Sexpresso coffee shops take Seattle by storm

At the Sweet Spot Cafe in the northern suburbs of Seattle, you get more than a foam topping on your cappucino. You get a waitress in a bikini, or maybe a tight-fitting T-shirt, and a choice of drinks with names such as Wet Dream (with caramel and white chocolate), Sexual Mix (a caramel macchiato) or Erotic Pleasure.

South of the city, in Tukwila, the baristas at Cowgirls Espresso wear sheer negligees and visible pink panties. It's the same story in any number of other suburban bars and drive-through stands, like the Natte Latte in Port Orchard or Moka Girls in Auburn - bikinis, racy lingerie, fetish clothing, and plenty of suggestively exposed flesh.

At Best Friend Espresso in Kenmore, at the northern end of Lake Washington, the outfits take their inspiration from Playboy-style sex fantasies. The staff will go for the naughty schoolgirl look one week, then don black-framed glasses the next to look like sexy secretaries.

Welcome to "sexpresso" - the latest coffee fad to hit America, in which the country's seemingly boundless fascination for Italian-style Java is combined with its equally boundless fascination for half-naked women.

Seattle may not be the first American city to come to mind when it comes to the pleasures of the flesh, but it is super-saturated with coffee stands, all of which are battling each other - and the mighty, locally based behemoth that is Starbucks - to give morning commuters an extra reason to stop off at their particular establishment.

"Here on Aurora Avenue, there's a drive-through every 20 blocks. You have to do something to stand out," said Sarah Araujo, owner of The Sweet Spot. Ms Araujo brainstormed with her customers to come up with something new and different when she bought the cafe - then called Aurora Espresso - a couple of years ago.

Not only did her staff start removing clothing and giving suggestive new names to the drinks, they also started doing theme days - Tube Top Tuesdays, Wet T-Shirt Wednesdays and Fantasy Fridays.

The plastic coffee cups are indistinguishable in shape from those sold in any other coffee shop in north America. But they are decorated with the silhouette of a busty naked woman carrying a steaming mug of "Joe". The lid is sealed with a pink lipstick kiss.

During the summer, when the persistent Seattle rain finally lifts and the Pacific Northwest enjoys a few months of real sunshine, The Sweet Spot organises bikini car washes and takes care to post the most suggestive photographs on its website. This year, the cafe is planning a barista calendar.

Coming with a theme for a coffee bar is nothing new in America. In Los Angeles, there are cafes where you can buy second-hand books, get cut-price legal advice, throw pots, or listen to really, really bad live music provided by local bands. Strangely, nobody until now has thought of combining coffee with sex.

Ms Araujo and others say it has given an unmistakable boost to their businesses. Their staff may only receive minimum wage, but the tips can be terrific.

"Our customers may be half-asleep when they get here, but we do what it takes to wake them up," said Ms Araujo. "They always say: 'Thanks for the great cup of coffee and the smile; it made my day'."

Some local puritans have expressed disquiet - and railed at The Seattle Times newspaper after it ran a feature on the sexpresso trend 10 days ago. But law enforcement officials say there is nothing illegal about wearing scanty clothing, so the trend is almost certain to keep spreading.

Even Seattle, though, has its limits. Sexy underwear is all very well, but the city hardly has the climate of French Polynesia.

"We're not in bikinis right now," Ms Araujo conceded in the murky early hours of yesterday. "We're going more for miniskirts and boots. It's pretty cold up here."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine