Starbucks barista from Indonesia Ryan Wibawa competes in the World Brewers Cup finals

SEATTLE, 2016-Jul-09 — /EPR Retail News/ — For two months, Ryan Wibawa practiced his coffee brewing and artistry skills every day after work for five hours. With passion for coffee and dedication to his craft, he earned the opportunity to compete in the World Brewers Cup finals.

“It was like a dream come true,” said Wibawa, a Starbucks barista from Indonesia.  I felt very humbled and honored to represent my country in an international competition. The experience was the best teacher.”

Wibawa was matched against 36 competitors from all over the world at the championships, which took place from June 23-25 in Dublin, Ireland. As part of the competition, he crafted three coffee beverages that were judged on aroma, flavor, taste, acidity, body and balance. Wibawa also had to impress the judges with his customer service skills.

“The competition was hard, but it was a great challenge for me,” he said. “No words can describe the feeling,” he said. “From every competition I gain something, new knowledge, new friends and new skills.”

Although a competitor from Japan took first place, Wibawa is proud to have ranked among the top 25.

Wibawa was first exposed to coffee when he joined Starbucks two years ago. He learned quickly and developed an enthusiasm for all things coffee, which led to being selected as his district’s coffee master in 2014. A year later, he won Starbucks Indonesia’s Barista Championships and ranked number one in the Indonesian Brewers Cup Championship. In February 2016, he placed in the top three at the China and Asia Pacific (CAP) region’s Starbucks Barista Championships. His vast experience paved the way for competing in Dublin.

“Participating in a world competition definitely had a different feeling,” said Wibawa. “The competitors from all around the world had excellent coffee skills. It was a tough competition and a great learning experience.”

When Wibawa is not competing, he works at Indonesia’s first Starbucks Reserve store in Jakarta, where he delights customers with his coffee craft. He also shares his expertise by training other Starbucks partners at Indonesia’s third Starbucks Reserve location in Bandung.

“I am very lucky and grateful to have a very supportive family, friends and all Starbucks partners,” he said. “They gave me the strength to compete in the World Brewers Cup competition.”


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Starbucks barista from Indonesia Ryan Wibawa competes in the World Brewers Cup finals

Starbucks barista from Indonesia Ryan Wibawa competes in the World Brewers Cup finals

Source: Starbucks

Formerly homeless Starbucks barista Matthew Tej begins a second career as a real estate agent

SEATTLE, 2016-Jan-25 — /EPR Retail News/ — When he was homeless, Matthew Tej kept a keychain in his pocket as a reminder that one day he’d have his own place to live in New York. Now the Starbucks barista is handing keys to others as he begins a second career as a real estate agent.

“I remember how I felt when I got my first apartment. I’m excited to experience that feeling through someone else when they get their property. It seems like a natural progression for my life story so far,” said Tej, who still works as a Starbucks barista.

Last year was a whirlwind for Tej, who wrote this personal essay early in 2015: “Inspired by Starbucks, a Young Man Overcomes Homelessness.” Although there were many days when “the negatives seemed to outweigh the positives,” Tej persevered. “I’ve learned life is filled with obstacles and you can’t change that,” he wrote. “But no matter what challenges you face, you always, always have a say in who you are and in the kind of person you will be.”

Soon after writing about his experience for fellow Starbucks partners (employees), Tej was invited to share his story through a video at Starbucks 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Standing backstage in a suit and tie, he acknowledged, “I’m grateful for all that’s happened, and my story is just beginning.”

‘A difficult decision’

Months later, walking amid New York’s skyscrapers, he thought about applying the customer service skills he honed through Starbucks to another profession – selling real estate in the Big Apple.

“I had to make a difficult decision,” he said. “I love Starbucks so much. The people in my store were like family to me. I remember crying after I told my partners I would be pursuing another career.”

He continued to work at Starbucks during the day while he took evening and weekend classes to earn his Real Estate Salesperson License in four weeks, passing the final exam in November. Though his store partners were supportive, some cautioned him to “give yourself a break. All you do is work.”

