Bikini barista

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Bikini barista
Bottoms Up Expresso (Clovis, California) bikini barista (4).jpg
A bikini barista at Bottoms Up Espresso's drive-thru in California.
CompetenciesServing foods and beverages in exotic apparel such as bikini or lingerie
Fields of
Food service
Related jobs

A bikini barista is a woman who works as a barista, preparing and serving coffee beverages, while dressed in scanty attire such as a bikini, lingerie or a crop top combined with bikini bottoms or hotpants. In the United States, this marketing technique (sometimes referred to as sexpresso[1][2] or bareista[3][4]) originated in the Seattle, Washington area in the early 2000s.[5] Similar phenomena have appeared in countries such as Chile and Japan since at least the 1980s.

Development of concept[edit]

The Sweet Spot Cafe in Shoreline, Washington
"Espresso Gone Crazy" is an example of the branding used by bikini barista stands

Sexpresso drive-through stands and coffee outlets are numerous in the greater Seattle area,[6] so much so that coffee stands that have fully clothed employees often advertise themselves as "family friendly".[7] 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.[8][9] 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][10][11] The concept of "bikini baristas" spread quickly, featuring attractive young women dressed in attire such as bikinis, lingerie, stockings, and heels.[10][12][13] The first round of international press attention to the trend occurred in early 2007.[1][10][14] Competitors that have not followed suit have complained about the trend, and have also seen a drop in business.[15]

The retail establishments that employ bikini baristas often adopt titillating names, including "Peek A-Brew", "Grab n' Go", "Cowgirls Espresso", "Smokin' Hot Espresso",[16] "Knotty Bodies Espresso",[17] "Java Jigglers",[18] "Espresso Gone Crazy", "Espresso Gone Wild", "Java Girls",[12] "Sweet Spot", "Fantasy Espresso", and "Natte Latte".[19]

Controversies and litigation[edit]

The employment of bikini baristas has sometimes caused controversy and complaints from local residents.[17][20][21][22]

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.[23][24][25]

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, Washington police department, as the undercover police officer was a known customer and offered money to the barista.[26] The Everett police department was accused of entrapment.[5][27] In September 2009, five baristas at a Grab 'n Go in Everett were charged with prostitution after police surveillance caught them stripping and performing sexual acts for cash.[16][28] Other complaints were in regard to the stand's proximity to preschools and daycare centers.[29]

In July 2011, the owner and three employees of Java Juggs in Edmonds, Washington, were charged with prostitution,[30] with the police later releasing some footage obtained.[31]

Everett (the county seat of and the largest city in Snohomish County) in December 2017, was temporarily enjoined against enforcing a dress code ordinance against bikini baristas by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman who found it unconstitutionally vague, violated their freedom of expression and unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment since it targeted only women. In March 2018, the city filed an appeal with 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and requested the injunction be lifted.[32][33] The City of Everett was granted that appeal in July 2019, and the case was referred back to U.S. District Court in Seattle.[34]

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 in 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 were violating an erotic entertainment ordinance. They were also told that their baristas need to cover up and clean up their act or the stand would be shut down permanently. Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon said 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 can not sell sex and coffee on the side.[35][36] "Espresso Gone Wild" in Belfair, Washington was prohibited from allowing employees to wear pasties and their baristas now wear bikinis.[12] Residents in another community have surveilled a local stand and called for boycotts of companies whose employees patronize the establishments.[37]

In Yakima, Washington[edit]

In Yakima, Washington, a bikini bar owner was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and fined $1,000[38] 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."[39] The barista was charged but acquitted by the jury in the indecent exposure case.[38]

Growth outside Seattle area[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,[40] Aurora, Colorado,[41] Portland, Oregon,[42] Youngstown, Ohio,[43] Tampa, Florida,[44] Pasadena, Maryland,[45] Chatsworth, Georgia,[46] Las Vegas,[47][48] Texas, and Missouri.[49][50] A company called "Baristas" has been dubbed the Hooters of coffee due to its size and popularity in the market.[51] Hooters is a place in which scantily clad women serve food and drinks to patrons.

