figures.

“Fifteen daughters of Lucy (AL 288-1.) – natural beeswax , plus cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and paprika for pigments.

In 1974, when the remains of ‚Äúfirst woman‚ÄĚ were found in Ethiopia the Beatles‚Äô song, ‚ÄúLucy in the sky with diamonds‚ÄĚ was being played over and over at the archeaological camp. By the following day after her discovery, everyone in camp was referring to her as Lucy.

The Amharic people in the area called her Dinkinesh, which translates ‚Äúyou are marvelous‚ÄĚ.

Each figure, representing the diversity of people in Durham, is unique, yet connected to the originating Lucy figure, as they scatter across the space.¬†¬† This scattering mimics the dispersion of food and goods, as well as the migration of people, around the world.”

William Lum of Lum Shop РShipping Pallet benches and layered hardwood stools (coming)

Esar Aadil Рselection and design with Areli for Frida Wall

Lety AlvarezLety Alvarez made the two ‚Äúpathway‚ÄĚ paintings (bright colors, patchwork pattern like an aerial view of a landscape) on door panels panels on the Frida Wall.

Candy Carver – paintings inspired by “love for excitement, color and beauty found in the human form.”

Mark Cool – railroad tie sculptural wall (with Frega Creative) for upright bike racks

Jim Kellough made a painting on an old school map. The painting is a map of the east coast of the U.S. with Durham on the very edge of the lower left side. The ‚Äúocean‚ÄĚ gives rise to the amygdala floating in a sea of neural connections. That‚Äôs what you get when you ask Jim to make a work about history.

Ade¬ī Ohmade the multimedia pieces on the door panels on the Frida Wall, with dirt, wire, metal among various other materials.

Andrius Benokraitis – sight and sound support

William Lum & Stevie Bear of Lum Shop made the pallet benches out of wood from old pallets. They have made one stool out of ten for the alcove area.  The stools are made by layering many different woods. The basic shape of the stool refers to the spools of thread at the Erwin mills.

Jackie MacLeod made the mirror in the bathroom, combining cast iron found objects and sections of copper plate that she created different patinas on.


Coming Works:

Joanne Andrews is in the process making hand-builtl pots (using colors and geometry that relate to the patterns inside the shop) for planters for the outside area. She has made two already.

Joe Galas will be making the double swinging copper doors to the dishwashing area.

Jonathan Hunsberger will be altering and telephone from 1940 (about the time the building was built). When one dials certain combination of numbers, different recordings will play. There will be a notebook for participants to share information about which combination of numbers yield particular recordings.

Chuck Pell will be installing more of his geo-historical objects installation throughout the interior and exterior spaces, inculding some arranged as a cabinet of curiosities in Maryah’s bussing station area.

Andrew Preiss  will make and install a musical instrument/sculpture.

Saleem Reshamwala will be doing a video installation.

John Schelp is loaning historic photographic postcards of old West Durham to be photographed to have large prints made and have them installed in the bathroom.

Maryah Smith-Overman will be making a table/sculpture for Jonathan Hunsberger’s phone.
David Solow will be photographing and making large prints of John Schelp’s postcards.


Craftspeople/Inner Workings:

Mike Dawson Electric – Loyal, honest character of an electrician. ¬†AKA “Lightening Mike.”

Rik and Patty Meijer of RPM Homeworks — Epoxy work, insulation, rigging, sign and shelf installation. Incredibly helpful and fun to work with.

Thompson Joinery  Рmade the turquoise banquet and the blue pocket door with wood from American Tobacco (supplied by Al Frega), installed the painted panels in the bathroom and Cupping Room and did the dying and finishing of all of the retail shelving unit, the banquet and all of the shelves and interior trim. They installed the interior trim, and finished the bathroom wall, Cupping Room Wall and bar fronts. Steve Baskin provided some assistance.

David Preiss – shopbot cutting of banquette backing

Tim Peck and Alejandro of Running Waters Plumbing







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New Shop Updates!

Hi Everyone!

Our landlord and co-tenant Linton Architects have completed their building renovation!¬† That means that we have free reign to get the shop fitted up.¬† Coby Linton has been super gracious with us and we’ve got a jump start.

We were out in the neighborhood for West Fest this past weekend and everyone we spoke to was curious about our timeline.  As you probably know from following us, we put a lot into the detail of the shop, working with David Solow art & design and a series of amazing local artists to make Cocoa Cinnamon a unique place that supports gathering together, discourse, and all sorts of activities and people.



