Algorithm - Tool or Tyranny - Warm Weather Wonder Menu 2024

Cocoa Cinnamon, the name, is in part an homage to the intermingling of coffee and spices at some of the first coffee houses and recipes in history. To this day across the Middle East and parts of the Meditteranean, people brew coffee using traditional brewing vessels such as a çezve, ibrik, or briki brewing coffee and spices together. Many of the earliest coffee houses were founded in places such as Cairo, Damascus, and Aleppo, where the Western end of ancient spice routes and early places to drink coffee intersected. Coffee, the drink, spread as Muslims coming to and from Mecca first encountered it in Yemen, and like many travelers who encounter something they love on trips, want to bring that experience home. 
The name Cocoa Cinnamon, thinking about coffee, cacao, tea, and varied spices, elicits the stories of these items and the histories that go along with them. Within those stories and considering our own today, our wonder menu has always been a place to explore, consider, and elicit. At times we've used it, such as during the height of the pandemic, to comfort and collaborate, at others, such as during election season, we've used it to challenge and incite thinking, but mostly it is a medium for us to tap into the wonder of the ingredients that we work with and the stories of the peoples and lands from which they come or are made.
Connected to the wonder menus are the stories behind the designs and objects in each shop. For the most part every object at Cocoa Cinnamon has a story, usually deeper and layered than one may expect. Here's one for the front room floor that Heather Gordon painted when we first opened CC OND.
Image and design collaboration by David Solow.
As a foundation, our shops, wonder menus, and business are interested in pluralism, openness, curiosity, research, thinking, travel, health, and wonder. One of our goals is to to be a place where a wide range of people can be; we desire diversity and difference, and hope to invite, recruit, and celebrate a wide range of people from across our city and world.
We recently encountered an article from The Guardian newspaper in the UK, titled The Tyranny of the Algorithm: Why Every Coffee Shop Looks the Same. For anyone our shops, even if you don't know the story of the design of each shop, object or drink name, you know that they do not fit that mold. The way that many have put it to use over the years, is that they can feel that something else is going on. Over the last more than decade, alongside our designer, David Solow, and other artistic collaborators, we have developed and created our own aesthetic, ideas, foundational paths and inspiration.
Here's the article.
Several years ago, we had a wonder drink named Al Khwarizmi. Al Khwarizmi was the director of the House of Wisdom in the 820's. Historically, the House of Wisdom is considered one of the greatest think tanks of all time. Al Khwarizmi developed Algebra there (the word comes from the name of one of his books). The word Algorithm comes via Latin from his name. 
Abbasid era manuscript
For this wonder menu, we're picking up on some of the considerations of the effects of Algorithms from the Guardian article.
What are the effects of how algorithms play so many powerful roles in our lives, from landing on the moon, to which song gets suggested on Spotify, to how we get targeted in ads across our devices, to more dire things such as how our social groups have narrowed, our ideas encounter less in person resistance, and more online ire?
We wanted to raise these questions with the election coming up. 
With this menu we tap into drinks that come from specific stories from several of our team members. None but one specifically refers specifically to algorithms. But each is particular, a product of something that is unique to the person, not something generic, duplicable, or mathematically derivative. 
To play with this contrast, we shared those specifics in Chat GPT, a technology that relies on algorithms to work. We gave the chatbot context, spoke to it, even politely, pressed it, asking it to create ideas that were as beautiful and nuanced as those from our team members to try to get it to create an AI advanced "algorithmic name."
We list both names on the menu, one that we created with our team member, via their story and one that the chatbot generated, even after prompting, prodding, and pressing it to be more poetic. 
While we held this conversation with the chatbot for fun, playing and testing the limits of the technology which we are only barely getting to understand, a technology that may stand to create great breakthroughs in fields such as medicine while having the potential to create an existential threat to humans and between humans.
We share this wonder menu for you to consider the need for curiosity and the ways in which we are closing off from one another because of our "smart" phones, algorithmically driven social media, and other such influences. While we benefit greatly from algorithms, we need to think about where our world is heading, what AI means for us, and what is needed to build, engage, and uphold a thriving democracy, so that we, the people, can make and urge our elections and daily actions to bring about more health, equality, and wonder for all to flourish on Earth.
If you are curious, you can see the Chat GPT conversation here.
Thank you for thinking and drinking along with us. 

Here are the drinks of this wonder menu:

Mi Querida Patria de Voces Inocentes - by Leslin
dreams of tomorrow horchata - chat gpt
 A Salvadorian Horchata iced latte topped with cinnamon & nutmeg powder

El Sol Sale Para Todos - by Natzieli
harmony’s sunrise latte - chat gpt
Latte sweetened with house-made Rosemary and orange syrup and topped with cayenne powder.

Ashkal Halwa: Sweet Shapes - by S
rosewater bliss latte - chat gpt
Latte sweetened with sugar cane syrup, and rosewater & topped with/ ground pistachios.

It Reminded Me of a Symphony - by Melissa
spiced lavender chocolate frost- chat gpt
Ginger Lavender syrup, milk chocolate, and cardamom over ice.

Venezuelan Gatorade - by Val
limonada de descubrimiento - chat gpt
Papelón con Limón with little waves espresso over ice.
Recipe development by Melissa. Images and style by Melissa and Esme.