Япоkofe Review – Where to Find and What to Try
My Instagram followers are probably already sick of me gushing about this tiny Moscow cafe, but I wanted to write a quick review for any foreign tourists that might be visiting Moscow and looking for cool new off-the-beaten-path places to explore within walking distance of the major ‘checklist’ attractions.
I grew up in Moscow but didn’t have the chance to visit for nearly 7 years since I moved to the US. When I came back for the first time, I could hardly recognize the city – it was great before, but nowadays Moscow is a modern, bright, colorful metropolis with a lot of integrated technology that will make you rethink its bleak Soviet past. Aside from the fact that pretty much every store, restaurant, food truck, taxi, and even public transport accepts the tap-to-pay model so you can simply tap your phone or any other NFC-enabled credit/debit card to ensure a safe transaction, the capital totally revamped their entertainment and dining scene as well. While some of the boring, stuffy old-school restaurants and eateries still remain, many of them have been replaced with concept-cafes for every budget that elevate the dining experience and turn every visit into an event [kind of reminds me of the cafe culture of South Korea]. That’s why it’s always hard to choose where to go – everything looks like it would be so much fun, with budget and availability being your only limits pretty much.
I discovered Yapokofe randomly while searching for coffee places around the State Tretyakov Gallery. I sorted the results by distance and it turned out to be the closest, so I figured I’d give it a try. Finding the place was difficult – you definitely need to use GPS in walk mode to get there, even though it’s a just a couple hundred feet from the main entrance to the gallery. Alternatively, they have visual instructions available on their Instagram profile in featured stories.
There are two things Япоkofe is famous for: Japan-inspired cake pops and artisanal coffee drinks. I tried both and was so blown away by the flavors that I decided to write this blog post in the hopes of bringing them more business [both times I was there, I was shockingly the only customer].
One thing to keep in mind, especially if you are visiting from the US, as this is something you’ll find unusual. Yapokofe doesn’t give you an option to have your drink hot or iced. Some of them come only hot, and others only cold – there’s no diluting a drink that is meant to be consumed at a certain temperature with a ton of ice like they would at Starbucks.
I tried three most popular hot coffees, and one iced that was new on the menu: pink cream & sakura-infused hot coffee, green chestnut, cream & vanilla hot coffee, an interesting take on the traditional cappuccino with pink froth, and matcha, cream & melon iced coffee which was as delicious as it was refreshing. The descriptions speak for themselves – each one tasted exactly as you’d imagine. I also listed them in the order of sweetness – sakura was the most dessert-like, and the iced melon coffee had the least amount of sugar.
Япоkofe offers an assortment of authentic Japanese [mochi, taiyaki, imported j-exclusive Pocky varieties, etc] and Japan-inspired desserts, including my favorite cake pops. The cake comes in two varieties: vanilla and chocolate, and limitless options for the glaze and toppings. Both cake varieties are incredibly moist – it’s not the dry & crumbly pound cake you quickly whip up from a mix. Think the fudgey melt-in-your-mouth texture of a perfectly made brownie. Chocolate cake is actually less sweet than the vanilla one, which is something I didn’t expect. Keep that in mind when ordering your coffee so you can balance out the flavors. The glaze on top comes in different flavors too, but they vary so you’ll have to ask the barista what they have in stock.
My vanilla cake pop was dipped in white chocolate and had sweet marzipan rainbow details, which added to the overall flavor. The chocolate cake pop was dipped in black charcoal-infused glaze and featured a white chocolate & cherry koi fish figurine, which also complemented the flavor, giving it an almost red velvet bite.
Yapokofe is located at 17/4 Lavrushinskiy Ln.