Government Law

Do coffee baristas serve up too much while wearing too little? Cities enact new laws, conduct raids

“Some Like it Hot,” proclaims a sign for Java Juggs, one of the racy, drive-through coffee kiosks that have become popular in Washington state.

But others clearly do not, requiring municipalities in the region to determine how hot is too hot as residents complain that scantily clad “bikini baristas” at adult-themed coffee stands such as Java Juggs, Twin Peaks and Showcase are serving up too much for the taste of the community.

Pasties were banned by the city council of Spokane Valley, cooling down the business at XXXtreme Espresso, whose owner had been featuring so-called “topless” days, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Last week, the city council of Kent enacted an ordinance prohibiting “offensive, disturbing, lewd or obscene activity…by employees of coffee stands or other businesses.”

Arrests were made last year in Snohomish County, following raids on seven coffee shops accused of selling more than coffee. (It was priced at $7 a cup, but “a show” was allegedly offered, for example, when a $20 bill was presented by an undercover officer.)

And at least one owner has been convicted of indecent exposure, in Yakima, Wash., because a bikini barista at the establishment wore shorts determined to be both too skimpy and too sheer. A city ordinance bans bikini baristas from wearing G-strings and see-through clothing.

Prosecutors sought a 10-day jail term for the owner, but the judge gave her 100 hours of community service and fined her $1,000, reported KIT radio. The barista whose attire was at issue was acquitted by a jury.

Some municipal officials in Everett have suggested it would be better simply to regulate racy coffee kiosks as adult-entertainment establishments and allow baristas to flash exposed body parts. But the brief business transactions that take place there may pose a problem, one official suggests.

“The anonymity of driving up to some of these stands perhaps lends itself to criminal activity,” Meghan Pembroke told the newspaper. She serves as the city’s public information director.

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