Starbucks for a Year was Seattle Woman’s Challenge for 2013


Starbucks for a Year

For an entire year, Beautiful Existence ate only Starbucks or Starbucks-affiliated drinks and foods, including Roy Street Coffee & Tea, Tazo Tea and Evolution Fresh.

At the beginning of 2013, 40-year old Existence informed Starbucks of her challenge and since Starbucks is based in Seattle, she had many options. Existence says the geographic location helped her succeed.

Existence told CNBC she did not receive any special consideration from Starbucks. “They’ve been incredibly kind and generous, but they never paid me or gave me discounts,” she said. Although she was not paid for this challenge, she was contacted by Starbucks’ public relations department to have lunch in the cafeteria of the headquarters.

Linda Mills, a spokeswoman at Starbucks, said in a phone interview with CNBC, “We applaud her efforts and encouraged along the way, but no money was ever exchanged,” Mills said. She added that Existence “often sets lofty and unattainable goals for herself, and she really meets them head on.”

Beautiful Existence Starbucks

She used her website, For 1 Year of My Life, to track her challenge as she had done with her previous challenges. Existence says in 2011 she shopped only at Goodwill and in 2012 she followed the advice in Parents magazine and applied it to her life.

“I just have a natural curiosity to find out about companies and how things work in the world,” Existence told USA TODAY.

She admited this challenge was a bit harder than previous ones, “I had to deal with a lot of food changes as they introduced products on a continuous basis,” she said. “And if I didn’t plan accordingly, Starbucks would be closed.”

Existence, who is an employee and student at Bellevue College in Washington, spent an average of $500 to $600 a month, an average of $18.79 a day on meals.  She estimates she spent more than $7,000 on Starbucks in 2013. To put this in perspective, the average female 19 to 50 years old spends about $252.50 a month on food eaten at home, or about $3,030 per year, according to the Department of Agriculture.

While Existence tried to stick to a budget, her purchases added up to more than she anticipated on spending. “I thought it would be over $5,000—but $6,000 at the most. It was definitely a bit more than I thought,” she said. Despite even being a rewards member, “And that’s not at all including what other people have bought for me.”

Even though Existence decided to do it alone, her husband and 3-year-old and 11-year-old sons were supportive. She also blogged about and took pictures of all of her 365 days of Starbucks.

One would think all she had to chose from was just coffee and pastries, she had more than that to choose from, but Existence told the Daily News that she still got bored towards the end. “In the last month, in the last couple weeks, it’s been really difficult. People had pizza at the office last week and I was dying,” she joked. “I’m happy to be able to eat whatever I want again.”

Existence says the best part is that she didn’t gain much weight. “I’m a typical woman and my weight fluctuates a bit,” she said. “But I didn’t see higher weight gain even when I had more Frappuccinos.”

Her first non-Starbucks meal in 2014 was fish and chips from Seattle-based restaurant Ivar’s. “My taste buds have been freaking out for the last 24 hours,” Existence said. “Starbucks doesn’t really have anything that’s fried, and you can only eat so much after you haven’t had stuff like that for a year.”

Her next adventure for 2014 focuses on another Pacific Northwest-based company — REI. This time, she’s going to learn some 80 recreational sports.

Starbucks for a Year

Beautiful Existence ate only Starbucks or Starbucks-affiliated drinks and foods for 365 days.

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