Belinda Messer wore a leopard-print bra, purple underwear and brown boots at work last Friday.
And nothing else.
Messer is a barista at Java Girls on Lee Road in Orlando, a coffee shop where the all-female staff wears very little while preparing lattes, frappuccinos and espressos. Some days, the uniform is lingerie; other days, bikinis.
“We like showing off what we got,” said Messer, 20.
Java Girls, which opened in November, employs “bikini baristas.” The concept, originated in the Seattle area in the early 2000s, has since spread across the country, with shops in California, Texas and Oregon.
Java Girls, a franchise co-owned by brothers Todd and Bill Brognano of Vero Beach, is thought to be the only bikini coffee shop in Central Florida. There are more than 10 Java Girls locations in the U.S.
“I thought it was an interesting take on the coffee industry,” Todd Brognano said. “This is the kind of place where you can have a little fun and get your coffee and get on down the road to work.”
So far, it has attracted both men and women. But mostly men.
“All men love pretty women,” Brognano said. The coffee is pretty good too, he added.
“I don’t care how pretty the girl is, if the coffee’s not great, you’re not coming back.”
Housed in a former hot-dog stand in front of a shopping plaza anchored by a Sam Ash music store, Java Girls offers both drive-through and walk-up window service. Besides coffee drinks, the menu includes breakfast sandwiches, smoothies and desserts.
Last week, barista Nicole Williams, 20, wearing black lingerie, greeted three guys at the walk-up window. She smiled and in a flirty voice said, “Morning … how are y’all today?”
Williams, of Winter Park, answered an ad on Craigslist for the job. She likes making coffee, she said, and doesn’t mind the revealing uniform. The best part of her work day: Watching first-time customers pull up to the window.
“I love seeing people’s reactions,” Williams said.
When they aren’t making coffee, the women — in their bikinis or lingerie — stand out near Lee Road and entice passing motorists by waving a sign that reads: “Now Open Extra HOT Coffee Spot.”
Sometimes it works and customers come in for a drink, while others just honk. Several have called out “Marry me” to Williams.
The baristas near the road have raised the ire of a few passers-by. Orange County deputy sheriffs responded to at least two complaints in the past month but found no violations, sheriff’s spokeswoman Ginette Rodriguez said.
Victor Derosia is a regular who lives in DeLand and works near Java Girls. He stops in most days for his morning jolt.
“It’s the closest coffee place,” said Derosia, 32.
That’s the only reason?
“Well, no. It has a nice view,” Derosia said.