About Us

Little Waves Coffee Roasters is an award winning impact-driven group of thinkers, dreamers, and doers who delight in the enduring power of coffee as a shared experience. By making small, determined reverberations through sourcing, roasting, and brewing, we add our open-hearted energy to the tides that unconceal and uphold the beauty of coffee and life. 

Cocoa Cinnamon, our three award winning brick and mortar shops, located in Durham, NC, are driven by the experience that is amazed by the marvel of cities and the roots of languages, whose blood rushes in the awe of landscapes, the wonder of travel and the history, colors, textures, and stories of coffee, chocolate, and tea. We make drinks after these histories and after the characters that inspire us, those who remind us of the beauty and possibility of humanity. 

We are small and independently owned and operated, quality, service, and heart-driven, Latina co-owned, women-forward, and our team is comprised of people of different cultures, genders, languages, faiths, and beliefs. ⁠

With every decision we make, we work to honor people, places, cultures, and histories. We integrate personal narratives into our spaces and offerings in an effort to help our guests and clients feel more connected to us on a human level. We name our roasts and drinks after places that inspire wonder, have cultural significance, and after people and places that we love. Every act is an invitation to connect, and we are fueled by the joy we get from cultivating health and wonder with the world around us. 

We strive for sustainability in everything we do from relationship to energy usage. Our Loring S15 Falcon roaster has an 80% reduction in energy usage compared to traditional roasters. Our retail coffee bags are 60% compostable. We divert coffee bi-product chaff to be used in local community gardens. Our roastery & cafes divert nearly all of the coffee compost they create to local gardens and farms.

Little Waves Coffee Roasters is the roasting and wholesale arm accompanying Cocoa Cinnamon, in Durham, NC. Little Waves is a Latina co-owned and women forward business. We relationship source and micro-roast select coffees from around the world. We roast on a Loring S15 Falcon at our location in the Lakewood neighborhood in Durham, NC.

Cocoa Cinnamon is a place for people to enjoy carefully crafted drinks and locally made desserts in a comfortable and engaging Durham setting. Cocoa Cinnamon is open to all people and strives, through commerce and service, to support a sustainable, democratic and artistic way of being.  

We recruit, sustain and inspire a devoted group of roastery and barista professionals. We aim to be as diverse as our city, knowing that we are indicators of the range of people we hope to invite. Each of our locations and roastery are a unique piece of a puzzle that together make the whole.

Cocoa Cinnamon is about touching, yearning and continually striving to bring wonder to the everyday via carefully chosen and roasted coffees, connecting craft, service and atmosphere via our rotating wonder menus and the layers of art embedded in the designs of our shops. Here's a link to a slide show giving a bit of a feeling of each shop, the roastery and the La Marzocco residency.

Cocoa Cinnamon is driven by the experience that is amazed by the marvel of cities and the roots of languages, whose blood rushes in the awe of landscapes, the wonder of travel and the history, colors, textures, and stories of coffee, chocolate, and tea. We make drinks after these histories and after the characters that inspire us, those who remind us of the beauty and possibility of humanity. 

Little Waves Coffee Roasters ships nationwide. The three Cocoa Cinnamon shops, each with a unique design and offerings, aim to exude equal parts excellence in craft, warm and welcoming service and the feeling of wonder and discovery. The goal is to turn the daily habit of drinking coffee into an occasion to create a simple, beautiful experience of flavor, warmth, and connection.
Cocoa Cinnamon was founded by Areli Barrera Grodski and Leon Grodski Barrera in our Mom's kitchen in 2010 in the NC Mountains, developing in Durham starting in 2011 as bikeCOFFEE, then in 2013, 2016 and 2017 as three retail Cocoa Cinnamon locations, with our roasting facility Little Waves Coffee Roasters opening at our Cocoa Cinnamon Lakewood location in June 2017. Leon has been connected with Durham since 2002 for ongoing work producing the artwork of our friend, artist and designer David Solow. Areli has been connected to the Triangle starting in 2008 to attend UNC-Chapel Hill.
Cocoa Cinnamon and Little Waves Coffee have been made possible and developed with tremendous support from our Durham community as well as fans and customers far and wide. 
Little Waves Coffee Roasters is the 2022 Roast Magazine Micro Roaster of the Year!
Little Waves Coffee wins 2022 Winner for Micro Roaster of the Year
Little Waves Coffee was one of three finalists for 2021 Micro Roaster of the Year
Check out our  Roaster Residency at La Marzocco Café, Seattle, Washington, September 19th - October 21st, 2019.
Shops design and photography David Solow art + design
Cocoa Cinnamon logo by Gabe Goetz
Little Waves Coffee Roasters logos and icons by Michelle Durango-Lopez
Select Press & Media:
Cocoa Cinnamon & Little Waves Coffee Roasters, PBS NC, NC Weekend, April 2024
Keep Cool in North Carolina, Travel Zoo, April 2024
Drinks Atlas: Mexican Coffee, Imbibe Magazine, December 2023
A Deeper Roast: Little Waves Coffee, Walter Magazine December, 2023
19 Latina Coffee Brands for Cafecito Lovers, We Grow Latina, October, 2023
Durham Couple Builds Coffee Business with Latina Focus, Triangle Business Journal, September, 2023
Innovative Summer Café Drinks, Barista Magazine, July 2023
Bloom Where You're Planted, Our State Magazine, April 2023
Imbibe Magazine, February, 2023
The 25 Best Coffee Shops in the U.S. Trip Discoverer - February 2023
14 Best Small-Batch Coffee Roasters, Tasting Table - January 2023
Watching in the Wings, Mixing Metaphors - January 2023
The Ultimate Durham Checklist, Durham Magazine - January 2023
Roast Profiling Brazilian Coffee: Fazend Sao Sebastiao. 3 Roasters, one from Switzerland, One from Brazil, and One from Durham, NC discuss their approach to this Cafe Fermented Coffee - Cropster, August 2022
Pot Luck: A Wildlife Ecosystem in the Middle of a City? NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program - August 2022
51 Best Coffee Shops in America, Food Network, July 2022
Pot Luck: Adverntures in Urban Container Gardening NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program - July 2022
Making Waves, Short film on the love story that led to Little Waves & Cocoa Cinnamon, by Victoria Bouloubasis & Pilar Timpane for Visit North Carolina - June 2022
Three Days in Durham, Our State Magazine, June 2022
Winner Best Coffee Shop in DurhamIndy Week - 2014 - 2022
A Winner Best Coffee Shop - Durham Magazine 2014 - 2022
Areli Barrera Grodski Talks Running a Business with Heart - Hey Awesome Girl with Tivi Jones - April 2022
Areli and Michael brewing the amazing Café 1959 Mesa Alta, Quindío, Colombia from José Giraldo at GH Grinding & Brewing on the TONE Touch 03 and Bentwood Vertical 63 grinder. - March, 2022
The Business Case of Living Wage - Barista Guild - July 2021
Cocoa Cinnamon Named Best in Class for Coffee Shop in the Triangle by Food Critic Greg Cox - 2018 - 2020 - News and Observer
Best Blind Date and Best Coffee Shop - Indy Week - 2014
Preservation Durham People Choice Award for Best Adaptive Reuse - David Solow 2014
Best New Business & Best Blind Date - Indy Week - 2013