Maryah coming up with the red dye for the counter tops really set the stage for so much of what has played out. Beautiful work and thanks to David for chipping in!


The short answer is that we are working at full speed and believe that we’ll finish building some time in December.¬† In full version, we’ll be open up to more than 100 hours a week, which is quite a large undertaking…so as we finish the building part, transfer into the crew acclamation mode and opening prep.¬† So we’ve been thinking that opening right at the holidays might not be fair to the crew, who will want to be thinking of their families and friends.¬† So, we imagine that we’ll have our full opening in early January.¬† In the meantime, if we are ready, and leading up to a full opening, we are thinking we may open in Beta mode, the way we did with the first location, a bit like a software launch.¬† It’s more true to us, starting with a heart, testing it and adding on menu items and hours in a testing then building kind of way.¬† The folks at West Fest liked the idea, which felt good to us.¬† When there is a chance to come into the shop, you and the neighborhood (many of you are both) will be the first to know.

As you can imagine, we’re super excited to be seeing the details of the shop coming to life.¬† We are incredibly grateful to David Solow who has supported us as a friend, artist and designer starting in 2001.¬† Yet again he is down for the count with us on this project and his design, composition and leading of artists is so beautiful.

David Solow art & design works with us to build a kind of living art installation that is the shop.  He works closely with local artists to elicit the best in them, while connecting them to the whole.  In Cocoa Cinnamon РHillsborough Road David has connected the works, some spilling into the next or playing from and among the others.

Areli had the chance to visit with Duke Association for Business Oriented Women on Tuesday and loved hearing all the passion and entrepreneurial ideas!

Leon¬†gave a talk tonight at The Frontier RTP. Some folks came up and asked about a word I used. ¬†In case you were one of them, here’s some detail:¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lviaxDKw1c

Entbergen ‚Äď to allow to unconceal, to let grow while saving its essence, to ‚Äělet be.‚Äú For the shop this is super important, but we usually only use it as a tool behind the scenes, in training and interviews — for the way we approach finding espresso and coffee sweet spots, for our approach to menu and history, for our desire to invite all of our community, in our way to invite discourse.

From Christoph Schmitz-Scholemann (part in German, part English – full English below).

  • “bergen” ist ein sehr altes germanisches wort und meint to store und to save (retten). Man sollte verletzte personen (unfallopfer=accident victims) “bergen”. the word is a little bit old fashioned in contemporary¬†german, Das Wort ist nicht mehr so oft in Gebrauch, es klingt etwas altert√ľmlich im deutschen.
  • “verbergen” hei√üt “verstecken” (to hide something).
  • “entbergen” is, as far as i know, heidegger’s invention.¬† das wort ist in der alltagssprache und auch in der gehobenen sprache de facto nicht vorhanden. it doesnt exist, nobody says “entbergen” and if somebody would say it, nobody would understand, what it means, except people who love heidegger. i dont know really and exactly what heidegger means with “entbergen” but i think it should be quite banal – it’s the opposite to “ver-bergen” that is : to “de-hide”, may be “de-store” , to set free.‚Äú

English translation:

  • “bergen” is a very old German word and means to store and to save (retten). ¬†One should save “bergen” a person who is injured (accident victims). The word is a little bit old fashioned in contemporary German. ¬†The word is no longer so often in use; it sounds somewhat outdated in German.
  • “verbergen” means to hide something.
  • “entbergen” is, as far as i know, heidegger’s invention. The word is in colloquial and also in sophisticated speech de facto not available. It doesnt exist; nobody says “entbergen” and if somebody would say it, nobody would understand what it means, except people who love Heidegger. I dont know really and exactly what Heidegger means with “entbergen” but I think it should be quite banal – it’s the opposite to “ver-bergen” that is : to “de-hide”, may be “de-store” , to set free.‚Äú


Some images and descriptions of the new shop:


Elijah Leed laid in brass lines to connect to the portolan chart on David Solow’s bar front and Heather Gordon’s history of the travel of coffee upper cabinet painting. Soon to come will be Luzene Hill’s beeswax figures above.


William Lum grew up a few houses behind the shop. He also helped us with our first shop…so we’re super excited he and his crew are making these beautiful pallet benches…as well as a series of hard wood turned stools.


