It’s well past the morning rush when The Coast visits Aroma Maya Coffee + Donuts on a Friday. No matter. The colourful Prince Albert Road bakery and cafe is still brimming with regulars, even by 1pm. One customer orders a four-pack of donuts to go—an Eggnog Glazed, one Funfetti, two Nova Creams. Another eyes the Valley Apple Fritters. Chatter hums from the window-facing tables. Business as usual, according to manager Lauryn Harris. Never mind if the donut shop has been open for just over three weeks, and its location—sandwiched next to a Needs Convenience, on a busy stretch of Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7—is not exactly a walk-in destination. The parking lot is always full.
“In the beginning,” Harris tells The Coast, “we started off with 500 donuts, or something like that... The first day, we sold out by 1 or 2pm—and we hadn’t even had our grand opening.” They upped their daily donut supply to 700. “And that wasn’t enough.” They sold out by 2pm. Now? On a “good day,” Harris says, they’re serving up 900 donuts—all brought in fresh from Enfield every morning.
The Dartmouth location of Aroma Maya marks the first Halifax expansion in a budding coffee and bakery enterprise from North River. Founded in 2014 as a coffee roastery, it began as a passion project by Acadia University student Sergio Garrido. Born in Guatemala, the music student-turned-business major had grown up steeped in coffee culture. He roasted his own beans in Wolfville and sold them online out of his dorm room.
“We use a slow-roasting process that allows the sugars in the coffee beans to caramelize as opposed to burn,” Garrido told SaltWire in 2018.
He and his wife, Kristi, opened their first brick-and-mortar cafe in Truro in November 2020. They crowdfunded $5,000 to open a second Truro location in April 2021. Today, they have five Aroma Maya locations across Nova Scotia, including a main bakery in Enfield.
The donut menu—16 flavours in all—rotates on a monthly basis, Harris tells The Coast. Some staples, including the Classic Cookie Dough (picture a glazed donut with a scoop of chocolate chip dough in the middle), remain from month to month. Others, like the Candy Cane Hot Chocolate, are seasonal offerings.
So, where to start? Harris has a soft spot for the Birthday Party flavour.
“It's funny, because I’m not usually a cake donut person,” Harris says, “but it just melts in your mouth—and it makes me feel like a little kid when I’m eating it. And it just makes me very happy.”