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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?