Steve, Pete, David, Brandon and Bryce (not pictured) came out to help Al install the upright railroad tracks for the upright bike rack/privacy wall/sculpture.

history of cacao mural going in cupping room

Areli worked with Cornelio Campos to develop images for his history of cacao mural in our cupping room.

pocketdoor (bottom wood smells like tobacco) glass going in top

Matt of Thompson Joinery built this beautiful door frame, using wood dye that plays off of Maryah Smith-Overman’s red dyed bar tops, uses wood from a downtown tobacco factory (that still smells of tobacco). Soon a piece of frosted glass will be inserted in the top with a pattern that comes from the tile in Areli’s granparents’ house in Tepuzhuacan, Nayarit, Mexico.

We always and are currently taking applications. ¬†Here’s what we look for; if it sounds like you or someone you know, please put one in:¬†http://www.cocoacinnamon.com/jobs-2/

Can’t wait to have you out at the new shop!

Leon, Areli and the Cocoa Cinnamon crew


For the latest pictures of our progress, please check out our instagram feed:


Select press:
News and Observer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCphAiqxBS8
Conscious Company Magazine – http://sumandsub.com/stories/
UNC TV – NC Weekend – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW718arAFuQ

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Get early invites and info on Cocoa Cinnamon’s second location by being a Squareholder in our Community Sourced Capital Campaign

Sketchup Model of bar (rear view) with place where bar will be built in background.

Sketchup Model of bar (rear view) with place where bar will be built in background.


Wow! Thank you so much for taking part! Together, the ‪#‎BullCity‬ & friends so rocked it! We surpassed the total number of ‪#‎Squareholders‬ by 84 & the most money raised EVER! This place really is like no other, once again showing that it really is Durham, NC РWhere Great Things Happen.

So grateful to be in it with you.

Leon, Areli and the CC Crew


A key part of crowdfunding is getting your involvement. We love every single square & really want every person who loves CC to be part of opening the second shop.

We are incredibly grateful for our SuperSquareholders as well. We have 4 folks, individuals and other local businesses, who’ve contributed $1000 each. We really appreciate all of y’all! We are now at 338 Squareholders and $43,800 with a few hours left.

I know we can get there Durham. And it would be amazing to hit 350 to really say something about the Bull City…how it supports small independent business and getting behind living wage jobs and careers! We can do it!

Will you get one square today (i.e. a $50 loan)? and help us blow past the top number ever? http://csc.rocks/cocoa-cinnamon

We are going farther will do three important things –
1) Get more of you involved in a direct way with the CC project (which includes early invites and info like below).  This really does matter to us; crowdfunding is only partly about money. The tangible connection it leads to is at least as important.

Neighbors and Squareholders get early visit.

Neighbors and Squareholders get early visit.

2) Tell the whole US that Durham gets behind local projects like nowhere else – jettisoning the #CommunitySourcedCapital model in our city and region and creating more opportunity for deft entrepreneurs to keep our city one of a kind.

The beginnings of bringing our corner of Hillsborough Rd. and Trent Drive to life.

The beginnings of bringing our corner of Hillsborough Rd. and Trent Drive to life.

3) Help us do more with the unique art and design that we are developing to make the space one of a kind. Think of the front room floor in our current space….Let’s just say our CSC will help fund similar awesome aesthetic elements in our second shop.

The collaborative design for the upper cabinet at the new shop is more exciting than we can tell -- the history of coffee geo-mapped and designed by @heatgord in collaborative with @ryaolive & #CharlieEvergreen and shop designer @david_solow.

The collaborative design for the upper cabinet at the new shop is more exciting than we can tell — the history of coffee geo-mapped and designed by @heatgord in collaborative with @ryaolive & #CharlieEvergreen and shop designer @david_solow.

If you have been thinking about it, every Square matters.  So even if we go over, will you become a Squareholder?

We’d love to have you in on it! Here’s the link –¬†http://csc.rocks/cocoa-cinnamon

Leon and Areli

Love the inner workings and to be able to involve you with some of it.

Love the inner workings and to be able to involve you with some of it.

Recent Press:

“What’s Your Story,”¬†by Ben Putano in Coffee Talk Magazine

“Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham Tests New Crowdfunding Option,” by Virginia Bridges, News and Observer

“A Mother’s Bonding Adventure in America’s Foodiest Small Town,” by Alyssa Schwartz, Canada National Post

“Look for the Orange Logo,” by Elizabeth Poindexter, The Durham News

“A Walk Through Durham Central Park, Before the Condos Arrive,” by Elizabeth Van Brocklin, News and Observer

“Into Durham’s Waiting Arms,” by Sophia Durhand, Duke Chronicle



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2014 Giving, Spending Patterns, Buzzfeed & Living Wage Update!

