Rachelle Liu and Kathleen Chen
Not Yo’ Mama’s Tea and Coffee: Quali-tea Delivered
While the pandemic has been a time of turbulence, it has also acted as an unexpected catalyst for new and creative businesses. One such business is Not Yo’ Mama’s Tea and Coffee, a beverage company started by Kevin Doan that specializes in delivering high quality drinks directly to homes in the San Gabriel Valley.
Kevin Doan is a first generation Vietnamese American. His family came to the U.S. after the Vietnam war to pursue a better life, a story that many immigrant families can resonate with. Kevin grew up around the San Gabriel Valley and is firmly rooted in the area. He tells us, “I don’t think I’ll ever move! So much of who I am and what I love is in the SGV. I met my wife here when we were in high school. A lot of my favorite restaurants are around this area. I love being surrounded by so many Asian influences, past and present. It’s a great reminder of where I come from, while still being inspired by what’s new.”
Despite NYM Tea and Coffee being a relatively new business, Kevin is actually quite the veteran when it comes to the drink industry. Before debuting NYM Tea and Coffee as a business, he had been brewing “underground” for 15 years. Kevin started in the drink industry at an early age in 2001 at the age of 16. At the time, the boba industry was just starting to blow up in the San Gabriel Valley and Kevin, being a huge fan of the beverage, would drink two or sometimes even more milk teas a day. This piqued his interest and he became immersed in the process of making milk tea and learning about the different types of teas. In optimal timing, he even pursued an opportunity to work for a tea master from Taiwan, and in the process learned everything about brewing teas and cooking boba. Later, Kevin explored the coffee industry. He worked as a barista for a few years and later went on to supervise a coffee shop. He tells us, “I had so much fun learning about the coffee business, tinkering with ratios and making my own special lattes and drinks.”
Kevin was inspired to officially launch Not Yo’ Mama’s Tea and Coffee for a few reasons. He says that first and foremost, he was inspired by his wife and baby girl. He says, “I live for them. I think I got that from my parents when they came over with nothing but always put family first.” While starting a new business is scary, Kevin is able to face challenges with the support of his loved ones. His wife was crucial in pushing him to revisit his passions and affirming his strengths. His daughter, while only one, has played a big role in motivating him and “keeping [him] on [his] toes everyday, literally. He tells us, “Opening a new business and raising a family hasn't been easy, especially during these crazy times, but luckily for me, I'm crazy passionate about those two things, and that makes all the difference.”
Another key motivator for Kevin? Seeing people in the community pursuing their passions during the pandemic. NYM Tea & Coffee is actually not his first business venture, and in the past Kevin took a risk and operated a successful photo booth business. During this time Kevin was reminded of beauty in taking chances, and seeing others start from scratch and go back to what they love “got [him] really thinking about [his] own passions, like tea and coffee!”
But you may be wondering, why take the risk of starting a beverage business in an already saturated area like the San Gabriel Valley? The first reason is that Kevin stands by the quality of his teas and coffees. “What sets your beverages apart from other places?” is one of the most common questions that Kevin gets, and his answer is simple. He says, “There are a lot of options out there for milk teas, especially in the SGV. I know for myself I'm really picky. I need to be able to taste the TEA in my milk teas. To me that's the secret to a great milk tea, not the creamer or milk or sugar. It's the quality of the tea, and that's what makes NYM special. When you try, you'll know. You'll be like "wow, I can really taste the tea!’ It's not watered down by milk or sugar. I carefully select high quality teas and brew them myself. As for my coffee, I love a strong, smooth, medium body. My cold brew is a reflection of all that with a hint of smoky finish. In a way, you could say my drinks are on the stronger, complex side.”
The second reason is actually rooted in the SGV itself. Operating in the SGV, as challenging as it is, has deeply impacted Kevin with its Asian influences, rich history, and reputation as the “epicenter of Asian cuisines in Los Angeles.” By brewing, selling, and delivering his teas and coffees in this area, Kevin is able to stay connected to his roots and “can’t imagine operating elsewhere!” Kevin especially wants to thank the SGV community and the SGV Eats Facebook community, and says that without them NYM would probably not exist. He tells us, “part of me feels like I’m paying respect to what’s come before and the other part feels like I’m paving the way for the next generation of milk tea lovers.”
Kevin’s business model of primarily delivering to homes is unique and allows for safety and convenience during this time, but in the future his dream is to open a brick and mortar location for NYM. By doing so, he hopes to go beyond being a social media presence and have “a physical presence in [his] community and leave a lasting impression in the milk tea culture.” Just as Kevin fell in love with the business all those years ago, he hopes that he too can “inspire the next kid to create his own teas or coffee.”
Try Not Yo’ Mama’s Tea and Coffee!
Message NYM on Facebook or Instagram to order - delivery within the SGV!
Find NYM at Hummus Labs in Pasadena: 950 E Colorado Blvd #104, Pasadena, CA 91106
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