For the past two and half years we have used our wonder menu to lean into connection and comfort. This round, considering the importance of the upcoming election and the state of our nation, we are deliberately shifting towards a theme that is more challenging and hopefully just as rewarding.
We are exploring considerations and commitments to democratic foundations, pluralism, thinking, the opposite of one-dimensionalism, forced conformity, absolutism, bubblism, and such things that are putting our flawed but important foundations at threat.
Robben Island facing Cape Town, South Africa - Image by Andrea Willmore
Like in a great musical or country song, we want you to be able to “sing along” and enjoy the warmth of a drink while something deeper lies beneath. Something urgent and in need of action.
With that in mind, each drink title aims to defy the didactic. Instead, the title requires one to look another step, then dig deeper to consider what the name may mean or refer to. This in turn leads to questions and considerations about historical acts or modes in which absolutist ways of being beget horrors.
We are seeing these dynamics today in our own nation in the extremes. We hope you will dig in with us starting with the ideas behind the drinks, even while the drinks comfort you, and align and reset your modes of action as you engage.
TWO AFTER MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN
A single origin dark drinking chocolate, with local honey, Carolina Reaper, Ghost, and Morita hot pepper mix, topped with a sprinkle of Sea Salt.
A Collaboration With Pete’s Peppers and Potions
Midnight’s Children is Salman Rushdie’s three times Booker Prize winning novel that employs magical realism to explore India’s transition from British colonial rule to independence and partition.
The novel was to be made into a BBC mini series in the late 1990’s, but the uproar over his work two novels later caused the film adaptation to be canceled.
These works and the death threats put out and actual violence undertaken because of them force us to consider the importance and limits of free speech, the need to research before judging and the real world consequences that may arise in response to artistic, literary, satirical, pluralistic expressions.
Important Warning: the peppers in this drink may be considered extremely spicy to some people. Though we are using a measured amount, it is important to give people fair warning that they should only have it if they are comfortable with potentially intensive levels of pepper heat.
THE PLAQUE EMBEDDED IN BEBELPLATZ
Latte made with molasses, cane sugar syrup with ginger, cinnamon, & nutmeg. Like a gingerbread cookie in a cup.
Bebelplatz is a large open square in center of Berlin along Unter den Linden, surrounded by Neoclassical buildings, including Humboldt University, wide open and covered with cobblestone. Einstein, Du Bois, Schopenhauer, Hegel, the Brotthers Grimm, Marx, and Planck are some of the thinkers who taught there.
One who walks across square may walk over a thick piece of glass that reveals a room below the square of empty white bookshelves called Library by Israeli artist Micha Ullman in remembrance of the May 10, 1933 Nazi book burnings initiated by National Socialist students at Humboldt University.
Next to the glass, embedded in the cobblestone is a plaque that states this accompanied by a Heinrich Heine quote: “Das war ein Vorspeil nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt Man am Ende auch Mechschen.” In English: It was only a prelude that where one burns books, one would, in the end, burn bodies.
THE EMPTY SPACES OF THE BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN
Black tea brewed with cardamom, ginger, and cane sugar syrup.
In March 2001, the founder of the Taliban ordered them to be destroyed, an act largely condemned locally and internationally. Now there are two large empty spaces in the rock face left in place of the 180 ft and 125 ft sculptures, world heritage treasures lost forever.
Since August 2021, upon US withdrawal and the collapse of the Afghani government, the Taliban swiftly seized control of the country and since have systematically subjugated and committed violence toward women, as well as removing them from view and the public arena.
ALEPPO SOUK: SACRED SOULS & SPICES FROM ACROSS THE EARTH
Latte with house made cinnamon syrup, cumin, nutmeg, topped with Aleppo pepper, paprika, & star anise.
We have featured this drink several times in the last 9 years. The drink originally stemmed from a New York Times article when the centuries old Souk, or larged covered market in Aleppo, Syria, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and site of one of the world's first coffee houses, was firebombed in the fighting of the Syrian Civil War.
“Our hearts and minds have been burned in this fire,” said a doctor in Aleppo who gave her name only as Dima. “It’s not just a souk and shops, but it’s our soul, too.”
While the conflict continues on and ISIS, largely weakened, still exists in dangerous embers, people work to reclaim their places and livelihoods.
FROM MADIBA TO MANDELLA or LIMESTONE CLASSROOM IN THE CAPE
Cappucinno sized Rooibos with steamed milk, clove, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, & ginger.
This drink was seeded in an office hours conversation between CC team member Mandella - who was named after Nelson Mandela, and Co-Owner Leon in early 2022. The conversation developed into this and other drinks, with the conversation - considering participation and change making - still unfolding.
