Bikini barista

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The Sweet Spot Cafe in Shoreline, Washington

A bikini barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee drinks while dressed in scanty attire such as a bikini or lingerie. In the United States, this marketing trend (sometimes referred to as sexpresso[1][2] or bareista[3][4]) originated in the Seattle, Washington area in the early 2000s. Similar phenomena have appeared in countries such as Chile and Japan since at least the 1980s.[5]

Development of concept[edit]

Espresso drive-through stands and coffee outlets are numerous in the greater Seattle area, and the exact inventor of the "bikini barista" concept is debated.[1] The "Natte Latte" chain's first location was opened in November 1999 by Mary Keller, and its employees began sporting pink leather hotpants in 2001.[6][7] Next, in 2003, "Cowgirls Espresso" opened its first location in Tukwila, Washington. A few months after opening, as summer heat invaded the small 70-square-foot (6.5 m2) shop, owner Lori Bowden adopted employee suggestions that they start a "Bikini Wednesday" promotion. Sales took off, and other scantily-clad theme days soon followed.[2][8][9] The concept of "bikini baristas" spread quickly, featuring attractive young women dressed in attire such as bikinis, lingerie, stockings, and heels.[8][10][11] The first round of international press attention to the trend occurred in early 2007.[1][8][12] Competitors that have not followed suit have complained about the trend, and have also seen a drop in business.[13]

The retail establishments which employ bikini baristas often adopt titillating names, including "Peek A-Brew", "Grab n' Go", "Cowgirls Espresso", "Smokin' Hot Espresso",[14] "Knotty Bodies Espresso",[15] "Java Jigglers",[16] "Espresso Gone Wild", "Java Girls",[10] "Sweet Spot", "Fantasy Espresso", and "Natte Latte".[17]

Controversies[edit]

The phenomenon of bikini baristas has sometimes caused controversy and complaints from local residents.[15][18][19][20]

As a result of these complaints and incidents, some local jurisdictions have considered adopting local ordinances to regulate and control the activities of the stores.[21][22][23]

In Snohomish County[edit]

Undercover police officers in Snohomish County, Washington witnessed some baristas performing additional services for extra money, including letting customers touch them, photograph them or watch them lick whipped cream off each other. These statements have been retracted by the Everett, WA police department, as the police officer 'undercover' was a known customer and offered the said barista money.[24] The Everett, WA police department was accused of purposeful entrapment.[5][25] In September 2009, five baristas at a Grab 'n Go in Everett, Washington were charged with prostitution after police surveillance caught them stripping and performing sexual acts for cash.[14][26] Other complaints included the stand's proximity to preschools and daycare centers.[27]

In Belfair, Washington[edit]

In another incident, "Espresso Gone Wild" in Belfair, Washington was temporarily shut down by Mason County in August 2008. It drew the ire of Belfair residents. Mason County officials responded to complaints on the July 30, 2008 meeting, by ruling the espresso stand is "erotic entertainment" and off limits in the Belfair area. The owners of "Espresso Gone Wild" in Belfair were being told that their baristas are violating an erotic entertainment ordinance. They were also told that their baristas need to cover up and clean up their act or the stand will be shut down permanently. Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon says the owners of "Espresso Gone Wild" are welcome to open a coffee shop and compete with all the other coffee shops in town. Sheldon also says the owners won't be able to sell sex and coffee on the side.[28][29] "Espresso Gone Wild" in Belfair, Washington was prohibited from allowing employees to wear pasties and their baristas now wear bikinis.[10] Residents in another community have surveilled a local stand and called for boycotts of companies whose employees patronize the establishments.[30] In July 2011, the owner and three employees of Java Juggs in Snohomish County, Washington were charged with prostitution,[31] with the police later releasing some footage obtained.[32]

In Yakima, Washington[edit]

In Yakima, Washington, a bikini bar owner was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and fined $1,000[33] because, at the coffee shop, the barista "wore shorts determined to be both too skimpy and too sheer. A city ordinance bans bikini baristas from wearing G-strings and see-through clothing."[34] The barista was charged but acquitted by the jury in the indecent exposure case.[33]

Growth outside Seattle[edit]

