Emad: The Freedom to Live Authentically


“Starbucks is a family to me.”

When Emad fled his native Iran, he had to fit his life into a single carry-on. Left behind with the rest of his worldly possessions was a home that wouldn’t accept him. Ahead was the unknown. While Emad found refuge in Toronto, what he truly needed was an opportunity to build a new life. And after the Yonge Street Mission recognized his potential, he found that opportunity at Starbucks Canada.

Emad’s life has been transformed. While once he kept his true self hidden, he now thrives in a safe space where he can live authentically. “When I’m inside the store, I’m a really different person,” says Emad. “I’m just so present — so cheerful.”

The freedom to face life on his own terms has let Emad blossom into a “curious, ambitious and amazing spirit,” according to his manager, Erin. Since starting at Starbucks less than a year ago, he’s been promoted shift supervisor, inspiring his partners and friends to rise above obstacles no matter how daunting they may be.

In 2017, Starbucks Canada made the commitment to hire at least 1,000 refugees over the next five years. Through partners (what Starbucks calls employees) like Emad, Starbucks Canada is helping to demonstrate the profound effects that employment and support have on the lives of those who’ve not been given a fair shot before.


“It makes me feel so good that I’m in a country where they’re helping each other and helping newcomers.”

On June 20th, World Refugee Day, join Starbucks Canada in celebrating and supporting refugees as we welcome new friends, neighbours and colleagues with open arms. 

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Coffee meets olive oil: The story behind Starbucks new coffee ritual – Oleato coffee beverages