By Kelcie McKenney
Photos by Travis Young
For Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we teamed up with Catcall magazine to highlight the AAPI team members who make Kansas City’s first Vietnamese coffee shop Cafe Cà Phê possible. Read the intro here, and stick around this week to hear their stories.
What’s your title at Cafe Cà Phê?
Barista + Drink Specialist
Where is your family’s country of origin?
What brought you and/or your family to Kansas City?
When did you start working at Cafe Cà Phê and how did you get connected?
I found them on IG and really wanted to try. After visiting their shop at West Bottoms and joining the AAPI RALLY, I really liked and wanted to be friends with Jackie and Madoka. Then they asked me to join their last day pop-up at the West Bottoms. And then Jackie asked if I wanted to work with her. Yes, of course I do!
Cafe Cà Phê is all about the culture. How do you see your culture fitting in?
Thailand is not so far from Vietnam. I did a solo travel to Vietnam too. And I am Thai-Chinese, which some of our cultures are quite similar. In fact, our Asian cultures are really related somehow. Such as Lunar New Year.
How has working at Cafe Cà Phê impacted your connection to the Kansas City AAPI community?
It opens lots of chances for me to meet new people. Especially Asian friends. Expand my wings, and explore more visions from different angles because I’ve never been to USA before. I’ve learned a lot.
Can you share something about your culture that maybe our readers wouldn’t know about?
We have Thai New Year in April which is very fun! While adults go to temple for traditional activities, young adults and teens, even kids, we do water wars on the streets. I hope we can do it again after the pandemic. Bummer.
What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
It is my first time paticipate in it. Since I’m from Thailand, I’ve never experienced AAPI Heritage Month directly. But I heard and saw a lot of news. I wish I could do something to help the community or even spread more information around. And let my Thai friends learn more about it too.
What are three fun facts about you?
I was born on Thai New Year!
I can speak Thai and a bit of Mandarin
I hate Dr. Pepper and love Andy’s frozen custard
What’s your Cafe Cà Phê drink order?
Hella good latte
What’s your theme song?
“I love how you love me.” (It’s our song with my partner)
How can we support your community/culture in Kansas City?
Please visit us to experience our cultures and feel free to talk with us! I’m happy to tell you all what I know about my culture.
Cafe Cà Phê’s brick and mortar is scheduled to open in mid-June. Learn more about their fundraising here.
Kelcie McKenney (she/her) is a writer, editor, and artist who is passionate about feminism, local activism, queer representation, and strengthening community. You can find Kelcie on Instagram with #kcdaddy, where she talks about her three-legged cat Luna, thrift finds, and ways to overthrow the patriarchy.
Travis Young (he/him) is a Kansas City based photographer with roots in photojournalism and visual storytelling. He enjoys using film cameras to help him process, celebrate, and challenge his understanding in topics of race, gender, status, and mental health. When not behind a camera, you can find him creating things in 3D, obsessing over your grandmother’s dope Volvo Wagon from the 80’s, or getting lost in some tedious cleaning activity because he is a relentless Virgo.
Photo studio courtesy of Travis Carroll.