A bikini barista coffee kiosk in Hillsboro, Oregon

Some entrepreneurs have opened bikini barista stores with success outside the Seattle area, including in Raleigh, North Carolina,[35] Aurora, Colorado,[36] Portland, Oregon,[37] Youngstown, Ohio,[38] Tampa, Florida,[39] Pasadena, Maryland,[40] Chatsworth, Georgia,[41] Las Vegas,[42][43] Texas, and Missouri.[44][45] Baristas has been dubbed the hooters of coffee due to its size and popularity in the market.[46]

A Los Angeles area store called "Bikini Espresso" only lasted four months in the Los Angeles area in 2009, and closed with complaints of over-regulation.[47]

One chain in particular called "Bottoms Up Espresso",[48] who have expanded into multiple Northern California markets including locations in Modesto, CA,[49] Tracy, CA, Clovis, CA, Bakersfield, CA, and Vernalis, CA[50] has quickly become a favorite among social media users with their baristas featured regularly on the website The Chive[51] and other popular websites. With the brands growing popularity they have expanded into a mobile food truck style service and expanded into its own line of merchandise including yearly calendars featuring their current line up of bikini baristas. Bottoms Up Espresso has gone on to earn the support and regular business of mainstream athletes, celebrities, and recording artists.[52]

Outside the United States[edit]

