What’s brewing with Emma Chamberlain


The 22-year-old YouTube sensation earned an estimated $20 million last year while building her eponymous coffee brand. Meet the creator who’s full of beans.

Great Awakening: “I’m rebuilding my relationship with YouTube and trying to find a way to make it healthy and fun,” Chamberlain says of social media. “I’m really realizing that my passion lies in video content.”

Jamel Toppin for Forbes

When Emma Chamberlain started her YouTube channel in 2017, she had no intention of becoming an internet phenomenon—let alone the multihyphenate multimedia mogul she is today. But through hundreds of videos, the 22-year-old creator has shape­shifted before viewers’ eyes—going from a teen “Pulling an All-Nighter” and explaining why “We All Owe the Dollar Store an Apology” to a more sophisticated travel and fashion documentarian.

Vlogging these past seven years has made Chamberlain one of the most influential creators of her generation. With more than 12 million subscribers on YouTube and 15 million followers on Instagram, she earned some $20 million last year, Forbes estimates. And her fame has led to opportunities outside social media. She has been the face of Louis Vuitton, Lancôme and Cartier, among other luxury brands that have been drawn to the Emma-verse.

Despite living in a rarefied world of late, Chamberlain has, somehow, maintained her girl-next-door persona. Even if most of her followers will never attend fashion shows in Milan and Paris or chronicle their preparation before the famed Met Gala in New York, her authenticity is just what Gen Z craves.

These days, she’s using that relatability—along with her massive following—to scale her startup, Chamberlain Coffee.

“I’m a home barista just like the rest of us,” says Chamberlain, who was part of the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 class. “A lot of times coffee can feel very intimidating. And what was inspiring to me was how can I create a brand that goes completely against that feel?”

Founded in 2019 with the help of United Talent Agency’s UTA Ventures, Chamberlain Coffee has raised $15 million in funding from investors including Blazar Capital and Volition Capital. Products range from coffee grounds to matcha powder and recently launched ready-to-drink canned lattes. From 2022 to 2023, the company’s revenue nearly doubled; Forbes estimates it to have been $20 million last year. “I’ve always been obsessed with coffee as a product,” Chamberlain says. “So I had this vision and I was like, ‘Hopefully I’m qualified enough to do it.’ ”

Chamberlain grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The summer before her junior year of high school, she was struggling with her mental health and had just failed her driving test (which only made it worse), so she started a YouTube channel as an escape. She began with what she calls “prim and proper” videos about fashion and beauty, but quickly grew tired of the style and decided to create a platform that would entertain audiences in a new way.

“At the time, [being funny] was my main goal. It became this art form for me,” she says. She asked herself, “How can I make the mundane as interesting as possible?”

She soon developed her signature editing style—lots of quick cuts, zoom-ins, warp filters and voiceovers commen­ting on the footage from the comfort of her bed. In 2018, a year after announcing (via a YouTube video) that she had dropped out of high school, Chamberlain hit 1 million subscribers, moved to Los Angeles on her own and began building a team to take her career to the next level. By 2019, she was invited to the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week and a year later launched a podcast, Anything Goes, which landed her a multiyear contract with Spotify.

Now, after a year of being much quieter on YouTube and pivoting to more documentary-style videos, she’s preparing to return to the platform in fuller force. “I’m rebuilding my relationship with YouTube and trying to find a way to make it healthy and fun,” she says. “I’m really realizing that my passion lies in video content.”


Brew Mastery: “It was just a part of me, and even my parents,” Chamberlain says about the coffee industry. “It’s who we are.”

Jamel Toppin for Forbes

No doubt she’ll also continue creating content to promote Chamberlain Coffee. “It’s always been a passion for me since before I started my YouTube,” she says of the coffee industry. “It was just a part of me, and even my parents. . . . It’s who we are.” To this day, she maintains that San Francisco has the best coffee in the world.

As the company has grown, Chamberlain’s role has evolved, too. “I’ve become so interested in every single part of [it],” including shaping the retail and sales strategies and interviewing potential team members.

Her expertise still lies in the creative, though. And she’s passionate about shaping the voice of the brand to attract Gen Z. “When it comes to campaign imagery, Chamberlain Coffee prioritizes the aesthetic first,” she says, adding that she wants her advertising to look as if it’s in a fashion maga­zine. While social media and online marketing are signifi­cant growth engines for the company, retail is a new focus. Chamberlain Coffee bags first appeared in Los Angeles’ luxe grocer Erewhon in 2021, followed by Sprouts in 2022. Ready-to-drink lattes launched in Walmart in an exclusive six-month trial in April 2023. Based on shoppers’ feedback, they relaunched wider with an updated latte formula last December. This April, Chamberlain Coffee inked a deal with 800 Target locations to sell ready-to-drink cans in flavors such as vanilla, cinnamon bun, salted caramel and mocha.

Despite her enormous success as a creator, Chamberlain isn’t obsessed with being a celebrity. But she is excited to continue working with other brands founded by those in the entertainment industry. This year, Chamberlain Coffee collaborated with Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila on a Coa­chella pop-up to serve espresso martinis using her signature cold brew. Up next: She’s focused on establishing Chamberlain Coffee’s position among the plant-based and health-conscious crowds and has multiple new campaigns launching this spring.

Even with her meteoric career, Chamberlain says her biggest challenge is not letting mistakes discourage her. “There are going to be ups and downs, there’s going to be shit that hits the fan,” she says. “You know what you have to do? You have to put your big-girl pants on, and you have to keep going.

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