The Home Café provides inspiring beverage recipes

February 17, 2023

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Asia Lui Chapa, author of the recently released book, “The Home Café.” Our Zoom conversation was hosted by the Lewes Public Library and Browseabout Books, and sponsored by Edible Delmarva.

We began by asking about the genesis of this charming collection of recipes designed to bring elegance to an embellished serving of coffee, tea or seltzer.

Like so many things that grew out of combatting stress during the pandemic, the author found comfort in creating interesting drinks in her home kitchen and posting videos on TikTok. This evolved into posting how-tos and recipes on Instagram (@ac_homecafé). And, before too long, Page Street Publishing came calling, and a book was born.

The opening chapter describes the key tools one would need to make the various recipes in the book, ranging from the basic moka pot to a fancy machine, with any number of other available options for brewing coffee and espresso. For the tea drinks, she gives examples of kettles, infusers and whisks to have at the ready, always emphasizing that simple will be good enough to achieve a satisfying result.

The chapters that follow are sorted by the key ingredient in each group of recipes: espresso, coffee, matcha, hot tea, green tea, seltzer and spirits for happy hour. In addition to answering our questions, Asia also conducted demonstrations for three different recipes, starting with the one in the photo, Tea Berry Affogato. By definition, affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert which usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso.

Ice cream is the only thing Asia’a affogato recipe has in common with the standard version. Hot espresso is replaced with chilled, brewed tea, and the dish is adorned with frozen berries that add color and texture interest to the sweet treat. The only thing to keep in mind is to brew the tea and allow it to cool before assembling the dish. And it’s fine to use frozen berries straight from the freezer; here we used a mixture of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Another recipe (also very simple to prepare) was a Shaken Maple Espresso, which combines chilled espresso with maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. The ingredients are placed in a cocktail shaker with ice and then decanted into a glass. Next, pour in a scant ounce of milk and enjoy watching it foam over the top of the espresso combination.

The backstory for the final recipe comes from Asia’s recollections of her mother’s search for toasted marshmallow syrup after discovering the flavor in a latte she bought from a local coffee shop. As you may imagine from the name of the drink, Campfire Iced Coffee, toasting the marshmallows is step one. In the book, options for toasting include a bonfire, gas stove, match or lighter, without mention of the candle Asia used to prepare her marshmallows before the demo.

The key to success for this drink is making the syrup from a simmered combination of toasted marshmallows, sugar, water and vanilla. After straining out any non-dissolved pieces of marshmallow, the syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. To serve this delicious drink, pour coffee over ice, stir in the syrup, then pour in your milk or creamer, watching it swirl into ribbons (the photo in the book is inspiring).

Although she didn’t demo any of the matcha (powdered green tea) drinks, Asia gave us a tutorial on its earthy and herbal flavor, offering suggestions about what type to purchase. She also encouraged us to try some of the seltzer-forward drinks, as well as her Mythical Mojito featuring a ginger black tea syrup to balance the rum. Here’s to drinks from the Home Café!

Tea Berry Affogato*

3 oz boiling water
2 black tea bags
1/4 C frozen mixed berries
2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Steep the tea bags for 3 minutes in the boiling water. Remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature. Scatter some of the berries in the bottom of a margarita glass. Top with ice cream and remaining berries. Pour the tea into the glass and serve. *Adapted from The Home Café.

Shaken Maple Espresso*

3 oz chilled espresso
1 T maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
1 oz milk or cream

Combine espresso, syrup and salt with ice in a cocktail shaker. Briskly shake until container becomes cold and espresso is frothy. Decant to a glass and drizzle with milk to serve. *Adapted from The Home Café.

Campfire Iced Coffee*

2-3 regular-sized marshmallows 
10 mini marshmallows
1/4 C sugar
2 oz water
splash vanilla extract
10 oz chilled brewed coffee
1/4 C milk or cream

Toast marshmallows without burning and place in a small saucepan. Add sugar, water and vanilla; simmer over medium until sugar and marshmallows dissolve, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a container. To assemble the drink, fill a glass halfway with ice. Add coffee and stir in 1 T syrup, adding more to taste. Pour in milk or cream to serve. *Adapted from The Home Café.


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