Starbucks Obsessive 'Winter' Arrives In London

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 102 months ago
Starbucks Obsessive 'Winter' Arrives In London

Starbucks sign
Picture courtesy of Todd Huffman under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Non-news story of the day concerns a Californian software engineer, known as ‘Winter’, who is being described by the press, somewhat predictably, as a “man on a mission”. Whenever we read those words we tend to suspect that the ‘mission’ may be somewhat whimsical in nature, and this is no exception - Winter’s quest is to visit every branch of Starbucks in the world. Having covered more than nine thousand branches over the last 12 years, he is now touring the UK and Europe in an effort to tick off a few hundred more.

He spent much of the last week visiting Starbucks branches across Ireland, where his travel log would suggest that he was suffering a unique form of transatlantic culture shock:

I was disappointed to find that every single Starbucks bathroom that I had seen in Ireland and Northern Ireland had a warm air dryer instead of paper towels. Great for the environment, perhaps, but lousy for washing my face, or, more importantly, my ass. While I could not shower, I was determined to keep my few pairs of briefs as clean as possible by washing my ass after wiping. In the absence of paper towels, I had to use toilet paper, which is not great because it falls apart easily when soaped and wet. Furthermore, drying my ass with the warm air dryer is tricky, especially with the ones that turn off if they don't sense movement. Even worse, at the Antrim location, the dryer didn't even work, so I had to walk out of there with the unpleasant sensation of a wet ass. Bah!

Bah indeed. And so to London. Winter arrived here on Saturday, and immediately set about ticking off branches in west and southwest London, hampered somewhat by weekend tube closures. We don’t yet know whether he has managed to visit the UK’s first ever Starbucks on King’s Road. At 8:15 this morning, according to his travel log, he had 67 London branches yet to visit, and smelled a bit “gamy”.

By all accounts, Winter’s trip to Europe is part of an extended annual holiday. He spends about three months a year on his ‘Starbucking’ travel, visiting on average 20 branches a day and drinking one cup of regular coffee and taking a photo in each. According to The Times, Winter has “mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies”, doubtless not helped by his daily consumption of dozens of cups of coffee. Time to switch to decaf, perhaps?

UPDATE: 'Winter' has taken some time out of his hectic 'Starbucking' schedule to answer a few questions for us - read our interview with him here.

Last Updated 01 June 2009

SimonC

What a ghastly, self-obsessed little shit he sounds. I hope the shock of discovering that the UK's Starbucks bathrooms unaccountably aren't really equipped for excrement-encrusted idiots dissuades him from ever leaving the US again.

Winter

Hello, this is Winter. Did you think before you chose to comment? What exactly about the blog excerpt you read indicates "self-obsessed"? The fact I was blogging about myself? Who should I be blogging about? You? Or is the fact that I am obsessed with hygiene? What exactly is ghastly about that? Have you ever heard of a bidet? Ever been to an Arab country? Are they "ghastly" because they like to be *clean* by *washing* after using the toilet? It's bizarrely ironic you use the term "excrement-encrusted" at the same time you criticize me for my attempts at hygiene. From the tone of your message, it sounds like when you are traveling and using the toilet, you don't bother to wash, in which case you are the one walking around encrusted.

Finally, you should watch "The Colbert Report" sometime, or read "The Onion".

SimonC

More that you're blogging about yourself despite clearly having very little of interest to say and saying it badly, and that you appear to have an almost touching belief that if the world fails to live up to your standards, the fault lies with the world.

chibaken

"Or is the fact that I am obsessed with hygiene?"

Dude, you dry your ass with a public hand drier. That's not obsessive hygiene, it's disgusting.

DeanN

I read somewhere that Winter's task has become a Sisyphean one, namely, that Starbucks are (or were) opening more stores than he could visit per day, and, worse, opening them in locations he'd already visited.

In a way it's a futile quest that is perhaps emblematic of our time. I have a feeling that future historians will look back on him as the Herodotus de nos jours.

Caroline

Trying to reach every Starbucks in the world? The guys is either a genius or an idiot. Either way, he's managed to get himself into the news for not doing all that much and that impresses me. I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee and kind of wonder if he's able to sleep after 20 cups a day. As for the hygiene, he's joking, or was that not made clear by the Odor Level (ranging from natural, to gamy, to homeless) stated at the top of his site?

Winter

Caroline, while you are correct that my odor meter is intended to be humorous, it is nonetheless also factual. As for my being a genius, the anecdote about how I almost blew my entire trip by leaving ALL my credit cards AND driver license on top of a phone booth should resolve that question.

To chibaken, you are not thinking clearly. What does it matter whether I dry my hands, my face, my armpits, or my arse using the warm air dryer so long as I'm not making contact with it? I stand by my position that making an effort to keep clean while staying on a budget (can't afford BOTH a rental car AND a room) is worthwhile.

Caroline

Winter-Well, it still made me laugh, which is what matters most in my book. I wish you well on your travels.

chibaken

"What does it matter whether I dry ... my arse using the warm air dryer so long as I'm not making contact with it?"

Ugh, jesus, really, your faecal matter riding a mechanical vortex in a coffeeshop isn't disgusting? That's me boycotting Starbacks for the 23rd reason now. (#1 Sh1t coffee, #2 ubiquity, #3 Those brown flecks in my cappacino not quite what they seem...)

BTW, have any of you seen his blog? As a regular subscriber to The Onion and Daily Mash, I'm sorry, I missed his flavour of humour... just looks like a freeloading, paperless arse-drying waste of the Internets to me...

Rob Lugg

God, I used to work for Starbucks. What's the point in visiting them all, they all look the ruddy same.

Tragic really this story, come all the way to Europe and, of all the wonderful things to see and do, you visit chain coffee shops.

Dear god!

karenmob

Maybe they could offer local specialities - like pasty coffee, yorkshire pudding coffee etc?!!

Matt

Surely he must be doing it as a publicity stunt, why starbucks, why not museums or pubs or something else. Maybe starbucks are secrectly paying him lots of money to bump up their brand in the news.