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Starbucks fan on decades-long journey to visit every store in the world

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A Starbucks fan — whose name is Winter — is visiting Canada on a purposeful journey that began with a random idea at one of the coffee chain's stores in Texas.

“A lightbulb went off in my head,” he recalls. “And I asked myself: Would it be possible to visit every single store?”

That was 1997. There were only about 1,500 Starbucks stores. So Winter started pursuing his goal with the same passion with which he’d once collected coins or comic books.

“Every time I would check a new Starbucks off my list, it would be like when I found that rare issue of a comic book I was looking for," he says.

After collecting all the locations close to home, a process he calls "Starbucking," Winter ventured out west.

“I discovered I enjoyed road-tripping,” Winter says.

He also found pleasure in his pursuit’s pre-internet logistical puzzle-solving.

“I actually had to look up Starbucks in the phonebook,” Winter explains. “And then grab a physical map and figure out how to get there.”

Thanks to a frugal lifestyle and a flexible career as a computer programmer, Winter has travelled to more than 19,300 stores in 70 countries so far.

There are currently a total of about 32,000 Starbucks stores in 80 countries.

He just wrapped up a two-week tour through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C., visiting dozens of new stores that opened since the last time he visited Western Canada.

“I don’t think it actually occurred to me at the time that it would be a never-ending struggle of not being able to keep up with the growth of the new Starbucks," he says.

It also never occurred to Winter that, decades later, he’d be regularly caring for his mom who’s living with dementia.

“My mom is my No. 1 priority,” Winter says. “Starbucking has to come second.”

Her fading memory has made his website and social media — which chronicle every Starbucks visit with detailed blog posts and pictures — more meaningful than ever.

“I personally find it very important to document everything I do,” Winter says. “Because I don’t know if, in 10 years, I will remember what I was doing that day.”

Winter has also finished writing a manuscript about his travels and what he’s learned about the benefits of pursuing your own unique path in life with purpose.

“It’s not easy. It takes work every day,” Winter says. “(But) I would define myself in a state of almost non-stop bliss.”

Which is why, 27 years after starting to collect all the stores he could, Winter is now stopping along the way to appreciate as many people and places as he can.

Because like life, Winter says, “Starbucking is about the journey, not the destination.”

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