Let me preface this piece with admission: I have, in fact, never patronized a bikini barista stand. Being a Seattleite and a coffee lover, it has still somehow never crossed my mind to give one my business. I have a suspicion that this niche business is flourishing quite nicely without my help, and one that is most certainly not targeted to my demographic. The industry is booming. Typing “bikini baristas” in your online search bar will pull up 70 businesses in over 131 locations in Washington. Someone looking for a little eye candy alongside with their coffee can now obtain both things at the same location. In a market where the competition is fierce and the need to set your business apart is paramount, I can see how a business model like this is going well. It also opens the door to clever plays on words like “Gorgeous Grounds” and “Bikini Bottoms Espresso”.
However, not everyone feels as impartial to it as I. There have been quite a few cases of decency laws and concerned patrons that are worried about their children exposed to such indecency as pasty-clad baristas. In Spokane, for example, there is an initiative to make a misdemeanor crime of “unlawful public exposure”, spearheaded by a trio of concerned mothers. The question arises of course, of how much of this exposure is really “public” when there is a clear choice to not patronize a particular business that employs this type of marketing.
In a lot of the reviews for stands that utilized bikini baristas, there was mention of the conversation or attitudes of the baristas. Obviously, the product needed to be of quality (there were posts regarding this as well), but the desire for a certain type of interaction was strong. It showed me that the clients that patronize bikini baristas have a certain conversational tone. It becomes a part of the entire experience.
Personally I have always been a little neurotic about my food and drink. My mother bought me sectioned plates as a youngster so that my food wouldn’t have to touch, so my opinion may seem a bit drastic. However, even in other places where there are food and lack of clothing, there always seems to be a degree of separation. Strip clubs have been rumored to have some delicious chicken wings, but it isn’t the dancer that serves you, it’s a waitress. No matter the conversation or the roast, I would like a few more layers of clothing between my barista and my yummy beverage or baked treat. Then again, more and more bikini barista coffee have stands been opening every day. In places where some baristas report bringing in tips of up to $300 daily, the clothing, or lack thereof seems to make the patrons happy.