Cranking out drive-thru drinks inside a sun-drenched coffee stand, Kylie Ongstad isn’t even breaking a sweat.
Of course, she is wearing a bikini.
Leaning out the window of Bare Beans Bikini Coffee wearing a skimpy two-piece, she offers me a plastic lid with a dab of complimentary whipped cream squirted on it. For the panting canine in the passenger seat.
Bare Beans needs to get dog treats, she confesses cheerfully.
There’s still time for that. The new shop, which Kylie co-owns with her fiance, Braden Nelson, has been open less than a month. But judging from the steady drip of vehicles rolling into the double drive-thru at 10249 W. Fairview Ave., things are going swimmingly.
Scantily dressed baristas aren’t new to Boise. The last local concept, Hotties Mochas & More, closed in 2011 in Garden City, Braden says.
The couple, who moved here from Oregon about two months ago, saw potential for reviving the idea on Fairview Avenue near Five Mile Road.
But why, befuddled java junkies might ask? Why bikinis?
“Why not?” Braden says. It sets their brand apart from Dutch Bros. and Starbucks, he points out.
Similar shops and drive-thrus thrive in neighboring states. There’s the Bikini Beans Coffee chain in Arizona. And Steady Grinding Coffee House in Billings, Montana. Naturally, tons are in Portland. Bikini coffee joints also have operated in North Idaho, which is Kylie’s original stomping ground, Braden adds.
Dirty Blonde, Red Bull
Bare Beans’ menu mostly sticks to bare essentials (although the menu is being updated, Kylie says.) Using local Caffeina coffee, there are classics such as an Americano and latte. Or customers can order non-coffee alternatives such as a smoothie or hot chocolate. Red Bull mixed with lemonade has been a summer hit so far, too.
The most popular coffee seller is a sweet, white-chocolate-and-caramel-flavored Dirty Blonde ($6.50 for 16 ounces, $7.50 for 20 ounces, $8.50 for 32 ounces). Other “Bare Specials” include the Coconut Cowboy (coconut chocolate), French Kiss (white chocolate, raspberry) and Quickie (chocolate, vanilla, extra shot.)
Quick, by the way? That’s not always how the drive-thru moves. When a female barista is wearing next to nothing, men tend to get chatty. (And women, possibly, although I spotted none.)
Bare Beans Bikini Coffee is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. But starting next week, Braden says, it will be open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
The Nelsons (Kylie prefers to use her fiance’s last name) are aware that their barely clothed baristas might raise eyebrows. Or even get a few Boise coffee lovers steamed.
Either way, Bare Beans offers service with a smile.
“There’s always naysayers, man,” Braden says. “... There’s nothing illegal happening. I want to stress that. There’s nothing you wouldn’t find going to the river, going to the water park, even some of the outfits you see at the gyms nowadays.
“There’s naysayers, man, but there’s also a lot of support, too. And we’re grateful for all the people that came by and showed support.”