The bikini barista comes to town

Is Bikini Espresso Cafe a clever niche-marketing idea, or just stereotypical exploitation of women, masquerading as a smart business move?

Brand Republic reports:

A US firm is planning to launch a chain of coffee shops staffed entirely by bikini-clad women in several global locations, including the UK.

Bikini Espresso Café launched in Los Angeles last week. It is aimed at attracting male coffee-drinkers and, according to reports, has had a successful first week.

‘Looking good in a bikini’ and not the ability to make a good espresso is the main requirement for the baristas, according to the owners.

So visual appeal is the important thing, more than knowledge of coffees or any ability to make a good espresso, Americano or latte.

I couldn’t find any website for the company although there is plenty of buzz about Bikini Espresso Cafe if you simply search on the name. Quite a bit of buzz on Twitter, too.

And of course, the tabloids and other mainstream media just love the story.

My online searching did produce a video shot by The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon, USA, at the opening of the Bikini Coffee Company’s store in that city last year.

Bikini Coffee Company’s Grand Opening

Note the name: Bikini Coffee Company, not Bikini Espresso Cafe. Is it the same company? I don’t think so.

Yet watching this video and seeing the different reactions and opinions from different people, I’d say you could expect similar here if and when a coffee shop opens in London where the baristas are all bikini-clad young women, whatever the name of the company that hangs above the door.

The LA Times has a report on the Bikini Espresso Cafe’s opening in Los Angeles last week, with the best comment from a member of the public with this highly pragmatic view:

Just to be fair, can we have lattes served by hot men in Speedos? :-)

Clearly we’ve moved on quite a bit from when free wifi would give a coffee shop operator an edge – and that edge is itself under pressure in New York as a backlash emerges on people hogging tables and nursing a single coffee for hours while they do their stuff online (I bet that’s just the start of a new trend).

I guess in a fiercely-competitive market, you have to have an approach that differentiates you and makes you stand out from the crowd.

Will bikini baristas do it, though?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Charles

    If there’s already a company that’s tried it and hardly made a splash I doubt it’s going to work, it’s a gimmick that gets them some coverage but if the coffee’s not up to much why bother going back?

    • neville

      I’m not so sure, Charles. If the company’s stated goal is to target male coffee drinkers, it’s easy to see a success potential in terms of customer volume.

      And if the male customers in the video are anything to go by, it looks like the quality of the coffee is the last thing they’ll worry about.

      I can see huge buzz potential. Whether it’s all a sustainable business is another matter.

  2. Danielle

    I dont see why everyone freaks out about these. I work at one…all I have to say if you dont like it….dont look =] Like the owner said….YOUR HYPOCRITS….Its just like going to the beach only were gettin paid to flaunt what we got. Its not demeaning……its a good way to make good money. And all you old women are mad cause you wish you were young and hot….and all you young protesters are ridiculous…….theres nothing wrong with what we do. PERIOD. go to Europe…..then you’ll really see something to get offended over. Were born in the Nude people…come on now….Naked is NATURAL. DEAL WITH IT.

  3. Coffee Clubs

    There are many people who are so conservative so you could not blame them if they don't want to see bikini barista's . For me there is no wrong with bikini barista's as long as they put it in a culture that is open and not conservative to avoid misconceptions and issues.

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