Here are some stats for 2014 and some recent news Рincluding 2014 giving and local spending stats, artist meets/new shop development and sustainability efforts.

Giving Stats

2014 Total – 6,564.81

Financial contribution total – 5,641.81


In Durham – 4937.81

Towards building a more equitable city – 3626.06

eg. Hayti Heritage Center, El Centro Hispano, Spirit House…

Within 1.5 miles of shop – 3728.50

Arts – 2128

eg. The Carrack Modern, WUNC, DSA…

Indie Business – 801

eg. KoKyu, The Makery…

In Kind –¬†923 (missing a handful- we’re improving record keeping on this in 2015!)


Percentages of total expenditures going to Local and Independent Business for 2014.

92.09% of our total spent on businesses and indviduals was based in North Carolina

84.78% in the Triangle

78.30% in Durham

70.55%  to Indie Businesses and Local Payroll (i.e. non chain or governmental)


Cocoa Cinnamon was featured on BuzzFeed as one of 24 U.S. Coffee Shops to Visit Before You Die, which got us a bunch of attention and a couple features on WRAL and WNCN.

We, with the direction of David Solow Art + Design & and our landlord Linton Architects, have started working with a good handful of artists to create the design in the new shop. ¬†A lot of you have mentioned seeing changes in the building. ¬†Linton is doing the renovation that you see and we will get in to add our design, bar and equipment sometime around June. ¬†Everyone likes to ask when it will be done. ¬†It’s hard to say exactly, but sometime it’s looking like some time in Fall.





Sustainability and the Durham Living Wage Program Р 

Leon and Susie have been participating in the volunteer work group to help get the Durham Living Wage program started. ¬†We’re super psyched one of the first 20 Founding certified Living Wage¬†Businesses in Durham.

Can’t wait for the launch of the¬†kickstarter startup campaign. ¬†Check out the program website for details –


Since our inception we have continued to strive to make Cocoa Cinnamon a great place to work and be. At the suggestion of Ronnie Angerer, we’ve started reading Maverick, by Ricardo Semler as a catalyst towards continuing to engage in a deeper crew-wide conversation and take it a step further.

We were recognized as the 2014 Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the year.  We were honored to receive the award for our efforts so far and know that we are just at the beginning of reaching our goals.


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News and Observer Video

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Cocoa Cinnamon Update Part 2


Linton Architects’ visualization of the space that we will be sharing with them for our second location at the corner of Hillsborough Road and Trent Drive. We hope to be open some time fall¬†2015.

We’re excited to have Linton Architects as the landlord for our second location! ¬†They will be renovating the building over the next 6 to 8 months at the corner of Trent Dr. and Hillsborough Road. David Solow Art + Design be our designer¬†and we will all work with Linton and a group of local artists to create a unique space. ¬†Thanks to Brandon Hoe of ClearSketch for suggesting the location. ¬†Check out the Indy Week article here.


We spend lots of time behind the scenes working on our craft and challenging ourselves to be at the top of our game. ¬†Many of the crew can be pretty shy; we’re lovers of the everyday of the bar, not huge on the spotlight. ¬†That being said, Megan, Kala, Ravyne and Esar ventured over to the Triangle Thursday Night Latte Art Throwdown, which was held this past week at Yellow Dog Bread Company in Raleigh, intending to watch the friendly competition. ¬†Megan signed Ravyne up to compete without her really being signed on herself. ¬†She didn’t have too much time to protest as she was called up first. And all of our crew knows that Ravyne rocks the latte art, so they weren’t having any of Ravyne’s protests anyway. ¬†In her first time ever competing, Ravyne took first place! ¬†We’re super proud of her and knew she could do it! ¬†Those cool skilled hands should come in quite handy when she attends med school next year. ¬†Ravyne’s performance means a lot to us as she has¬†honed her craft over this past year and 1/2, working systematically, getting better and better every day, never quite being satisfied and always humble about her skills! Well deserved!


Everyone at Cocoa Cinnamon really appreciates you voting us the best coffee shop in Durham County 2014 in Indy Week Best of…. ¬†We aim to serve you everyday, dedicating to craft and service. ¬†Your support means so much to all of us.


Kristen and Emily-Kate with our Indy Week best of plaque.


We’re pretty excited you voted us Best Coffee Shop in Durham County and Best Place for a Blind Date in the Indy Week Best of… 2014! Thank you for your kind support!



