Celebrating 10 Years of Cocoa Cinnamon

On January 19, 2013, we opened our first retail Cocoa Cinnamon location to Kickstarter backers and supporters. Over 1000 people contributed to help us go from a sleepless night on December 14th, 2010 in Areli's mom's kitchen in the NC Mountains to bikeCOFFEE on the streets of Durham in 2011 & 12 to Cocoa Cinnamon at 420 W Geer Street in 2013.

On January 21, 2013, we opened 420 W Geer Street to the public for the first time. We're just starting to process that it will soon be 10 years! 

Composite by David Solow with a photo of Neowise by Kristy Maney Herron

Cover image by Savannah Wrenn, CC OND Cafe Leader
Savannah was instrumental in putting together what follows.




To celebrate we are launching a 10th Anniversary Little Waves Coffee “Your Head is Round So You Can Change Your Mind” with notes of Cocoa and Cinnamon




We'll have a week of Classic Cocoa Cinnamon - OND coffee drink features. 

$1 per drink of the day from January 15th to 21st goes to Housing for New Hope




On Thursday, January 19th, at 11:30 am we'll be talking in person on location with Victoria Bouloubasis and Saleem Reshamwala on Instagram Live jumping into some of the behind-the-scenes, drink names, and design features that so many of y'all have asked about over the years. They are both friends and award-winning media makers and writers.


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Research, thinking, and discourse have been part of the foundational whys behind Cocoa Cinnamon since the beginning. CC OND's design, developed with David Solow, explores research, openness, adaptive reuse, looking beyond oneself and norms, and pluralism as central driving ideas. We believe that Coffee Houses are meant to support these ideas in a way that goes beyond third place.


 In this spirit we present our

10th Anniversary Little Waves Coffee Blend

Your Head is Round So You Can Change Your Mind

The name of this blend used to be written on the revolving bookshelf conceived in conversation with Chuck Pell and developed and created by Mariah Smith-Overman.
Coffee and Conversation with Victoria Bouloubasis & Saleem Reshamwala Listen in on a behind-the-scenes conversation getting into our startup, stories behind drinks, and designs, and a bit about our three locations and Little Waves Coffee Roasters as we have coffee in person, and on Instagram live with Victoria and Saleem. 


Time: 11:30 AM, Thursday, January 19th

Place: Cocoa Cinnamon Instagram Live. You're also welcome to listen in on-site at 420 W Geer Street while you sip on some coffee with us.

Saleem and Victoria have intimately watched and played a part since before we ever opened. Victoria wrote the first substantial article that included CC and Saleem made our Kickstarter video

  • Victoria is a 2022 ONA winner with recent films at the New Orleans and Latin American Film Festivals.
  • Saleem is the host of the TED Podcast Far Flung and an Emmy-nominated media maker for the NYT project Peanut Butter and Jelly and Racism



7 Days of Original Drinks from our Early Days at CC OND

Classic Cocoa Cinnamon Coffee Drinks

Monday, January 15 - Saturday, January 21
$1 per featured drink goes to Housing for New Hope
Sunday: A Pourover
Our business started with manual brews on bikeCOFFEE and pourovers have played a key role as we moved from markets to 1, 2, then three locations, then to our residency at La Marzocco Café and winning Roaster of the Year with our roastery arm Little Waves Coffee Roasters.
Taste the care from the hand of the farmer to the hand of the barista to help let each coffee shine. Get a house-roasted single-origin pourover and take time on a lazy Sunday to savor the flavor.
Monday: Dr. Durham
We designed this drink in honor of Durham’s namesake. Doctor Bartlett Leonidas Snipes Durham donated land for the train station; not long later the area became known as Durhamville, then changed to what we now know as Durham.  We concocted a drink that riffs off of his story and the Southern Heritage of the invention of early colas or “medicinal root tonic”. It is a latte with slightly frothier micro-foam with homemade vanilla topped with maca root powder, ginger root powder, and black lava salt.
Tuesday: Al Mokha
Cocoa Cinnamon’s version of the mocha latte references how the word Mocha actually originally made its way into coffee usage. The Port of Mokha, in Yemen, was the first port from which coffee was ever exported. It’s also a long important port for the transport of spices from the near and far east to Europe and other parts of the world. Somehow the word Mokha became synonymous with a chocolate coffee drink; we decided to honor its true meaning while still pleasing the masses. The Al Mokha (the Arabic name for the port)  is a latte with a real house-made dark chocolate sauce, topped with cinnamon from Sri Lanka (which has been transported through Mokha for millennia).
Wednesday: Moctezuma
Named after the last tlatoani (ruler) of the Aztecs who reigned circa 1502 to 1520. Moctezuma II was known to drink many spiced cacao drinks. When creating an early spiced latte for this shop, we opted to use a spiced pepper and mark it with the Moctezuma reference. Because of its popularity, it can still be ordered when it is off menu.
Thursday: La Villa Rica de Veracruz (Amuleto)
This drink has had three names in our ten years. First La Villa Rica, then La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, then Amuleto. The original story references the Spanish combining in search of spice, finding virtually none, but encountering Vanilla when they landed in Veracruz. In 2019, as part of our Roaster Residency at La Marzocco in Seattle, Areli updated the name to Amuleto how vanilla was used by Olmecs as an amulet to ward off evil, marking the vanilla bean drink in its pre-colonial roots.
Friday: Rumi
Drink honors the 13th Century Sufi Poet. Rosewater & Cardamom can be found in many Persian dishes, desserts, and drinks.
We first made this drink in 2011 and it became a staple on bikeCOFFEE. As we were planning the OND location, we opted to keep it on the upcoming menu, and Areli chose to use an excerpt from Rumi in the Heather Gordon painting on the front room floor. That design, referencing Islamic Architecture, was part of marking the roles Muslims played in the early spread of coffee as a drink. The poem and the other two texts can be found here. The design referenced Heather’s work, the Higgs Boson Particle collision, and the essence of being and the universe.
History: Rumi as known in the West, or Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī was born on the eastern edge of the Persian Empire. He is known as one of the greatest poets in the world. His Masnavi (Mathnawi), composed in Konya, is considered one of the greatest poems of the Persian language.
Saturday: Tower of Babel
Cocoa Cinnamon, the name, refers back to the intermingling of ancient spice roots and coffee preparation in the earliest coffee houses in Aleppo, Damascus, and Cairo. Our space(s) is also equally about research, exploration, openness, and pluralism. The Tower of Babel story is one told in many cultures and histories and is a classic tale of the downfall of humanity that comes from when we become arrogant, self-absorbed, and forget our mortality and fallibility. This drink, using local honey, and date sugar, offers a simple pleasure in the wonder that is part of existence when we look back to stories and remain curious about others, languages, places, landscapes, and the world and universe beyond.