by Nikki Terpilowski
I thought I knew all of the coffee shops in Fuquay-Varina. But recently, I drove down Broad Street and saw a new sign on one of the historic buildings I’ve always found so intriguing. It was the location for a butcher for a while, was empty and now it’s filled with chocolates, pastries and coffee. I had to see for myself what Tsuru Sweets & Coffee was all about.
As I easily located parking, I searched online for their website. Once found, I discovered that the owner is a chef who has worked for the Food Network and The Fearrington House Restaurant, and the baked goods and chocolate truffles she offers are all made in-house. I was impressed before I took my first step inside the store.
When I approached the front entrance, I was greeted by a cute blackboard on the sidewalk hailing a few specials. Sleek and minimalistic, the interior is all pine furnishing and brick walls. Did I mention that I love interiors with brick walls? I was immediately charmed. With room for about 15 people to sit comfortably at tables and a bar, the dining area is suitably cozy.
I immediately envisioned bookclub meetings unfolding here, it’s the perfect spot for informal gatherings. There were a few customers inside when I arrived in late morning, a young woman working on her laptop and a trio of women catching up over coffee. The vibe is welcoming yet elegant, and I appreciated the cashier greeting me with a big smile and friendly salutation when I entered the cafe.
A typical coffeehouse playlist provided the soundtrack as I perused the chocolates and baked goods displayed in a glass case. My 8-year-old son made a beeline for the brookie, a massive cookie-brownie hybrid.
I had a few questions for the cashier before I ordered, and she answered them, telling me that the store opened a little over a month ago and that the word Tsuru meant cacao in Bribri, a Costa Rican indigenous group known for its cultivation of the unique plant. The owner, chef Paola is also Costa Rican and created her new cafe to help share her love for chocolate sweets she enjoyed as a child. I love a business with a story and this one has a great one. The treats, the ingredients and the building all have richness, character… depth, which for me just makes everything taste all the better.
In Bribri mythology, the cacao plant is magical. I couldn’t help but smile when I read this on Tsuru’s website, because it reminded me of the Southern Chocolate Shop mystery series, in which the chocolates are of the highest quality and considered magical by the indigenous culture that grows them. But I digress…
I selected a latte and we settled into a window-side table with a picturesque view of the shops lining Broad Street. It was an uncharacteristically warm and sunny March day, perfect for people-watching. After letting my gaze rove around the room for a while, I noticed two black and white images on the brick wall. I went closer and was delighted to find a historical image of the very building I was in. Tsuru was now in the building that used to be the Bank of Varina. Yes, I thought to myself, as I sipped on my latte, this is definitely a place I want to share with our Due South readers. We stayed long enough for my son to finish his treat, and for me to drink my coffee – which was very good. The house blend is smooth and mild but with bold flavor, the perfect breakfast blend.
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Inspired by our visit to @tsuru_sweets we decided to make something pretty. #chocolatetruffles #chocolate #coffeeshop #macaroons #macaroon #macarons #macaron #candy #bakery #bakeryshop #fuquayvarina #hollysprings #hollyspringsnc #fuquayvarinanc #fuquay #cozy #shabbychic #southern #southernbelle
You can tell by the imagery and values displayed prominently on the Tsuru website, the craftsmanship of the chocolate truffles and the positive attitude of all the staff that Tsuru is an endeavor of love, probably a dream finally manifested for the owner. As most cooks and practitioners of mindfulness know, when food is prepared with love… it tastes better. It is better. Tsuru Sweets & Chocolate is a place of love and chocolate… And coffee.
Since writing this article, I’ve already visited a second time and I’ll definitely be back. Next time, I’ll probably lose the kid and bring my laptop, it seems like a good place to have a good cup of coffee while getting some work done.
Tsuru Sweets and Coffee is located at 411 Broad Street in Fuqua-Varina, NC. The cafe is open every day from 8 am to 6 pm.
Nikki is the editor-in-chief of Due South and occasionally writes for us.