  • A phenomenon similar to bikini baristas is very popular in Chile, known as "café con piernas" (literally, coffee with legs) and existed long before their Seattle counterpart.[53][54][55]
  • In Taiwan, young women who sell betel nuts and cigarettes from brightly lit glass enclosures while wearing revealing clothing are called Betel nut beauties. They debuted in the 1960s.[citation needed]
  • In Japan, "no-pan kissa" (no-panty coffee shop) blossomed in the 80's, where the waitresses have short skirts and no panties. Typical of Japanese sex-fads, they didn't last more than a few years before they morphed into other (but similar) businesses.
  • In Surfers Paradise, Queensland, gold lamé bikini-clad meter maids stroll up and down the beach feeding coins into parking meters so that beach-goers won't get parking tickets. Though feeding meters is illegal in Surfers Paradise, local law enforcement is encouraged to look the other way, as the Meter Maids not only keep tourists happy, but they have also become a tourist attraction themselves.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Amy Roe (January 22, 2007). "Some coffee stands get steamier". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Caitlin A. Johnson (February 18, 2007). "Shedding Clothes And Selling Coffee". CBS News. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Bare-ista, News - World". Pune Mirror. 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  4. ^ "Bareista.com Home". Bareista.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Are Bikini Baristas Getting Too Steamy?". CBS News. Associated Press. February 5, 2010. Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  6. ^ Chris Henry (February 15, 2008). "Baristas Aim to Up Coffee Sales by Stripping Down". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ Christine Frey (August 12, 2002). "Seahawks Stadium hands off coffee contract to Seattle's Best". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 10, 2010. )("The first Natte Latte opened in SeaTac in November 1999 and closed two years later, shortly after Keller began working to obtain a contract with the Seahawks, she said. The Gorst location, whose seven employees wear hot pink shorts while preparing coffee, opened in June 2001.")
  8. ^ a b c Gene Johnson (Associated Press) (January 29, 2007). "Seattle-Area Coffee Shops Show Some Skin". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ Extreme Fast Food, Travel Channel segment ("Lori Bowden: 'Cowgirls Espresso was started about seven years ago, about four months after opening, it was about June–July, it was hot. It was a very small espresso stand, 70 square foot. And so they're like, 'what do you think about us wearing a bikini on Wednesday?' And I said, 'hmm, let me check on that.' ... Sales skyrocketed 100%")
  10. ^ a b c Sara Lerner (September 17, 2008). "Bikini Baristas Try To Get Leg Up In Seattle". National Public Radio. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  11. ^ Julie Muhlstein (June 11, 2008). "Bikini baristas comfortable in their jobs". The Herald (Everett). Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  12. ^ Andrew Gumbel (February 5, 2007). "Sexpresso coffee shops take Seattle by storm". The Independent. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  13. ^ David Chircop (May 16, 2008). "'Sexy espresso' stands leave competitors steaming". The Herald (Everett). Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Bikini Barista Controversy Photos". CBS News. December 17, 2009. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Nicole Tsong (November 23, 2009). "Bellevue residents blast new bikini espresso stand". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  16. ^ Chelsea Krotzer (September 26, 2008). "Java Jigglers owner arrested on sex charges". Daily Record. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  17. ^ Sam Howe Verhovek (February 4, 2007). "Coffee, with sugar, in Seattle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Bikini-clad baristas serve up more than a cupful, it's an eyeful". KING-TV. November 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Steamed Over Bikini Baristas (Video)". CBS News. November 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Local baristas say bikini, topless trend spilling over". KOMO-TV. May 21, 2008. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  21. ^ David Chircop (May 27, 2008). "'Bikini baristas': Cities explore options for coverup". The Herald (Everett). Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  22. ^ "SnoCo rules bikini baristas are adult businesses". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. December 9, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  23. ^ Ray Lane (October 2, 2009). "Washington town sets limits on bikini baristas' behavior". KBOI-TV. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  24. ^ Neil, Martha (27 June 2013). "Did sergeant in ‘bikini barista’ sting help drive-through coffee shops operate as strip clubs?". American Bar Association. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Five risque Everett Grab-N-Go baristas charged with prostitution | HeraldNet.com - Local news
  26. ^ Your Tax Dollars Hard at NSFW | Slog
  27. ^ Racy espresso stand upsets preschool's parents | HeraldNet.com - Local news
  28. ^ "Belfair cracks down on sexpresso stands | KING5.com Seattle". King5.com. 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  29. ^ "VIDEO: One County Says No Bikini Baristas, Another Says OK". KiroTV. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  30. ^ "Tattler Web Site Outs Workers Seen Visiting Bare Baristas". KIRO-TV. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on 19 January 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Java Juggs baristas, owner busted for prostitution after probe | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News". KOMO News. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  32. ^ "Undercover cop video shows barista stripping at coffee stand | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News". KOMO News. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  33. ^ a b Neil, Martha (7 February 2011). "Coffee Shop Owner Guilty of Indecent Exposure Due to Skimpy See-Through Shorts on ‘Bikini Barista’". American Bar Association. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  34. ^ Neil, Martha (28 January 2014). "Do coffee baristas serve up too much while wearing too little? Cities enact new laws, conduct raids". American Bar Association. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Josh Shaffer (January 6, 2013). "Shaffer: Coffee with a sexy smile at Cup O Jane". Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Bikini coffee shop sparks boycott in Colo.". Associated Press. Associated Press. June 6, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010. (describing boycott called for "Perky Cups" in Aurora, Colorado)
  37. ^ Helen Jung (June 25, 2008). "Bikini Coffee tries Portland on for size". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Youngstown News, Boardman to take a break from OK’ing vendors". Vindy.com. 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  39. ^ Harold Valentine (March 26, 2008). "Babes In The 'Hood". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  40. ^ Sam Sessa (August 2, 2010). "Java Divas has baristas in bikinis (and other outfits)". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  41. ^ Mark Millican (July 14, 2009). "Bikini-themed coffee shop opens in Chatsworth". The Daily Citizen (Dalton). Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  42. ^ Gary Dettman (November 18, 2007). "Sexpresso: Coffee with a Sexy Twist". KVBC-DT. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  43. ^ "Some like it hottie at new Vegas coffee shop". Chicago Sun-Times. November 27, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Barista Beauties: Coffee shop to feature sexy servers". The Brownsville Herald. May 18, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  45. ^ Susan Weich (May 18, 2008). "Hot coffee shop is far cooler than its racy reputation". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  46. ^ "Hooters of coffee coming to Cape Coral". News-Press. FLNewsFeed. 2013-06-21. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  47. ^ Jenna Briand (November 5, 2009). "Bye Bye, Bikini Baristas". KNBC. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  48. ^ Staff (Jul 29, 2011). "Skin Is In At Modesto Coffee Shops". KCRA Channel 3. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Local and Breaking News from The Modesto Bee in Modesto, CA". ModBee.com. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  50. ^ [1][dead link]
  51. ^ John (October 3, 2011). "So you pull up to the drive thru at Bottoms Up Espresso and then Amber". The Chive. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  52. ^ Staff (September 21, 2013). "Mars' Top 15 Places To Dine In Northern California". Juggalo News. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  53. ^ Heather Murphy (September 17, 2008). "A Little Skin With Your Latte?". National Public Radio. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  54. ^ Adam Fuller and Jason Snyder (August 1, 2008). "CAFÉ CON PIERNAS: GOOD 'TIL THE LAST DROP". The Santiago Times. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  55. ^ John Flinn (February 12, 2006). "Out on a limb for coffee with legs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 

External links[edit]