Some people are addicted to Coffee. They drink it in the morning, afternoon and even just before going to bed. This ‘brown gold’s’ caffeine injection fuels them into greatness. A lot of kickass travel greatness for Winter, a 42 year old coffee maniac from Houston, Texas. He has made it his life mission to have a coffee in every branch of Starbuck in the world!! Given that there are approximately 23,000 Starbucks coffee shops in the world he has set himself quite a kickass goal!
Winter the coffee addict was officially born as Rafael Lozano, but changed his name to Winter for unknown caffeine infused reasons. He started as a mildly addicted coffee fan but over the years realised that he had increased his caffeine intake up to 29 cups a day at some point.
His first visit to a Starbucks was back in 1997 and he almost immediately decided that he had to go see all the branches in the world. “It was a completely random idea that came to me when I was in Plano, Texas while discussing the growth of Starbucks in the greater Dallas area,” he said. Funnily, he actually prefers artisanal coffee from independent stores, but he appreciates that Starbucks tastes the same everywhere.
His coffee hobby didn’t come cheap as – over the years – the computer programmer has spent over $160,000 on Starbucks coffee and on traveling to cafes across 38 different countries – including shops in London, New York, Paris, Egypt, Kuwait, Turkey, Japan, and Lebanon. That’s about 25 percent of his earnings and three months of travel a year on coffee runs.
You wonder what motivates a man – apart from a taste for coffee – to embark on such a kickass (some call it pointless) mission?
My original motivation was simply to accomplish something singularly unique. However, since that time, I have discovered many joys in the traveling, the photography, and the puzzle-like challenge of my mission. Additionally, I hope to use the exposure this website generates to promote my ideas for creating a better world.
At first It was just a hypothetical question. I wondered: ‘Would it be possible to visit them all?’ Most people would leave it as a hypothetical question, but I figured, why not? It seemed entirely possible and as it meant traveling around the country, it became a lot of fun. I became a freelance computer programmer around the same time, and although it wasn’t to pursue the Starbucks mission, it certainly gave me more freedom to carry on with the challenge.”
Back in 1997, there were only 1,500 Starbucks outlets in four countries, which actually sounds like an achievable goal. But the coffee chain has had such an astronomical growth rate since then that Winter has been struggling to keep up. Starbucks is currently the world’s number one coffeehouse company, with 23,305 stores in 65 countries and territories.
“I do not expect to ever complete the project, as I have every reason to think that Starbucks will outlive me,” he said. As long as there are new stores to visit, I will try to visit them. Many of them have closed down before I’ve had the chance to visit them but at the same time, many new stores have opened.
Other beverage addicted people have tried to accomplish similar goals but they always involved a passion for beer.
In Britain Cathy Price went on a mission to have a drink in every Red Lion pub in the UK in her self proclaimed ‘Cathy’s Crazy Red Lion Pub Crawl.
In Ireland a fellow named Pete McCarthey embarked on a similar beer mission. McCarthey realised that there are many pubs named McCarthey in the Ireland of his ancestors. And so he made it his mission to visit every Irish pub sharing his ‘McCarthey’ name.
But these forms of beverage infused wanderlust are minuscule in relation to the mammoth task Winter the ‘coffee cowboy’ has committed himself to.
He is actually so committed to the mission that when he heard about 40 stores being closed down, he undertook a 25,000-mile road trip across the US just to visit them. “If a store closes before I visited, I would lose another piece of my soul,” he admitted.
When Winter travels Starbucks is always his number one priority. There is no time for touristy stuff or relaxation (maybe the caffeine does that) For example there was one time when he spent 30 hours in Hawaii during which he went to five stores on three islands, but didn’t go to the beach even once. And he refuses to tick a store off his list unless he has tried a caffeinated beverage at the place. No, hot chocolate doesn’t count.
Winter’s favourite Starbuck is the one on Duddell Street in Hong Kong. “The store follows the ‘bing sutt (ice house) concept of old, and displays old photos of both the building and adjacent Ice House Street as well as tributes to the Pike Place store,” he explained. “I cannot even begin to list all of the cool decorations and memorabilia in the store – you’ll just have to save up and visit Hong Kong when you can.”
Still many cups of coffee to go
So far he is well underway of accomplishing his goal as he’s already been to 11,812 Starbucks branches. He says he won’t rest until he’s been to each and every one in the world – that’s at least 11,000 more to go.
Just to give you an impression of the mamoth-ness of this task have a look at the map below. It shows the coffee shops in North-America that he still has to pay a visit. And don’t forget that this map is ever changing.
To follow Winter’s coffee guzzling progress around the world, or if you ever feel like buying him a coffee, have a look at his website http://www.starbuckseverywhere.net/
A documentary named ‘Starbucking: seeing the world one starbucks at a time’ has been released about Winter’s kickass adventure!
Best to be watched with a cup of coffee in hand!