Research Project Title

Comparative Analysis of Communication Practices of Baristas: Drive-Through Coffee, A Service Sexualized

Session Type

Traditional Paper Presentation

Research Project Abstract

A regional phenomenon has gone unstudied for too long. In the Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and in some parts of California drive-through coffee stands are found on many corners. Most are tiny shed-style facilities which hold only a few employees at a time and provide a variety of flavored coffee, espresso, teas and energy drinks and minimal food offerings. This business model has not undergone much critical social analysis, meanwhile a new outcropping of this business type with a sexualized spin has even less scholarly examination. A lingerie coffee stand, sometimes referred to as “bikini barista” or even “titty coffee” is a business similar to other drive-through coffee stands, but vastly different because of the employee uniform standards. The significant difference between a lingerie coffee stand and a standard drive through coffee-stand is that the employees are all female and wear lingerie. There is no mandatory uniform so girls dress up in many forms of what is basically underwear. They wear close-toed shoes for health and safety reasons, but those reasons are out the window when it comes to the rest of their attire. Girls wear all manner of underwear, bras, playsuits, sheer tops, and on certain days (Tuesday and Thursday) are required to be “topless” which in this context means wearing underwear of some sort and nipple pasties, stickers that cover only the nipple of the breast. This business model is not new or isolated to one community. Lingerie coffee stands can be found all up and down the west coast and the Pacific Northwest in general, although no official data has been collected on how many there are, or when the first was established. This social phenomena raises questions about coffee culture, customer service habits and practices, and display work and its impact on employees. Public opinion of display work industries (strippers, Hooters) is that they are anti-feminist or detrimental to the women in the workplace and profit from the male gaze at the expense of female dignity and enforcement of feminine ideals of sex appeal. I believe that in order to truly call the sexualized version of this industry harmful, we have to examine both forms in a comparative way.

Session Number

RS7

Location

Weyerhaeuser 205

Abstract Number

RS7-a

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Apr 28th, 11:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:30 PM

Comparative Analysis of Communication Practices of Baristas: Drive-Through Coffee, A Service Sexualized

Weyerhaeuser 205

A regional phenomenon has gone unstudied for too long. In the Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and in some parts of California drive-through coffee stands are found on many corners. Most are tiny shed-style facilities which hold only a few employees at a time and provide a variety of flavored coffee, espresso, teas and energy drinks and minimal food offerings. This business model has not undergone much critical social analysis, meanwhile a new outcropping of this business type with a sexualized spin has even less scholarly examination. A lingerie coffee stand, sometimes referred to as “bikini barista” or even “titty coffee” is a business similar to other drive-through coffee stands, but vastly different because of the employee uniform standards. The significant difference between a lingerie coffee stand and a standard drive through coffee-stand is that the employees are all female and wear lingerie. There is no mandatory uniform so girls dress up in many forms of what is basically underwear. They wear close-toed shoes for health and safety reasons, but those reasons are out the window when it comes to the rest of their attire. Girls wear all manner of underwear, bras, playsuits, sheer tops, and on certain days (Tuesday and Thursday) are required to be “topless” which in this context means wearing underwear of some sort and nipple pasties, stickers that cover only the nipple of the breast. This business model is not new or isolated to one community. Lingerie coffee stands can be found all up and down the west coast and the Pacific Northwest in general, although no official data has been collected on how many there are, or when the first was established. This social phenomena raises questions about coffee culture, customer service habits and practices, and display work and its impact on employees. Public opinion of display work industries (strippers, Hooters) is that they are anti-feminist or detrimental to the women in the workplace and profit from the male gaze at the expense of female dignity and enforcement of feminine ideals of sex appeal. I believe that in order to truly call the sexualized version of this industry harmful, we have to examine both forms in a comparative way.