Is Bikini Espresso Cafe a clever niche-marketing idea, or just stereotypical exploitation of women, masquerading as a smart business move?
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 CafÃ© 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.
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 Companyâ€™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 donâ€™t think so.
Yet watching this video and seeing the different reactions and opinions from different people, Iâ€™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.
Just to be fair, can we have lattes served by hot men in Speedos? :-)
Clearly weâ€™ve moved on quite a bit from when free wifi would give a coffee shop operator an edge â€“ 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 thatâ€™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?