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Since we opened, we have pulled all of our shots triple ristretto. ¬†We have been dedicated to pulling the best possible shots and unfolding the most pleasurable and diverse tasting experience. ¬†To do this we create a specific profile that makes each coffee shine. ¬†When we were pulling espresso only ‚Äúristretto‚ÄĚ style, we used between 21 and 23 grams of coffee in the portafilter. The resulting volume was normally about 2 ounces. ¬†Most double espresso extractions use 14 to 16 grams of coffee to get 2 oz of liquid.

The change we are making pertains to our approach to pulling the espresso in a way that brings out each and every note to the fullest. To do this, we are opening up the range of total grams and the weight of the coffee coming out to communicate more directly to each coffee and roast.  We are putting more power into the hands of our baristas to determine what works best for each coffee on that particular day  Рdepending on roast date, grams of coffee used, taste profile, and even the weather. Many roasters are changing their approach to the way they roast for blends and single origins.  We are communicating and staying in tune with that while remaining true to our love of terroir and the tasting experience.

At the top of our game each barista pairs coffees with ingredients and makes micro-changes in extraction to suit all of the above factors, with an awareness of flavor, grams in and out in an ongoing attention to taste.


Composed by Jess with Leon and Areli chipping in.

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CC Update part 1!

Hi Everyone!

A lot has happened in our first 478 days as a brick and mortar.  Here are some of the highlights in pictures, ideas and stats.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve written an update. ¬†As some of you know we update on social media bunches… Did you know all of our Facebook updates¬†pop up on our web page about half way down on the left. ¬†Psst, while you’re there, join our email list if you haven’t already…we only send important updates.

Pictures first!

This is not a comprehensive photo gallery…that’s on FB:



Some news:

We have made a small change to our approach to espresso that we’d like to communicate –

We are about to change the words “triple ristretto” on our menu to “espresso!” ¬†We’ve always used more than a double espresso (i.e. 14 to 16 grams in the portafilter)¬†in your drinks and we still do. ¬†Through most of our existence we have pulled all espresso¬†as triple ristrettos. ¬†Many still are, but we are changing the name to espresso! because we develop each profile to suit each coffee. ¬† Through testing we let each coffee reveal its best character and use that as a base profile.¬†We don’t assume in advance. ¬†Though we can say we’ll always use more than what would be considered a normal double dose to get the dose and extraction just right for each coffee, we put the discernment and profile creation even more in the leadership and barista‚Äôs hands. ¬†Behind the scenes we talk about this relationship to our coffee and equipment as the Socratic Barista…excellence in a kind of asking and attending to what each coffee and drink wants to be then guiding it to come out just right.

Through our first¬†1 year 3 months and 23 days we’ve worked at unfolding and striving towards our root goals¬†(if you hit the link, go 2/3 down the page to the What Cocoa Cinnamon is About section).

Being in coffee, chocolate and tea, we focus on bringing together some very sophisticated skills and interests in our craft with a down to Earth and engaged connection to our community.

What’s interesting to me is that the word we use a lot behind the scenes, “terroir,” though it can sound sophisticated, is very much like our interest in being part of our community. Like all of our ingredients, they are not just down to Earth, they are from the¬†Earth, defined by the Earth and the environment in which they are grown. ¬†As we are a product of Durham, we aim and work every day to be more and more a catalyst towards a healthy city, one of a thriving, bustling diversity of people – ethnic, language, creed, idea, income. ¬†We hire with that in mind and reach out to develop ties to a wide cross section of our city. At CC all are not just welcome but desired as participants.

We get into a lot of discussions about this. ¬†For us it’s not just a snap the fingers kind of effort. ¬†It’s about small daily decisions that culminate in continued impact.

Everyday we aim to–

  • explore through stories and conversation
  • serve delicious hand crafted drinks and locally sourced desserts
  • bring out smiles
  • create new jobs, develop¬†careers
  • unfold company goals through our giving program
  • continue to strive towards excellence in what we make and down to earth service
  • stimulate varied thinking
  • use the model of how we got into business as a way to grow as part of the community

We think a lot about the concept of Entbergen. ¬†I’ll leave it at that (you can ask the crew for a fun and serious conversation – I think I went into it in a wee hour one crew meeting not too long ago).


Some achievements and stats from year one:

–initiated a space for first loves, dissertation defenses, book deals, chance meetings, friends old and new…as everday.