“People would say, ‘You need to have a life, too,’” he said. “They didn’t understand that I’m doing exactly what I want and need to do. I’m building a life.”

After receiving his real estate license, Tej landed a position with the Corcoran Group. The real estate company covers New York, the Hamptons and South Florida. Tej closed on his first rental property in December – a $17,500 per month lease. Today he’s taking Corcoran’s New Agent Course and supporting experienced agents with their open houses.

Formula for Success

He dedicates 50 hours a week to his real estate business and spends about 20 hours a week with Starbucks, where he begins each weekday as a barista. Even when his real estate business picks up, Tej said he will “probably stay with Starbucks too, because I enjoy interacting with customers.”

He also enjoys being with other Starbucks partners and offers this advice for those who are considering the next step on their career ladder:

“In life, if success is defined by how happy and fulfilled you are, then the formula for that is simple – vision plus integrity. If you can develop the integrity to stick to that vision and place it before everything in life, it will manifest itself.”

This is Matthew’s Starbucks story, what’s yours? Email:

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For more information on this news release, contact Starbucks Newsroom.


Formerly homeless Starbucks barista Matthew Tej begins a second career as a real estate agent

Formerly homeless Starbucks barista Matthew Tej begins a second career as a real estate agent

Starbucks: Chris Parry, the Barista that is also an F-16 fighter jet mechanic

SEATTLE, 2015-8-31 — /EPR Retail News/ —  Having good manners helps to make a great first impression. It’s how Chris Parry got her first job at Starbucks.

“I was taught to say ‘may I,’ ‘ma’am,’ and ‘sir’ growing up,” said Parry.

After ordering a beverage at a Texas Starbucks® store when Parry was 17 years old, the manager asked if she’d be interested in working for the company. The store manager heard the way Parry communicated with her barista and thought she would be an ideal candidate to interact with Starbucks customers.

“I submitted an application the next day. Shortly after interviewing, I was offered the job,” she said. “I’ve been a partner for the past four years and I’ve loved every minute working here.”

A flexible work schedule has allowed Parry to pursue another career serving her country. She joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 2013 and is currently an F-16 fighter jet mechanic.

“I had always wanted to join the military. By joining the Air Force Reserves, I could continue working for Starbucks and receive a paid education as well,” she said.

Parry’s aunt, uncle and several cousins all served in the Armed Forces and their stories of service made an impression on her. Although she felt a great sense of patriotism, she was also deeply impacted when one of her cousins died while serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“My cousin’s death made military service and sacrifice very real for me,” said Parry. “Ironically, it fueled my desire to serve. Dying was not what I feared the most. Instead it was not following my dreams and allowing something to hold me back.”

Parry qualified for several jobs in the Air Force Reserves including a medical position, which was ideal because she wanted to become a nurse. Surprisingly, she decided to take a different turn.

“My military recruiter suggested that I train to be an F-16 fighter jet mechanic,” said Parry. “He thought I would be really good at the job and since I like to be a ‘jack of all trades,’ I pursued it.”

As a jet mechanic, Parry is up early in the morning to inspect and clean aircraft. She conducts systems and flight control checks before pilots fly and refuels the jets when they land.

“I remove engines, repair fuel leaks and replace tires,” said Parry. “If something is broken, I fix it.”

While training to be a jet mechanic, Parry met her husband, Santino. They married in November of 2014 and moved to California where Santino is stationed. Parry then landed a job at a local Starbucks Military Family Store.

“Transferring from my store in Texas to one in California was easy,” said Parry. “Starbucks is very supportive of military partners.”

Parry heads to Texas for a week every three months in the reserves. She is also taking classes at a local community college and will apply to nursing school in the fall.

“Starbucks and the Air Force have prepared me for life,” said Parry. “Both have taught me to have integrity, put service before self and strive for excellence in all that I do.”


Starbucks: Chris Parry, the Barista that is also an F-16 fighter jet mechanic

Starbucks: Chris Parry, the Barista that is also an F-16 fighter jet mechanic


Read more Starbucks veterans stories here: Paying Tribute and Creating Opportunity

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom.

