Driven to Espresso: Drive-through Coffee Stands in the Northwest

If you think coffee culture is cool, you have come to the right place. I have loads of information and opinions to share about espresso in the Pacific Northwest, especially the drive-through phenomenon.

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Location: Edmonds, WA, United States

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sex sells... coffee

The business model of selling coffee along with a cheap thrill is alive and well six years after its conception. Most businesses in any industry stand the chance of losing business to their competition and drive-through coffee stands, even in the coffee crazy Northwest, are no exception. Businesses must continually adapt and seek ways to set themselves apart.

In Driven to Espresso, I explained one reaction to stiff competition in the coffee business: 

Some stand owners try "...a technique older than coffee itself: more and more baristas are wearing less and less. A Seattle Times article in January 2007 publicized the phenomenon of “sexpresso” drive-throughs that employ bikini- or negligee-clad baristas and even an occasional topless barista. Ever since then, a steady number of espresso drive-throughs have adopted this tactic to attract more customers (more men, anyway) to their windows."

As you can see by this article on alabama.com, this is an ever-expanding and successful tactic in the coffee stand business. The article does not mention the history of community disapproval, controversy, and legal issues surrounding this type of stand, nor bring up the handful of cases where this cheap thrill was heightened by some individuals and were prosecuted as prostitution.

Be that as it may, now that it has been six years and some of the stands have "gone national," it is becoming clear that it is a viable business model.