Every so often, I find a really special place where I become a pretty regular customer. While I’m a major fan of cafes and coffee shops to start, Cafe Moca is special to me for a number of reasons. Their store was one of the very first places I grabbed a tea and a bite to eat in Ridgewood; I still remember ordering a hibiscus iced tea in the freezing January winter back in 2020. But more importantly, Cafe Moca was one of the few things that was a constant for me during a time of uncertainty early on in the pandemic.
I went to Cafe Moca nearly every morning for the first view weeks of the pandemic. At the time, they were taking orders and serving coffee from the big front window of their Ridgewood store. When I spoke with Jennypher, one of the owners of the cafe, she informed me that this was one of the many pivots they made to keep the shop open but also keep things safe for their staff and customers. Cafe Moca had been open for less than a year when the pandemic hit last March, and Jennypher thinks that the newness of the cafe contributed to their flexibility and aided their success. Not only is Cafe Moca consistently busy with customers, they also opened a second location in Bushwick the past year. Jennypher attributes this to the support that they’ve received from the community and the relationships they’ve built.
Something that I love about Cafe Moca is their focus on relationships. They have been active in the community and have collaborated and supported other local businesses; they were part of the Bushwick-Ridgewood raffle last summer to raise funds for Black Lives Matter and sell Dank Banana Bread in store. But at the heart of Cafe Moca is Jennypher and her mother, as well as their partners. The mother-daughter duo has had the dream of having a restaurant together since Jennypher was a child, and they together had set the goal of opening one by 2020. (They actually beat their goal by a year when Cafe Moca opened in 2019, with their second location opening in 2020!) Family and community are important at this cafe, and I think this really shows in the cafe’s menu.
Cafe Moca serves up a delicious plant-focused menu including oat milk lattes and classic sandwiches such as the BLT and their version of Chopped Cheese. Jennypher and her husband are vegan and her mother eats mostly plant-based as well, so they’ve aimed to make their favorite vegan foods for their customers. They make all of their own veg meats in-house (with the exception of Tofurkey turkey slices) in order to make the best versions of veg meats possible. When you visit, it’s easy to tell that the owners put lots of thought and love into the creation of their food—as soon as you walk in the door to order, the smell of smoky bacon hits you right away.
During my recent visit, I ordered their Chopped Cheese, which has house-made veg beef, cheese sauce, and greens and condiments. The sandwich is absolutely delicious, but I would say the veg beef alone deserves a standing ovation for incredible texture and flavor. Even if you’re a die-hard classic chopped cheese fan, I would definitely say this one is worth a try. The cafe is always cooking up new specials, whether it’s something seasonal like the pink Heartbeat Latte for Valentine’s Day or something hearty and comforting like their Chorizo y Huevos. Jennypher’s personal pick from their menu is the BLT and drip coffee with oat milk—she says this is a meal that she’s had countless times and still loves!
If you want to support a great local business or want to grab a delicious vegan and vegetarian food, definitely pay Cafe Moca a visit. They have a comforting vibe in their stores with plenty of pretty plants to look at and the smell of freshly made coffee. You can check them out at their Ridgewood or Bushwick locations, both of which have awesome staff and the same great menu. And whatever sandwich you get there, add extra veg bacon!
Visit Cafe Moca at 487 Seneca Avenue, Ridgewood and 108 Central Avenue, Brooklyn
Check them out on @cm_cafemoca and cafemoca.nyc