Shedding Clothes And Selling Coffee

bill geist coffee scantily clad barista
bill geist coffee scantily clad barista

Seattle is America's coffee capital but there are so many places selling the stuff that coffee shops have to come up with some pretty creative marketing strategies to keep a leg up on the competition.

The latest tactic in the coffee wars could be called sexpresso: scantily clad baristas at the ubiquitous drive-through coffee stands.

"We're trying to find a niche in a market that's flooded with espresso stands and this is what we came up with and it's working," Adrianne who works at a Cowgirls Espresso Stand told Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist.

Her boss, Lori Bowdin, started with bikini Wednesdays. She said when people first came to her stand and saw her servers they simply thought "wow."

"They're excited to come back the next time and see what the girls are going to wear," she said.

At The Sweet Spot, Sara and Edi — a bubbly pair — are selling a fresh brew of caffeine and cleavage. They feature tube top Tuesdays, wet t-shirt Wednesdays, fantasy Fridays and offer fast, friendly and flirtatious service. They've given such racy names to their drinks you're sometimes embarrassed to order.

"Nasty erotic pleasure, sexual mix erotic pleasure is pretty good or you could always order a joy ride," Sara said, listing some of the names.

Sarah and Edi are actually two of the more conservatively dressed sexpresso baristas.

"We leave a little bit to the imagination," Edi said.

But according to Seattle police sergeant John Urquhart, no one is committing the crime of indecent exposure.

"I used to be on the vice squad," he said. "I know it when I see it and I haven't seen it."

"You have to cover the breasts and the buttocks you have to cover all of that," Lori said.

Sexpresso stands throughout the Seattle area say they've had few complaints from the public or their baristas. Most are paid minimum wage but their tip cups runneth over. Some pull in between $80 and $150 a day.

"They love it they have fun they smile all day long and they smile all the way to the bank," Lori said.

In a city where coffee is a religion and latte an art, some consider sexpresso a bit of a sacrilege.

"We're trying to elevate the industry" Robert Burgess of the Seattle Barista Academy, said. "People who go there go for entertainment. I think they're ordering a tall risotto non fat milk one pump chocolate no whip drink that is going to take as long as possible for that barista to prepare."

Cowgirls espresso has grown to six stands and Lori said she hopes to franchise all across the country. Sexpresso — a marketing concept drawing customers and bringing them back for more and more and more.