Meet The Seattle Woman Who Ate Nothing But Starbucks For An Entire Year

Jan 2, 2014

The year 2013 was the Year of Starbucks for one Seattle woman who survived only on foods and drinks she bought at Starbucks cafes.

The woman, named Beautiful Existence, says she’d often thought about taking on the task. After all, yearlong experiments were nothing new to Existence, who challenged herself to shop only at Goodwill for the entire year of 2011.

Plus she had heard good things about the company from her sister, a Starbucks employee, and liked company CEO Howard Schultz’s efforts to “help with politics” and “get positive change rolling.”

The final push came in 2012 when Starbucks launched its Evolution line of juices, soups and salads.

“Then I was convinced that I could do this for an entire year,” said Existence, 40, who works in communications at Bellevue College.

Starbucks For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Birthday, Holidays

The ensuing 365 days of 2013 weren’t a seemingly endless marathon of pastries and Frappuccinos, says Existence.

“For the entire year, I had more than enough extra eating options,” she said. “I had smoked salmon, I had prosciutto.”

A typical breakfast included oatmeal or a bagel with a side of banana, says Existence. Lunch might be a bistro box or a banana and packs of nuts. Dinner would be something from the Starbucks Evenings menu, maybe a vegetable tray or a bowl of soup.

Access was never a problem, even when she was traveling, says Existence. But the yearlong challenge meant she had to celebrate her birthday at Starbucks. And she had to pack bistro boxes to family gatherings where she heard mutterings like, “Oh, you brought a bistro box! Again!”

Cravings came and went, but there was never one too big to overcome, says Existence.

“I was craving hamburgers for a month or two in the fall. But after a while, it started to change, and I wasn’t craving it anymore,” she said. “I just tried to focus on eating the food that I like [and could eat]. It really wasn’t even a thought in my mind.”

And before she knew it, the year was up.

“A year is a long time in certain terms, but it goes by pretty quickly,” she said. “I’m a pretty dedicated person when I set my sights on finishing something."

Credit Beautiful Existence

On Dec. 31, Existence treated herself to her first non-Starbucks meal at Ivar’s and realized her taste buds had been hibernating.

“I hadn’t had that in over a year, so the flavors were really intense for me,” she said. “Even a veggie omelet — it was really flavorful for me.”

The challenge wasn’t cheap. Existence didn’t seek sponsorship from the company, and her Starbucks bill ran between $500 to $600 per month, even with the frequent free meals she received as a perk of being a gold card member.

“The tally was over $7,000 last year. And I’ve missed receipts here and there. And that’s not at all including what other people have bought for me,” she said, adding she utilized coupons and deals whenever she could.

Another Year, Another Challenge

Existence has set her sights on a new yearlong challenge for 2014. Her target is REI, another Pacific Northwest company. She plans to try 89 different recreational sports the outdoor store caters to.

“There’s no recreational sports catalog, per se, so I built it [the list] off of what REI offers,” she said.

Existence describes herself as a light runner who has “only run 5- to 10k [races] before."

“I’ve snowshoed once. I’ve cross-country skied once. Other than that, I’ve never even done yoga before,” she said.

Her goal is to take a lesson in each sport in the upcoming year, which means she’ll hardly have any time for anything else on the weekends, and run several weekends.

“I really have to plan this one out,” she said. “There are three or four weekends where I have to do two or three sports per weekend.”

Whatever the challenge or the task, Existence says her goal is to always keep learning.

“I have this natural curiosity and this challenge within me to go figure out things that I don’t know about,” she said. “I really should write a book about it, because there are so many takeaways.”