Get To Know Your Barista, Sam


“It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your background is or who you are, you’re always welcome here”

When Sam first arrived in London in 2017, he couldn’t speak English and had been forced to leave the education system in his home country before he had chance to complete his studies.

Growing up in Damascus, Syria, Sam fled with his parents and three bothers to Jordan in 2013. They lived there for four years, which is when Sam first saw a Starbucks store. “As a child I lived in Jordan, I saw Starbucks and said ‘I really want to work there when I’m older' because it looked so exciting inside.”

With the help of Harry Potter films to help learn English, Sam joined the Refugee Council’s pre-employment training course in London, which guarantees all those that complete the short course of skills and CV building an interview with Starbucks. He explained “when I moved to the UK, I told the Refugee Council I wanted to work at Starbucks.”

18 months after securing a job as a barista at Starbucks, Sam has progressed to become a store supervisor and with the help of his store team, is now a Black Apron partner, meaning he is a certified Coffee Master responsible for championing quality coffee and brewing techniques in his store.

“I got the job and, wow, I couldn’t believe it. Starbucks quickly became my community, I have friends all over the city thanks to Starbucks. It doesn’t matter where you come from, your background, who you are, you’re always welcome here.” 

Working in partnership with a number of NGO partners such as Refugee Council, Starbucks has now placed over 450 refugees into permanent roles in the business around Europe as part of a commitment to hire 2,500 refugees across Western Europe.   

Andrew Lawton, Head of Integration at the Refugee Council, said: “Refugees bring an incredible wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to the UK which is hugely beneficial to society, but for various reasons they often need additional support to find work and apply their talents here. There’s real scope for businesses to benefit from a committed and enthusiastic workforce by supporting refugees who are desperate to rebuild their lives and start working again.

That’s why our partnership with Starbucks is so effective – it’s all about us working with refugees, like Sam, to fully equip them to prepare for the really vital step of landing their first job, and Starbucks offering a unique insight into their business and the skills and qualities they look for from prospective candidates.”

Through a combination of benefits, Starbucks supports all partners (employees) with career and personal development in and out of work. All those who have been with the business for over six months can apply for a rental deposit loan through Home Sweet Loan to help make moving easier, and when it comes to education, there’s apprenticeships available up to Level 6 or the newly-launched Arizona State University courses, offering free access to over 40 online degrees. 

Now aged 22, Sam is soon to join Starbucks level three apprenticeship programme to gain qualifications recognised in the UK that help with his long-term career development. “I want to become a nurse, starting the Level 3 apprentice through Starbucks is the first step to getting qualifications on paper to start working towards further education and achieving my goal. I’m living now because of Starbucks.”

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From Seed to Cup