Home / Beliefs / Beefcake vs. bikini: Checking my biases about Spokane baristas
Chris Mullins, owner of Hot Cup of Joe, hands customer Kayte Gier her espresso drink Wednesday. The espresso stand at the intersection of Ash Street and Spofford Avenue in Spokane features shirtless barista men. Colin Mulvany photo/Spokesman-Review

Beefcake vs. bikini: Checking my biases about Spokane baristas

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Chris Mullins, owner of Hot Cup of Joe, hands customer Kayte Gier her espresso drink Wednesday. The espresso stand at the intersection of Ash Street and Spofford Avenue in Spokane features shirtless barista men. Colin Mulvany photo/Spokesman-Review
Chris Mullins, owner of Hot Cup of Joe, hands customer Kayte Gier her espresso drink Wednesday. The espresso stand at the intersection of Ash Street and Spofford Avenue in Spokane features shirtless barista men. Colin Mulvany photo/Spokesman-Review

Just in case you hadn’t heard yet, ex-stripper Chris Mullins has turned small business owner and “beefcake barista.” “Hot Cup of Joe” is a new drive-through espresso that has taken over the building where “Tailor’s Bean Shack Espresso” used to be on Ash Street in Spokane. The catch? He and his two male baristas have gained national attention, because they serve coffee to their customers while shirtless. According to an ABC News blogger, Mullins opened the espresso stand partially in response to Spokane’s supposed bikini barista “tradition.” The blog post also reports that Mullins has bikini barista friends who thought it’d be a good idea and that he thought he might be able to cash in on “the recent Hollywood ‘Magic-Mike’-type craze.”

Would we even be talking about this coffee stand if Spokane and Spokane Valley City Councils hadn’t just finished discussing the bikini barista issue in this area? I think that “Hot Cup of Joe” is a bold and unique idea with the potential to make Chris Mullins a successful businessman. It even opened on Valentine’s Day, which I doubt was an accident, and he is quoted by the Huffington Post as promising that his stand won’t be the site of any indecent exposure (unlike some bikini barista stands that you may have heard of). This guy has a strategy in mind. I also think that the unintended light his coffee stand might bring to gender inequality issues is fantastic.

For example, I drove by the stand on Thursday (Feb. 20) and in conversation with my friends later, found myself having to check my biases. My immediate reaction was positive, but I had to stop myself mid-smile and mid-thought — my reaction to bikini barista stands has never been that simple. Though my stance has been that I don’t necessarily see a problem with women serving coffee in bikinis or other swimsuits, as long as they are doing so by choice and aren’t prostituting themselves, I do have a problem with women in thongs and pasties serving coffee, i.e., bikini baristas versus lingerie coffee shops. I have held this opinion mostly for the same reason that many mothers do: if it’s not something that you should see at a public beach, park or playground, it shouldn’t be in a coffee shop.

Still, even if a woman has a right to work these jobs, I have an aversion to bikini barista shops and would never want my best friend, boyfriend, father or brother visiting one. On the other hand, my initial response was to have absolutely no problem with this new “beefcake barista,” the male version of a bikini barista. For half of a second, I even considered stopping by one day — just to see what all of the fuss was about and if the men really were as friendly as the ABC News blogger reports.

Even this momentary thought, which was quickly thrown out of my mind as a bad idea, is at odds with the revulsion I exhibited when some months ago, a close male friend of mine jokingly suggesting opening such a coffee shop to fund his college expenses. He wasn’t serious, but I was adamantly against the idea — even as a joke. These beefcake guys are someone’s best friends, brothers, fathers, sons, boyfriends or husbands, too, though. Even as an independent-thinking, college-educated woman, I had to check myself and take a good look at what might be a double standard or even a gender bias in my subconscious thoughts.

As a Christian, I have to ask myself what my response should be to these espresso stands. I do not feel like I am in any place to judge; I don’t know these people’s stories, but where do I draw the moral line? Where do we as a community draw the moral line? What are we saying as a city with these coffee shops and our discussions around them? What should the faith and interfaith communities’ responses be to these types of local business? Why are beefcake baristas totally OK while bikini baristas are taboo in our society?

Photo first appeared in the Spokesman-Review, our news partner.

Josie Camarillo

About Josie Camarillo

Josie Camarillo is a recent graduate of Whitworth University, where she majored in English and psychology. Currently pursuing her Master in Social Work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Camarillo writes for SpokaneFAVS from afar, but plans to return to the Spokane area after attaining her licensure as an independent social worker. She dreams of becoming a relationship therapist and a published author. Her hobbies include photography, horseback riding and writing poetry.

Camarillo has a passion for photography and writing, especially poetry, and is interested in creative counseling methods like narrative therapy and using horses in therapy. Someday, she would like to be a counselor and a published poet. Her favorite poems are "The Singing Woman from the Wood's Edge" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and "The Art of Drowning" by Billy Collins.

During fall 2013, Camarillo worked for Spokane Faith & Values as a copy editing intern, where her specialities included deleting Oxford commas and adding hyperlinks. Since then, she has transitioned into becoming a regular contributor to the site as a writer and photographer.

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2 comments

  1. RIFF MATTRE

    THIS post was the week’s “big story” on FAVS and not one single comment? (Wow.)

    Okay. I’ll give it a shot. “Where do we as a community draw the moral line?”

    I suppose the only valid answer to this question in a free and secular society is simply whether or not “Hot Cup of Joe” is a long term success or not. The simple fact there is a public controversy over whether the movie, “Wolf of Wall Street,” condemns or glorifies its aggrandized hedonistic lifestyles sharply spotlights just how much WE LACK COMMON ‘morality.’

    Here’s a question. How does feeding a desire to obtain what another person has for the sole purpose of self-gratification EVER add up to healthy behavior?

    Bodies are great. Beautiful. Art, even. They are deserving of our appreciation and respect which might even include a public ogle or two. Beneath every canvas, however, is a human being.

    I suppose patrons of these establishments are possibly being served the DREAM of being served by such ‘beauty’ and this in itself is innocent? (Wow.)

    Sex is fun. Sex is innocent. Sex is exciting. Sex drives. Sex SELLS.

    It’s all good fun? A car wash? (Maybe.) My daily coffee? (Grow up.) It’s not rocket science, folks. There is a time and place for everything.

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