Play Video

Asia Lui Chapa

Episode 118

A Home Café of Resilience

Asia Lui Chapa is an Author, Recipe Developer, and Video Creator best known for her Instagram account @ac_homecafe. She was born and raised between Temple City and Alhambra and fell in love with the art of making drinks in 2020. She started by posting simple drink videos for fun and now creates recipes for coffee, tea, and everything in between. Her goal was to create easy, delicious, and eye-catching beverages that anyone can make at home. Her love for drinks was recently documented in her debut book, The Home Café: Creative Recipes for Espresso, Matcha, Tea, and Coffee Drinks.

Before pursuing recipe development and video creation, Asia’s professional background included everything from running reception desks, tutoring psychology students and working as a community crisis counselor. While working in the mental health field by day, she taste-tested and prepped for her drink videos by night, slowly developing a passion Asia didn’t realize she had.

Asia started AC Home Café in March 2020. The first global quarantine had just started, and she had just been laid off while completing her Master’s degree in legal and forensic psychology. One of the things that comforted her during that time were home café videos. They were soothing, aesthetic, and looked delicious. Asia was inspired, bored from being at home all day, and decided to shoot her first video. After a few weeks, she started posting videos on TikTok and Instagram with ingredient lists and, later on, recipes. Since then, she has gotten the chance to work with brands like Guinness, Captain Morgan, and Peet’s Coffee (just to name a few), in addition to writing her first cookbook.

Best way to contact

Asia Lui Chapa Quotes

  • “I was looking for jobs in the social services field, and I moved back to Las Vegas and found a job as a Resilience Ambassador/Crisis Counselor in Nevada. We worked with people affected during the pandemic, whether financially, physically, or mentally, and we provided tangible resources, whether it was rent assistance, food assistance, or mental health assistance. We provided them emotional support as a triage stage and did a lot of outreach to make sure our community’s needs were being met in whatever way we could help them.”
  • “The SGV is a great place to see our cultures mixed and to see them flourish, see other mixed people like myself, and see how we found our place in the world. And that was comforting, for sure.”
  • “I used to go to Las Vegas a lot with my grandparents, my mom’s parents, growing up. We’d go and hang out. It was like a second home. They’d give my mom a break. It was like my second home. All of the lights and all of the buildings, and it’s Las Vegas. It’s kind of adult, but it was no big deal to me. It was just every other weekend.”
  • Asia Lui Chapa is a versatile creator, serving as an Author, Recipe Developer, and Video Creator. 
  • Asia gained prominence through her Instagram account, @ac_homecafe, where she showcases her beverage creations and recipes.
  • In 2020, Asia developed a profound interest in crafting drinks. What started as a hobby quickly transformed into a passion for creating beverages.
  • She recently authored her first book, titled “The Home Café: Creative Recipes for Espresso, Matcha, Tea and Coffee Drinks,” which captures her love for drinks and offers her unique recipes.
  • Through her dedication, Asia has collaborated with notable brands such as Guinness, Captain Morgan, and Peet’s Coffee, showcasing her influence and impact in the beverage realm.

How did you end up on our show?

Actually, my mom is a longtime listener of your podcast. She’s listened to every single episode.

She loves your message. She was born and raised in the SGV as well, so she really connected with your message and what you guys spoke about and loves learning more about where she’s from and where she grew up. So she reached out to you guys, and here I am.

asia-lui-chapa-ac-home-cafe

What’s your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

I was raised here in the San Gabriel Valley. I was born at Kaiser Sunset, so not exactly the SGV, but I was raised in Temple City and Alhambra.

What was life like growing up here?

It was awesome. I’m Mexican, Filipino, and Chinese, so a lot of people in my family say I’m the epitome of what the SGV is and the people who live here. 

So it’s cool to embody that and to represent those cultures. And it was great because I grew up around people who looked like me, had similar experiences, and also a few different people, and I got to learn new things, and it was just great. I know all the places and the streets here, so living in Las Vegas now, it’s always great to come back home and be in a familiar place that I know through and know.

Were you aware that you were different, mixed?

My parents weren’t together, so it was on my dad’s side and then going to my mom’s side when I saw the stark differences.

My family is so supportive. They never made me feel like I was different or anything like that. So it was very loving and supportive, but there were points where I was like, I’m not the typical what people think a Mexican girl or a woman would be, or I’m not the typical Filipino or Chinese woman. That was hard to balance as a young kid.

The SGV is a great place to see our cultures mixed and to see them flourish, see other mixed people like myself, and see how we found our place in the world. And that was comforting, for sure.

Where would you say your cultural traditions lie?

I tend to say more in the Filipino Chinese-Americanized culture because I did spend more time with my mom growing up. I spent every other weekend with my dad, so I wasn’t exposed to that side as much, but I still feel it in my heart and veins.

So your mom is Chinese Filipino, and your dad is Mexican?

Yes.

What school did you go to in San Gabriel?

I went to San Gabriel Christian School until eighth grade and then to Alverno High School.

Why did you go to Alverno high school?

