Mocha Monkey Cafe
A comfy spot in Bell Arbor Commons
by Sally Mitani
The name of the Mocha Monkey Cafe is a reference to owner Jamal Abusway's past. The Mocha Monkey was a favorite coffee drink at the Shaky Ground, a now-defunct coffee shop near San Francisco's Chinatown where he worked ten years ago. He features a drink at Mocha Monkey called the Shaky Ground (iced coffee with vanilla syrup), as well as a Mocha Monkey (espresso with chocolate and banana). The drink called the Sway is another cryptic reference to a coffee shop ghost--his first coffee shop, the Sway on Washtenaw and Golfside.
Abusway and Voichita (pronounced "vo-KEE-tah") Gabor, his blond Romanian business partner with a seductive Gabor-ish accent, have made the former Espresso Royale on Carpenter (in Bell Arbor Commons, across from the Great Lake Chinese restaurant) into a homey, comfortable spot, strewn with cushions and comfortable couches and chairs.
While there is no real restaurant kitchen, you can even get a hot meal there. The menu features paninis and soups as well as a wide variety of Middle Eastern pastries and smoothies.
"I can't stop bragging about the smoothies," Abusway says. "They're awesome. You pick your fruit, nothing canned, and it's made on the spot."
Mocha Monkey Cafe, 2871 Carpenter (Bell Arbor Commons), 795-1800. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
[Originally published in May, 2013.]