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.[52]

One chain in particular called "Bottoms Up Espresso",[53] who have expanded into multiple Northern California markets including locations in Modesto,[54] Tracy, Clovis, Bakersfield, and Vernalis has quickly become a favorite among social media users with their baristas featured regularly on the website The Chive[55] 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.[citation needed]

A Pink Pantherz kiosk in Fremont, California

Two bikini barista businesses opened in northwest Fresno, California, Java Girls Espresso and Pink Pantherz Espresso, c. mid 2014.[56]

Reported incidents[edit]

  • On May 26, 2017, a 29-year-old repeat sex offender was arrested for indecent exposure after he masturbated in front of a bikini barista around 5 a.m. at Sweet Cheeks Espresso's 5005 Auburn Way North stand in Auburn, Washington.[57]
  • An ex-convict, Michael Reynolds, attempted to rape a bikini barista, Madeline Guinto, one night on February 20, 2018, at Hottie Shots Espresso's 84th Avenue South stand in Kent, Washington. The would-be rapist fled after a car pulled into the drive-thru and he was arrested from his workplace the next day after he was identified by his employer from the espresso's surveillance footage on the news.[58][59]
  • On August 26, 2019, an armed robbery occurred at Foxy Lady Latte, a bikini barista coffee stand in Mount Vernon, Washington, located at 2626 Henson Road, before 7 p.m.[60]
  • On September 13, 2020, in Pasco, Washington, a repeating lewd offender was arrested for indecent exposure by displaying his genitals and masturbating outside the drive-thru window of Hot Beans Espresso on West Sylvester Street and North 26th Avenue, in the presence of outraged bikini baristas (including Jayme Davis) and customers nearby. It is reported that the offender was mentally ill.[61][62]

Outside the United States[edit]

  • Laura Maggi, a woman in her mid 30s, became a national celebrity in Italy in 2012 as a result of starting a habit of coming to work in revealing attire at the coffee bar called Le Cafe that she owns and operates in the small Italian town of Bagnolo Mella. She continues to generate local controversy serving "sexpresso" as she wears a variety of revealing outfits when serving customers. She also has female assistants who do the same, and sells glamour calendars of herself in addition to the coffee. Maggi has been the subject of photo-illustrated articles in popular tabloids.[63]
  • 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.[64][65][66]
  • 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.[67]
  • In Japan, "no-pan kissa" (no-panty coffee shop) blossomed in the 1980s, where the waitresses have short skirts and no panties. Typical of Japanese sex-fads, they did not last more than a few years before they morphed into other (but similar) businesses.
  • In Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia, gold lycra bikini-clad meter maids stroll up and down the beach feeding coins into parking meters so that beach-goers do not 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.[68]

Sex work[edit]

