Coffee gets a racy kick in Cd’A

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Tarah Johnson, bikini barista at The Pink Spot in Coeur d'Alene, makes a coffee drink for a customer Tuesday during her shift.

COEUR d’ALENE — Mochas and macchiatos come with some extra perk at one of Coeur d’Alene’s newer coffee stands.

Roll up to the window of The Pink Spot, a white drive-through kiosk dotted with pink patches, and you’ll be greeted by a cheerful barista and a whole lot of skin.

Lea Hoiland opened the stand at 3023 Government Way in December. While not a franchise, she said The Pink Spot is a “sister” to Cowgirls Espresso, a Seattle-based chain of kiosks where barely clad baristas have been serving coffee for several years.

“It’s very classy, not trashy. We don’t take things very far,” Hoiland said. “You’re not going to see anything there you wouldn’t see at the beach.”

Cowgirls Espresso, founded by Hoiland’s best friend, Lori Bowden, was named the “Sexiest Coffee Shop” in America in the March issue of Maxim Magazine, and has been featured multiple times by national media including Fox News and CBS. Hoiland said Cowgirls Espresso representatives were just interviewed by the Travel Channel for an upcoming feature. “We’re just bringing the same thing here,” Hoiland said.

The bikini barista trend at Cowgirls Espresso started on a Wednesday several years ago, Hoiland said, when one of Bowden’s baristas asked for permission to wear a bikini top while working.

“Those stands get extremely hot,” she said.

The 10-by-20-foot space is filled with espresso and ice machines and refrigerators, and they all give off heat.

The day that Bowden’s barista wore a bikini top, sales tripled, so Wednesdays became Bikini Wednesdays in all the Cowgirls Espresso kiosks.

Soon, other theme days were added, and the Pink Spot does the same.

On Military Mondays, Pink Spot customers might have their coffee drinks prepared by a sexy soldier, and military discounts are given to eligible customers.

Tarah Johnson, of Spirit Lake, was working in the stand on Schoolgirl Tuesday.

Wearing large, framed glasses and a man’s tie around her neck, Johnson cheerfully pulled espresso shots while wearing a black bra and bottom.

She recently graduated from the University of Idaho with a master’s degree in fishery resources. Her study focus was on fish health, and Johnson said she’s about to begin looking for work in her field. Even when she finds that job, Johnson said she’ll probably continue working part time at the bikini stand.

“It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a great response,” Johnson said. “What girl doesn’t like dressing up every day?”

The week is filled out by Bikini Wednesday, Cowgirl Thursday and Fantasy Friday, the day when a lucky customer might see his favorite barista dressed in a costume he requested.

“They end up tipping them really well,” Hoiland said.

Sometimes there’s very little skin showing, she said, like with the motocross rider outfit a barista once wore, complete with arm pads.

A recent customer request was for a construction worker barista, Hoiland said.

That outfit included a helmet and a bright, orange vest.

“Again, it was almost completely covered, and it was super cute,” she said.

While coffee stands with steamy baristas aren’t a new concept, The Pink Spot is the only one in Coeur d’Alene, and could be the first. Hoiland said there are some bikini stands out there where “trashy” things have taken place, but The Pink Spot doesn’t tolerate that. She has cameras in the kiosk, and said she is frequently monitoring the business.

There is at least one other sexy coffee stand in the area.

Employees at Sling Shots Espresso at 3826 E. Seltice Way in Post Falls at the Highway 41 interchange wear lingerie Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, they wear costumes and weekends are casual attire.

Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug said his agency has gotten some calls from residents questioning the attire, but the business is not breaking any laws.

In the summer, employees wear bikinis for car washes.

Speaking of car washes, Hoiland said customers won’t see anything at The Pink Spot that they wouldn’t see at a girls’ high school car wash fundraiser.

“If you’re offended by that, then the Pink Spot isn’t for you,” Hoiland said.

The Pink Spot’s customers are primarily men, but plenty of women show up at the stand, she said.

“The girls are great, but people love our coffee. They return for it,” Hoiland said.

Staff writer Brian Walker contributed to this report.

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