Copa Vida Coffee


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.)

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 4:03 pm  Comments (13)  


  1. Open M-Sat 7 am – 11 pm!

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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