From the city that brought you Starbucks and Seattle’s Best coffee, a new coffee-related trend is sweeping the nation. Blossoming from Seattle, espresso stands are rising up with a fun little twist–the baristas wear only bikinis (or sometimes lingerie) to work.
Bikini espresso stands, often called “sexpresso stands,” have a lot of controversy surrounding them for obvious reasons. In Everett in 2009, some girls working at a bikini stand were charged with prostitution after police surveillance caught them stripping for cash and doing other illegal activities while on the job, according to CBS News.
The question I find myself asking is whether or not it’s worth it to put oneself in that position. My initial thought is that the job of a sexpresso barista can be somewhat degrading at times, like the job of a stripper. These women are recruited to show off more their bodies than the typical barista for a few extra tips regardless of their coffee-brewing skills simply because they’re willing to “exploit” themselves.
One one side of the spectrum, bikini baristas are victims and I feel sadness for them because they’re exposing their bodies for a little extra cash, even through the cold rainy days of winter. Do these women lack self-respect?
On the other side, I think of bikini baristas and I feel liberated because they are an example to women, declaring that no one should be ashamed to show off their body. It’s a commentary on modern society, where the women must be chaste and virgin-like, and are condemned for showing skin. This is a cry for freedom to wear whatever you want and to not be ashamed of being just a little bit naked.
Does showing up to work dressed in a bikini really make one a victim of exploitation? These women clearly know what they’re getting into by working at this type of stand. According to a bikini barista in Lacey, WA (who wishes to remain anonymous), “The baristas here generally have a lot of fun. Working in bikinis makes us feel more comfortable and puts us in a good mood.”
Legal issues aside, I feel a lot of respect for these women. Those that don’t get into trouble with the law for lewd behavior have my full support. If you’ve got it, flaunt it because not everyone has that sort of confidence, the kind middle school girls would kill for.
Who judges people in bathing suits when they’re worn in summer? No one. Girls and women often comfortably sport their swimwear in public with no social reprimand, but for some reason bikini baristas attract a lot of negative attention. Their growing popularity will hopefully bring about more social acceptance for these type of workers.
“I don’t judge swim suit models, and I definitely don’t judge bikini baristas. Maybe if the economy were better, it’d be easier to judge people for how they support themselves. ” said South Puget Sound Community College student Jessica Yost.
If you’d like to go see one for yourself and make up your own opinion, Bikini Baristaz, the espresso stand in Lacey, is open for business. According to a customer review, “The girls are friendly and nice… Not skanky or slutty.”
Personally, I enjoy going to espresso stands. They provide a great way to get some great coffee and snacks when you’re in a rush. Sexpresso stands aren’t much different– maybe just a little more visually appealing (or repulsive). I recommend going to one even if it’s just for the coffee.