Namgay Lham


“After finishing college, it was difficult to find a job in Bhutan. When I heard about the opportunities for overseas employment, I applied to Kuwait. Excited and nervous, I knew this was the way towards independence and supporting my family. After training for 2 months in Bhutan in retail, when I got to Kuwait I became a barista at Starbucks instead.

In the beginning, it was challenging and tested my endurance; Our store was the busiest in the country. After more than a year, I was selected for the Starbucks Barista Championship. It focused on bar skills and storytelling through the coffee tasting and tested us on knowledge of different coffee beans and I could show the judges how I could relate to different flavours. Competing with other winners, it surprised me when I won the Kuwait Regional Championship— my favourite part was creating our signature beverage and the latte arts. I got to compete further with champions from Middle Eastern and North African countries. The top 4 contestants could compete in the EMEA cup in London, and I was one of them.

In London, we also got to meet the former World Champion. The contestants were from 30 different countries. The journey to the EMEA cup was a learning process. Even when I had people who supported me, believing in myself was the hardest. During the initial stages, I doubted my motives for competing and worried about disappointing my mentors.

However, I found true joy in making art out of coffee and it changed my perspective. I discovered myself. I stood as the first runner up for the EMEA cup from as many as 30,000 contestants. I was commended for my consistency and craft skills. Meeting people who shared the same passion felt rewarding. People told me that I inspired them with my authenticity.

The recognition and appreciation from my company and even from officials from RGOB further sealed my confidence. I was very honoured to have received a gift from His Majesty the King. Having represented Kuwait as a Bhutanese was the proudest I felt. What was once a source of income turned into a passion that drives me every day. One day, I hope to bring my experiences and blend them with the Bhutanese customs.”

#HumansofThimphu #HumanStories #Thimphu


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