AAPI Heritage Month with Cafe Cà Phê: Maddy Best

Cafe Ca Phe Aapi Portras 20220087 Web

Cafe Cà Phê Graphic Designer Maddy Best. // Photo by Travis Young. Studio courtesy of Travis Carroll

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. Check out the entire series here.

What’s your title at Cafe Cà Phê?

Graphic Designer

Where is your family’s country of origin? 

My mom was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, and my dad’s family is all rooted in Missouri. 

What brought you and/or your family to Kansas City?

We originally came back to Missouri once my parents left the service. Mom worked in healthcare, and Dad joined the family woodworking business. After I graduated from UCM with my bachelor’s degree, I came to KC to work. 

When did you start working at Cafe Cà Phê and how did you get connected?

I’ve been following Cafe Cà Phê since 2020 and finally got the courage to reach out in March to work with them.

Cafe Cà Phê is all about the culture. How do you see your culture fitting in?

My background might be a little different from the other AANHPI [Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander] women here. I grew up quite removed from the culture. Not that it wasn’t there, but I just grew up in a very white place.

I’m mostly hoping to learn more about my culture and hopefully contribute a different perspective of what that culture looks like.

How has working at Cafe Cà Phê impacted your connection to the Kansas City AAPI community?

Reaching out to Cafe Cà Phê is probably the first direct step I’ve made to connect more with the AAPI community here in KC. More than anything, I want to learn from and connect with more Asian makers, creatives, and businesses.

I can already tell in the first month of working with Jackie, Jessica, and Phon directly how much I’m going to be able to grow within the community. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. 

Can you share something about your culture that maybe our readers wouldn’t know about?

Honestly, my window to the culture has been so narrow just because of the demographic I grew up in. I know there are so many amazing aspects of Vietnamese culture, and I’m excited to learn more about it. 

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

AAPI Heritage Month is an interesting topic, just like Black History Month.

On one hand, it’s important to me to recognize AANHIP heritage and history every day. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a month during which I can take more action—call my relatives more, see my friends more, spend a little more at my favorite Asian businesses, make more room for allyship and activism, etc. 

What are three fun facts about you?

It’s so funny how this question seems so much harder than the others. I’m an intermediate knitter. I played the clarinet for 10 years. And I love video games (especially Destiny 2). 

What’s your Cafe Cà Phê drink order?

I’m a Saigon stan. Can’t beat the classics.  

What’s your theme song?

Oof. It’s gotta be somewhere between “Gold Steps” by Neck Deep or “Already Dead” by Puppet. Or “YOUNG” by Grayscale? Jeeze. 

How can we support your community/culture in Kansas City?

Mostly, I just hope people remember to create space for people like me who are just now finding their culture, whatever it may be. We’re all at different stages in our identity everyday, and it’s important not to alienate people who are still learning or maybe a little late to the party.

Categories: Culture