My family is not necessarily religious, but my mom wanted that education for me. I was an only child, and she sent me there for those values and to meet new people. That was a great opportunity, and I loved my experiences there. I saw people who looked like me, which was awesome. I grew up around a lot of similar cultures, and I thought that was great.

How was your experience at Alverno?

It was great. I got to meet strong, powerful women who just knew what they wanted to do, and we were given tangible steps to pursue what we wanted, and we could do anything we set our mind to. 

That’s the mindset I learned at Alverno, and it was so powerful. That’s where I learned what I wanted to pursue in college. I made great friends there. I played volleyball for four years; it was such an exhilarating time, especially as a teenager. It was such a positive environment there.

What was your experience like being at an all-girl school?

It was awesome. We wore uniforms, so we didn’t have to worry about what we would wear. And I was so into sports that I didn’t care about anything else back then. It was great. No one cared about makeup. No one cared about vanity. We just got to be ourselves, laugh, have fun, and be weird when we wanted to. And no one ever admonished us for not looking a certain way or not acting a certain way.

What happened in your life after Alverno?

After Alverno, I went to UNLV and started my psychology and criminal justice undergrad.

Why did you choose UNLV?

I used to go to Las Vegas a lot with my grandparents, my mom’s parents growing up.

We’d go and hang out. It was like a second home. They’d give my mom a break.

It was like my second home. All of the lights and all of the buildings, and it’s Las Vegas. It’s kind of adult, but it was no big deal to me. It was just every other weekend.

My grandparents had a townhouse. They bought it back in the day, so I have never stayed in a Las Vegas hotel before, ever in my life.

Why did you know you wanted to go away?

I wanted to have new experiences and see what living in another city was like. I knew Las Vegas and knew it wouldn’t be as intimidating. Still, I wanted to have new experiences and not escape anything necessarily but have a new life independently.

You said you pursued psychology and criminal justice? What made you choose those two?

I chose psychology because I found a journal a year ago in my old bedroom at home in Temple City. 

It was something I wrote as a junior in high school, and it said something along the lines of, I love learning about why people do what they do and why they act, how they act, and I love observing people. That was ultimately what led me to choose psychology because I love talking to people, and I was a quiet kid, so I was always observing people. And so I think that awoke something in me and encouraged me to pursue psychology and the study of behavior.

What about the criminal justice degree?

My mom is a court reporter, and I got to work with her a few times and see how the courtroom worked. It was cool to see the law and order aspect. And I loved the show, Castle. I don’t know. I really wanted to learn about the criminal justice process and why rules exist. So, I minored in criminal justice.

What happened after college?

During college, I worked in a call center for the CDC, and so I left that job behind. I had been there for about two years and worked my way up. So, I left and went to get my Master’s degree in Legal and Forensic Psychology at UC Irvine. I kept pursuing the psychology and criminal justice world, for sure.

Did you end up using your degree?

I did use it briefly. I graduated in June of 2020. I was one of the ones who didn’t get a graduation.

I finished that right in the middle of the pandemic, and that’s when AC Home Cafe and the Home Cafe trend entered my life.

Because of the pandemic you made a shift?

I was looking for jobs in the social services field related to psychology, and maybe I was hoping to find something, an aspect of criminal justice, to incorporate into my career in the future. I moved back to Vegas and found a job as a Resilience Ambassador/Cris Counselor in Nevada. 

We worked with people in the pandemic who’ve been affected, whether financially, physically, or mentally, and we provided tangible resources, whether it’s rent assistance, food assistance, or mental health assistance.

We provided them with emotional support as a triage stage and did a lot of outreach to make sure our community’s needs were being met in whatever way we could help them. 

It was great. I felt like I was using my degree, and I got to use the skills I learned for clinical interviewing and suicide evaluations. It was a great opportunity, and I love talking to people, so it was perfect.

Did you have a lot of people reaching out to you?

We had a couple of different modes of outreach. A lot of people emailed on our website. We would put ads out on YouTube or just on TV. We also worked with different organizations, like the help of Southern Nevada. 

I was deployed at the Las Vegas Resilience Center, which helped aid survivors of the October 1 shooting at Mandalay Bay. I reached out to those people on a daily basis. We’d have our call sheets, and I’d let them know that we’re here, that we even exist, and that if they needed someone, they’d have someone to talk to. 

We ask each guest to bring an item of significance with them. What did you bring with you today?

I brought a teacup, and it’s a cup and saucer, and it has a little rose on there. This is one of the teacups that my grandma and I used to use when we would have our tea parties after school. My grandma was such a special person to me. She inspired such creativity in me. She’d pick me up from school, and we’d come home, and we’d have tea with a little cookie, and I would read a chapter of a book to her, and it was such a special time. 

Is that the reason that you’ve created what you have created?

It is. It started with sharing a drink. It’s a simple thing with my grandma and is an inspiration for so much of what I do. She would let me make little potions in the kitchen with random ingredients in the fridge, and I would serve it to my mom, and she would pick me up from school, pick me up from my grandparent’s house, and drink it. And my poor mom had to drink my random creations back then. But, yeah, my grandma’s what started that spark of creativity, namely drinks, because that is what we shared.

