Bean Counter

Whipping boy of anti-corporate crusaders, poster child for the Malling of America, Starbucks could use a hyped-up überfan spokesman like John Winter Smith.

Who better to humanize the end lessly replicating chain than a guy who’s managed to visit three-quarters of its stores—2,850 at last count? Like Subway’s Jared Fogle before him, Smith is on a mission. The 30-year-old Texan computer programmer never could pass up a short with two sugars. In recent years he’s logged 240,000 miles in his ’97 Acura to worship at as many Starbucks altars as possible. He says he’s visited 40 of the 42 states where Starbucks has official, corporate-owned locations (missing only Vermont and Hawaii) and spent $6,479 on his travels since he started keeping track in 2000 (including the coffee, which doesn’t come free).

While he’s “no advertising major,” Smith admits to envisioning himself in Starbucks ads: “I have thought of doing commer cials along the lines of ‘Where’s Winter?’ and what zany adventures I am having trying to find the next Starbucks,” he says. “Whim sical is how I picture [them]. … I, in the Ben Franklin tradition, must expect that they will pass on the idea, but who knows?”

Starbucks rep Audrey Lincoff was noncommittal about a possible star turn for Smith, but praised his pilgrim spirit. “We’re flattered to see this kind of enthusiasm in our customers,” she says.