Starbucks barista lands on preeminent list of bestselling books in the U.S.

SEATTLE, 2015-3-9 — /EPR Retail News/ — Seven years after writing a book about dogs, a Starbucks barista landed on preeminent list of bestselling books in the U.S.

The New York Times expanded its number of bestselling book categories to include monthly selections on 12 specialized topics such education, fitness, and animals.

“I remember thinking I wish they would have had that list a few years ago because I’ve written several books about dogs, and maybe one of them could have received the ultimate recognition,” said Ken Foster, a Starbucks partner (employee) in New Orleans. “The timing didn’t seem to work out and I didn’t think I’d fulfill my childhood goal of becoming a New York Times bestselling author.”

That dream carried Foster to grad school in New York for a master’s degree in writing and to countless coffee shops in the Big Apple where he practiced his craft. Writers are generally solitary creatures. Although they work alone, they do like being around people. Years before he became a barista, Foster found the perfect writing environment in a Starbucks.

“There’s a positive pressure when you’re writing, surrounded by a mix of people. Lifting my head from my laptop from time to time I’d look around the coffee shop. Some of the characters in short stories were inspired by other customers,” he said. “Maybe writers enjoy coffee shops because everyone there is on their way to or from somewhere. They’re in the middle of their own story.

A deeper meaning to writing about dogs

With a passion for coffee and the Starbucks® store environment, Foster donned a green apron in May of 2014. He joined Starbucks for the company’s benefits and flexible scheduling. Foster also volunteers in New Orleans with a nonprofit he started, The Sula Foundation, which provides low-cost services for dogs, particularly pit bulls.

His most popular published books are “The Dogs Who Found Me,” “Dogs I’ve Met,” and “I’m a Good Dog.” That’s a lot of books from someone who wasn’t a dog owner initially. During a writing assignment in Costa Rica, Foster found companionship with a mutt that lived on a farm where he was staying. When he returned to New York he had trouble writing without a dog around. He adopted a pit bull from an online database of homeless animals, and later found himself sheltering and finding homes for many other dogs.

There’s a deeper meaning to Foster’s work writing about dogs. The former New Yorker describes in his memoir how animals helped him cope with the 9/11 tragedy, and with Hurricane Katrina after he moved to Louisiana.

“When I write about dogs, I’m always also writing about people.  Dogs are fascinating as a subject because they really do cross into all aspects of our lives and all cultures.  Particularly when we live in urban environments, they keep us connected to nature and the world around us—they help pull us out of our own problems,” said Foster. “Dogs may be more naturally social creatures than people are, so they make a great example to follow.”

Landing on the list

Last October, as he was heading to bed before an opening shift at Starbucks, Foster glanced at The New York Times monthly bestsellers list of animal books.

“There, at number five on the list was…me,” he said.

His book, “Dogs I Have Met and the People They Found,” made the list seven years after it was published because Amazon promoted an eBook edition of his work as a deal of the day for under $2.  To his credit, Foster’s book remained on the list even after the price went back up to just under 10 bucks.

The book is a compilation of true stories about “karmic canine rescues” that demonstrate the power of stray dogs to enrich the lives of people who open their homes to the animals.

After posting about his achievement on Facebook, Foster said he went back to check he wasn’t imagining what he saw. Thinking, “It couldn’t be real.”

“What did I do after I found out my book was on The New York Times bestseller list? I went to bed early so I could be at Starbucks for work early the next morning. Maybe that’ll change one day if I have a book that’s a bigger success, but for now I’m happy to be involved with two things I love – coffee and writing.”

Foster is working on a book about a different kind of animal, a deer, and a family in Michigan who has raised it to be a pet.

This is Ken Foster’s Starbucks story. What’s yours? Starbucks partners and customers, share your story

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom.


Starbucks barista lands on preeminent list of bestselling books in the U.S.

Starbucks barista lands on preeminent list of bestselling books in the U.S.