How did you start AC Home Cafe?

AC Home Cafe, the home cafe trend to me, started in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. I had been laid off from my part-time receptionist job at an interior design firm while going through school. I would scroll for hours on Instagram, and these Home Cafe videos came up. 

They originated in South Korea, Japan, China, and other Asian countries. They were mesmerizing to me, and they were fun. Tiny ices, big circular ones, different color milk, pouring the milk into the dark espresso and seeing it trickle down. It just made me feel so peaceful inside. 

And I was like, you know what? I could try to make a video. I’m bored. We’re stuck in the house for two weeks. I filmed my first video and was posting them on my personal account, and my poor friends are putting up with me with these random videos of no phone stand and shaking hands. My best friend suggested I start posting them on TikTok just for fun. 

So, I started posting on there, and then I started making more intricate drinks and having a phone stand and an idea of what I wanted to do because before, it was just anything in my kitchen. 

Then there was one video with pink ice, and it was in the sunlight, and I kept spilling ice, and it wouldn’t even get into the cup. And that’s how I got a big following because I was messing up.

 

I love the connection to your grandma. I love the message you’re sharing through your videos: the beauty of imperfection. How did it start to grow? And when did you start to take it more seriously?

I started posting when people saw that video where I was messing up. I started directing them to my Instagram. And one of my friends said, ‘Oh, you should put the ingredients. You should put the recipe out.’ 

That was the first time I was like, oh, people want to make that? It wasn’t connecting for me because I didn’t even have recipes at that point. I was doing random stuff and thought, I got to think more about this. And so I had lists all of a sudden, and I was writing it down and measurements, and I started posting recipes, which got more of an interest. 

It piqued people’s interest a lot more. And then people asked, oh, how did you do this? How did you do that? 

I would comment back, and that’s when I had to think and say, okay, this can be something. Let’s make it something. And so that’s when I started honing my recipe development. 

I was thinking about flavors that might go well together and even imitating recipes that I would see at Starbucks or recipes I would see at Dunkin Donuts, making them more accessible to at-home cafe lovers. And because we were more at home, we were experimenting. 

Was there one video or recipe that went viral or took off in the beginning?

There was. It was a crystal ball spritzer back then. I do more normal recipes now. But I used to get a fish bowl from Michael’s, and I would fill it with circular ice and butterfly pea flower tea, which changes color from blue to purple when mixed with lemon. 

That one jumped off, I think, 200,000 likes on Instagram, which is crazy. Back then, people had the same experience that I did. I love the sizzle of the sparkling water. It’s incredible to get to share this with everyone.

When did you start taking this more seriously?

I first started realizing it when just the follower account. It got up to 80,000 all of a sudden, and now we’re at 110. And so I never even thought I would get past 100 followers on TikTok. 

How do you handle responding to all of those followers?

It gets stressful; luckily, on Instagram, there are tools like automatic replies if you want to go that route. 

I personally haven’t done that, but I’m the type of person who likes to interact, and a lot of the comments that I get are about the recipe. So, things that they need to know if they want to make the drink. That’s when it started to become full-time and more involved and partly when I realized this could be something. This is something people care about and is something that is a part of these people’s daily lives. Making their coffee in the morning or their tea, along with that, I’m getting interest from bigger brands like Guinness, Captain Morgan, Pete’s Coffee, and Lara Bar.

What advice would you have for those people seeking to create something like you are?

The first aspect to focus on is what you want to put out there because when you are confident in a piece of content or the piece of material that you want to share with the world, people will see that. 

People will see that you’re not trying too hard to fit some aesthetic and that if you have a genuine message and a genuine passion for what you’re doing, it will show the way you talk about your ingredients or the way that you talk about what you love to do will shine through.

What are some of the negative things you’ve encountered?

People may try to take advantage and have you market a product for free, and you can do that. But you have to know your worth and the impact your content has on other people.

Once you understand that better, you’ll have a better idea or a better chance of making it a fruitful career and having your passion become a reality for you every day.

What ideas do you have for your business going forward?

I’ve started an instant coffee series, which I want to continue pursuing because instant coffee gets a bad rap. I’d also love to write another book.

My first book is The Home Cafe Creative Recipes For Espresso, Matcha, Tea, and Coffee Drinks.

Where is that available?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, anywhere in the world. I have Amazon International, Target, and Walmart.

What’s the idea for the second book?

Coffee around the world. That would take some traveling, though.

Thank you for coming on the show. How can people get in touch with you?

My Instagram is AC_Home Cafe, or you can fill out the form on my website. You can also DM me. I check those and have a lot of great connections with people through that. 

Picture of Asia Lui Chapa

Asia Lui Chapa

Fosselman’s Ice Cream. It is so delicious.

The Starbucks on Main and First in Alhambra. That is my dad’s Starbucks.

Monrovia Fair: It happens every Friday, and it’s like a Carnival.