Everyone has an obsession. Maybe it’s craft beer, or videos of kittens, or in the case of a 47-year-old man from Houston, Texas, named Winter (born Rafael Antonio Lozano Jr.), it’s Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks, home of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Unicorn Frappuccino, beverages that transcended their humble origins and became cultural touchstones. There is perhaps nothing more equally familiar to every city-dwelling person on Earth than that green sign stamped with a mermaid, and Winter wants to visit every single one on the planet. It’s a goal he’s already spent $150,000 on trying to accomplish.
So far Winter — Indiana Jones of the corporate coffee world — has visited 15,000 Starbucks locations (12,000 stores in the US and Canada, the other 3,000 in 55 locations around the world). His most recent visit was to a Starbucks in Lima, Peru. He has deemed the Starbucks in Fukuoka, Japan, the most beautiful. His second favorite is in Paris, where he says one location resembles a “palace.” Next up, Winter plans to visit Starbucks roasteries in Shanghai and Tokyo. Winter is about halfway through completing his journey: There are 300,000 Starbucks locals worldwide.
One has to give total props to Winter; he is an extremely accomplished traveler, and he’s kind of becoming an influencer, too. Inspired by a website where he documents his travels, a friend of his coined the term “Starbucking,” which in turn has become a mini-trend for other similarly inclined coffee tourists.
None of them are as committed as Winter: He told NBC this is a “lifetime project” that began after he spent countless hours hanging out in a Starbucks in Dallas. And it’s not just the architecture he longs to gaze at. He wants to try the coffee, too. On one trip he consumed 29 cups of coffee in a day. Nothing fancy for him either; he prefers a simple drip coffee.
Winter is a freelance computer engineer, so he has the luxury of working remotely. He also — and this should dispel any doubt that he is truly dedicated to his quest — lives out of his car to finance his travels.
“It’s been instrumental in allowing me to afford Starbucking to the extent I’ve pursued it over the past year,” Winter told NBC.
Can’t fault him for that. After all, he’s living his dream to the fullest, and that’s not something very many people can say for themselves.