Arts and Entertainment

Scantily clad baristas and the media who love them

One of Bremerton
One of Bremerton's finest pulls up for a cup of coffee at Gorst's Espresso Gone Wild on a Tuesday night.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff photo

On Feb. 9, as presidential primary caucuses, national deficits and the mortgage crisis cluttered the mainstream media stage, the big news in Gorst was girls selling coffee in their skivvies.

No joke. Front page.

A little coffee shack called Espresso Gone Wild — located in the armpit of Puget Sound near the gentleman’s club Toys Topless — has evidently been brewing a bit of controversy with a theme they call “Pastie Tuesdays.”

“Pastie” in this case meaning the miniscule article of clothing that scarcely covers the unspeakable part of a woman’s upper body.

Of course, scantily clad baristas are nothing new.

Last year, around this time, the Seattle Times “broke” a story about drive-through coffee chains that were spicing up more than just the chai latte with “bodacious baristas” sporting short skirts, tight tops, flirty service and even day-of-the-week themes.

The story went nationwide, coast to coast. Through outlets like CBS, the Boston Globe, even USA Today, reporters gawked at the latest “sex sells” tactic, coined the term “sexpresso” and reaped readership benefits.

The Seattle Times reported in a follow-up article, that the scantily clad barista story was one of its most read and most commented on. Ridiculous.

So when a sister paper reported there was a new drive-thru espresso stand in Gorst brewing up more than just coffee, I figured I should investigate.

To cover it righteously I knew I should sample all the “coffee” that Gorst had to offer. Figuring I’d work my way up the exposure chain, I started at the tamer of the two sexpresso stands — Natte Latte, famed for its baristas’ hot pink hot pants.

Strangely, while I was waiting in line, a fully clothed woman came to my window.

It was a reporter from a competing paper, humorously enough.

She was doing a story on coffee in Gorst, she said, because apparently there’s a bit of an apparel war going on. She wanted to know why I’d chosen this coffee stand. As if it wasn’t obvious.

I laughed, declined comment and pulled forward for a $2.59 Americano, which is just an every-day drip coffee.

Up the road, at Espresso Gone Wild, the line of Dodge Rams and Ford 250s reached almost to the highway. Waiting in that line, I tuned into NPR for the latest on the presidential primaries.

Barack Obama, NPR reported, had won Virginia with 87 percent of the vote counted, while the race was still too close to call between Republican candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

“Obama is on his way to a sweep of the Potomac ... .”

“Hey there, how ya doin?” the broadcast was interrupted by a barista.

Sure enough, “Pastie Tuesday” was in full swing.

I ordered up a cappuccino this time, and waiting for my drink, I saw the man at the drive-through window on the other side had brought the baristas cookies to go along with their substantial tip.

I didn’t tip because the $3 coffee was crappy.

I could’ve gotten a much tastier cup with five times the caffeine for just $1.23 at the convenience store across the street. But that’s not really the point.

The point here is that, in this society, which seemingly grows more perverse with every year, sex sells, even newspapers. The question is, where is the line between business and exploitation?

Law enforcement agencies around the state, including Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, have weighed in, maintaining that these establishments are not breaking the law and leaving it at that. KCSO said they will not act on it unless they get complaints or see for themselves that it is over the line.

On that note, last week on Tuesday (pastie) night, while I was waiting for an interview with the Gone Wild girls, I saw two cars of Bremerton’s finest drive up to the window to take a look for themselves.

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