–created 22 jobs — 8 full time, 8 part time and 6 occasional

–implemented a living wage program for every crew member once they pass¬†our initial training program

–implemented a community coffee program where everyone can have a drink to stay regardless of how much money they have

–tightened our behind the scenes organization and production and developed a well structured training program

–given crew members leadership roles that let them be creative and shine in ways that they excel

–added more benefits and made advances towards making CC a great place to work (the way we dream it will be)


Here are our 2013 community giving stats (not including in kind donations):

Total Giving: 5660.22

– 5315

– 5045.22

Targeted specifically toward creating a more equal city – 1944

Neighborhood/within 1.5 miles Р 3980.22

– 1549.76

Supporting Local Independent Business Р1495

Next year we’ll keep better track of our In Kind donations; we know it was over $1000 from the letters we unearthed just after we finished our taxes. ¬†oops.


This is all made possible by you.


Our next step is to strengthen our dedicated crew by supporting what we do as a profession.

Details coming soon in Update part 2!


We still have some Kickstarter pictures we’ll be contacting some of you about in the next month or so…so please read your Kickstarter email update if you get one from us! ¬†We might have taken a while with those, but we haven’t forgotten. ¬†ūüôā

We love serving you and benefit from all of your kindness, patronage and dedication.

With fun, work and love!

Leon, Areli and all the Cocoa Cinnamon Crew




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Aziz Ansari tickets Cocoa Cinnamon Photo Contest!!! – results announced

Love to Laugh? Love Cocoa Cinnamon? Want Aziz Ansari tickets?

Now’s your chance to capture what Cocoa Cinnamon means to you in a photo AND win tickets to see Aziz Ansari at The Carolina Theatre of Durham! Our Judges will select the winner from the 10 most liked (or retweeted) pictures! Though we think you shouldn’t worry too much about getting likes or retweets – great pictures tend to get shared a lot if paired with a great caption!

Whether it be of coffee loving folks, the fibers of our building or community, we can’t wait to see your soulful images!


Contest Rules:

  • Picture implies love and captures something essential about Cocoa Cinnamon
  • Can be on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.
  • tags Cocoa Cinnamon (in a way that is visible to us – if you get a lot of likes/retweets send us a message to be sure we see it)
  • Must be posted between now through the end of February.
  • Tickets awarded at the sole discretion of Cocoa Cinnamon
  • Second and third place will receive a $25 and $10 gift card respectively for use Cocoa Cinnamon.
  • You must be 16 or older to take part (sorry) and not be a member of our crew or a family member who has a tendency to bribe

Important Note: ¬†Many times when people tag Cocoa Cinnamon we can’t see it. ¬†To be sure to be considered in our contest, check if your post showed up on our page. ¬†If not, direct message us a link if you think you are in the running.

On twitter it’s simple, just include @cocoacinnamon in the post. ¬†You can do the same on Instagram, but it would be cool if you could add the location too!

Background: There are stories within stories at Cocoa Cinnamon. ¬†Whether it be what is embedded in the design and art concepts in the building, to the varied and storied nature of our menu, to our crew, customers and community. ¬†It’s easy to see just another hip coffee shop. ¬†We challenge you to look deeper and explore with us!

You may, during the month of February, see us sharing some of what we have been thinking as we’ve built out the space and developed the shop! ¬†We hope it’s fun to see some of the connections between the space, the community and the menu. ¬†I know when we interview prospective crew and when it comes up in conversations with employees, people are usually surprised in seeing the space, community and menu come to life. ¬†We’re hoping your photos will do the same!

When developing the shop here are some of the things that played a role for us: tesla, energy exchange at the bar, exploration and discovery, an open field of ideas, space, poetry, the essential, histories of our products, the space and drinks as a medium of exchange, dwelling…


PHOTO CONTEST RESULTS Рwe named them to help us remember and talk about them, also a note about some of what we liked about it.  Copy and paste links into your browser to view.  

Winner РCorey Anthony Keller 


This one won because we love how Julie used the shop as a living entity, a place to engage, create and in this case stage. The shop in that sense is a vessel to use.   And within the scope of the culture of the shop, we love that!

$25 Gift Certificate – John Huisman


Here the kind of place is implied.  John beautifully captures the potential for being at ease or in conversation over the pleasure of a carefully made drink.


$10 Gift Certificate –¬†David Robertson



Though this could be a mac commercial we loved all the different faces in the shot and the implication of mixing and bustle of being among people.


Some of the other images that resonated with the crew –










CHILD DANCING VIDEO – not a photo, but we loved it.





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