It was an unexpected opportunity to take advantage of a recommendation – so I totally jumped on it. I don’t need much of an excuse to visit new coffee shops, and even less if they come recommended with such high praise for having unique beverages.

A week or so earlier…

He stopped by my desk and asked, “Do you like spice?”

“Sure,” I answered.

“Here, then. Try this.” he offered.

In his hands was a small bundle of what looked like wax paper. He snapped at something that was underneath, and then moved the paper to reveal a small bit of dark chocolate. I looked up at him, smiled and took it. I popped it into my mouth, and immediately appreciated the smoothness of the chocolate as it started melting on my tongue.

I bit into the small chuck and rolled it around my mouth. At that point, it wasn’t about the chocolate at all. It was all about the heat. My eyes went wide. He grinned and moved on to the next cubical to have a conversation with another colleague. Good thing too, because my eyes had started watering and I was desperately looking for my water bottle.

Caught between coughing and chuckling, I tried not to choke on my water.

It was a battle of sweet-heat and smooth-bitterness, and my mind was working overtime to keep up with all the sensations.

Holy buckets! That was good.

He stopped back by and we shared a few words and smiles.

“Have you ever heard of Bean Traders? It’s a coffee shop in Durham near Southpoint,” he asked. I shook my head and he continued, “they have this amazing habanero-infused chocolate beverage. It’s on the other side of the highway, where the Harris Teeter used to be. If you like heat in your chocolate, you should try it.”

“Sounds great. I’ll try to get over there and check it out.”

Flash Forward to Last Night

Heading to Southpoint for dinner with a friend, I mentioned Bean Traders.

Actually, I had forgotten the name. I did some searching on Google. All I could remember was that it was in the shopping center on the other side of the highway as Southpoint. And there it was: Bean Traders, open until 10pm.

I mentioned it as an option as we headed to Durham, and left it at that. I knew that it would depend on how much time it took us to eat, and with no reservations in place, I figured we’d have a long wait at any of of the premier restaurants in the shopping center area.

Good thing that’s not what we eneded up choosing. An almost 2 hour wait wasn’t going to cut it for either of us, already on the verge of hangry. Not a great way to start off a night of serious conversation between two friends. Japanese at the food court won out – and before you belittle food court food, look at the options available at Southpoint. They include fresh-made, farm to fork and international choices. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my Boba Thai tea.

With plenty of time before 10pm and in need of an option before hitting the bar, I mentioned the coffee shop idea.

“Let’s go check out Bean Traders across the highway. It comes highly recommended. And we’ve got some time before they close.”

Do you have a favorite coffee shop?

If you don’t and you’re local, I would suggest you try on Bean Traders for size. Lots of space and seating options, depending on your party size. Work space. Cushy chairs for comfort. Big tables. Small cozy corners. The shop spans across 3 separate spaces in a shopping center. And, if my eyes were working correctly, it appears that each space has different lighting to appeal to different customers.

There’s a ton of art, which feeds into a really creative vibe. If you look up, you may notice that their fluorescence light covers are decorated to portray different areas of space. Yes, like outer space. And the middle room (the room connected to the main entrance front door), had a wall that looked to be covered with chalk board paint to appeal to your immediate inspirational needs.

There are probably a myriad of other details that I should be telling you, but with my focus on making a good connection with my partner-in-crime for the night, I can only tell you what I noticed on an initial scan.

(Which is why I definitely encourage you to check it out for yourself).

In line to order, I scanned through their offerings and noticed the word “habanero.” I realized that whatever that beverage was must be what my friend from work had been referring to, so I asked. And I immediately had the attention of all three of the attendants behind the counter. If I had had my phone at the ready, I would have taken their picture – and I told them so. Their anticipatory expressions and bright, shiny eyes – it was something akin of the feelings associated with Christmas morning and spin-the-bottle all rolled into one. The knowing of something exciting and amazing and slightly forbidden, and seeing another innocent, unknowing soul on the precipice of choice.

I felt like a teenager about to be ushered into the cool club.

Them being kind enough to offer a sample, I tasted the nectar made from cold-brew coffee and house-made habanero-infused chocolate sauce.

“Ah, yea. That’s what I want. Your 16 oz. size, please.”

It’s served topped off with a splash of half and half. I hear that substituting the half and half for chocolate milk is even better.

“Next time,” I promised.

Yes, go drink some bean. I know I definitely will return again.