Emma Chamberlain’s Coffee Landing at Erewhon Is a Meta, Full-Circle Moment
We chat with the YouTube star about her favorite LA coffee shops, what makes a great cup of coffee, and more.
In the throes of early quarantine, I started watching Emma Chamberlain's YouTube channel. I realize that I’m a few years late to the game: the 20-year-old influencer has been vlogging since 2017 and boasts a subscriber base of 11.2 million. But discovering her highly entertaining videos during this time felt almost fated: she was doing nothing, and I was doing nothing. It was the reassurance I needed that my lack of activity was absolutely OK. For the uninitiated, most of Chamberlain’s vlogs document mundane daily events such as cooking breakfast, putting together outfits, drumming, feeding her cats, and of course, drinking her morning coffee (and midday, afternoon, and late afternoon coffee). Labeling her a coffee lover would be nothing short of an understatement.
Back in 2019 she debuted her own signature coffee brand, the eponymous Chamberlain Coffee, available via her website. After a rebrand in 2020, Chamberlain Coffee introduced characters, single-serve packaging, and new blends to her audience. And just this fall, Chamberlain Coffee became available to Angelenos at influencer mothership, Erewhon, a health-driven market with seven locations that’s been around since the ‘60s. Her coffee is sustainably sourced and packaged, as well as organic, making it a perfect fit for the store. Here, it’s available in several varieties: Social Dog Blend, Family Blend, Fancy Mouse (espresso blend), and Cold Brew Elephant.
When I went to purchase some during launch week at the newish Silver Lake location, the cashier noted to me how the stuff was “flying off the shelves.” No surprise there. The fact that Chamberlain Coffee is sold at Erewhon is a full-circle moment for both Chamberlain and her followers: subscribers have seen her namecheck the store whilst singing the praises of their kale and avocado salad on more than one occasion.
We recently caught up with Chamberlain to discuss her evolution from social media star to coffee entrepreneur and pored over everything from her new product line (also now available on Amazon) to her favorite LA coffee shops.
Thrillist: When did you start drinking coffee? (at what age) And do you remember your first time?
Emma Chamberlain: My first coffee experience was at age six, but it was very dysfunctional LOL. I used to order a soy latte with extra, extra foam, and just eat the foam, then give the actual coffee to my mom.
Thrillist: When did you realize it was your favorite thing ever?
I think it really became a passion at age 15 (which is probably too young to be drinking coffee). It started as something that I used as a tool to help me stay focused in high school, but turned into a part of my daily routine that I cherished the most. I had always loved going to coffee shops with my parents and sitting with them as they would have their after-dinner decaf every night, but it wasn’t necessarily my thing until high school.
Thrillist: At what point did you say to yourself, “OK, I need my own coffee company.”
My dream job has been to be a barista since I was probably 12 years old, so I’ve been interested in the coffee business for more than half of my life. The moment I had the opportunity and resources to start my own coffee company, I did, at age 18.
Thrillist: Walk me through the process of how Chamberlain Coffee was created from the idea to the debut this year, how long did it take altogether?
I started creating content for YouTube in 2017 and a lot of my videos included me making coffee or going to coffee shops, so people started to associate me with coffee. The coffee integrations were not on purpose, they were completely natural. We launched Chamberlain Coffee in 2019 and honestly, it was a big learning curve for me with all the behind-the-scenes work that was involved. During those first six months, I learned a ton about the type of product and brand we wanted to produce which eventually led to our rebrand in 2020. It’s so hard to know exactly what you want immediately, so we had to work out the kinks. With our rebrand, we started introducing charming characters, brighter colors, and began expanding our product line. This year we released limited-edition sweats, matcha, a five blend box, and there’s still so much more I want to do. We also expanded into retailers like Erewhon and Amazon which is SUCH a dream come true. Chamberlain Coffee has evolved a lot since day one and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thrillist: What makes a really great cup of coffee?
I really love a sweet, nutty coffee. A blend with hints of almond, cocoa, butterscotch, and anything in that world is my favorite.
Thrillist: Tell me about creating the different blends.
When creating the original seven blends, we wanted to make sure each one was unique in its own way, while still being extremely drinkable. We didn’t want any of the blends to be too strong or intense. For most blends, we have a corresponding character to match. We match the personality of the animal to the blend depending on caffeine levels and flavor notes. I honestly just used my instinct for that process.
Thrillist: As a fan and subscriber to your videos, I loved watching the evolution of seeing you make coffee and shop at Erewhon, to now having your own coffee brand on its shelves. How does it feel!?
It’s such a humbling full-circle moment. Erewhon is just the best. I know that whatever I buy from Erewhon is top-notch quality and having Chamberlain Coffee be on their shelves is such an honor.
Thrillist: What are your favorite LA coffee shops?
I have yet to find a real favorite spot in LA, but right now my favorites would have to be Alfred (classic Los Angeles spot, and very good), Andante Coffee (for a more elevated/coffee nerd experience), and Go Get Em Tiger (their almond macadamia latte is very luxurious, and they have good food, too).
Thrillist: Do you see yourself launching more food and drink related products in the future? Would you ever do a cookbook?
I would love to expand Chamberlain Coffee’s product range as much as possible, I don’t see why not! Food and coffee can complement each other so well, I get excited thinking of ways we could sell a food/coffee experience. Recently I have been learning how to cook, I’m obsessed with it. I’m definitely not at a point where I know how to develop recipes, but if I get there, I’d LOVE to make a cookbook.