The staff at Café Boku Coffee and Crepes have a saying: If you don’t like what you ordered, you can throw it back at them and they’ll make you something better.
Co-owner Malinda Suom said the offer is symbolic of the commitment to excellence at Café Boku, a fusion-style coffee shop located in north Spokane. Nobody’s taken the staff up on it yet, said Suom, who – as joking as the motto might sound – insisted it’s 100 percent serious.
“I’m not going to lie: I’ve been to many places I’ve spent my hard-earned money at and haven’t had a great experience. It just doesn’t feel good. … We want to change that,” said Suom, who co-owns the café with her husband, Steven Kelly. “It’s our home. When you come into our home, we want to make sure you have the absolute best experience.”
Café Boku offers a creative and cultural cuisine with a menu that features an array of coffees, crepes and “croffles,” a croissant-waffle hybrid that hails from South Korea. Café Boku’s most popular flavors include ube – a purple yam from Southeast Asia that’s sweet, almost like Fruity Pebbles cereal – and pandan, another popular tropical plant from Southeast Asian that tastes like “earthy vanilla and coconutty,” Suom said. Indaba Coffee is the café’s coffee supplier.
The name Café Boku is a play on “beaucoup,” the French word for “a lot,” albeit with a Japanese spelling. With items ranging from pandan lattes to croffles topped with bananas, ube cream and Fruity Pebbles, Suom described the menu as a trip around the world.
“We took this place and wanted to make it our own,” said Garrett Maxey, Café Boku’s team lead. “The goal was to create a community, and so we wanted to bring things from all around. One of the biggest goals was to create something that we all enjoy.”
Café Boku opened in late December just off the intersection of East Hawthorne Road and North Nevada Street, finding popularity thanks in part to word-of-mouth on Facebook, Suom said.
She and Kelly moved to Spokane from Seattle in 2016. They own the BocoPOP boba tea shop in Liberty Lake; Suom said the two have always wanted to run a café together – something that they’d tried twice before without success.
Another opportunity arose when Kagen Coffee and Crepes, the former business at 915 E. Hawthorne Road Suite A, closed. Suom and Kelly acquired the Hawthorne location, spending approximately six months last year transitioning from Kagen into Café Boku.
For Suom, the joy in operating a café comes from having fun and developing friendships with customers, creating new food items and making someone’s day better.
“We want everyone to come back and feel welcome,” Maxey said. “If somebody comes in with a hard day, we want them to leave and be absolutely delighted. We will settle for nothing less than delighted.”
Suom added, “Everyone’s welcome here. I hope people give us a chance. We understand it’s scary coming into a new place and it’s also scary coming to a new place with such different things, but I’d say give us a try.”