Hey fellow coffee aficionados and travel enthusiasts!
If you’re anything like me, you might have found yourself wondering about quirky travel challenges.
Well, my curiosity recently took me down a rabbit hole, leading to a bizarre yet fascinating question: how long would it take to visit every Starbucks location in the United States?
So grab a cup of coffee and follow along as we began a deep dive into the numbers for this stupidly insane, yet kinda curious idea.
I encourage you to look at my assumptions, pick them apart, and let me know what you think I got wrong, or left out. I plan to post this to Hacker News and can’t wait for all the programers and real math geniuses to weigh in. I’ll try to update accordingly with any new information and an updated model.
The Math Behind the Madness: How Long to Visit Every Starbucks Location in America
1. Travel Time
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: how many Starbucks locations would I have to visit?
As of March 13, 2023, there are 15,905 Starbucks locations in the United States. For ease of math, I’ll round up to 16,000 to account for new openings.
The total area of the United States is approximately 3.8 million square miles. Assuming there are 16,000 Starbucks stores across the country, we can find the average area per store:
3,800,000 mi² / 16,000 stores ≈ 237.5 mi² per store
So imagine a map of the USA with 16,000 equally sized squares over it, each with a Starbucks in the dead center of the square.
Now, to convert the area per store into an average distance between the stores, we can take the square root of this value, which would roughly represent the side length of a square with an area equal to the area per store:
√237.5 mi² ≈ 15.4 miles
So the average distance between all the Starbucks locations would be 15.4 miles. BUT….
In practice this is not how the stores are laid out.
We need to find a way to account for the dense Starbucks clusters in cities, and the sparser distribution in rural areas. And I have no idea how the math changes when you introduce Alaska and Hawaii. And I assume other locations are clustered around highway rest stops and other pre-planed routes, rather than the middle of the desert.
So to give a more directional lean toward the intentionally convenient placements of Starbucks, I’m going to assume an average distance of 10 miles between stores. This is by far my least certain assumption, as I have no idea what the actual figure could be.
This means, that at an average speed of 60 mph, I’d spend about 10 minutes driving between each location. Obviously, real-life factors like traffic, speed limits, and detours aren’t considered in this estimate (nor is the fact that I would die from drinking this much coffee and develop leg sores from so much driving).
But we’re going with 10 minutes between stores.
2. Time Spent at Each Location
Now, onto the actual time spent at each Starbucks. I allowed for 10 minutes per store for parking, getting in and out of the store, and possibly eating an occasional croissant.
In practice, I would probably use the drive through to save time, but those are generally only available at the suburban locations, and not within the big cities.
Again, this factor will be heavily dependent on the surrounding area, whether or not I can walk to multiple Starbucks within a few blocks, or if I would need to find parking multiple times.
3. Overnight Rest and Meal Breaks
I can’t travel non-stop, so I factored in 8 hours of sleep per night and 2 hours for daily meal breaks and other essentials. What can I say? A guy’s gotta get his beauty sleep.
4. Total Time Estimate
OK, it’s time for the GRAND FINALE!
***drum roll please***
Assuming I would dedicate 14 hours a day to this, it would take me approximately 381 days to visit every Starbucks in the United States.
Here’s the step-by-step breakdown of the math:
Travel Time = (Number of Locations – 1) * Average Travel Time per Location Travel Time = (16,000 – 1) * 10 minutes = 159,990 minutes
Time Spent at Locations = Number of Locations * Time per Location Time Spent at Locations = 16,000 * 10 minutes = 160,000 minutes
Daily Rest and Breaks = 8 hours (sleep) + 2 hours (meals and breaks) = 10 hours
To calculate the total time, add up the time spent traveling + time spent at each location, and then account for the 10 hours of daily rest and meal breaks:
Total Days = (Travel Time + Time Spent at Locations) / (14 working hours per day * 60 minutes per hour)
Total Days = (159,990 minutes + 160,000 minutes) / (840 minutes per day) ≈ 381 days
There you have it: The Great Starbucks Road Trip would take around 381 days to complete, just barely over a year.
What are your thoughts on this? Are there other factors that might impact the total time? Drop me a note. Let’s see how we can make this road trip even more interesting!
p.s. If you’re looking for a place to start your Starbucks journey, might I suggest the First Starbucks Store in Seattle as a natural jumping off point!