Baristas Coffee Company is making a bet that even if you prefer your coffee iced, you'll appreciate a bit of hotness in your coffee shop experience. The growing chain of drive-thru cafes, based out of Seattle, Wash., has been described as a cross between Hooters and Starbucks. And true to that moniker, it is staffed only by "attractive female baristas" wearing "a variety of appealing costumed-themed attire" -- think skimpy French maid uniforms and lingerie bedecked with angel's wings.
The original store opened in 1996. The 15 years since then may not have brought growth comparable to Five Guys or Starbucks, but they've still been good to the company; it now operates a total of seven stores in Washington and Texas. Baristas has also inked deals with local development companies to open several more outposts in New Jersey, Arizona and in the Tampa area.
That said, Baristas has had its fair share of hiccups along the way. In September, federal officials accused the company of failing to pay its workers as much as they were due. The investigation is ongoing, and is expected to lead to a jury trial in 2013.
And the "sexpresso" business has historically faced an uphill battle across the country. The topless Vietnamese coffee shops of San Jose, Calif. have been fighting back and forth with city for years. One high profile nude coffee shop in Maine was burned to the ground in a brutal arson. And Seattle-based drive-thru chain Grab-n-Go, probably closest analogue to Baristas, found itself embroiled in charges of prostitution.
But Baristas has a secret weapon: reality TV. Just the other day, the company announced that it would hold open casting calls (for women between the ages of 18 and 25, of course) for a new reality TV it's developing based on its service workers. They'll be housed in a domicile called the "Coffee Castle" during filming.
There's nothing more American than coffee, breastaurants and reality TV. (Except maybe apple pie.) We wouldn't bet against you.
Want to see more? Watch this video Baristas made when it opened its Texas location: