Would You Like Some Flirting with that Coffee?

Editor’s Note: Make it Missoula has partnered with the University of Montana’s Online News class, taught by Lee Banville, to create a Citizen Journalism feature that’s all about local views, stories, and issues. We’re excited to provide them with a platform so they can objectively explore and report about the topics they think reflect the lives and times of Missoula and its citizens.

By MICHAEL MALLORY

“Hey, Hun! What can I make for you?”  says the half-clothed young lady waiting at the window of a bright red coffee stand off South Russell Street.

A male college student replies slowly with an order.

“So what are you up to today? Have any plans for tonight?” she says while while the coffee brews. She continues to lay on the small talk, with extra charm and flirt.

No matter what time of the day, the provocative coffee stand called ‘Baristas’ seems to regularly draw in business, whether early morning or late afternoon.

Barista Marteen says the skimpy outfits are worth it when you can earn $100 a day in tips for serving coffee.

Barista Marteen says the skimpy outfits are worth it when you can earn $100 a day in tips for servingcoffee.

The stand belongs to a franchise that tailors to those who enjoy a little flirtation along with their whipped-up caffeinated drink.

It’s a ‘costume-based’ coffee stand that features spunky young ladies, who show more skin than not, while making you one of the not-so-subtly named beverages on their menu.

Baristas wasn’t the first company in Missoula to mix coffee making with sex appeal, but they became the only one when the Seattle-based company bought Ooh La Latte last March. Ooh La Latte caused a bit of a stir when it opened in 2012, but remained the only business trying to mix sex and caffeine and, according to Amanda, a 23-year-old employee of Baristas, they get customers that come “for a bit of both.”

“There are the regulars and people who just want to come check it out.  You can tell which ones are new because they peak in at us while we’re making drinks and then look away really fast,” she said.

Apparently there are different kinds of regulars, and they’re not all men.

“There are the regulars who just stare through the window the whole time and there are the regulars who are pretty nice and really like our coffee.  It’s not just guys though. There are a lot of women who come to see me.”

With wearing tiny costumes for customers come the dangers of uncomfortable situations.

“This one time a guy asked me if there was anything extra that we do to make extra tips.  I acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about, and then he made a flashing motion. It was really awkward,” she said.

Despite all the potential for customers behaving badly, Marteen, 24, said the work is well worth it.

“I don’t really mind wearing the costumes. On an average, we’re each making about a hundred dollars in tips so I’m happy,” she said, he

Talk to the customers and you hear about what really draws them to Baristas – the drinks, obviously.

“I go to Baristas because I like their beverages, especially their strawberry banana smoothies, and the girls are really nice.  I ask for the usual, and they make me my smoothie,” Damon Alexander said, handing over his bright red loyal customer card with a barista-hand written ‘Damon, XOXO’ across the back.

The college student has his coffee and as he puts the car into gear the barista smiles and acts sad that his short visit has come to an end.

Their moment is at an end and the barista is already looking at two other guys driving pickup trucksas she smiles and says distractedly, “Come and see me again soon!”