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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

December 10, 2009 at 1:25 PM

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Starbucks customer from Japan vacations in Seattle to visit as many stores as he can

Posted by Melissa Allison

2[1].jpgIf you thought Starbucks Melody was a Starbucks afficionado, check out Noboru Sakamoto.

A Japanese importer and exporter of car parts, he vacations in Seattle to bask in its abundance of Starbucks. Five years ago, he visited 100 stores between here and Olympia and tried to meet Howard Schultz. Sakamoto even has the Starbucks headquarters name tag to prove it, but says he never shook Schultz's hand.

He arrived in Seattle yesterday for a three-week visit in which he wants to pack as many stores as possible, including the stealth Starbucks shops on Roy Street and 15th Avenue East.

Sakamoto stopped by the paper this morning to bring me a gift (a glittery Starbucks coffee mug from Kyoto that I couldn't accept) and show me dozens of Starbucks photos and business cards from his last visit. He seems to have met every Starbucks store manager in the region.

Starbucks has about 875 stores in Japan, where Sakamoto says its menu and coffee flavors are different. It uses different kinds of milk, he said, and has fewer (if any) decaf options.

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