As the conversation is still underway, we’re sharing some of the elements of the discussion here:
South Africa nearly 3 decades of democracy
Rooibos tea concentrate, sweetened w/ vanilla syrup
Plus a spice garnish?
The flavors and forms of Cape Malay cuisine evolved out of the impact of Dutch colonization in Cape Town. Early Dutch traders brought enslaved people from the Dutch colony of Indonesia to South Africa to supplement the labor of enslaved indigenous people. Malay was a common language among the enslaved, and the cuisine that formed drew elements from Dutch, indigenous and Indonesian food traditions.
Mandella drink testing, verbal conversations about talking to her mom about her name, considering the name of the drink, shared experience studying in South Africa.
Leon: Mandella thinking on it, i'm still tempted to still refer to Mandela....for the drink idea, because his life and work directly refer to the commitment to democracy, pluralism, and proper transfers of power.... was what he withstood prison for and worked to build....in a rare way that is much of what we need in our current world. if we look at the state of democracy and where the world is heading, this is an example I would like us to refer to.
Obama Speech on Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday celebration. https://youtu.be/XkHjrKDrhjg
also of note, i'm not referring to this because of a specific politics, but the hope, action and commitment for healthy democratic foundations in the face of danger and the impossible. I believe the spices and Malay reference still matters, but could be included in the story.
Sharing this also …not because of a political pov but because of a foundational commitment
Liz Cheney talk https://youtu.be/hOHH_wV53Lk https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/16/liz-cheney-wyoming-primary-loss-democracy/
i think you being given a version of Mandela's name, your way of approaching the world, reflected in many things I know about you, including the lgbtq drinks and exhibition, is evidence of a great hope that connects to this. I love that the name is not only referring to a man...but to you too.
if we look at the last 100 years and 500-year cycles, there are and will be fits and starts....but as Neil DeGrasse Tyson referred to in his performance last winter at DPAC...in reading newspapers from just a few decades ago, he wouldn't want to be back then. I think it's easy to lose sight when we feel so much is not in place....yet I also think it is so important to be aware of the privilege and building that we stand upon....and fight and build upon it....even with expected setbacks....ones as serious as we now have. This subject becomes even more important in that context.
Your [CC OND] exhibition becomes even more important in that context.
Mandella: Hi Leon. Big things that jumped out at me from the long Obama speech: around 15:00 ... Mandela's release from prison and going on to lead the country in negotiation, rebuilding, in reconciliation ... not only the oppressed being freed from the shackles of the past, but also the subjugator being offered a gift, given a chance to see in a different way and a chance to participate in building a better world. The grace and generosity he embodied and his ability to extend that grace to the people who so wronged him. It resonates with the ideas of accountability, community, and reconciliation that I've been thinking a lot about recently. It makes me think about the world he must have wanted to build, and how that world was not one centered on punishment, but reconciliation and wholeness. It makes me think about how much serious work it takes to embody those values.. embody as in move in alignment with those values in every part of your body, every part of your actions. I think of how much practice that takes, to move totally in alignment with the values you hold and the world you want to build. And this in turn makes me think of how he said he was "not a saint, but a sinner who kept trying." I think of the rights of all citizens that the New South Africa laid out. The new democratic government had high aspirations, and a long bill of rights. today, nearly thirty years later, the country still struggles to make good on all it promised in that bill of rights. But there is a claim and intention there, and that reminds me of our own imperfect union.
Leon! I think I have the new name! Robben island was a place of brutality, banishment and the exercise of colonial and then apartheid power throughout much of its history. Indigenous people were banished there as well as political prisoners like Nelson Mandela. But today it is one of the greatest symbols for the new South Africa. A symbol of the strength of the human spirit in the face of brutality. While there, Mandela and other political prisoners secretly conducted lectures and seminars in the limestone quarry where they were sentenced to hard labor. It was a collection some of South Africa’s greatest anti-apartheid leaders, and they turned their prison into a classroom of constant intellectual debate and political education. “Robben Island University,” as Mandela called it, was a place that is credited with developing Mandela’s philosophies on reconciliation, forgiveness, and universal humanity.
We could name it something like:
Limestone classroom in the cape
A prison into a classroom
I think it still speaks to the theme of hope and reconciliation, since this is where he spent his hardest days, but was able to turn it into a source of strength and growth. But I think it speaks more directly to your themes of critical thinking, questions, curiosity and engagement.
NOTE: The theme of this menu stands in line with Cocoa Cinnamon's dedication to resist the didactic in our menus, designs, and the invitation premise of our shops. We have never aimed to tell people what to think, how to believe or vote etc... We are here to support a pluralistic society and catalyze modes of openness, thinking, and research...as is this menu. As a business, we make a distinction between our own personal beliefs and the desire to support foundations that let us have individual convictions, freedom of thought, speech, belief.