In a column published in Sociological Images, the sociologist Lisa Wade has used the bikini barista as a launching point for a discussion of the boundaries of sex work.[69] The question has also been the subject of an essay published in The Atlantic.[70]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Amy Roe (January 22, 2007). "Some coffee stands get steamier". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Caitlin A. Johnson (February 18, 2007). "Shedding Clothes And Selling Coffee". CBS News. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  3. ^ "Bare-ista, News –". Pune Mirror. 2009-02-27. Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  4. ^ " Home". Archived from the original on 2013-07-12. 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. ^ Lindy West (February 5, 2014), "Washington's Weird Bikini Barista Culture", Jezebel
  7. ^ Everett officials consider dress code for bikini baristas, Associated Press, April 8, 2017 – via U.S. News & World Report
  8. ^ Chris Henry (February 15, 2008). "Baristas Aim to Up Coffee Sales by Stripping Down". Kitsap Sun. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  9. ^ 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.")
  10. ^ a b c Gene Johnson (Associated Press) (January 29, 2007). "Seattle-Area Coffee Shops Show Some Skin". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  11. ^ 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%")
  12. ^ a b c Sara Lerner (September 17, 2008). "Bikini Baristas Try To Get Leg Up In Seattle". National Public Radio. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  13. ^ Julie Muhlstein (June 11, 2008). "Bikini baristas comfortable in their jobs". The Herald (Everett). Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Andrew Gumbel (February 5, 2007). "Sexpresso coffee shops take Seattle by storm". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 23, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  15. ^ David Chircop (May 16, 2008). "'Sexy espresso' stands leave competitors steaming". The Herald (Everett). Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Bikini Barista Controversy Photos". CBS News. December 17, 2009. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Nicole Tsong (November 23, 2009). "Bellevue residents blast new bikini espresso stand". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 27 November 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  18. ^ Chelsea Krotzer (September 26, 2008). "Java Jigglers owner arrested on sex charges". Daily Record. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  19. ^ Sam Howe Verhovek (4 February 2007). "Coffee, with sugar, in Seattle". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008.
  20. ^ "Bikini-clad baristas serve up more than a cupful, it's an eyeful". KING-TV. November 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-02-03. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  21. ^ "Steamed Over Bikini Baristas (Video)". CBS News. November 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ David Chircop (May 27, 2008). "'Bikini baristas': Cities explore options for coverup". The Herald (Everett). Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  24. ^ "SnoCo rules bikini baristas are adult businesses". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. December 9, 2009. Archived from the original on December 22, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  25. ^ Ray Lane (October 2, 2009). "Washington town sets limits on bikini baristas' behavior". KBOI-TV. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "Five risque Everett Grab-N-Go baristas charged with prostitution". The Daily Herald. 23 September 2009.
  28. ^ "Your Tax Dollars Hard at NSFW". The Stranger.
  29. ^ "Racy espresso stand upsets preschool's parents". The Daily Herald. 6 February 2009.
  30. ^ "Java Juggs baristas, owner busted for prostitution after probe". KOMO News. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  31. ^ "Undercover cop video shows barista stripping at coffee stand". KOMO News. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  32. ^ "Rule clear about bikini baristas' exposure, Everett argues". HearldNet. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  33. ^ "Bikini baristas hit with court brief demanding they cover up". FOXNews. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  34. ^ Davey, Stephanie (2019-07-03). "City of Everett wins in bikini barista federal court case". Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  35. ^ "Belfair cracks down on sexpresso stands | Seattle". 2008-08-04. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  36. ^ "VIDEO: One County Says No Bikini Baristas, Another Says OK". KiroTV. 2013-07-24. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  37. ^ "Tattler Web Site Outs Workers Seen Visiting Bare Baristas". KIRO-TV. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-01-19. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Josh Shaffer (January 6, 2013). "Shaffer: Coffee with a sexy smile at Cup O Jane". Archived from the original on January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  41. ^ "Bikini coffee shop sparks boycott in Colo". Associated Press. June 6, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010.(describing boycott called for "Perky Cups" in Aurora, Colorado)
  42. ^ Helen Jung (June 25, 2008). "Bikini Coffee tries Portland on for size". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  43. ^ "Youngstown News, Boardman to take a break from OK'ing vendors". 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  44. ^ Harold Valentine (March 26, 2008). "Babes In The 'Hood". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on November 2, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  45. ^ Sam Sessa (August 2, 2010). "Java Divas has baristas in bikinis (and other outfits)". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  46. ^ Mark Millican (July 14, 2009). "Bikini-themed coffee shop opens in Chatsworth". The Daily Citizen (Dalton). Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  47. ^ Gary Dettman (November 18, 2007). "Sexpresso: Coffee with a Sexy Twist". KVBC-DT. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  48. ^ "Some like it hottie at new Vegas coffee shop". Chicago Sun-Times. November 27, 2007. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  49. ^ "Barista Beauties: Coffee shop to feature sexy servers". The Brownsville Herald. May 18, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  50. ^ Susan Weich (May 18, 2008). "Hot coffee shop is far cooler than its racy reputation". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  51. ^ "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.
  52. ^ Jenna Briand (November 5, 2009). "Bye Bye, Bikini Baristas". KNBC. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  53. ^ Staff (Jul 29, 2011). "Skin Is In At Modesto Coffee Shops". KCRA Channel 3. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  54. ^ "Local and Breaking News from The Modesto Bee in Modesto, California". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ Clough, Bethany (June 17, 2014). "Bikini baristas now serving coffee in Fresno shops". The Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  57. ^ Burton, Jynsi (7 June 2017). "Charge:Repeat offender caught pleasuring self at bikini barista stand". Sinclair Broadcast Group. Komonews. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  58. ^ Salo, Jackie (22 February 2018). "Bikini barista: How I escaped an attempted rape at knifepoint". New York Post. NYP HOLDINGS, INC. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  59. ^ "Kent police make arrest in attempted rape at bikini barista stand". Kiro 7. Cox Media Group. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  60. ^ "Bikini barista coffee stand robbed in Mount Vernon". Cox Media Group. KIRO 7. 28 August 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  61. ^ Mann, David (September 15, 2020). "Pasco man arrested for 'pleasuring himself' outside bikini barista drive-thru window, police say". YAKTRINEWS. Morgan Murphy Media. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  62. ^ Hagen, Madeleine (September 18, 2020). "Repeat lewd offender remains in Franklin County Jail". YAKTRINEWS. Morgan Murphy Media. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  63. ^ none (28 February 2014). "Laura Maggi, business a gogò. Le foto sexy pure". Oggi. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  64. ^ Heather Murphy (September 17, 2008). "A Little Skin With Your Latte?". National Public Radio. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  65. ^ Adam Fuller and Jason Snyder (August 1, 2008). "Café Con Piernas: Good 'Til the Last Drop". The Santiago Times. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  66. ^ John Flinn (February 12, 2006). "Out on a limb for coffee with legs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  67. ^ Huang, Wan-tran (12 March 2007). "Why Pick on Betel-nut Beauties?". Taipei Times. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  68. ^ Marks, Kathy (2010-05-13). "Clock is ticking for Australia's bikini-clad Meter Maids". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  69. ^ Lisa Wade, PhD (August 18, 2015), "Are bikini baristas sex workers? Are you?", Sociological Images
  70. ^ Leah Sottile (7 April 2015). "Just Because I Work Here Doesn't Mean I Don't Respect Myself". The Atlantic.

Further reading[edit]