A homeless man was only eating his meal and one of the baristas intervened.

Starbucks committed to doing more than just serving coffee when they published their mission statement, which is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” However, one branch recently fell short of their promise and the company has issued a public apology.

Why a Starbucks Barista Asked a Homeless Man to Leave

person holding a cup of coffee in their hands
Photo by Di Bella Coffee

In 2019, Sajid Kahhllon spotted a homeless man searching for leftovers on the tables outside a Starbucks in Southend, Essex.

Sajid  knew hunger well: he ran a food delivery service called Run Rooster that donates free meals to charity. Upon seeing the hungry man, Sajid intervened.

“It was painful to see that someone had to search for food like that,” Sajid said. “I asked him if he was hungry and if he would like me to buy him some food? He replied yes in a very weak voice.”

Sajid brought the man into Starbucks and ordered him a sandwich and a slice of cake.

When the man sat down to eat his meal, a staff member interrupted and asked the man to leave.

In a video documenting the incident, Sajid is heard asking the staff why the man has to go.

“He is eating his food, you can’t just ask him to leave. Let him finish the food and then he can leave,” he said.

Another Starbucks customer came to Sajid’s side and the barista decided to let it go.

“I understand the point of view of Starbucks, but I still feel this type of situation needed to be dealt with more respect and empathy,” Sajid said. “We are all human and we all get hungry.”

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When the video gained traction on social media, a Starbucks spokesperson apologized for the unkind behavior from their store.

Starbucks said the interaction in the video was “not indicative” of the company’s ethics and the event was being investigated. Starbucks also promised that the company would take appropriate action to handle the incident.

“We want every customer to have a positive experience, and we apologise that we did not meet that expectation in this instance,” they said. “The interaction on video is not indicative of the environment we strive to create. We are looking into the circumstances surrounding this customer’s experience and will take appropriate action to ensure that our stores remain welcoming places for everyone.”

Starbucks failed to see the homeless man as another human being, and in doing so, they treated him as less than. Thankfully, the man had another person to look out for him. Remember that we are all the same with the same needs and ignoring a problem doesn’t fix it.


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