Meet Tam, From Behind the Bar to Accountancy Star

Before the civil unrest, to be accepted in any language school was enough for a Syrian citizen to come easily to the U.K.

That was how Tam's eldest brother came, 20 years ago, he had studied English Literature in Syria and came to the U.K. in search of better employment opportunities.

Tam, the youngest member of the family, came in 2016 yet his journey was very different: “The journey was different because I did not have a choice, knowing that my life will be in danger, and the U.K. was the only place I could go.”

Having almost lost everything he had before reaching the U.K., finding a job proved challenging due to his refugee status: "I received a lot of rejection...some people have made me feel that I was coming from another planet."

As soon as Tam saw an opportunity on the door of a Starbucks store in Vauxhall, he applied, although the Starbucks coffeehouse experience was something Tam had never come across before. From a chance application, to wearing the green apron, Tam felt a sense of belonging – he recalls: “I looked around and said to myself, be a part of this, this is not just café. It is a place to gather experiences, improve yourself. Learn language, culture and feelings. Starbucks works for people, their interests, their needs.”

“What fascinates and motivates me most at Starbucks is the happiness from people and learning latte art."

Since first developing his barista skills, Tam has become a Black Apron partner, which means he is a certified Coffee Master, responsible for bringing a deeper knowledge of sourcing, roasting and making outstanding quality coffee. During his time in store, Tam completed a Master’s degree in International Business Administration from Anglia Ruskin University.

After working his way up from behind the barista bar, Tam has just begun a Commercial and Accounting apprenticeship with Starbucks U.K.’s Finance Team based at the head office. Despite having only just started his apprenticeship, Tam continues to grow and has been nominated as Starbucks Partner of the Month: “I am speechless but very happy. This gives me great motivation. Starbucks gave me a new opportunity to evolve.”


For 50 years, Starbucks has been a values-led company striving to create a warm and welcoming Third Place for all who visit our stores.

We work to bring our mission to life by creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture and offering equal and meaningful opportunities to all, no matter who you are or where you come from.

Our industry leading refugee hiring programme, now active in 12 markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is one of the ways we bring our people-positive aspirations to life.

Working in partnership with a number of NGO partners such as Refugee Council, Starbucks has now placed over 650 refugees into permanent roles in the business around Europe.

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How Starbucks EMEA partners gave back to local communities during Global Month of Good