In a short, sheer, baby-doll negligee and coordinated pink panties, Candice Law is dressed to work at a drive-through espresso stand in Tukwila, and she is working it.
Customers pull their trucks up to the window, where Law greets each with an affectionate nickname, blows kisses, and vamps about as she steams milk for a mocha. “You want whipped cream?” she asks, a sly smile playing on her pierced lip.
The next customer rolls up, and Law throws a long leg onto the window sill, like an indie-rock ballerina at the barre.
“Do you like my leg warmers?” she asks. “Aren’t they hot?”
Hot is not the half of it. To stand apart from the hordes of drive-through espresso stands that clutter the Northwest’s roadsides, commuter coffee stops such as Tukwila’s Cowgirls Espresso are adding bodacious baristas, flirty service and ever more-revealing outfits to the menu.
At Port Orchard’s Natté Latté, baristas sport hot-pink hot pants and tight white tank tops. Day-of-the-week theme outfits ranging from racy lingerie to “fetish” ensembles are the dress code at Moka Girls Espresso in Auburn and at several Cowgirls Espresso stands in the area. Bikini tops are the special at Café Lorraine on Highway 9 in Woodinville, and the women of The Sweet Spot in Shoreline pose provocatively in Playmate-style profiles on the stand’s Web site.
“In this area, we all know how to make good coffee,” said Barbara Record, who opened Bikini Espresso in Renton last month. The trick is to set your business apart, she said, and sex is one sure-fire way to do that.
“It’s just, how far do you want to go?” she said.
At Best Friend Espresso in Kenmore, baristas go thigh-high. An elevated service window offers customers a nearly full-length view of pretty, young baristas — some of them high-school students — in short skirts, tank tops and high heels.
Best Friend owner Wayne Hembree said he requires employees to dress “classy;” in dresses, skirts and a nice top.
“What I think most of them have found is that their tips are better if they wear short skirts,” he said.
…Occasionally, Best Friend does theme days, such as “schoolgirl” or adding glasses for a sexy “secretary” look, manager Heather Bacon said.
…At places such as Cowgirls, the barista is the brand.
“If I’m going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee” said one male customer, “I’m not going to get served by a guy.”
…[One owner] requires staff members to wear makeup and do their hair, “and these guys, I won’t lie to you, they like that,” he said.