Selected from among 15,000 Starbucks baristas

Choki Wangmo

After graduating from a business college in India three years ago, 24-year-old Namgay Lham chose to work in Kuwait. The journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. She had scarcely any idea but being a barista in the Starbucks was just the beginning of good things coming her way.

Last month, Namgay took part in the Starbucks Barista Championship in London, representing Kuwait. She came second at the competition and has been invited for a trip to visit the Starbucks Milan Roastery and coffee farms in Rwanda.

The three-day competition brought together Starbucks employees from across Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region to compete first at a local level, testing their skills and coffee knowledge ranging from latte art, espresso drinks and knowledge on coffee-making.

About 15,000 Starbucks baristas competed in the championship; 16 were chosen in the latte art throw-down.

The latte art throw-down determined the final four winners. Namgay was among the top two competitors from the South African barista group.

Namgay, who is passionate about learning new languages and exploring new cultures, said that the opportunity helped her realise her true potential.

“It is a big achievement for me, my family, friends and Bhutan and the country which I represented—Kuwait,” she said.

Namgay Lham said overseas employment programme provided a platform to the young people to gain experience and to learn and grow.

Reflecting on the years of her experience at the Starbucks, she said that working in a foreign environment was challenging but worthy. She could hone her management skills and the ability besides getting to learn about different cultures.

“I learnt about coffee processing, varieties, taste, aroma, the roast profile, master roasters, farmers and the processing methods, where coffee came from, flavour and ethical sourcing,” Namgay Lham said. “I got to learn where my true love lies.”

Namgay Lham said exploring work opportunities abroad could bring both long- and short-term benefits to enterprising individuals.