If you want to be surrounded by art, you often have to go to an art museum or a gallery. But in Durham, you only have to sit down to enjoy a caramel latte or an iced coffee inside Cocoa Cinnamon on Hillsborough Road.
When shop owners Leon Grodski de Barrera and his wife, Areli Barrera de Grodski, opened the shop – their second location – earlier this year, they deliberately set out to create not only a space filled with art but a space that is itself an integrated work of art.
So this is not your cliched coffee shop with walls adorned with rotating artwork for sale. There are a few paintings on the walls as well as a mural, but local artists also designed the rack where customers park their bikes outside, the countertop where the barista places hot chocolates and coffees, the tables and chairs where customers gather to sip their espressos and tea lattes. The pieces all work together to tell the story of the migration of coffee, chocolate and people and connect that to the personal history of owner Areli Barrera de Grodski, whose family is from Mexico and now owns a coffee shop in Durham.
The linchpin of the project is Durham designer David Solow ,who acted as a sort of artistic project manager. He helped convey what Areli and Leon were seeking from the artists and craftspeople. He also spearheaded the space’s main themes and envisioned how the artistic and functional pieces would coalesce to tell this story.
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“It was an intensive collaboration,” Solow said. “It’s what creates a powerful, cohesive integrated space.”
Cocoa Cinnamon website’s main page offers a complete list of all the artists and craftspeople and their works with explanations about each piece: cocoacinnamon.com
The coffee shop is at 2627 Hillsborough Road, Durham.
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
The original shop is at 420 W. Geer St.