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Bits & Pieces: Spokane Area Baristas Bare All...

Bits & Pieces: Spokane Area Baristas Bare All, Bear Arms

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In July of 2013, Sprudge correspondent Hanna Neuschwander visited Spokane, Washington to document the city’s burgeoning and quality-focused coffee scene. Her feature focused on 5 of the city’s very best cafes, serving top roasters from across the country. Since then, two more Spokane cafes have received considerable media attention – Jitterz Java and Hot Cup of Joe. 

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Jitterz Java (2135 W Northwest Blvd) claims to be “one of the first coffee stands ever opened in Spokane,” having been founded more than seventeen years ago. Recently, the espresso stand has been hit by a rash of unfortunate robberies. In response to the uptick in crime, baristas are now carrying guns.

Spokane news affiliate KXLY has the story:

Order a drink and you may find yourself looking at Krystal Cogswell’s .38 Special Lavender Lady secured to her hip. She’s one of the half dozen employees arming themselves in case of another robbery.

“Before I never felt an immediate threat, so I would just have it off to the side or somewhere hidden. But now I feel like if someone can see it, maybe it will just deter it right then and there and I won’t ever have to use it,” she explained.

Security footage from the latest robbery attempt Sunday night shows a suspect holding what looks like a weapon trying to enter the shop through the drive-thru window. The employee was able to put down a block to stop the entry and grab her gun, but by then the suspect left. Chapel is making sure her employees can defend themselves if it happens again.

“A couple of them bring handguns every day, no matter what shift it is. There is always a gun here now,” she said.

KXLY reports that the public’s response to the guns have been overwhelmingly positive. The company took time to thank its customers via Facebook earlier today:

I would just like to send a huge thank you to all of you loyal customers that have been so supportive and encouraging during the past month. As unfortunate as these recent events might be, it is all of you guys that make it much easier for us to deal with. Thank you for being such amazing friends and customers!!

Stay safe, Jitterz Java.

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Meanwhile, the only guns on display at Hot Cup Of Joe (1602 N. Ash) are the biceps of owner Chris Mullins and his team of hunky baristas. Mr. Mullins opened the clothing-limited barista stand in February this year.

(Eds. Note: For readers unfamiliar with this very Pacific Northwestern model of business, we’ve written about them extensively in the past. They often get pigeon-holed into gender-specific categories, and are referred to colloquially as “bikini barista stands”. We prefer a decidedly more gender-neutral moniker.)

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Chris and Chuck (via Facebook)

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Naturally, KXLY was totally on it, and reported live from HCOJ on opening day:

Hot Cup of Joe opened at 1602 N. Ash Friday morning. Their customers insist they’re coming for the coffee, but eventually the break down and admit why they’re really stopping by.

“You make a good cup of coffee, they’re going to come back,” Chris Mullins said.

Mullins’ coffee stand prides itself on coffee, even though its still their first day. But you’ll soon find Mullins has a lot of pride.

He’s putting it all out there, and poured his life into the stand, to serve the ladies a hot cup of Joe … shirtless.

“Girls buy more coffee than guys do, three to one, so might as well give the girls what they want, as well as give them a cup of coffee,” he explained.

We asked Mullins how the response has been in the last month. “People have nothing but good things to say,” he told us via phone. According to Mullins, the most common question he gets is perhaps the most exciting for any new business owner: “When are you going to open more?

The stand is currently staffed by Mr. Mullins, a former exotic dancer, and a fresh, new barista named Chuck. They serve Waverly’s Coffee and are open 6am-7pm with plans to extend the hours in the coming months.

Not everyone is happy about the cafe. Spokane area blogger Josie Camarillo has feels about HCOJ and companies with similar uniforms:

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?

What’s your take? Comments are open.

 


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