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(CNN)Visiting every Starbucks on the planet takes dedication, patience and a serious caffeine addiction.
A man who said his legal name is Winter has visited at least 15,061 Starbucks locations on four continents since 1997, he claims. And what started as a quest for espresso became his ticket to the world. “I call it an extreme hobby,” he told CNN of the quest to reach them all. Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in Milan Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanStarbucks Milan: Starbucks has opened its first ever branch in Italy. The “Reserve Roastery” — a premium version of the worldwide chain — has caused a buzz in Milan, where coffee-drinking is an essential part of local culture. Hide Caption 1 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanElegant interior: The new Starbucks is located in an old post office. It’s a stylish and elegant conversion, with marble countertops and cool, industrial decor. Hide Caption 2 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanItalian inspiration: The founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, says a 1983 trip to Milan helped shape his vision for the US coffee chain. Hide Caption 3 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanLocal buzz: A launch party ahead of the Roastery’s opening generated intense local interest, not least because of Italy’s homegrown coffee traditions. Hide Caption 4 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanLong bar: The Roastery, close to the La Scala opera house, features a 30-foot bar carved from a single block of Tuscan marble. Hide Caption 5 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanPremium product: The Milan outlet is the third “Reserve Roastery” after Seattle and Shanghai. Starbucks says it’ll sell “premium, small batch” coffees and food by Italian baker Rocco Princi. Hide Caption 6 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanCaffeinated prices: The drinks in Starbucks will cost more than those served from local Italian coffee bars. An espresso costs 1.80 euros ($2.10), much more than the one euro ($1.16) price at many Italian cafes. Hide Caption 7 of 8 Photos: Photos of the new Starbucks Roastery in MilanLining up: The store’s first day of opening to the public saw people lining up down the block to experience what Starbucks had to offer.Hide Caption 8 of 8Winter kicked off his mission 22 years ago at a Starbucks in Plano, Texas. There were only about 1,500 locations in the US at the time, and he thought he could visit each and every one of them.As as the company grows, so has the length of Winter’s quest: The 30,000th Starbucks just opened in Shenzhen, China. It’s gotten tougher for Winter to keep up with new stores and still find time to visit the independent coffee houses he favors. Read MoreHe usually asks for a sample of drip coffee wherever he goes. If they don’t have that, he’ll take an espresso. He’ll snap some photos, add them to his website and go visit another one. He’s repeated this 15,000-plus times, and he’s only halfway through.But at this point he’s committed. He’s got to keep going.He used to dedicate every weekend to “Starbucking,” excitedly driving hundreds of miles to visit a new store, or flying to other countries, including Denmark and Qatar, to see how they brew it. But the quest has grown a bit tedious, and his pace has slowed. He’s spent much of the money he earns as a contract computer programmer to take care of his ailing mother in Panama.It’s about more than coffee (even if he’s sick of it)After drinking Pike Place and Verona roasts for 22 years, he’s understandably grown bored with their offerings. He hasn’t even tried everything on the menu, he said. The world's largest Starbucks will open in Chicago“It’s hard to talk about a favorite Starbucks item because I don’t enjoy the taste of Starbucks anymore,” he said. “It’s either tolerable or OK, but it’s never good or great coffee anymore.” But he doesn’t keep going for the joe. His Plano Starbucks was a second home where he could meet fellow caffeine fiends. And for the man who said it’s difficult to make friends, meeting fellow coffee lovers on different continents gave him the connections he’d been missing. “Starbucks kind of gave me my big first circle of friends,” he said. He knows it’s “technically impossible” to visit every store. Still, he’s just trying to hit as many as possible and see more of the world, one sample-sized cup of coffee at a time. “I don’t see it as work,” he said. “I see it as a goal.”