The Duke Bite Spring 2016

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BEHIND THE

grind CARLY LINCENBERG

If you have ever been to Cocoa Cinnamon, you have sensed that it is more than just a coffee shop— something is different about it. That unexpected spicy kick in your latte, the wall that is actually a garage door, the diverse gathering of customers, the Arabic names on the menu, the presence of sipping chocolate and cacao drinks (neither of which are the same as hot chocolate)… I could go on and on. Maybe you’ve labeled it as hipster, eclectic, or trendy? I’ve found that defining Cocoa Cinnamon is an evolving process, with each visit serving to peel back another layer of its complexity. There is more to Cocoa Cinnamon than coffee, and I’d like to take you beyond the surface. The décor. Cocoa Cinnamon is as much an artistic installation as it is a coffee shop. David Solow, the designer of both locations, brings in local artists to add their personal flair. There is some unity to the style, but much of what makes the interior so unique is that it pulls from many different cultures and backgrounds. The color scheme and the art are inspired by the rich histories of coffee, chocolate, tea, and spices. In fact, the name “Cocoa Cinnamon” was inspired by two spices that played major roles in the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history. 22

DUKE BITE SPRING 2016

In the new location on Hillsborough, artist Luzene Hill hung beeswax human figurines from the ceiling, dyed with real spices. These were made to represent the individuals that were involved in the travel and trade of spices. Above the bar on the face of the upper cabinent you’ll notice a colorful geometric design by local artist, Heather Gordon. This piece maps out the geo-coordinates of the history of the travel of coffee (starting in Ethiopia and making its way to the Western World). These geographic lines actually extend off the surface and into the shop (look around for lines running across the floor and tables). From the Frida Kahlo inspired shelves to the repurposed wood from the old Durham tobacco warehouses, each nook and cranny of Cocoa Cinnamon has a story behind it. The menu. Every drink on the menu is carefully crafted. We met with one of Cocoa Cinnamon’s drink specialists, Susie Locklier, who walked us through the process of coming up with a new drink. She introduced us to “The Lion in the Sun,” a drink influenced by her own family heritage. Her dad grew up in Iran and she was inspired to dig deeper into the country’s history. The Lion in the Sun was the emblem found on the Persian flag before the Islamic revolution. When Islam


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