What We Do

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

We employ a diverse team 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.

Recognition/Select Press:

The News and Observer Best in class for Coffee Shop in Greg Cox’s Best Restaurants of the Triangle 2017

Bites of Bull City – 2017 Best Bites in Durham for Coffee House as chose by Sarah Kreuger of WRAL and John Huisman, the Triangle Explorer

The Food Network – #2 in “50 States of Coffee”

Southern Living Magazine October 2016 – included in “The South’s Best Coffee Shops.”

Toronto Star October 2016 – included in “7 Reasons to Love Durham.”

Lonely Planet  – included in the USA guide as a pick for the NC Triangle and as top choice for coffee in Durham.

Alton Brown visit and tweet

Spoon University – included in 2016 “The Ultimate Eating Guide to Duke University.”

Spoon University April 2016 – “Why you should get to Cocoa Cinnamon II Immediately” referring to the Hillsborough Road location.

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

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

The New York Times — 2014 “A Corner of Durham N.C. Comes to Life”

Green Plus Program – 2014 Winner Sustainable Enterprise of the Year
Durham Magazine – 2014, 2015 Winner Platinum Award for Best Coffee Shop, 2016 Winner Best Coffee Shop
Indy Week – 2014, 2015, 2016 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 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 team members earn 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