DURHAM, N.C. — Little Waves Coffee Roasters has been dubbed micro roaster of the year by Roast Magazine.


What You Need To Know

In 2020, Little Waves Coffee Roasters was a finalist, and this year it was named micro roaster of the year by Roast Magazine

Little Waves Coffee Roasters is part of Cocoa Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham

Roast magazine judges entries by c​ompanies' missions, commitment to sustainable practices, diversity, employees and the quality of the coffee


Areli Barrera Grodski is the majority owner and green coffee buyer for Little Waves Coffee Roasters. She says since being named micro roaster of the year, volume in the roastery has doubled, if not tripled.

“We have at this point shipped out to every state in the United States, which is crazy," Barrera Grodski said.

Barrera Grodski has been roasting at the shop's Chapel Hill Road location in Durham's Lakewood neighborhood since 2017. But the dream of starting this business started in 2010 with her husband, Leon. The name, Little Waves Coffee Roasters, speaks to their love story, which is about how small waves or daily actions can lead to a bigger impact.

“That visualization kind of translates into how we approach everything," Barrera Grodski said. "Those little waves, those rooted reverberations as we call them isn't just about us, but the whole ecosystem of the entire value chain. From crop to cup and cup to crop. And understanding when people are purchasing our coffee that they are not just effecting our business and our team members. But rather we are able to buy more coffee from producers because they are purchasing from us," she said.

Moving forward, Barrera Grodski wants to expand Little Waves Coffee Roasters' wholesale program and partner with like-minded businesses.

As a Latina immigrant and woman of color, Barrera Grodski wants to represent the community she serves​. That mindset affects hiring, purchasing and all parts of the coffee company's 'heart-driven' mission.

"I think that who you are is how you do and your representation attracts other people who look like you to want to apply, and they feel seen, and they feel like they can also take part in this business," Barrera Grodski said.

Anyone can apply for the micro roaster of the year award from Roast Magazine. Applicants must roast less than 100,000 pounds of coffee per year.