Coffee, controversy brewing in Gorst

A new coffee stand in Gorst is attracting attention — both positive and negative — by taking the idea of baristas in skimpy outfits and removing even more clothing.

Unlike nearby stand Natte Latte, which features women serving coffee in tiny pants, the barista working at Espresso Gone Wild Tuesday afternoon was wearing nothing above her waist but strategically placed flower stickers, and below the waist only a tiny pair of underwear.

The young barista, who did not give her name, said she had been working at the business for a couple of months, and while she had a steady stream of customers, her stand is definitely not popular with women.

“Girls hate us,” said the barista. “I’ve had them come up and yell at me, and one woman who threw stuff at me.”

Her outfit was explained by a sign on the window declaring it was “Pastie Tuesday,” along with another sign that said “We work in our underwear for your viewing pleasure.”

When asked about the legalities of having women wearing so little clothing while serving coffee, Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, said he was aware of the business, and so far there seemed to be no crimes committed.

“As far as the scantily dressed baristas, while their attire may be

titillating, unless we start receiving complaints that they’ve crossed the line to lewd conduct or indecent exposure, then it’s none of our business,” Wilson said.

According to the RCW, “A person is guilty of indecent exposure if he or she intentionally makes any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.”

As far as lewd conduct, the RCW describes “lewd matter” as synonymous with “obscene matter” and means any matter which: “the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, when considered as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.”

When asked if the new coffee stand was siphoning their customers, several baristas working in and around Port Orchard said they had not noticed a change.

At Bay Buoy Espresso on Bay Street, barista Larenda McNeill said soon after it opened, some customers told her, “they’re going to put you out of business.”

But McNeill said that didn’t happen.

“Our customers are mostly shipyard workers and people taking ferries,” she said.

McNeill said she understood the idea behind the business model. “Sex sells — especially in Gorst.”

As far as working at a place like that, McNeill said she understands the baristas there make a lot of money in tips, but she wouldn’t want to work there — for several reasons.

“I mean, imagine how cold it would be? And what if you spilled something on yourself?” said McNeill, whose window displayed signs explaining the trivia of the day and that Wednesday was “double shot for free” day.

At Bucksnort Coffee further east on Bay Street, barista Stephanie Campbell said she had not noticed a drop in her business, either.

“We have a classier, professional clientele,” Campbell said, explaining that she has had male customers tell her they felt uncomfortable visiting the stand and came back to Bucksnort. “We cater to business people.”

At Chug-A-Tug Espresso also on Bay Street, barista Candace Brown agreed that many people may drive to Gorst to check out the stand, but they’ll return to their normal stands when the novelty wears off.

“They tell me that their coffee’s not very good,” said Brown, explaining that her stand attracts and keeps customers by hiring “outgoing, classy” girls that above all else, “make good coffee.”

Calls seeking comment from the operators of Espresso Gone Wild were not returned. An ad on craigslist posted in January seeking baristas for the stand described it as “busy,” and that “we have a very sexy theme that keeps our customers coming back over and over again.”

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