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Copa Vida Coffee

Posted by YAR 1 Dec 2008 20 Comments


Copa Vida Coffee is now open in Shade Tree’s old spot (in Erwin Terrace).  I hope this one sticks around, if just because there obviously needs to be a coffee shop this close to Duke.  The space is fairly similar to Shade Tree’s, except without the bar–the colors are slightly different but the atmosphere is still well-lit and open.  In the tradition of many Durham coffeeshops, Copa Vida offers Guglhupf pastries and Counter Culture Coffee.  They also plan to have live music some evenings, starting at about once a month (the first show was last week).  Check it out!  They are open 7a to 11p Mon-Sat.


(If you go soon and are put off by how quiet and echo-y it seems, don’t worry–she is still working on getting her music system working.)


  • DNR said:

    Open M-Sat 7 am – 11 pm!


  • thelittlebaker said:

    wow, $3 for a large coffee seems a little crazy to me, I have to say.


  • 2much said:

    those prices are a bit absurd. and it’s not like counter culture can’t be found all over this town.


  • Sarah said:

    Thank goodness for another coffee shop open past 9 p.m.! Francesca’s is nice, but I’m glad to have another option.

    And, yes, $3 for brewed coffee which could likely be old is too much. At the least, they should offer free refills.


  • burgeoningfoodie said:

    Are there no coffee shops on 9th? I guess Dunkin isn’t really a coffee shop, but plenty of people will swear by their coffee.


  • Mike said:

    I’m sitting at Copa Vida right now enjoying a nice hot cup of Counter Culture, and the refills have been free for the last six hours. The owner and the few staff that I’ve met are genuinely friendly people trying to make the dream happen here. Its not crowded, but Jason Mraz is playing in the background which fills in some of the quiet space.

    Fact is, I’m digging this new place and I’m kind of hoping people don’t start showing up in droves.


  • Alexandra said:

    I talked to the owner while I was there and she is genuinely listening to what people have said about the prices. She is doing her best to simply keep the place open (she has worked most of the first week herself), offer a pleasant atmosphere, and a quality product. If you liked ShadeTree I think you will love CopaVida. I’m a fan.


  • Warren Kinghorn said:

    Hi — thanks for this post — I don’t usually read this blog but I happened upon it after searching for Copa Vida on Google. My wife and I went there this weekend and found it a nice place, very much like Shade Tree but brighter and more open, with very friendly and helpful proprietors. My wife had a coconut-flavored latte which was very good. Also, I noticed that the prices have been lowered since the picture above was taken; a large coffee was only $2.35, a small somewhere around $1.85. So the picture above should be updated.

    I hope this place makes it; I hope especially that year-round residents support them while Duke students are away for the holidays.


  • bullcity said:

    It was hard to read at Shade Tree, but I wonder why the new owners did away with the bar. Having the option of a microbrew or a glass of wine was one of the main reasons I’d go to Shade Tree.


  • bobva said:

    If it is anything like Broad Street Cafe on Ninth St. with it’s easy atmosphere and friendly staff, I’ll check it out. I liked Shade Tree and it should’ve had a better chance but with this present economy, anything in the service industry has it’s work cut out. But Durham needs more cafe’s besides overpriced Starbuck’s.


  • Lindsey said:

    I wondered about the bar removal, too… There is a wine/full service bar down stairs (Six Plates) and there is no need to take away from them. Without the bar there is room for that cozy living room area with plenty of outlets for laptop users.

    PS – Try the Chai.


  • Just said:

    Well, their business hours are really flexible. One rainy day, when I visited there around 10am, the cafe was still not open, but next day, the barista told me that the cafe was open during that time. Why does she lie? Also, the latte taste is really volatile between below average levels, and not sophisticated at all. and I hate when they are asking whether I am going to have anyting extra.


  • Donald Riese said:

    Not bad for the average sipper. But for the serious coffee/espresso/latte drinker, Copa Vida needs work. The espresso was tamped too gently, the pull was too short and therefore not flavorful enough, and the milk-foam quality was average (the milk was heated properly and there was foam on top of the latte, but it wasn’t foamed fully through to have that airy/puffy richness you find from expert baristas). I had the impression that the owner was scurrying around trying to be and do too many things. But keep in mind I’m comparing the skill level to places like Cup A Joe and Driade, which might not be fair; as I said, for the average sipper this place is fine.


    Don Riese replies on March 10th, 2010 at 5:40 pm:

    Been through Durham several times in the last year, down from the northeast. Different opinion now. Shots are better, foaming is good. So I’ve changed my mind about this place and I’ll keep coming back. Whatever they changed, it was good.


    Matthew replies on April 9th, 2010 at 7:20 pm:

    Glad to hear it Don. We’re constantly striving to improve on our shot quality and pulling as it’d be criminal to mess up the fine ingredients we use (shameless plug for Counter Culture and Homeland Creamery). Come on back as we’ve changed the menu board last week to highlight the classic drinks (espressos, macchiatos, cappuccinos) while also adding 8oz beverages to the mix. It would be great if the folks at Carpe Durham updated the photo of our menu board! And yes, our hours are 7am-8pm (although we sleep in an hour on Sat).


    RPP replies on April 9th, 2010 at 7:57 pm:

    If you have a picture handy, send it over to us and we will update it ASAP.

  • Matt said:

    Also, FYI: hours are NOT 7am-11pm.

    M-F: 7am-8pm
    Sat: 8am-8pm

    I like the coffee, but was really disappointed when I tried to get a cuppa joe at 8:45 last night. Guess I should’ve checked the hours straight from their website rather than here. Please update!


  • Leah D. Gordon said:

    Interesting to read! I can always rely on Carpe Durham for good reviews. Its now Summer 2010 and I did a review with ratings. http://coffeeshoppingdurham.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/copa-vida-coffee/


  • Lauren said:

    Wow, $3 for a cup of brewed coffee was a lot. I’m glad they lowered their prices. In this economy, who can afford it?


  • tom said:

    nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning.

    milk coupons


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